31 May 2013

Make a soundboard with Glogster

Students listed words from their recipes they were having
a hard time pronouncing, and I made them a soundboard.
Here's how you can too, plus other ideas for your own.
Soundboards can be a quick, easy way to train our ears, but if we make them ourselves, they can also boost fluency and meet proficiency standards.

I really wish I could find a soundboard creator page or app where you press a button to record directly to the button. However, failing that, I've discovered a relatively simple way to make my own soundboard using Glogster. Students could certainly follow the steps themselves and make their own, either to help with words or lines they have trouble spitting out or those they just need help remembering--a handy tie-in for North Carolina Essential Standards NL.COD.3.3 (Use readily available technology tools and digital literacy skills to present in the target language) and NM.COD.3.3 (Use readily available technology tools and digital literacy skills to present academic information in the target language), for example.

1. Record yourself reading the whole list/text on Audacity, pausing your speech--not the recording--between each to leave a little room for editing
2. Highlight one word/line of the recording at a time (listen to the highlighted part and adjust to make sure the beginning and end of the word/line are not cut off).

3. Export the highlighted selection as WAV or MP3 (I often forget to choose the selection export option, which means the audio is not divided in nice little hunks for the soundboard like I wanted.)

4. Name each audio "selection" you export with the word/line therein (or first word or two of the line).

5. Create a Glog.

6. Upload all WAV or MP3 files to Glogster.

7. Add a text box of your choosing.

8. Duplicate the text box until you have one for each word/line you recorded.

9. Type a word or line in each box in Spanish and put them in order of the text being read or other logical order (I alphabetized a list of trouble words students gave me).

10. Insert the audio for each file: I prefer a small, unobtrusive player (well, the default) to attach to corresponding text boxes.

Soundboard ideas:Collect a list of words that students feel they will have trouble saying to make a listening reference for the whole class. Hint: alphabetize the list and eliminate repeats. 
Essential Standards: NL.COD.3.1 Use single words and simple, memorized phrases, such as those for weather, days of the week, months, seasons, numbers and daily classroom activities, to present to an audience; NM.COD.3.1 Use memorized words and phrases about the weather, date, seasons, numbers, and daily classroom activities to give a spoken or written presentation.

Highlight words in drafts of upcoming presentations that you want students to record on a soundboard ahead of time (Read: ANY NUMBERS, especially years...plus words you've heard them mispronounce before or just plain tricky words).Have students submit their audio "selection" WAVs or MP3s to a class dropbox/folder on people/places they've researched and create a class glog of all of the names and places. Then after presentations, have students fill in a scorecard, writing in the name of the classmate(s) who presented in a blank whre each person/place would be on the soundboard. Essential Standards--NL.CLL.3.1 Use single words and simple, memorized phrases in presentations to identify the names of people, places, and things; NM.CLL.3.3 Use appropriate pronunciation and voice inflection in spoken presentations.

Have students choose different children's songs or rhymes from the target culture, possibly leading up to some Día del Niño festivities. They make a line-by-line soundboard of their own then must learn one other classmate's. Essential Standards--NL.CLL.3.2 Use the language to recite memorized poetry and songs from the target culture; NM.CLL.3.2 Use the language to recite and act out simple poetry and songs from the target culture.

Students create soundboards for their favorite (non-Spanish) teachers to learn ways to talk about some basic concepts in their own classes. Bonus: work in the teacher's favorite catchphrases too! Essential Standards--NL.COD.3.2 Use single words and simple, memorized phrases to name common objects and actions related to other disciplines; NM.COD.3.2 Use memorized words and phrases to describe common objects and actions related to other disciplines.

Students choose countries to research, finding names of traditional arts and artisanry/musical genres, popular artists/celebrities/shows, and favorite pastimes, creating soundboards with just the names before presenting basic facts for each. Before presentations, classmates have to guess which category each name falls into, then listen to presentations to see if they were right (Optional: fabulous prizes). Essential Standard: NL.CMT.3.1 Identify arts, sports, games and media from the target culture.

Also, how many times do students just shift back into English when they see a word remotely resembling one from their native tongue? Perhaps after a semester of, say, blogging and finding similarities, they could create a soundboard of cognates and loan words they have used--and misused!--but saying them with the right inflections. Essential Standard--NM.CLL.4.2 Exemplify instances of cognates and loan words.

27 May 2013

Ayudando Ando, round 2

La Laja is a school in Icononzo, Tolima in Colombia. They have one classroom and around 50 students. Some students walk 2 hours to get there. Ayudando Ando is a charity group out of Bogotá that seeks to support the growth of this tiny school buried in the mountains of Colombia. They do not accept money, only supplies and volunteers.

I discovered this group almost two years ago, and the photo to the left shows some of the supplies my Spanish I class gathered (over 100 lbs!).

La Laja is still in need of supplies, so I've contacted Ayudando Ando again, and even begun forming a plan with the math teachers at my school (kinda handy we got teamed up for interdisciplinary planning time last workday!) for how we can get another supply drive and shipment together. Here is what we've planned so far:

  • Show video from La Laja school and look at school supplies request list to set goals (interpretation).
  • Form small groups for baking, separate groups for supply collection?
  • Select recipes in Spanish (Colombian? Maybe with video suggestions from kids at the school?) to prepare for a bake sale to fund shipping (more interpretation).
  • Convert recipes in metric (and vice versa?).

  • Purchase ingredients from a local tienda or mercado (yay for all 5 C's in one!)
  • Small groups prepare dishes, bring in samples for class (with information on preparation, cost of ingredients displayed).
  • Individuals write reviews of their favorite dishes, explaining why they would make good products for our bake sale (maybe on a class blog to facilitate responses and collaborative decision-making).
  • Skype with Colombia kiddos?
  • Final collection of supplies to set shipping goals (interpersonal discussion with small groups comparing notes?)
  • Math classes help analyze how many servings we could make per recipe selected, how many we need to sell at what price to meet our goals.

  • Students research available companies that ship to Colombia (ie Zai Cargo) and their rates (interpretation). 
  • Math classes analyze which is best and how best to ship (size, number of boxes).
  • Bake sale!
  • Seek donations for remaining shipping costs OR have math classes calculate how many more supplies we can add if we exceed our goals :)

  • Write personal letters to students there (with photos?) with what they learned.
  • Ship!
  • Have math classes calculate arrival date.
  • Skype again?
I feel confident this round will go more smoothly than last time for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the fact that there is no chance of going into labor before the supplies ship. Also, I'm working with sophomores whom I know pretty well in Spanish 2, so I know how they work and what they know already (including their previous work on cooking shows). Of course it's also helpful to start planning before September, and the fact that cameras need not factor into the equation this time reduces the stress over the video project and the donation collection from that side.

21 May 2013

North Carolina Budget Proposal Betrays Us All

I have been teaching in North Carolina for ten years, six years beyond what I promised in exchange for my training as a North Carolina Teaching Fellow. Since I first started teaching, back at the turn of the century, amidst the tobacco fields of rural southeast North Carolina, I have earned a master's degree, National Board Certification, and the title of Mommy. I have worked at traditional high schools, a redesigned high school, and an early college high school. I have taught Spanish and English, to classes from thirteen to thirty-two. I have lost students to car wrecks, dropouts, and jail. I've seen students go to Governor's School, travel abroad, and earn master's degrees themselves. I have snuggled teen moms' newborns and attended funerals with teen orphans. I have engaged with other educators across the country to improve my practice and fought long and hard with myself to find ways to reach more students in more meaningful ways.

I have accepted the responsibility for improving my own financial state when North Carolina teacher salaries ceased to keep pace with inflation or the growth of my family. I accepted my frozen salary and kept doing the best I know how to do, even adding the arduous National Board Certification process to my plate, and then a master's program, in the hopes of catching up before my eldest got to kindergarten. The 12% boost from National Boards, however, is mostly going toward taking care of my children's physical well-being and affording the commute required to get to my new school, since Spanish was cut entirely from my previous place of employment. I had hoped that graduating a few weeks ago with a 4.0 and an MA would mean I could afford to move closer to my current school and keep my soon-to-be kindergartener within reach in the event of emergencies or holiday programs.

Now, I fear I will have to abandon North Carolina public schools and take my son with me.

It's not that I no longer believe in the mission of public education. For our society to thrive, all children must have the tools to succeed and navigate life's challenges. To make children compete for quality education is anathema to my soul. I have seen my share of truculent teens and felt tempted to dismiss some entirely to make my life easier. But I can't do that. We can't do that.

We can't let developing minds be stultified because educating them isn't easy, or punish them because their parents did not choose paths that made private school tuition or even education a priority. We cannot make children suffer inadequate education because they are packed into overflowing classes from the time the bell rings on their first day.

North Carolina is proposing a budget that would cut over 4,000 teacher assistant positions, remove class size limits in kindergarten through third grade, freeze teacher pay for the fourth year in five years, and deny promised pay raises to those completing their master's degrees after December of last year.

This budget is a betrayal of teachers, parents, and young people. It is a betrayal of our future as a state and a society. These cuts are a move toward dismantling a system that is in place for the benefit of all.

I have worked hard for North Carolina public schools for ten years. I worked hard to earn my master's degree to be a better teacher and provider for my family. And my son starts kindergarten in the fall.

I will not let my son be a number.

My son is a growing person who needs attention, who deserves affection, even when I am not there to provide it. My son will learn the requisite math and reading skills wherever he ends up: Mommy is a teacher, remember. But will he spend eight hours a day with a single adult saddled with wrangling thirty five-year-olds? Could such an adult possibly have time to respond to his feelings and dreams, to tell and show him that his efforts matter, that his actions and intentions carry weight? Will my son just have to survive his day, just meeting expectations and avoiding causing problems in an overcrowded class? Is this the education that my son's little mind, his little heart deserves?

Is there any little heart in North Carolina that deserves that childhood?

Maybe his mommy should have worked harder and gone into a more lucrative field, moved up in the world. Maybe she should have stayed home to attend to his growth and development personally. Maybe she should go somewhere where education is guarded and children are treasured.

Maybe, maybe she will.