Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Kodiak Virtual Learning Conference 2015

This year at the beginning of June I have been very lucky in participating to the Kodiak Virtual Learning Conference organized by AKTeach, the distance learning department of the Kodiak School District.
This is a pretty "young" conference, I believe it is only at its second edition, however it is a very promising, well organized, interesting, exciting, stimulating,.... (well you got the idea) conference!
Certainly Nicole Fuerst has done a fantastic job with the organization of this event and I am very blessed being part of her Professional Learning Community.

This conference was organized as two days hands-on workshops giving the opportunity to the attendees to work in depth of a specific topic.
Some of the sessions offered were:
- Natalie Freed and David Cole presented how to integrate paper circuitry into your classroom.
- Dr. Pam Loyd and John Monahan lead the session in about how to build a small Unmanned Aerial System Vehicle (UAV).
- Ron Fortunato worked with a team of administrators on the America Bridge Project-Building.
More information about these sessions and the other offered can be found at the following link: https://sites.google.com/a/kibsd.org/kodiak-island-virtual-learning-conference/products-services

I have participated to the session on paper circuitry and I am very impressed with its potentials of implementation in various classes, allowing a powerful cross curricula project-based learning experience involving Science, Art, Language Arts, and World Languages.
The paper circuitry is a cutting edge technique that applies electric circuits in original and artistic ways,  developed by Jie Qi, a graduate researcher in the High-Low Tech group at the MIT Media Lab.

As you can see I am eager to share with you all my experience. I would highly encourage everyone to participate to next year AKTeach conference. Keep in mind that in spite of the name it is not specific for online teachers, however the presence of several online teachers from various Alaskan school districts and universities offered a rich opportunity for sharing knowledge, tools, strategies, and ideas for improving our teaching.

In the next couple of months I will collaborate with teachers from various Alaska's school districts such as Kodiak, Ketchikan, and Juneau,  for presenting a session focused on paper circuitry at AFLA (Alaskans For Language Acquisition) and ASTE (Alaska Society for Technology in Education) conferences during the incoming school year.

Please let me know if you have any questions about anything I have shared with you i this post. If you are interested in learning more, I would be very happy to share my learning with other teachers in a full day workshop.

Ave, Bonjour, 你好, Hallo, Ciao, Вітаю, สวัสดี, Grüezi, ¡Hola!, Здравствуйте!, Goddag, ज्वजलपा, 今日は, Halauġikpiñ, Guten Tag

Hallo in Beton
I have been thinking about starting this blog for quite some time, however I was not sure where to start... It was difficult to transport in a written format the multitude of thoughts going through my mind. What if my reflections did not make sense to anybody else?
Well, maybe they will and maybe they will not, I will take my chances since I do not have any intention of "teaching" to anyone with this blog. On the other hand I would like to start an open  conversation with whoever is interested in partaking, focused on effective methodologies for increasing the acquisition of second languages using blended environments.

I have been teaching a few languages (French, Spanish, and Italian) for several years to Alaska high school students using various blended learning approaches, and I feel that there is still so much to study and learn about this field. English is not my first language and over the years I have experienced first hand various learning/teaching methodologies in traditional and online based environments. My teaching experience of the last 7 years has been almost completely web based, with various nuances of blended learning. Unfortunately over the years I have not been able to connect with other high school online language teachers with whom sharing my experience and brainstorm. On the other hand I have found that often traditional classroom language teachers are somehow "looking down" at online language teaching, as if it was a second class teaching practice.
Now, this is something that drives me crazy!!!
Let me explain...
While I do agree on the efficacy of teaching second languages at least partially face-to-face, I do understand that this is a "luxury" not affordable for many Alaskan students. Indeed here in Alaska there are many small schools in which the ratio students/teachers does not allow the on-site presence of language teachers (as well as teachers of other subjects, for what that matters), therefore the online delivery is the only option available for these students, and nowhere is written that online courses equals with low quality courses!
I guess that we all have experienced at least one poor quality course at some point of our educational life as students. We all wish that these negative experiences could disappear, but to tell the true, we know that are still out there! Let's face it, there is the good and the bad in both traditional classroom and online. All we can do as teachers who care about what we do, is trying our best for offering our students the best learning experience we can give. Hey, news splash, nobody is perfect and in spite of our best intentions sometimes we are far from what we would like to be, but what really matters in my opinion is that we honestly try our best.

In my experience teaching languages online is challenging however I do not not give up or give in, but I am highly motivated in seeking better and more effective ways to offer high quality learning experiences to my online students.
During this quest I am want to try anything that could sparkle interest, curiosity, passion, and motivation in my students toward languages. In this blog I will reflect upon what I am experiencing in this journey, in the intent to share my effort with other languages teachers who share my same vision.

...may the force be with us...always!

Image by andreas fragel (selber fotografiert) [CC BY-SA 2.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons