Classroom Project Reflection

Water Reflections
Water Reflections by RVillar

This part of your classroom project is worth 10 points.

Please use the space here to give us an overview of the strengths and weakness of your classroom project as implemented. Some topics to cover in this reflection:

  • What you learned from this activity
  • What, if anything, you would do differently the next time you implement this activity
  • What went particularly well
  • If there was enough time allotted for all aspects of the project

23 Responses to “Classroom Project Reflection”

  1. chenwenh Says:

    Before creating a NING network, I have already used the Internet a lot in teaching, but it serves mainly as an information database where I selected useful and interesting materials relevant to our course content. I also used HuskyCT as the only tool for managing my courses. After implementing this activity, I gained more knowledge about the presentation of course content. To prepare this project, I had to evaluate briefly the effectiveness of different social networking tools, so I had a general view of how each tool would function. Also, I got to know how different ways to deliver the course would influence students’ learning, and HuskyCT is not the only option I can choose. I am not an expert, though. Therefore, I felt anxious all the times, but thanks to Barbara’s teaching, I could receive useful information and gained help from it while I was trying out a new tool that I never used before. I love doing the two at the same time: learning how to teach differently and putting what I just learned into my teaching. This hands-on experience makes me feel like I am learning and experimenting the theories in a teaching lab.

    Moreover, I understood that a wealth of online tools can be employed as course management tools. It never occurred to me that social networks could be valued as educational resources. I began to see possibilities to teach from the impossible. I had to maintain the course website, so I constantly received feedback from students. I saw how much progress students made, how motivated they were, how much they participated and communicated with one another, and what they thought of course materials. I could tell that modes of presenting course materials had a significant impact on student motivation and learning outcome. Instead of waiting for the results of mid-term and/or final teaching evaluation, I could adjust my teaching to accommodate their new needs.

    Also, I realized that I had to design new ways of student assessment pertinent to course objectives. As participation is the main purpose of this activity, no specific rules are imposed. Students are free to participate and they got extra credits for using NING. But in an anonymous survey, half of the students still preferred HuskyCT to NING. I guess this is because we started with HuskyCT at the beginning of semester and then we switched from it to NING. Also students had to take quizzes from HuskyCT, so they might think visiting NING is inconvenient for them if they need to use both. Thus, new ways to assess their learning outcome are necessary so that technology would not interfere their learning. Easy access is key to successful integration of these tools into course content.

    I would do many things differently next time when implementing this tool again. First, I would announce all the details about this activity and the social networking tool at the beginning of semester. I would explain in the course syllabus clearly how this networking tool will be integrated into the course, and I would also make this syllabus available in the website for students. I would also demonstrate in class how to explore our course website so that students would be more familiar with NING. Second, instead of simply encouraging students, I would build a clear set of student assessment rubric for my students to follow. Rather than letting students participate in a free style, I would make clear of what I might expect from them. Participation on our NING would be a requirement rather than an option. Husky CT would be offered simply for its quiz functions or short essay assignments, so that the two tools would not compete. Rules would be made clear and concrete for students. They may include from the number of posts to what kind of information I would expect students to deliver. Third, I would design more in-class activities, like group discussions or group projects, based on their posts on NING. Student posts should work as prompts for further discussions in class, so student peer conversations could extend from our NING back to our classroom. They would believe they do have an audience. Last but not the least, I hope to discover other Chinese culture course websites built on either NING or other social networks. I would like my students to communicate with not just me or their classmates but also other students who share the same interest in Chinese literature and culture. Furthermore, I could exchange ideas with other instructor who teach similar courses and even collaborate with them.

  2. kemen528 Says:

    I learned a lot about my students with my usage of Twitter in the classroom. I had a chance to read their posts and see what they found interesting, funny, what they found worthy of writing about and sharing with their classmates. By incorporating Twitter in the classroom, I feel that the classroom dynamics changed for the better. I found that Twitter encouraged partnership and collaboration among my students, which definitely showed in the quality of their group work. I feel that my students also learned quite a bit about me as well, since I participated right along with them.

    I also learned about the different tactics an instructor must use when incorporating technology in the classroom. I really had to encourage my students to use the tool since I did encounter some resistance. I feel that making it part of their grade and really reinforcing the fact that it is an exercise that aids in their language acquisition (and really stressing this on a daily basis) really got my students to participate and get motivated to participate. Of course, I did have the students that did not take it as seriously as others, but I feel that overall, I would use Twitter again.

    I think that my students really appreciated that I took the time to commit to the activity and do something different to generate interest towards the Spanish language. Like Chenwenh, I too enjoy learning how to teach differently and teaching what I learned.

    There are some things that I would have done differently. First, I would have incorporated Twitter into my curriculum from the beginning of the semester instead of from the middle of the semester. Another thing I would have done differently would have been using surveymonkey or another pool to get concrete feedback from the students. I would also encourage the other classes of the same level to participate in the activity, as well as instructors. I would like to explore the opportunity to expose my students to native speakers or maybe speakers of higher levels.

    What went particularly well was the fact that each of my students would subtly correct each other when they responded to each other’s tweets. Although this would happen once in a while, I feel that longer usage of this tool would see a growth in this activity. In addition, in many cases the students tweeted a lot more than they were required to do so, which led me to believe that they were benefitting from it and enjoying it at the same time.

    While I feel that an adequate amount of time was allotted for the activity, I feel that my students would have gotten more out of this activity if I had incorporated the tool earlier on in the semester. I also feel that I could have spent more time monitoring each of my students tweets by using my mobile phone.

  3. sondrus Says:

    As a T/A for Roman Civilization, I used the online discussion forum through Ning to discuss literary texts. See this particular discussion page: http://cams1102.ning.com/group/section2d/forum/topics/4914586:Topic:2231
    Observe how the students interact with each other.

    Strengths:
    -Students were able to read their peers’ responses to the literary texts before face-to-face discussion
    -Online discussion provided a means to hear the shy students
    -Saved paper not having to collect paper responses, as well as avoided germs
    -Through creating a visible conversation, Henry Jenkin’s participatory culture idea of students feeling a sense of connection to each other, was obtained
    -The majority of students said that the use of online discussion helped them to understand texts
    -Possibly the “reply to” feature lead to students veering away from summarizing
    -Students also got to see that I, the teacher, was part of the discussion, as I replied to posts.
    -Discussions at times became more dynamic with ideas going back and forth and with posted YouTube videos and such

    Weaknesses:
    -About 25 % of students did not look at links that their peers posted
    -According to survey (22 out of40), online discussion did not improve face-to-face class discussion
    -Students did not bring their social networks with them
    -Some students posted too long of posts, indicating they need to learn to be concise

    Suggestions:

    -Don’t say, “Post your response!” This is one-dimensional and does not stress interaction. The word “posting” conveys the idea of not engaging.

    -Explain that the online discussion is a form of pre-discussion to prepare for class discussion, for face-to-face discussion.

    -Need to stress the online discussion is a CONVERSATION, which means listening, thinking and responding.

    -Might be neat to allow groups to post on the online discussion forum. For example, if some students or a couple talked in person about the reading then they could post their collective response/thoughts. It might be neat to have them do this collaborative exercise once or twice a semester. One could make it a requirement, or could permit it to be done- raising the possibility with students.

    -Make it mandatory to post several YouTube, photos or links over the semester. You could even assign several students per week, so that consistently extras are found in the discussion forum. This is also great as it reduces the teacher’s workload. It also builds in a fun research component. I make sure that the posting of these extras gets public praise, online and in class!

    -You could narrow the subject matter for posting, so as to ensure that there will be fresh things to discuss face-to-face. So perhaps picking a specific passage for them to comment on, and leaving the rest of the reading to talk about in-person.

    – Perhaps making students bring questions to discussion, for which they did not get an online reply, or which they did not post would help the in-person discussion to be more interesting.

  4. Blanca Says:

    I have learned much with this activity. First of all, I have learned to use some tools myself and had the opportunity to explore them from another point of view (not just commenting in a blog but creating one, for example). I have also liked the fact that I had to stop and think about why I want to use precisely these or those tools, or how the objectives must been set and related to the rest of the syllabus; i.e. realize that everything is linked. However, this last aspect had also made me a little uncomfortable: in order to make everything fit properly, I would have introduced technology earlier in the semester. Actually, I would have done it from the very beginning, even including it in the syllabus. This way, it would have been integrated in the course and students would have had time to become familiar with what they are expected to use later.

    Obviously the results of my project have not been the desired. I think a number of circumstances came together and had their consequences: project maybe too complicated, unmotivated students, different teaching style, time constrains, too much to cover in the syllabus… If I did it again, I would definitely make it simpler. Even though students were asked for their opinion before starting and all the steps where detailed in the instructions, and considering their lack of motivation, they may have considered the project too complicated and perhaps they became frustrated for all the work they though they had to do. So simpler is better. I would also take them to the lab or ask them to bring their laptops and give them some more training on the tool (never again toolS).

    Unfortunately, I have also come to a sad conclusion: here I will always face a problem, i.e. me. I have some believes that clash with the way students are used to be treated here and that prevent me from doing some things that may be useful for the success of this kind of projects, but in my opinion not so much for the students’ achievement of maturity. Anyway, there is a solution for this problem; I know this solution and I will implement it very soon.

    Nonetheless, my overall feeling about this activity is really good. I have learned much and reflected on my classes even more, which I really enjoyed.

  5. Lay Says:

    The project I worked on was focused for students taking the SPAN 3178 – Spanish Composition course at the University of Connecticut. Having into consideration that this is a departmental course, and that it is considered a requirement for many students, I wanted to achieve two goals:

    1. Promote improvement of writing skills in Spanish.
    2. Encourage peer assistance and cooperation.

    For this, I decided to create a wiki for my students. In it, they were asked to do three tasks:

    1. Create an anonymous account.
    2. Post two of their writing assignments.
    3. Comment on, at least three of their peer’s posts, focusing on content.

    RESULTS: “THE GOOD, THE BAD AND…”

    I was impressed by the students involvement in the project. They all knew this was an experiment in my class, and they responded wonderfully. Most of them made their accounts and posted their first “diario” as soon as it was assigned. Later, the comments they made to their classmates were very respectful and helpful as well.

    The wikispaces.com page was easy to use, and the e-mail alerts for both teacher and students were very good. Also, the ability to create links for useful pages on grammar, dictionaries and conjugators were appreciated by the students.

    What the students enjoyed the most was their anonymity. This way they could post freely without feeling the pressure of his peers correcting them in class. When commenting on their other’s work, they felt they were not making their classmates feel uncomfortable (And neither were they!). As a result, I saw visible improvement in my students work. Their “diarios” were better and clearer.

    However, considering the amount of space that wikispaces.com gives for free accounts, it was frustrating for both students and teacher to find out that the program automatically deletes postings as soon as the limit was reached. Also, it took some time to find out what was wrong with some work disappearing or with some post that could not be seen by the students.

    At the end of the project, I surveyed my students about their experience.

    1. 82.4% would recommend the instructor to use this technology tool again.
    2. On easiness to use the tool 23.5% considered it very easy, 52.9% considered easy.

    Some of the comments of the students were:

    1. “I like the idea and how it keeps everything anonymous. I had a little difficulty navigating the site but I would recommend you keep using it.”
    2. “It was good to have a page where the diaries could be posted anonymously. The comments from other classmates really help.”
    3. ” If the use of wikispaces was a “trial run” for how drafts will be edited in future classes, then I would consider it a success. I can only recommend that wikispaces be more integrated into the syllabus, and that students as well as the professor should be responsible for leaving input, with the interest of guiding the content of the critiques.”

    Based on this feedback, I would use this technology again. However, I would make some changes:

    1. Use other internet webtool instead of wikispaces.com because the space limit is to little for the requirements of the class.
    2. Use the tool more actively.
    3. Allow the students to comment more freely.
    4. Use the wiki also for blogging.
    5. Consider other ideas and tools (Diigo, Zotero, Twitter) for collaboration between students and teacher.

    All in all, I liked this experience and how it helped me and my students. I enjoyed the fact that my students were open to change and to help their classmates on their work. This way, the class was not on my hands, but in theirs, making the course student centered (as it should be). I will definitely use this type of activity again and suggest it to other teachers.

  6. celeste2010 Says:

    During Spring 2010, I taught a Level 4 Spanish class (Intermediate level – Multilevel class) where the main goal of the class was that students develop skills to make a critical statement in Spanish. As they needed to improve their reading and writing skills I decided to create a project using HuskyCT: “A blog discussion on the history and today use of Spanish in the U.S.”.

    The purposes of the activity were:
    – Students will be able to write a blog comment in the target language by participating in a blog discussion
    – develop critical and creative thinking
    – improve their writing skills
    – be able to provide their opinion on the articles using the target language
    – use previously learned skills on giving opinion
    – learn about the history of Spanish language in the U.S. and analyze its use today
    – have the opportunity to use a social network tool on the target language
    – understand the main ideas of a text and improve their reading skills
    – explore real internet material in the target language

    Students had to read two introductory quotes during the class and both quotes were discussed in the class. After that, we talked about the hand out that was posted in HuskyCT for them, and where some ideas on the topics/aspects of the topic to write about were also provided. Students read and chose two articles from the three posted in the HuskyCT discussion blog for the class, on the history and today use of Spanish in the U.S. Then they posted two comments in the target language. For assessment I used a rubric which states the main objectives of the activity that was also shared with students. The grading criteria included: grammar and spelling, development of the ideas, giving opinion, summarizing the text, connecting with own reality and writing progress.

    For feedback I created an anonymous survey using Zoomerang on various aspects of the activity. Students’ comments about the activity were really rich and helpful for me. Taking into account their feedback and thinking on the future, I would like to introduce some possible changes like exploring the vocabulary in class before or providing them a list with key vocabulary, maybe providing some questions to think about while reading or giving them more options to choose from: on topics and articles. I decided to use our university’s online course management interface because it’s reliable and students didn’t need to create a new account. They were familiar with HuskyCT given that we used it among all the semester. But I would definitely try a more engaging blog interface next time. Also I would really like to jump into a second part for this activity giving them the chance to interact with each other in the blog by writing responses.

    The analysis of the results showed that even most of the students were taking the class due to a language requirement; they were really engaged with this activity. For most of them it was the first time they wrote a comment in a blog using the target language. Some students really liked the visual material on the graphics presented and they said they enjoyed giving their opinion on a Spanish blog.

    I was really impressed to see their work, they not only showed me they had improve their reading and writing skills during the course but also they were able to go beyond and connect the articles with their own experience. They provided their point of view, agreement or disagreement and some of them even made predictions regarding the future of the Spanish language in the U.S., making use of their critical and creative thinking skills. Many of them were surprised learning this historical fact and glad to learn about it, which allowed me to introduce the interdisciplinary connection between language and culture.

    Regarding the main goal of the class and the goals of the activity I must say that most students not only completed the assignment but also went beyond my expectations. I hope I was able to help them have a better understanding and a stronger curiosity on the Spanish language and culture. I would like to finish by saying what I told them myself in the class: I’m really proud of my students and their improvement.

  7. sarahmelvine Says:

    My use of Blogger in the classroom was very instructive and I think that this experience will aid me in the future when planning a class. This was my first time ever incorporating a social networking tool in the classroom outside of HuskyCT, so it was a shot in the dark in many ways. I think that after taking this course and seeing how other people implemented similar tools in their classes, I will be able to integrate blogging, wikis, etc. in a more meaningful way.

    If I were to do something differently the next time, it would first and foremost be not to use Blogger! I found that Blogger is not very conducive to generating discussions between students as it does not allow for a direct exchange between contributors, but rather only allows comments directly to the posted prompt. Secondly, and most vexing, is that Blogger does not permit videos to be uploaded directly to their server. I think that one of the most potentially useful aspects of online pedagogy is the ability to integrate multi-media into the discussion and in the future I would like to choose a site that hosts more features. And finally, regarding my prompts, the next time I might write less extensive prompts looking for precise answers and rather allow for students to share ideas freely.

    However, the blogging exercise was not a complete bust. I felt that the blogging did help to reinforce key ideas in the course and made a lot of information accessible to students at any time. Also, it was helpful to have an interactive forum for students who are less likely to participate in oral classroom discussions. I found that I could still recognize student performance in this manner without the pressure of calling on students in class to speak on the spot. I think that overall students like to be able to share ideas and gain recognition for their work, although this can also work in the reverse as some students refused to participate in a public forum altogether. Overall, I think that this will be a very effective aspect of class discussion once properly implemented and worked out thoroughly.

    Generally, I think that there was enough time in the project’s implementation as I started explaining it the first day of class; however, we did have to devote several weeks to working out kinks such as signing students up with a Blogger account and explaining what is expected. If I had not started immediately, it would have been much more difficult to organize.

  8. inasayyoub Says:

    This semester witnessed me entering the world of technology through social networking. As a person that is not a good friend of technology, I was so anxious about taking this class , but I wanted to learn what it has to offer that I can integrate in my teaching. Many tools were introduced in this class and among all of them Diigo is the word that me and my classes use now as a short cut for bookmark, share and comment.

    I used Diigo in my project which started only to provide a space where my students find materials in Arabic related to the units in the book and study words from them. Then , this tool proved to be useful to practice writing in Arabic , too.

    My goals then revolved around two main points which were getting students more familiar with the Arabic language through providing them with resources they may refer to and extending the use of the language outside the classroom.

    The students were asked to create Diigo accounts and to use an Arabic keyboard to bookmark resources and tag them using Arabic. Every student was supposed to bookmark a website every week that is related to the topic being discussed and to write a comment on Arabic, to show that he understands what the article, video or website he bookmarked is about. Students were also asked to elaborate on another student comment.

    During the first weeks of using this tool not many students accomplished the tasks required every week since it was an extra credit activity and not part of the main mark, but some students showed great interest in that and was using the tool to share all of the resources or materials they find about Arabic even songs and funny videos.

    The tool became more effective in enhancing the use of Arabic language after I used the websites that some students bookmarked to discuss them or made the comment in the classroom. This encouraged other students to use this more and for the other students to keep on what they are doing since their work was praised and referred to in the classroom. The Diigo group then seemed more evident in the class as our HuskeyCT , since some started even asking for assignments to be bookmarked there and leaving notes before classes there.

    Using this for more than a month and after discussing with both classes how useful they found this and whether they liked it as a way to learn Arabic, the following points were found:
    1. The students found it a useful tool to keep them aware of what is being covered in the classroom and what they need to prepare.
    2. Many interesting materials were shared through it and they were able to communicate using the language.
    3. The tool was confusing to use , since sometimes they were not able to see the highlights of other students or were not able to add a comment and didn’t figure how to reply to others notes so they would prefer to write on a paper with a real pen.
    4. They wish it wasn’t an extra load of work and that it should have substituted other requirements in the course.

    All of this made me consider the following for future classes:
    1. I should be more familiar with the technology and using it for a while before using it with students to be able to address all of the troubles they face using it. Also to give them some time practicing using it till they get more familiar with it then asking them to use it for the Arabic class.

    2. Integrating it as a part of the syllabus at the beginning of the semester through using it to replace some unnecessary writing work.

    3. As I only used this as a tool for writing and maybe reading I would figure out how to integrate other tools that include podcasting and the ability for students to produce materials using it.

    Finally I would say that I enjoyed the idea of having my own Arabic group with the lack of resources of Arabic like this online. I would say it was a good tool and would keep on using it ,but with making it more open through integrating Arab speakers that are not part of the classes for them to enrich the group resources and give more opportunities to communicate. I’m still creating a Diigo group for my students learning English in Jordan and hope that I will work on all of the points successfully.

  9. christopherlaine Says:

    I TAed for CAMS 1103, Classical Mythology, which went entirely online this semester. Moving the class from the auditorium to WebCT had a few advantages, most of all the possibility of student discussions. For each module students were given a discussion topic, for which they had to produce two group replies, pro and con, to submit to a contest judged by the professor. This was a major improvement over the lecture format, which afforded no discussion. Students also submitted 500-750 word papers online. This created difficulties: it was impossible to give any substantial comments because the papers could not be marked up. Having the students submit hard copies of the papers would allow for real feedback. Technical problems were minimal: sometimes the video lectures lagged for the first minute or two, and, of course, WebCT malfunctioned occasionally, so that for one unit the discussion grades were not successfully submitted, forcing the discussion threads to be re-graded.

    If possible, WebCT should be avoided. The discussion grading feature did work well after the first unit, but I cannot think of any other worthwhile feature provided by WebCT. If papers were turned in rather than uploaded, then the only other problem would be finding a way to administer quizzes. Having online quizzes basically asks the students to cheat and gives unfair advantage to people taking the class with friends. If quizzes are to be kept as part of the class, it seems some non-online venue is necessary.

    I am left completely unconvinced of any inherent advantage to online classes compared to traditional classes. A lecture and discussion section format could do all WebCT can and then some. The online format has financial advantages for the university and possibly for the students: anyone working during the day must appreciate the asynchronous nature of the online format. It’s better than having no discussion, but is no equivalent replacement for traditional classes.

  10. melinaanne Says:

    The Facebook page I created for my classroom project was, I think, effective and successful. In my own lessons I try to include cultural topics like food, sports, music and movies, but I am undoubtedly missing some topics that might be of interest to students. The idea of the Facebook page was to give students the opportunity to share their own particular interests in Italian culture in a forum that is both familiar and unintimidating, showing them that they truly can incorporate Italian into their everyday lives. All they needed to participate was a Facebook account, and all they had to do was “like” the page I created (Viva l’italiano), so it was a minimal commitment on their parts. Each student was required to make one original post (which he or she signed up for at the beginning of the project), and to comment on the posts of the others (for a total of 15). Any contribution beyond this was considered as extra credit. I included this project as part of class participation, which was already worth 15% of the final grade on the syllabus. I wanted students to use the language as naturally as possible, without any “grammatical intervention” on my part. I wanted them to be able to work with the grammar they knew up to this point (as this is a first semester Italian course, I wanted them to use present tense verbs, definite and indefinite articles, possessives, comparative forms and relevant vocabulary). As a result, I wanted them to feel more comfortable using the language to respond and react to their classmates’ posts. I also hoped they would gain a greater understanding of aspects of Italian culture not covered during class.

    I was very pleased with the way the students took to the project, and their posts ran the gamut from famous monuments to paintings to sports cars. Their comments were usually appropriate, and often funny. I brought the page back into our classroom sessions as well. Each Monday the students who had posted the previous week would talk briefly about what they had chosen to post and why, and we would look at some of the comments (for content, not for grammar). I also tried to work in the day’s grammar/vocab lesson to what had been posted (for example, the post on Dolce and Gabbana fed in well to the chapter devoted to clothes and fashion).

    I did impose some deadlines to the project, which I would have preferred not to do because I didn’t want the project to feel like “class work”. I had the students fill out an evaluation of the project using Google Moderator, asking them what aspects of the project they felt were valuable, and what they would change. Not all students responded, but those who did said they liked the project and appreciated how easily it fit into our curriculum in terms of work, and that they also enjoyed finding out about the interests of their classmates. One student also commented on the fact that they liked learning to use a more “informal” Italian. In the future, I would start the project from the beginning of the semester with some very general guidelines. At the end, I would have the students evaluate their own performance on the project and give themselves the grade they feel like they deserve. I would also include it as a separate part of the syllabus from the beginning, rather than including it in participation like I did this time (mainly because the syllabus was already prepared and I started the project in the middle of the semester). Maybe in the future I would incorporate the project even more in the lessons, using the posts as warm-up discussion topics. One of the students who responded to the evaluation suggested having the student who posted be responsible for answering any questions posed by the other students in their comments, something which could also encourage a little more research on the student’s part. All in all, I am happy with the way the students responded to the project, and I plan on keeping the Facebook page active for the use of the students even after the semester is over.

  11. Eleonora Boscolo Camiletto Says:

    For my class project I organized a Skype interview between my students and an Italian native speaker. The goal of the project was to help students practice their speaking and listening skills and to learn a little bit more about Italian culture. The tools I used are Skype and Google moderator. The students had to post at least one question on our Google moderator before the Skype session and evaluate each other question based on the quality of the question as far as content and not grammar.
    During the Skype interview session the students had to ask our guest at least one question that they had previously posted.
    The questions varied from general personal questions, based on the interests and curiosity of the student to more specific questions related to the topics treated in class. At the time we did the interview we were studying a chapter on food so there were many questions related to eating habits and Italian food culture.
    Our guest happened to be an Italian teacher that works with our UConn study abroad program in Ascoli Piceno, Italy. The students also took advantage of this to ask some questions about the city and the Italian study abroad program.
    To assess the students’ learning I did an anonymous survey through Google Docs and the results really made me happy. Many students were happy about the project and I was very intrigued with some suggestions. One student confessed he was surprised he could follow and understand so much and others proposed one on one Skype sessions with native speakers. Another thing that surprised me was the spontaneity of the students a few minutes into the interview session when some of them started asking question that were not prepared in advance but just out of curiosity. They had the need to learn more and pushed themselves beyond their comfort limits in order to be able to communicate as the wanted to.
    I think this project is very simple to organize and can be done with classes at all levels, it can be integrated with the topic the students are learning (i.e., a specific vocabulary) and doesn’t ‘steal’ too much time from the already too short and fast-paced classes.

  12. claudiopi Says:

    My classroom project involved the use of Voicethread. Here one part of the project is available. I made my students work on an oral presentation to be prepared in pairs in substitution to their traditional oral exam. Every pair would have a different Italian region assigned. And the best part of the project was having two (same level) classes doing parallel work. I am going to explain more this aspect later.
    Minimum requirements were provided to students, such as a certain number of slides (containing pictures) and an amount of minutes that they had to talk for (recording themselves on the Voicethread presentation). The students were presented the assignment early enough (almost two weeks before) to start and complete it with no rush. In order to guide them in the research process for their region, some general guideline were given.
    Every student had to create an account (some created only one for the group/pair) so they could make their speech on the class’ Voicethread (originally it was one for one class, but then for limit reasons, I had to split it into two), that I created myself with a private account, having then only me as the administrator. I was the only one able to upload, edit or delete parts of the presentation.

    From this assignment I learned that encouraging students to know more about cultural aspects of a country can be an excellent learning experience. They can find out facts that they wouldn’t hear in class, and this would hopefully stimulate their interest on culture (in addition to language, which for an elementary level – like in my case – could be perceived as a mostly listening/reproduction mechanism).
    Something very useful was the interaction between the two classes. As another requirement, I assigned a comment to the other class’ work (e.g. a student with Tuscany had to comment on the other class’ presentation about Tuscany). It was nice and some creative comments came out. It gave me the sense of having a small community of practice.

    Among the things that need to be reviewed is the reading vs spontaneity aspect, since most of the students did their research, took notes and read those at the time of recording. Some still saw the positive side, recognizing it as a good writing exercise as well as a chance to learn new vocabulary.
    In addition, some students admitted (although the minority) to prefer the traditional exam, because it is more challenging. At the same time, many others acknowledged that doing this activity they didn’t have to face the stress they would have at a traditional exam. In fact, with Voicethread, you can record from anywhere, but also go back and delete your comment if you feel you lacked at pronunciation.
    Something I would like to change for the future are: the two classes almost had the same deadlines but they actually didn’t coincided that much, so I should make sure that, having collaboration involved, the two follow the same guidelines.
    As for the ‘reading’ aspect, to have students reproduce authentic and spontaneous (relatively speaking in the case of a beginners level) language, it would be possible to have a follow-up in-class presentation after the online work is done.
    Regarding the ‘research’, maybe it would have been better to let students less free than I did. I wouldn’t want creativity to suffer from that, since this should be one of the main objectives of the assignment. However, a more guided structure (in terms of where exactly to look for the info as well as in setting format limits – some students did more than required) would make life a little easier.

    In conclusion, it is something I definitely want to repeat.

  13. carsten01 Says:

    The idea I had for my classroom project was to bring the world to my students without leaving the classroom. Therefore, we used google earth to explore University cities in Germany.
    For this session I had invited German exchange students. I divided my students into groups and one group formed around one exchange students. In the computer lab each group explored the city where the exchange student studies. The objectives were to practice communicative skills, use prepositions, learn about culture, immerse into German culture, and possibly to connect new content with content they already know.
    My students had to prepare questions to ask the exchange student, for example where good cafes are in that particular city. The exchange student then served as a guide to navigate my students to the place. Sometimes the guide would just give directions or a specific location from which the students had to find and then using prepositions navigate to that location. Going from group to group I asked my students to find out which departments there are at that school. Here my students used lingro.com to help them. As a follow-up activity and to make sure students did not just lean back during group work, I asked my students to write a little city guide about the city they have explored.
    Overall I am very satisfied how the session went and was confirmed about that by my students’ responses in a survey I did. Specifically I learned that using technology can create great synergy effects. This session did not take tremendous planing yet, several sessions could “rotate” around it. In a “pre-activity” specific vocabulary could be identified and grammatical structures for interrogative clauses introduced. As a “post-activity” students could elaborate on specific aspects they were introduced to during the sessions, for example the different city structure in Germany and compare that to the city structures in the US.
    I would do two things differently. First, I think it was a little too much structured with the exchange students working as a guides. It was fine for using prepositions, but sometimes my students were a little bored, especially when they did not remember them. Here I would give each group of my students the task to find information about a specific aspect of the city, for example one group could research Cafes, another group Departments, etc. This would challenge them more to find information by themselves and it would practice to plan a trip when going abroad. The conversation with the exchange students would be more of a “plan the day” activity, talking about what to do and where to go as if they have all lived for a long time there. The exchange students could still bring in specific knowledge about places.
    Second, talking to Barbara, the “post-activity” could be in form of a project, where students could do a virtual tour or trip through that city, also google earth. I could also see students searching for pictures and using a digital story telling tool like voicethread.com. Using voicethread.com other students could comment then on their peers tour, including their information.
    Particularly well went that almost all of my students felt down on the ground and were motivated to find out more about the city they were exploring. Also I was impressed how well the communication with the exchange students worked and I think that they as well as my students gained skills in inter-cultural understanding and communication.
    45 minutes for the way I set up the session were sufficient.

  14. jarcastillo Says:

    Traditionally, students are given an oral exam towards the end of the semester through a personal one-on-one interview with the instructor. A block of one to two classes is set aside to conduct these personal interviews, which last from 15 to 20 minutes each. During the traditional oral exam, students are asked to read a small paragraph, describe a picture, and engage in conversation on a randomly selected topic with the instructor. This process of examination relies almost exclusively on the instructor, which caused a lot of anxiety to a great number of students (even the ones that were active participants in class).

    The purpose of my class project this semester was to find an alternate way of assessing students’ speaking skills in a way that better reflected what they could produce with the language. I also wanted them to have more control of their assessment (and their grade) and create a space that would allow for “trial and error.”

    Throughout the semester we had used videos in the class to complement the vocabulary we were studying or to “test” our listening comprehension. For this reason, asking students to produce their own short videos seemed like a natural alternative for their oral exams. For their projects they would need a digital camera or anything that could capture digital videos (iPhone, camera, computer, etc) and a free vimeo.com account.

    Students were asked to create 3-5 minute videos, which would be uploaded to a private group created on vimeo.com using the topics covered during the semester as a starting point. They could talk about their friends and families, university life, their hobbies, their vacations or any combinations of these topics.

    On the day set aside for the oral exam, students were asked to present their video to the class. Afterwards, students were asked to post comments on two of their colleague’s videos giving them both positive feedback and constructive criticism.

    Most students were very engaged in their projects. I met with several of them ahead of time to discuss their ideas and even help others who wanted me to look over their scripts. Also, the use of technology to create their videos was very diverse and varied. Most of them found something that worked for them (e.g., iMovie, Movie Maker, goanimate.com, or even recording a PowerPoint presentation as it played on the computer screen). Most videos presented reflected the amount of time, effort, creativity and engagement each student put into their projects. One of my initial concerns had been for privacy (hence the private group in Vimeo), yet several students took such price in their work that they told me they had already uploaded their videos to Youtube and/or Facebook.

    When asked how they felt about having this form of an oral exam (versus the traditional oral exam), this is some of the feedback I received from my students:
    * “Doing multiple takes made me aware of the simple mistakes I was making.”
    * “I didn’t feel as anxious or nervous as I might have been if I was being interviewed.”
    * “I had fun involving my roommates and friends even though they are not in our class.”
    * “I liked that I could stop, pause, and start again knowing it wouldn’t hurt my grade.”
    * “The project was so open that we could really do anything we wanted to. In an oral exam it would make me nervous not really knowing what I was going to be asked.”
    * “Even though I consider myself a ‘technology dinosaur’ I could still be creative while showing the Spanish I learned.”
    * “I would prefer to take a traditional oral exam because it would be less effort.”

    I would definitely repeat this project. I was very impressed with the creativity and level of engagement that my students showed. The objectives of the course (and the project) were also surpassed. Students seemed to be much more aware of their vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation in their video, but also while introducing it to the class, during the question and answer session after presenting the video, and in their posted comments to their fellow classmates.

  15. Niko Says:

    For my “Elementary German I” class I create a moodle. Moodle stands for Modular Object-Orientated Dynamic Learning Environment – or – a Course Management System. I wanted my students to know where we are right now and what we are doing during the next couple of lessons. I wanted my lesson planning to be open so that my students can be a part of it. Moodle helps to create activities, to manage resources, it gives the course a structure, and gives the students the chance to participate – also outside the classroom. I used a couple of web 2.0 tools this semester, the moodle platform provided one place to access everything. It is the place where they were able to find all the information they needed.

    First of all, I used the moodle to provide additional resources and material that I used in the classroom. I uploaded all the power point slides I used in the classroom, the sound files which where needed for the homework assignments and videos I was showing in class. The workbook contains many listening exercises where the students need to listen to audio files in order to work on the task. Usually, the students need to go to the language lab to access those audio files. In the past, most students decided to skip those tasks to avoid going to the lab. I uploaded all necessary files onto our platform. Because of this, 80% of my students listened to the audio files on a regular basis.

    Secondly, I used the moodle for grading. At the end of every class I published the oral participation grades on the platform. My students told me during the midterm evaluation that they loved that the grading was transparent because of the online classroom. They were able to access all of their grades whenever they wanted to. There were no surprises at the end of the semester.

    A third point the was great about using moodle, was the fact that I was able to integrate a couple of other tools. I used the polls function, created a wiki and published my google voice number on moodle.

    The most important advantage that my students mentioned during the evaluation of the use of moodle was the chance to collaborate and talk to fellow students outside of the classroom. The students used the forum to talk about grammar difficulties, shared interesting and funny Youtube videos and arrange study groups.

    As a conclusion I would say that using moodle in the classroom was a great success. It saved a lot of time in class because I published all the homework assignments online, which maximized the actual learning time. Additionally it helped with its integrated forums, wikis and blogs to create communities of practice.

  16. beatebirkefeld Says:

    My project was to focus on collaboration when researching about Germany’s culture and history. At the same time, students were to engage in creative writing and given a platform to share knowledge, form opinions, express ideas and reflect on their own and other cultures.

    I started out with the idea of having my American students of German blog about cultural topics with students of English in Germany. After I somehow lost contact to an English teacher in Germany and the semester was flying, I decided to start the project without the “transatlantic help”. Here’s my story of things that went wrong, things that couldn’t have worked better, and why I still think that the project was worth the effort.

    The focus of third semester German students is on writing essays and expressing opinions. I immediately knew that I wanted to extend the essay and combine it with the regular cultural project that students have been familiar with since their first semester of German. While the majority of students has always put a lot effort into their presentations many of the fellow classmates were just blanking out during presentations. The biggest challenge was the way students presented their topics – mostly be reading off from their handouts. There was almost zero benefit for listeners or the presenters themselves.

    If I really wanted my students to learn from each other and think critically I needed to reform the form of presentation. I started a Wikispaces page for our class and created fictitious characters who lived in Germany between 1930 and present time. All characters were friends or related. Students then drew a name and one of their first assignments was to research the time period during which their character lived. Following the historic background, students wrote regular diary entries about their alternate lives as a German and how their character was influenced by history, family, and friends. The ultimate pedagogical goal for me was to have my American students understand the relationship between history and their characters lives while using German as a means to express this relationship. Additionally, I wanted a platform that can be easily accessed also from people outside our classroom. I had hopes to extend our own community of practice (every student researches one topic and peers read and co-edit it) beyond our classroom in Connecticut; I posted the classroom wiki link to education groups on Diigo and my own Facebook page, but I only received feedback (Thank you!) from instructors at UConn.

    Choosing Wikispaces worked out beautifully. The format was easy to edit. Assignments were posted weekly either on the wiki or given in class. For some assignments students were asked to use current grammar we had learned in class. Unfortunately, many students did not post on due day, few did not post at all or not the required amount, the co-editing idea did not work: only half of the students actually read and added or “corrected” their fellow students’ work.
    Interestingly, when we talked about the wiki in class, some student conversations sounded very similar to “normal” family discussion; students argued about their “childrens” future, vacation destinations, wedding dates, and other family-related issues. Another observation I made was that students would realize their personal (real-life) wishes and/or experiences through their fictitious character’s life: One student stated that her character wanted to study at one of Germany’s best engineering schools and become an astronaut just like the student herself in real-life. Others talked about their character’s immigrant status while in real-life they were immigrants themselves. This particular student wrote how difficult the process of moving to a foreign country had been for his character and how he dealt with the issues of discrimination he had faced. Other topics included religion, betrayal, hunger, war, women’s emancipation, education, freedom and student protests, and so forth.

    The fact that students used the German language to engage in critical thinking (although it lacked authenticity at times, i.e. skimboards in 1950s Germany) made my project a big success. In a survey, 100% of students stated that they had learned “some” to “a lot” about the historic background of the 16 characters. The same percentage of students said the project had helped them learning grammar and vocabulary. Most students welcomed the alternative format of the classroom project and enjoyed the creative power they had over their character’s story.

    One major drawback for my function as the instructor was the amount of reading, personal feedback, and grading I had to engage in with every single student. Also, students did not always post on deadline – I had provided my students with a platform for 24/7 learning, but (prior to the project) I had not considered that this format might conflict with my own set time schedule.

    I belief that the majority of students including myself appreciated the project’s underlying idea. Using technology in a creative way was “kind of a big deal” for me, but “natural” for my students. The experience and feedback I received was worth giving the project a second (improved) try at some point in the future.

  17. Karen Zook Says:

    This semester I worked with Roger Travis, Kevin Ballestrini, and some other high school Latin teachers in the area to develop a an online, collaborative, practomimetic Latin curriculum we called Operation LAPIS. The majority of the work for this class takes place in a forum hosted (currently, at least; I’ll talk in greater detail about this below) on phpBB. Since I’ve written rather extensively about this project, both here and elsewhere, my reflection is going to focus on technical and/or procedural changes I would like to make in future implementations of LAPIS.

    I implemented LAPIS with the Elementary Latin I class at UConn. This course is a four-credit class, which means that it should meet four hours a week; since such a large portion of the material was going to take place online (and therefore outside of the traditional classroom), I got permission to cancel the fourth hour of on-the-ground class time, giving the students more time to do their LAPIS collaboration. This relates to something I’ve noticed about the teaching requirements for online/blended classrooms: specifically, they require a much, much different sort of time commitment than traditional approaches. For an on-the-ground classroom, it is expected that instructors answer student email and hold two office hours a week, but beyond that they are not required to be accessible to students outsider the classroom. During LAPIS, with so much of the student work taking place on a bulletin board, it was essential that I check in with the bulletin boards several times each night, just to monitor student progress and make sure that there wasn’t anything inappropriate occurring (early in the semester there was an incident demonstrating WHY this sort of monitoring is necessary).

    It was also very easy for the students to see LAPIS as something “extra” that wasn’t really connected to the “real” class, if I weren’t diligent about two things: first, dealing with LAPIS during every single in-person meeting of the class by pulling up the posts from the night before and discussing them; and second, by being present on the forum and responding to student posts in a timely manner. This last one was a real challenge for me, since I had a very busy semester and keep much different hours than most of the students, but I could really tell the difference in student engagement and contributions on those nights when I wasn’t able to be as present in the online environment. In some ways, the requirements of online/blended teaching schedules are incompatible with traditional on-the-ground teaching schedules, and mixing the two can require the instructor to be in two places at once (and put a real strain on his/her coffeemaker). It seems to me that, as schools and universities move increasingly toward online learning environments, departments are going to need to recognize and accommodate the changing needs of their faculty in order to better allow them to develop/adapt teaching styles that fit this new environment.

    One of the biggest challenges we had with implementing LAPIS was a technical one. I am, after all, a humanities graduate student; I took a single course in web design as an undergraduate, and received in it the single worst grade I’ve received in any subject in my entire life. We initially developed LAPIS to be run on Google Wave, but with the impending demise of that service it became clear that we were going to need to find something different; we ended up settling on a self-hosted WordPress blog, which allowed for a lot of flexibility but required the students to keep several tabs open at all times, toggling back and forth between the site, the forum, and several open Google Docs. Before the start of the second semester I’m going to be moving the UConn students over to Jooma, a platform that’s a bit more challenging to learn but allows for tighter integration of all the little pieces that make up the LAPIS curriculum. While it’s a useful (and increasingly necessary) skill to be able to juggle multiple tabs/sources of information at once, the students expressed the opinion that it was a case of the technological requirements getting in the way of the learning, rather than facilitating it.

    On the whole, I’d say the first semester of Operation LAPIS was a success. Some of the students really didn’t engage with it at all, but that’s going to be true in any classroom. I can say with absolute certainty that the students I have now, after one semester, have a great deal more proficiency in Latin composition than my students from the previous two years did after the second semester. They also have a more varied cultural background, which is something that can be difficult to achieve in a non-spoken language classroom.

    As the instructor, I find LAPIS fascinating. It’s a bit like writing a textbook that evolves as the semester progresses; the students respond to story prompts and I, as the instructor, have to then use those responses to advance the story. Many of their responses are amazing (whether because they’re insightful or just so strange I never would have anticipated them), and it’s certainly never boring to try to figure out what to do with the strange choices they’ve made*. On the whole, from both the teaching and learning standpoint, I’d say it’s an evolving success.

    *examples include threats to just kill the non-player characters (i.e., the stand-ins for me that give them instruction and guidance) and insistence on spending days looking for items in all sorts of unexpected places, when I thought their locations would be perfectly clear.

  18. aljarrash Says:

    Trying to teach differently from what you got used to have before is something very interesting .To teach using technology helps making the course you teach easier.Tools are a lot ,but few of them are good for teaching.We did study so many tools in this course which helped me discover a new world of teaching.I really have already used the internet too much in my life looking for information ,chatting and to download some softwares for my laptop.It helped me somehow to understand and use the tools in this course.I didn’t use internet to do something else.After I studied so many things in this course ,I was able to use one of the tools in my teaching.Before creating a website on NING network,I thought of an interesting ,relevant and useful tool that is relevant to our course content as well.It was the first time for me to cease a website ,manage it,use it with students of mine in the class and share it with other teachers,students and natives in many places over the globe.

    The project purpose:
    -Improve students writing using simple structure to introduce themselves in three different Arabic dialects and MSA as well.
    -Students will be able to introduce themselves using meaningful sentence and ask more questions to get to know more about others.
    -To know how to use the vocals they did study in class and others they will get from other participants and natives .
    -Know more about others culture.
    -Have the chance to use the network while they are so interested to text and use the internet.

    When doing the project,I was thinking on how to make it more interesting to students and how to help them understand what I teach.To know how to teach in a different way is something great.
I learned that getting students to participate in such a learning process needs a very big effort from the teacher.I had to encourage them to use the tool and I felt that some of them thought it was an additional work it was not in the syllabus.I asked them to do their presentations about themselves online via our NING network as a home work to get them all involved and use such tool.After they did it ,they liked using the website and did what I asked after voluntarily .
    We started using the website in the class.I gave each student a laptop and explained the way they should post and reply on the forum.I asked them to post a description about their houses and comment at least on two participants.They did that perfectly.Then I told them to work on our main post “something we did study in class”to introduce themselves using MSA.The idea was very simple .I asked them to post an introduction about themselves and reply on each other.In the meantime students from different Universities would read about them and write replies and got to know each other.Not only students ,I sent invitations to teachers “who teach the same book we have” and Arabic natives who shared students , and that’s what made it more interesting .It helped them to know more about different cultures,different ideas and how to use the language properly.
    It was a vey nice idea that made students interested in posting and replying on each other in a simple way.They used the vocabulary they studied in the class and wrote complete sentences and got correction feedback from others .
    As an assessment of what we did,I gave my students a survey asking about how did they like using the website.I got a good rate from them.We also had a discussion in the class for almost half an hour on the project we did.They commented realistically which gave me a nice feedback to use in the future if doing the same project.
    As a person entering the world of technology for the first time ,I was so confused and didn’t work as others did cause of some circumstances I had ,but I really got the benefit from what I learned .After I used this tool and saw how it was easy ,how students liked it and how much information I got,it made me think to use it again and again in my future classes.
    I would have to do many things differently in my project next time.First,a kind of social networking tool should be written in the syllabus and has to be credited so it encourages students to participate and use it well .Second,I would have to set some clear instructions on how to use the website created and how it should be integrated with the study course.Finally,I would have to be more familiar with the tool I’m using to be able to use it properly and make it more interesting.

    To sum it up,I would like to thank the instructor of this course ,professor Barbara for all help she offered and want to say that it was a very big chance for me to study this course.I really learned so many interesting and excellent things about tools and using technology.I learned that learning is a cooperation worldwide and through technology ,nothing is impossible and no borders may limit you from what you want to know and learn about.This course opened a new window into another way of teaching I will use in my future career.

  19. soledadre Says:

    My Classroom Project consisted on a private facebook group created for the Spanish 1002-002 course in the University of Connecticut. The objective was to learn about Spain, other Hispanic countries and the Spanish language in an active way. What I really wanted was my students participating, sharing and practicing Spanish outside the classroom. The teacher but mostly the students had to contribute to the group with whatever file or comment they considered interesting. As students were “members” of the group, but not “friends”, there were not any privacy problems. Moreover, it was an optional activity so students just shared or participated to the extent they wanted to. However, participation was evaluated since they could get up to 10 extra points. The most important thing was to give opinions, ideas, sharing, using the Spanish language.

    I think this activity was very positive since participation was even greater than I expected. I realized that when you offered your students opportunities to learn in a language that they understand –that of the social networks– they feel really committed. Moreover, according to what we commented in class during the informal evaluation, although they really tried to write properly, students did not feel any stress when contributing. I also learned some personal interests about my students, a knowledge that can be very useful to make in class contents more motivating.

    Next time I implement a Facebook group within a course, I will start it from the very beginning. In this way, I will know better my students and make my lessons closer to their interests. I will also use it as the main communication method. I have been doing it but just at the end of the course so communication was a little bit chaotic with the simultaneous use of Husky Mail, Google Voice or postings/messages in Facebook. Another negative point was that not all students participated at the same level. I thought it would be the perfect way for shy students to increase participation but it was not so in all cases. Maybe I should have found the way to push shy students to participate more and enter into conversations but then, the “optional” component would have felt like compulsory.

    In any case, as I said above, the general feeling of the project implementation was quite positive. Students participated a lot with very interesting comments and links. They became experts for their classmates, commenting about particular topics and correcting each other. They really reflected upon the language without even realizing. I hope this sharing does not finish with the semester. I would like them going on contributing to the group, I will personally try to keep the Facebook group alive.

    As a final word, I would like to say that even when I would have preferred to implement the project from the very beginning, the time allotted to the project was enough to get the conclusions previously commented in this post. The time devoted to the development of the project before its implementation was also enough, although when I was trying to overcome my doubts related to privacy, I felt that it was going to be difficult to start in November –my personal deadline. Finally everything went very well and I am confident that next time it will work even better.

  20. edadedebas Says:

    CLCS 5318
    Project Reflection

    This semester I am leading two discussion sections of CLCS 1101 World Literature 1. The course covers world literature from antiquity to early modern period. The students have two hours of lecture in which they learn about the historical and cultural background. They have very little/no interaction in the lectures. They also attend an hour of discussion in which they discuss the texts. For my classroom project, I had 3 main goals:

    1) I wanted the students to be able to relate to the texts and to bridge the historical and the cultural gap by making links to contemporary culture. Since some of the texts does not really make sense to them, I wanted them to learn about the culture they were written and to adapt the values in the ancient texts into our modern day society.

    2) I wanted to implement principles of Universal Design for Instruction. I wanted to give a better learning opportunity for different types of learners. For a visual learner, it might be intimidating to read about the texts that were written thousands of years ago.

    3) Last but not least, I wanted to create an interactive classroom culture. I wanted to compensate for their passivity in the lectures.

    In order to pursue these three goals, I created a closed group on Facebook and asked the students to join. Out of 46 students, 42 of them joined the group. There are three ways they could contribute to the group by 1) making connections with the popular culture (Bridging the gap part) 2) uploading a relevant image, post, or link (UDI principles) 3) responding to each other’s posts (interactivity). I got very interesting positive results. Some of the results were unexpected and I had not anticipated them to happen:

    1) In the mid-semester evaluations, some students said that this group enhanced their learning.
    2) Some of the silent students participated a lot in the online discussions. Interestingly, one of the active and talkative students refused to participate in the Facebook group. This made me re-think of categories we make among the students.
    3) Students responded to my questions and posts in the group quicker than e-mails.
    4) The group became more interactive than I had originally anticipated. The students were willing to participate even in the topics that they were not asked to contribute. The students used the forum as a midterm study group. They asked questions to each other and responded each other’s questions. They created an additional contribution or a learning goal to the forum.
    5) I substituted a cancelled class and posted the discussion questions on the group. The students were more active and eager to discuss the topic than the actual classroom setting.
    6) They were less intimidated when they disagree with another student. They were more open and willing to accept each other’s idea even when they disagree
    7) I combined the two discussion sections in the group. With the help of the group, they get to know other members of the class, who are not in their discussion sections.
    8) The students actually created their own communities of practice when they shared interesting ideas about the texts we have been erading.
    9) The group broke down the traditional distinction between an expert instructor and an apprentice learner. They were able to find information and to present in a way that elucidates the understanding of the texts. They became their own instructors.
    10) Different from a class environment, they shared their ideas not by just looking at me but as if they are adderssing to the whole class.

    Over all, the Facebook group turned to be more successful than I had thought. I would definitely think of extending it for future classes. However, I have one major concern. Not all students have Facebook accounts. Even when they do, they might not want to join the group. During the discussion section, I paid attention to share everything in three ways: 1) verbally during class meeting 2) through e-mail 3) through Facebook group. I did not want to feel the 4 non-Facebook users that they do not belong to class. I did not post anything on Facebook that was not shared in other forms of communication.

    In order to solve this problem of not having everyone on Facebook, I am thinking of using the discussion forum on Husky CT. It is place where everyone participates and has access to. But, actually, the students did not participate in the Husky CT discussion I had created at the beginning of the semester. I think the students tend to associate Husky CT with classes and school and Facebook with more fun. Besides, different from Husky CT, Facebook prompts them to act. Once they are tagged in a post, they are required to post. When somebody responses to their post, they get a notification and they can immediately response by liking it with just a click.

  21. marineuconn Says:

    I had a French culture/ conversation class this semester and I decided to use Posterous as a classroom project.
    Posterous is a social network, which offers several benefits. The students usually already know how to use a social network, then it was easy to add this project to the lesson plan. For the students, Posterous was like a HuskyCT with a collaborative dimension and without the formal and institutional aspects. My original idea was to have the students do an e-portfolio, although using a social network allows more than that…

    My goals were to support the students along the semester, have them react on each other’s work (peer collaboration), and get them to know each other better because I strongly think that having a good class atmosphere is the key for students’ personal achievement.
    I created a group for the class on which I posted assignments that counted for 10% of the grade and on which I posted review sheets for quizzes as well as advice for exams and oral presentations. I also posted the articles or videos we were studying in class.
    The students had to create a profile for themselves and post their work on it. Each assignment would include peer collaboration and the use of other media such as pictures, images, videos, or sound recordings. The activities were mostly about themselves as individuals and students. I created a profile for myself where I posted some news and tools such as Lingro and Wordreference.
    The benefits of using Posterous: everyone can get daily automatic updates–what has been recently posted on the website–on his/ her email address. It is easy for the instructor to post updates about the lesson plan. It gives more structure to the class. The students reacts in a spontaneous way to their classmates’ posts. Last, Posterous helps them catch up with sessions they miss!
    Did it work? The students posted more comments than required. The atmosphere in the classroom was good at the beginning of the semester and kept going better. I asked them to write me questions directly on my profile so that it can serve as a Frequently Asked Questions rubric; yet, the students preferred to continue sending me emails.
    I evaluated the students according to standard criteria plus creativity, as the activities were relatively open in terms of presentation.

    The group will stay there. More groups can be created over the years and adapted for other classes since the structure of the setting is very flexible.
    For the future: posting the articles that are being studied in class would be a good idea so that the students could come prepared and ready to talk. I could also ask them to answer a few questions to guide their reading, as it is proved that students understand and remember better this way. Posterous can also be used as a substitute for canceled classes due to bad weather conditions for example, and it can welcome extra-credits activities.

    Conclusion
    Using Posterous did not recreate a completely authentic setting to learn French but at least it did have an impact on the classroom atmosphere and participation because students got to know each other better. Also, they were globally motivated about working online. I think that using Posterous rather than Facebook might have contributed to the project’s success. Facebook is very controversial — it usually leads people to give personal information on themselves, the users aren’t in control of the way privacy policies are being designed. None of my students already had friends. The anonymity of Posterous enabled all the students to participate without any back-thoughts.

  22. loisramirez Says:

    This semester I taught intermediates Spanish. I decided to use Google voice as my classroom project. Google voice is one of the many services provided by Google, and it is a VoIP hybrid, this means that you do not need to have a physical phone to access it and use it as a phone, but you do need Internet access. It may also be attached to your phone number and you may make and receive phone calls/texts/voicemail from both your phone or computer. With Google Voice you may create a virtual phone number known as a Goggle number, I would like to clarify that this service it is still free of charge, the only time you get charged a one time $10 fee is when you want to change your google number.
    I decided that the best way to apply this tools was in a evaluation environment, and decided to use their oral exams to test this tool. I asked my students for their phone numbers (as I mentioned before nobody refused to this) and made a group through google voice using their phone numbers. Each group that you create can have different set of rules such as voicemail greeting, calling times and group sms.
    They will then call (only one caller at a time otherwise the first caller gets kicked out) and would be greeted with a voicemail that would ask a question. They would then leave a voicemail (around 2 minutes) answering this question. I had previously recorded the greetings using my phone. I was also able to change the greeting through my computer with a few simple steps every time it was someone else’s turn.
    The results: I found out that the students were very comfortable the day of the exam since they did not feel intimidated by my presence; I was able to see this in their performance and in the anonymous survey that I email to them using google docs.
    I was also able to test other feature, SMS, during the time the campus lost power (I teach a night class) since I knew a few of my students were commuters, I knew it was necessary for them to be updated through a quick access method. Everyone was able to get the updates and began to use this feature themselves to communicate with me in other events (attendance, assignment clarification, etc). I believe my students used this since they feel more comfortable sending a text message than writing and email.
    The evaluation: I sent each student the recording of their exam and pointed out the areas where they had made some mistakes (giving the exact time when it was done). I was also able to see that they made only one phone call, since this tool keeps and organized log with the time, date and length of the call. This way I was able to see that the student did not call several times or took longer than necessary to answer the question.
    To improve: I think that the transcribing tools can be improved (right now it just does not work) and add other languages to the transcribing option.
    What’s missing: although this is a great way of testing since it reduces the anxiety factor and it gives a more realistic use to the target language, you can not test all oral abilities through this method since it lacks of a fece to face interaction, therefore it needs to be supplemented with another activity/tool.
    Conclusion: I will definitely implement this style of testing in my future courses. I believe that it adds a level of self-awareness that allows the student to be conscious of what they are producing (grammar, entonation, pronunciation); some of the areas that the student cannot see since they cannot look back at the material they produced orally. I do not think I will ask student to create their own google number, since it might create confusion or even disaprovement from their part, I think many of them were curious about it and probable will try it on their own later on. I think that the only way I would ask them to make their own google number would be if they refuse to give me their phone number (I think that they did not refuse since it was a reciprocal thing, they had access to my number at the same time as I had access to them, so I think they viewed this as a fair thing). I will like to use this also in other activities so this that did not not feel comfortable can get use to it. Overall I think that this project allowed me to see how technology helps improved the teaching experience as well as the learning experience. I will continue to look for new ways to improve how my students can learn the target language as it is applied in our modern world.

  23. rosariopollicino Says:

    My classroom project for this course aimed to implement the tutoring offer for all student of foreign languages here at UCONN through a virtual classroom called vyew.

    Tutoring is a need that all student have even those who usually are very good at learning languages. Any student will face at some point some difficulty, personal problems or other problems which do not depend on them like snow days or other extreme weather disruptions which will require the students extra tutoring.
    Beside these excellent students there are those who usually need more tutoring than those for many different reasons and so tutoring become also a way to encourage our students who face more difficulties than other in order to keep going until the end of the course successful.

    Do we have any tutoring service for our student at the moment? Yes we do! we have the instructor’s office hours which are only two per week mandatory and also a library tutoring service only three hours per week once a week. DO we really think that this availability is going to meet our students (most of the time busy) schedule? What we need is the flexibility and also the easiness at the same time for both parties to meet up quickly and from everywhere.

    So my project started in making experience three volunteer students a lesson online where we revised a lesson we had covered in class. After that I submitted them a survey and according the result of the survey I understood what was the actual need of my current student to be tutored in order to put it practice this flexible an very involving way of tutoring immediately. I offered my student the possibility to practice with me online in order to get ready for their oral exam.

    The oral skills is always the hardest to put in practice in a class of 20 students so I thought this will give them either the possibility to practice their Italian (the target language of my course)and motivate them . Yes they were motivated without the offer of extra points. Why I decided of not offering extra points? I constantly discourage my students to study for a grade and promote the study for learning. So I could not propose them extra points to get ready for their oral exam this would have been a non-sense.

    The result I have to say turned up very well as out of 17 students 12 took part and I had two groups of six people each and we practiced the topics I had chosen for the oral exam. In this online class vyew we used different tools very simple like the whiteboard and the web-touring tool which made the lesson extremely interesting and also involving for them. But the real result to which I had not thought about until after receiving the result form the first survey was that they all did a great oral exam as they were feeling much more comfortable as we had practiced together already and also the grades were excellent between 86-99 to give a clear example because they focused with the preparation of a specific tutored session just for the oral exam.

    What would I do differently? Well I will introduce this possibility of having online tutoring since the beginning of the semester so that student know can have access to me wherever we are so that they know they are followed and with this flexibility of the location we can always find 30 minutes to go through something we covered in class. This can be used in all circumstances they need as a week end if they went home or if they are sick or more importantly when the snow days come. In this last case in particular we could cover our lesson online instead of rushing or not to cover part of the syllabus. It’s been a great experience for myself and with the weather we have I strongly believe that instructor should be trained to teach online in order to better serve our students.


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