Activating Communication: Five Ways to Enhance Communication Using Technology-ACTFL Webinar-Answering your questions-Part 1

By Toni Theisen posted 10-10-2010 14:17

Hello to all,

Thank you for your participation in the Webinar.  I am going to answer the questions in several parts of this blog in order to make the reading more manageable.

Please remember to go the the ACTFL webinar wiki for access to more resources and support for the tools I discussed on the webinar.

Question 1: We are exploring a one-to-one option at our school, either laptop, iPad, or something similar. What are your thoughts about ways to engage students and deliver content in that kind of format?

Wow, how fun.  Just remember that students want to create content, not just consume it.  So what purpose are you planning for these tools.  It there a way for students to create.  For example iPads are great, but except for a few apps this is just a tool for receiving information currently.  I bet that that will change.  But can you budget for the price of the apps you will have to put on the iPad?  Also the space on netbooks is limited.  Do students have access to a network where they can projects or links?

Schools are now rethinking the 1 to 1 idea and going more for class sets.  Due to cloud computing (that means things are located on the web and can be accessed anywhere, anytime-Google Docs and Dropbox are some of the current ones) schools are opting for classroom sets.  That means students enter class and use the netbook, iPad, etc. in the room.  This concept keeps the cost down on repairing and updating tools and programs.  Students are always encouraging students to bring in their own devices and created school Wifi hot spots or letting students have access to Internet all the time.

Question 2: Other than YouTube, what were the video sites that Toni shared?

On the wikispace you will find links to all the video sites: Vimeo, BlipTV and Daily Motion.  Daily motion can also be searched in several languages such as  Also look at TeacherTube and SchoolTube. (

Question 3: It is necessary to balance both the importance of technology integration with age-appropriate activities.  What suggestions do you have for 1st graders who are not technologically independent/literate and 2nd graders who are techno. emergent?
Balance is always important in everything we do as teachers.  Their are many teachers using tech for these young leaders.  Quite often for the ones that are literate yet images are being use as stimuli, then teachers use podcasting tools for students to record their thoughts.  Kim Cofino (  is an educational technologist for the primary grades.  She has facilitated many projects for students at this level.  She uses Voicethread a lot because you can load images and videos and them comments.  Many can comment at the same time so students can have a discussion.  On the Webinar wiki I created, there are examples of students using Voki (talking Avatars) from Spanish glasses-grades 3 and 4.  Lynn Fulton, an elementary Spanish job does an excellent job working with her students.  Check out the elementary section on the Wiki.

Question 4: Please clarify - "wordle"?  ... chef?  unclear.

Wordle is a program that makes word clouds.  Word clouds are digital word collages.  The more the word is typed into the program the larger it appears.  Hint: In order to include accent marks, type the words or text into a word document first.  Add accents.  Then copy and paste this document into the Wordle program.  There are several word cloud programs such as Image Chef.  Check out the wikispace: for examples and links to the programs to make word clouds.

Question 5: What levels do the 80% teach and what levels do the 20% teach?

Not sure of the questions, but let me try.  I believe that it is about 80% of learning in the class is directed by the curriculum of the district and 20% is for the teacher to create on her/his own-the Google approach (because Google wants its employees to use part of their time to work on their own ideas).  I believe no matter what you do in class that it sure be aligned with standards, use backward design to know the end goals and be designed with purpose and clear expectations.  Therefore to include technology or not depends on the lesson/unit.  Always ask-How will it impact student learning?

Question 6: How does the speaker adjust her tech-enhanced lessons for linguistic competence?

Just like any lesson I would design that isn't using tech.  I know the expected outcomes.  I know the level of the students and the content of the class.  I build around those concepts.  I also know that will tech and can design tiered activities or choice boards so I can meet the students where they are and advance them accordingly.  I find using tech that I can do some interesting differentiation for students.

Question 7:Another Skype idea: I have alums studying abroad Skype and speak in the target language to my classes. It`s a great way to get alums involved in the school, and to get kids interested in study abroad.

Thank you for sharing this idea.