Italian 101: New School Requires Old School

I feel like I have so much to talk about when it comes to my learning project. This weeks focus will be on my experience using Twitter, Instagram, blogs and Facebook to connect with others in order to learn Italian. I am also going to talk about my progress with Duolingo (which is still my go to app). The last thing I will talk about is how new school learning requires old school methods. I have included a few videos reviewing the accounts I follow. They are quite long and not very polished unfortunately (it wasn’t a good day for vlogging in my life but I had  been trying to get these videos done since last Thursday so I just wanted to get them finished finally).

Twitter

I started following a variety of accounts on Twitter. I have found that of the accounts I follow very few seem to be very helpful in learning the language. I have attempted to tweet a few times in Italian but most of the time I need to use a translator to help me form a complete sentence.

A tweet to classmate Elizabeth who is also learning Italian

A tweet to classmate Elizabeth who is also learning Italian

I feel as though I am on the right track with using Twitter to learn a language but I need to find more accounts that are useful to follow. I took the advice from my feedback by Katia and decided to create a list on Twitter of the people I follow to learn Italian. It will be much easier to locate and focus my learning on Twitter now.

My learning Italian Twitter list

My learning Italian Twitter list

In the following video I take you through some of the Twitter accounts I have recently followed and give you a brief overview of each. Some of them are much better than others and I will continue to follow them after this class, but at the end of class I will go back and delete some of the accounts that I have found are less useful.

Instagram

I have found a few accounts to follow on Instagram and also created an Instagram account that I tried to use to share some of my learning. I say tried to use because I haven’t really kept up with it. I found that I wasn’t able to attract any followers and because of that I quickly lost interest. It is something that I should reconsider however because I think that a photo blog or flash card type posts are a great way to learn.  I have actually also had trouble locating my account to share on here. My account name is AshleyLearnsItalian and it was created as a second account on my phone. I have taken a few screenshots to share so that you can see what I had done.

I have also reviewed all of the accounts I have followed. I would love to find more to follow and will keep an eye out for more accounts that I can learn from.

Blogs and Facebook

Through my blog I was able to connect with Stephanie who had commented on my blog. She was able to suggest a Facebook page for me to follow – I’mpariamo l’italiano. Unfortunately I found the page to be beyond my current level of understanding but maybe someday I will be able to use the site. Stephanie also recommended iTalki which I had heard of before but after having her recommend it I am making it a goal to use it before the end of class. I of course started following Stephanie’s blog and have found it quite nice to read and learn from. I also started following the Conversational Italian blog through the @travelitalian1 twitter account. Here is my review of Facebook and the blogs I follow.

Duolingo

I have decided the reason I keep going back to Duolingo is because it is just like a game. It makes learning a little more fun. But I have also discovered that because it is like a game I often don’t focus as much as I should when I am using it preventing me from actually absorbing the material at times. I am wondering if it has become a way for me to procrastinate or kill some time yet still learn something.  I have also added the Italian keyboard to my phone to help me with spelling Italian words when using Duolingo. Check out this video on my progress and experience this past week using Duolingo.

New School Requires Old School

This whole time I have been so focused on using online tools to learn that I have assumed I would be able to learn a language without writing anything down. I know I said in an earlier post that one of my goals was to write down words that I was having trouble remembering but I never stuck to that (it seems to be a reoccurring theme for me…setting goals only to forget about them). The problem is that learning is tough, especially online independent learning. There are so many goals I could set and so many different things that I can be working on that would be helpful. The trouble is knowing which goals I should continue to work on or which methods will help me the most. I was emailed a few articles that have some tips for learning a language on your own and although I am using technology to learn online, that doesn’t mean I give up traditional ways of learning completely. For example, when trying to memorize words it is useful to write the words down on a flashcard.  It’s also important to organize your time, make it fun and stay focused.  And if all else fails guess or make up the words you are looking for. You just might surprise yourself.

I am happy to say that my scores on my reflection rubric for this week have improved since last week so I obviously feel like I am making progress.

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Why blog when I can use Edmodo?

Last year I decided I wanted to start a class blog in order to keep students and parents updated with the daily happenings in my classroom. After spending a few days setting up a blog and organizing my classes I realized I didn’t really have a plan for my blog and it’s purpose. I didn’t know how to get started and wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with it once I got it all set up. I think the idea of having a blog seemed ideal and like something a 21st century teacher should be doing. I had good intentions, but I wasn’t sure how to accomplish what I wanted to. I had also decided to use Edmodo and thought that between using Edmodo and a classroom blog that students would have too many places to check in on. I didn’t know how to manage both Edmodo and the blog so I decided to forgo the blog and focus on using Edmodo (which I LOVE by the way!).

For anyone unfamiliar with Edmodo is its a website/app that looks almost identical to Facebook. You create a homepage for each class and invite students to join you by giving them access to your page through an access code. Once students join your page they can see any status update you make. It creates an ongoing timeline (just like Facebook) of anything you post to that class. You can update statuses that include files, videos, links and photos. You can also set a time and date for a status to appear which is convenient in planning ahed. I like to use it to update daily homework, provide test reminders, attach any handouts from the lessons or update video resources. I have also had students submit assignments using Edmodo as well. Students who are away from school can stay updated with what happened and can even catch up on readings or worksheets by downloading the. Students may post to the timeline as well which allows you or other students to answer or comment on their post. Private messages may be sent from the student to you also. It makes communication super easy and convenient especially if you use the app. Using the app allows you to communicate with students anytime anywhere. It also allows you to update information if you are away from school. After using Edmodo for the last year, I really don’t know what I would do without it and will continue to use it moving forward. Here is a short video showing you Edmodo at a glance.

Having listed all the different ways I have used Edmodo I realize that there are a lot of other ways to use it that I will have to explore soon. I would highly recommend Edmodo to any English teacher as there are a lot of writing applications. I haven’t had much luck finding ways to integrate more math into Edmodo other than uploading videos as additional resources to a lesson. Maybe I could update a different math riddle each day? If you have used Edmodo in your math class I would love to hear from you. I also came across this list of ways to use Edmodo in different classes that might be worth checking out if you teach high school courses.

Now that I’ve talked up Edmodo enough, I need to get back to the purpose of this post. Why blog when I can use Edmodo? Last year I decided to give up the hopes of having a class blog and decided to go solely with Edmodo because it is a quicker way to update information and I really like the ease of communication between students and myself. I understand that if I wanted to provide more detailed information about something that a blog might be a better place to do that. I never really thought more about why I should have a class blog after I started working with Edmodo, but having started a blog for my graduate class I feel like I might be able to make it work in my classroom.

I have spent some time looking at different blogs on this edubloggers list and I have a better idea of the purpose a blog might have in my class. I do like that blogs can be public so they reach out to people beyond your classroom. Edublogs has created a list of ten ways to use your edublog as a teacher that provides some great ideas for using a blog to go beyond creating simple updates about your classroom. I like that students can be involved in the blogging process and can even have blogs of their own.

All that being said, I am still struggling to see the point of using a blog when I can use Edmodo to do the same thing only quicker. Maybe I am wrong and maybe you can help convince me otherwise. Do I stick with Edmodo and continue to forget about the blogging? Do I implement a blog for each of my classes (as a side note I teach high school math and business classes)? What is your experience with a teacher/class blog? How do you use it? I would love to hear from anyone with a blog and would love a link to your blog so I can check it out and see how you use it.