Tuesday, February 7, 2012

iPad adventures in Spanish class

Middle School Spanish instructor Deborah Fugate shares her experience in 1-to-1 iPad teaching in her classes and shares "radio announcements" from some of her students:

August of 2011 seems so long ago … summer vacation was at an end, and I was facing five days of iPad training and worrying that I (who learned to type on a manual typewriter) would be teaching these kids about iPads. I was nervous and excited about learning something new. What excited me most? The prospect of not spending (endless) hours at the photocopier every time we began a new lesson and not seeing disorganized binders, loose papers lying around, and not hearing, “I lost my handout,” or “I was absent and didn’t get that.”

Almost five months have passed. Now, when friends, former students or family members ask me (with envy) how I like my iPad, I find myself launching into full ‘teacher mode’ giving a tutorial on the basics, explaining the difference between the iPad vs. a laptop, and exclaiming the virtues of teaching/learning with the new technology. I sound like ‘quite the expert’ -- I’m not!

My learning curve has been on the slower end compared to some of the other teachers (at least it feels that way), but that’s O.K. (or so the resident experts tell me). I know plenty … for now, and I learn something new every week. Uploading documents to Box, receiving, grading, and returning assignments, using various apps (like NoteShelf, Flash Cards, iCalendar, Quick Voice) are all second nature now. I want to become proficient with the iMovie but there is almost no incentive because the students already know how to use it.

I laugh at some of my last year’s lesson plans that required students to cut and paste (scissors and glue stick) vocabulary lists into their composition books; now, they download them into their Spanish E-binder that has several sub-folders, one of which is called Vocabulario, and they make notes, draw pictures, or respond in some way to the new words. Another ‘old’ assignment was to make flash cards (yes, using index cards), a time-consuming and dreaded task for most; now they use a flash card app and download words from Quizlet (and can’t misplace them). Activities I used to love doing suddenly seem as old-fashioned as the typewriter.

Teaching culture with the iPad is another plus. Introducing a new country is so much more fun using Google images and/or youtube in the class room.  Foods, places, or animals like matambre, cazabe, patacones, tortilla española, El Morro, San Termo, La Sagrada Familia, sloths, oropendulas, howler monkeys, or artwork by Cándido Bidó and others appear with a tap of the screen; it’s as close as they’re going to get to ‘being there’ without actually being there! The group excitement generated around these images and video streams is genuine, and the images ‘stick.’ So simple.

Students are currently researching a genre of music, composer or vocal artist/band for their cultural report and for the first time, I realized that now I can give them class time for this. Yesterday, they pulled out headphones and got to work listening to this or that piece deciding what was most interesting, making notes about each, and I was amazed at how focused they were. Ironically, the room became very quiet. In the ‘old’ days, we had to reserve a spot in the library, go to the library (with books, binders), remove laptops from cart, find a spot to sit and then wait several minutes for them to boot up, and make sure we had enough headphones – not very effective (or fun, I might add).

Small groups of seventh graders made radio ads for an imaginary sporting goods store. Collaborating and taking notes on the iPad is much more fun and interesting than writing on paper; all members of the group stay focused and contribute equally. They shared in the ‘delivery’ of the ad, and if they made a mistake, they recorded it until it they were satisfied. They feel encouraged to practice more because they get instant feedback. They e-mail me their recording, and we all listen to the radio ads together. Truthfully, any project becomes more challenging and fun if they know they’ll be recording or filming it.
Stay tuned for more iPad adventures in Spanish class!


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this information! There is not a lot of information out there about ipad use in a foreign language classroom!