Monday, April 14, 2014

The pen is mightier...

My goals have been twofold in the past couple of years:
1. Don't be afraid to explore emerging technology and try new things in the language classroom ---to jump head first into that vast and wondrous pool of educational technology no matter my comfort level or exposure. I do know that if something goes wrong, I will have many willing students that probably reach a solution with me, and even if the lesson that day did not come off perfectly with the technology, I have taken a chance, tried something new and will reflect upon everything later to plan better for next time!
2. Connect with others outside of the classroom. This has been a big one for me and it has really been wonderful. I do admit that this takes a little of the free time that I do have at home, but because of making an effort to grow my PLN, I have been able to network with gurus in the fields of Spanish and EdTech and my classroom planning/teaching as well as my participation and connection to organizations/workshops have all grown because of it! Worth every bit of effort!

Besides being a member of the York family for many years, I also am proud to say that I am part of the Illinois
Virtual School faculty for the past 2 years now. I teach a high school level Spanish 1 course online and I love it! Yay! A big shout out to Cindy Hamblin and Barb Closen for all their wonderful work and for welcoming me into that family as well <3 If you have not hear about IVS, please check them out! They are an Illinois State Board of Education program administrated by Peoria County ROE 48 and partner with schools around the state offering supplemental educational opportunities to middle and high school students.

In order to reach out and connect with those students better, I purchased an Echo Smartpen by Livescribe and what a fun and effective toy that turned out to be! After installing a very simple piece of software on the computer and reading through simple instructions, I found out that it is very simple!! (Simple: 3 times).

To make a pencast, all you need is the Livescribe Echo Smartpen and the Smartpen Notebook that contains the Livescribe dot pages...I just call it magic paper! Then, touch your pen to the "Record" button on the navigation bar found at the bottom of the dot paper...and you are off and recording. Narrate as you write down thoughts, sample problems, profound thoughts (microphone is right in the pen!) and when you are done, touch your pen to the "Stop" button on the navigation bar. Connect up the pen to your computer via a USB or wireless connection (depending on the model you have)  and download your pencast to the Livescribe desktop program. The pencast is then saved as a .pdf which is great- just place it in your website or course files and anyone can watch it if they have Adobe Reader! And what's even better, Livescribe has really made it easy for users because you can export the pdf to a bunch of different applications like Evernote, Facebook and Microsoft OneNote. This pen is mighty!

Here was a pencast that I made for my IVS students. They were learning about the direct and indirect object pronouns. They needed a little extra support on a particular activity and I find the pencast adds a more personal touch to working with them. With the pencast, students can hear my voice, see my handwriting and they are receiving personalized instruction that at times distance learning can be missing.
Beth's pen
brought to you by Livescribe

Pencasts are an easy way to stay in contact with your students. They are easy to make, and easy to get to your students.  If you are interested in learning more about pencasts, please feel free to email me- I would be more than happy to work with you!

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