Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I was going to respond to Steve's comment in another comment, but I feel that it is much easier to do so in another post.

For those of you who may not have read his comment, Steve wrote, "I'd be curious in hearing more about why you feel 2-4 minute podcasts are ideal for foreign language instruction? How are you actually using the podcasts you've got posted on the class page?"

What great questions, and I never have addressed them in a blog, so here goes.

1.) 2-4 minute podcasts
Students get easily frustrated when they listen to authentic language - realia if you will - when they are used to their teachers' accent. I have found that if podcasts are much longer than this, students get very frustrated, listen one time through and do as much as they can. Most of the earlier podcasts are around 6 to 7 minutes long, and they have been less effective than those that I have created that are shorter. In 2-4 minutes, you can go through 2-3 different "types" of listening, and the students' attention is held because of the variety that they are hearing, and it isn't long enough for them to give up. They may still be frustrated, but they will stick it out (as a rule).
The exception, of course, if music. If a song is longer than 4 minutes, they will (generally) pay attention the whole time. It is less daunting than the spoken word, as it is often slower.

2.) My podcasts
Again, in a dream world, every student of mine would already have an iPod. Since I can't live in my dreams, my students upload the podcasts to their own, personal iPod. If they don't have an iPod, mp3 player or a computer on which to listen to the podcasts, I burn them a CD. I have had to do this on numerous occasions, but it is SO worth it.
How I use each podcast depends on what it is. Some of the podcasts are homework. For these, I allow the students a week to complete the assignment. On my class website, you will notice that there are two files under podcasting - podcasts and podcast worksheets. Each worksheet corresponds with a podcast. In order to get credit for the podcast, the student much turn in the worksheet as well. There is no point in copying off your friend - they get credit for turning in the worksheet and attempting it at all. These are not easy assignments, but the students really enjoy them.
Some podcasts are extra credit. My 8th graders - who are about a chapter ahead of their high school counterparts - created a telephone answering machine podcast. I posted for just the 8th graders for awhile, so they could show off their "mad French skills" to their families. When my high schoolers got to that chapter, I gave them the 8th grade podcast as extra credit. My 8th graders were THRILLED to have their podcast used in the high school. My high schoolers thought it was an easy 5 points and loved it. It was really great, and we are going to do it again soon.
Some of my podcasts are vocab helpers. Chapter 8 in our textbook is exceptionally vocab heavy, and it is really difficult to learn all of it. I created a podcast of just the vocab words. In this case, the students don't have to use the podcast, but many of my auditory learners did anyway, as it helped them study.

I hope I explained myself well. Please - feel free to ask me questions or give me feedback at any time - and often. My postings will reflect the comments I received, so keep 'em coming!

Technorati Tags:
Beyond Podcasting, iPods, iTunes, podcasting

Friday, March 23, 2007

Time is tickin' away...

I realize that to be a useful blogger (and also to grow as an educator), that I have to make frequent entries. The truth is, 1.) I don't have a lot of time and 2.) I don't always feel all that smart.

In my mind, what I present to my readers in this blog should be something novel - something that you will read and say "Wow - I hadn't thought of it that way" or "Huh - I had no idea" or something similar. In reality, while I do occasionally post such novel concepts, there are just days where I won't be able to post such amazing new posts. Today is one such day.

Since I have no amazing software discoveries today or great new ideas for technology in the classroom, I thought I would share some of my tips for the busier teacher in all of us.

1.) Podcasts do not have to be long. In fact, I've found that podcasts between 2-4 minutes for foreign language are most effective. For English podcasts, I would assume that you could bump that up to about 6 or 7 minutes, but after that, you may lose them.

2.) Podcasts do not have to take up a lot of your time. If teaching is truly piracy (giving credit where credit is due, of course), then don't feel pressured to recreate the wheel every time you do one. Find some good (read: free) podcasts that you can borrow from.

3.) Integrating podcasts into your curriculum does NOT mean that you give out a kabillion podcasts to your students each week. In other words, integration begins one podcast at a time. This gives you time to get used to using podcasts in your curriculum, and it gives the students time to get used to this new kind of homework.

If you follow these three pieces of advice, you should have more time to devote to your students, and ultimately to your families. Yet, you will not be in any way, shape, or form denying your students of the technology integration that they need for this new, uncertain world.

Well, that's all I've got for tonight - time's up! :)

Technorati Tags:
Beyond Podcasting, Education, Random

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What about you?

I keep writing on here about things that interest me, but really this blog is about you all and not about me at all. So, what do you want me to write about next? Is there something that you don't understand from one of my presentations that you'd like me to elaborate on? Did you try something in your classroom and it was successful? Did it bomb entirely?

Please write me a comment and let me know what you're thinking. My next post could be tailored to YOUR needs.

Also - to those who asked at MAMSE - I am very willing to come and do inservices with your staff! I love talking with other teachers. Please email me here to discuss dates, topics, etc. Remember - I can talk on more than podcasting, too! :)

Happy Spring, everybody!

Technorati Tags:
Beyond Podcasting, Education, Random

Monday, March 19, 2007

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Or not. You know, whatever your preference is. As a part-time teacher, it is my LEAST favorite time of the year, as I wait to hear whether or not my district will give me full-time (if you are reading this Linda or Ted - pretty please???). Thus it is also the time of recruiting students.

For those of you "core" people - you don't have to worry about this. But us French people have to fight Spanish (not literally, although sometimes...) for every student we get. So I had my students make up posters for why you should take French. I did not tell them what to write on them, only to make them appropriate.

Over half of them talk about taking French because you get to use iPods.

Unsolicited from the mouths of the students themselves. This stuff works, people. You should have seen me trying not to leap for joy at their posters. Best of all? I was at the conference when they made them. Not only was it unsolicited, but I wasn't even THERE. Boom, baby. How cool is that? As my students would say, technology rox my sox.

Technorati Tags:
Beyond Podcasting, Random

Friday, March 16, 2007

NCLB: The Football Version

This is hilarious - but isn't it sad that it is so true that it's funny?- via Steve Dembo:

1. All teams must make the state playoffs, and all will win the championship. If a team does not win the championship, they will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable.

2. All kids will be expected to have the same football skills at the same time and in the same conditions. No exceptions will be made for interest in football, a desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or disabilities. ALL KIDS WILL PLAY FOOTBALL AT A PROFICIENT LEVEL.

3. When players arrive at any game with remedial skills in football for any reason, their coaches will be penalized for their performance, regardless of how long the players have been on the team.

4. If remedial players do not achieve proficiency by the next statistically recorded game, their coaches and athletic directors will be put on probation. After several games of probation, coaches and athletic directors may be released. Coach and athletic director probation and release will not be conditional on the size of gains in the remedial players football skills; players must reach proficiency.

5. Talented players will be asked to work out on their own without instruction. Coaches will use all their instructional time with the athletes who aren’t interested in football, have limited athletic ability or whose parents don’t like football.

6. All coaches will be proficient in all aspects of football, or they will be released.

7. Games will be played year round, but statistics will only be kept in the 4th, 8th and 11th games.

8. This will create a New Age of sports where every school is expected to have the same level of talent and all teams will reach the same minimal goals.

If no football player gets ahead, then no football player will be left behind.

Technorati Tags:
Education, Education of the Future, Random

Thanks, MAMSE

Wow! What a great conference! Thanks to the MAMSE board for a well-run event! And Lakeview Middle - y'all are really lucky! I want your technology!

I want to re-emphasize to all of you that I am very responsive to email (available on my profile page here as well as on my school website), and to comments left on my blog. I love getting questions, and if I don't know the answer to yours right away, I will do my best to find an answer for you.

For those of you who are interested in having me speak to your school/event: I need you to email me with what you are thinking in terms of dates, etc. One of the perks of my job is being able to teach others how to use this "new" technology, but I have to make sure that my administration is willing to part with me for a day. :)

Thanks to all of you who attended my sessions. I hope you got something out of them. Please feel free to email/comment me with any questions or comments on my session. See you next year!

Technorati Tags:
Beyond Podcasting, MAMSE

Thursday, March 15, 2007

MAMSE 2007

I am having such a nice time at the MAMSE 2007 conference in Battle Creek! The speakers here have been great, and the company, better!

As always when I give presentations, I get questions that spur me on to thinking about bigger and better things! Today I was asked if United Streaming could work with an iPod. I did some checking, and there are more than 4000 United Streaming videos that would work with a 30 GB iPod. So, the answer to that is, yes!

I also finally found a shareware that will convert youtube into iPod friendly format. It is linked on the beyond podcasting links page to the left of your screen. I've been looking for about 6 months, but as always, perserverence pays off!

I just posted a new file, too, that can create iPod quizzes, although I think you could use MoGoPop for nicer looking quizzes - and they could be longer, too!

I know, I know, I'm a techno-geek - and I'm okay with that. I hope that other people can benefit from my interests. See you all tomorrow!

Technorati Tags:
Beyond Podcasting, iPods, podcasting, MAMSE

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I just discovered this new fun toy for podcasting in the classroom! It is called MoGoPop, and yes - it is free! I love it. When you sign up, you get 50 MB (I think - it's 50 something anyway) of storage (yes, free), and then can make a text/audio/photo/etc file for your iPod. I am having a bit of a struggle to get it working, but I think it is MUCH more me, and not so much the software. I tried it - if you want to try to download my content and see if it works on your iPod, the link is off to the side of my page. Happy MoGoPop-ing! :)

Technorati Tags:
Beyond Podcasting, iPods, Podcasting

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Teachers of the Future

It has been an interesting week for me to be an educator. This week, I was fortunate enough to have a teacher aide from the local college start with me. She is excited to start teaching, but I don't feel that she is prepared. She doesn't really know a lot about podcasting, but is excited about our penpals (yes, we still do them the old-fashioned way. It's hard to send gifts through e-mail). What are our universities teaching these kids? We MUST stop teaching these kids how to hand out packets and start teaching them that students ought to be teaching themselves as much as possible!

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to sit down with the State of Michigan Teacher of the Year. I thought it was an honor mearly to be able to ask her questions. Imagine my surprise when she starts asking ME questions! It was a lovely conversation - one I will never forget.

I say this not to gloat (well, okay, maybe a little), but rather to emphasize yet again that in order to teach Digital Natives (thank you Marc Prensky) we need to be open to change. Look at our solar system, for example. If you had told me when I was 8 that Pluto wouldn't be a planet in the year 2007, I would have said 1.) The world will end in 2000, so I don't have to worry about that, and 2.) Huh? Pluto will always be a planet. Facts used to be unchanging, but now I'm not sure that's true. Facts are facts until proven otherwise, and we need to keep as current as possible. Now, more than ever, educators MUST be lifelong learners. And universities and colleges need to keep up with the times, so to speak. Not only should every class deal with technology integration, they should have whole classes on it! And no, not on "educational technology" (I took that - we talked about WebQuests, Excel, and Word), but on real, everyday, kid-friendly technology. We need to speak Native, no matter what our tongue is. Parlez-vous technologie?

Technorati Tags:
Beyond Podcasting, Education, Education of the Future