Tag Archives: foreign language

Thinking Forward Into 2013

Now that the new year is underway and I’ve had a chance to reflect on 2012, I wanted to pause and do some thinking forward about 2013. Where will I go? What will I learn? What are my goals (big and little) and how can I achieve them?


Where will I go, both literally and metaphorically?

  • I hope to go to at least one new conference that I have never attended before to stretch myself professionally and expand my knowledge and exposure of what others are thinking and doing around technology integration in early childhood and for global collaboration
  • I would love to travel overseas again sometime in 2013 because I have and probably will always carry the travel bug. Whether it’s returning to a favorite spot, like Italia, or venturing into new territory  (maybe Asia?), I’m up for the adventure!
  • I’m also looking forward to the pause and peace of summer and I hope it will involve a trip to Cape Cod, where I always find so much serenity
  • Metaphorically, I am planning to continue exploring new lands of tech curricula and to go where I haven’t gone before in terms of studying and designing projects that will integrate technology into the classroom in a meaningful way

What will I learn?

  • Programming Languages
    • I would like to continue learning more about different programing languages in the coming year. Recently, I have been working through Super Scratch Programming Adventure! to examine ways I might be able to use Scratch with my older students. I have also been looking at CodeHS/Code Academy and apps like Move the Turtle and Cato’s Hike to see if they could be used in the classroom. There still seems to be a gap in available materials and languages suitable for very young children but hopefully programs like Scratch Jr. and CHERP will be available soon! 
  • iPad apps
    • These are on my list of learning materials because as we move towards a deeper integration of mobile technologies, I want to be familiar and comfortable with tools that can facilitate meaningful and developmentally appropriate learning experiences for my students. I plan to continue using Simple K12 Webinars, my PLN and my own explorations of various apps to make this happen.
  • Ways to integrate the Maker movement and robotics
    • I would love to have both of these as part of the technology work my students are engaged in. I believe that tools like MaKey MaKey and LittleBits provide an opportunity to introduce technology as a tool for creation and collaboration in a way that is tangible and exciting for young children.
  • Foreign Languages
    • I hope to continue practicing and expanding my Italian during the upcoming year, as well as building my Spanish skills, primarily through apps like Duolingo and MindSnacks.

Some Big and Little Goals:

  • Continue to be a constant learner
    • I want my learning to include materials and topics I find intriguing but also challenging so I can have a better understanding of how my students feel when they are trying to learn new concepts
    • For example, I hope to explore some new classes in 2013, such as barre and maybe a math-focused MOOC
  • Share more! 
    • I would like to focus on sharing more of my own knowledge and experiences this year, through my PLN, via my blogs and also by running conference sessions
    • To start, I plan to attend #EdCampIS, followed by the Villanova Tech Expo and hopefully another new conference in the summer
    • I will be looking for opportunities to share my learning around tech as a tool for global learning, as well as tech integration ideas for early childhood – if anyone has recommendations for venues or conferences, please let me know! 
  • Create a tech project database:
    • Over the next year, I want to work on creating a project database for my teachers and other educators who are looking for ideas on how to use technology as a tool to enhance their class projects and curricula
    • I hope to make it easier for new tech users to plan and engage in tech integration work by having some concrete examples and tools available
  • Expand my school tech website:
    • I hope to expand my tech website for the students, teachers, and parents at my school to include additional resources  and tech recommendations that are easy to access and navigate. Over time, as I explore more mobile apps, I also intend to add more specifics about how they can be used in the classroom with young children since that is a gap I have seen in what’s currently available online.
  • Make Global Connections
    • An ongoing goal I have is to continue making more global connections so that I can start and facilitate more global collaborative projects among educators and students at my school and around the world.
    • By using ePals, iEARN, the Global Classroom Project and Twitter connections, I hope to make this goal a reality.




App Share! A Few Favorites.

I was recently sharing a few of my favorite apps with some of my colleagues and I thought it would be fun to share them with my PLN too (and hear what your favorites are!).

App: Evernote (Free!)

Favorite Feature:  I love the web clipper because I’m constantly grabbing pieces of blog posts and articles to remember new tech tools I want to try or to save new recipe ideas.

Description: Evernote is definitely at the top of my list, especially now that I jump so frequently between multiple devices. It’s a great app that, as they say, helps you to “remember everything” by making notes and lists easy to create, share, and access. Since my account syncs between my devices, I can quickly start a note on my iPad and then finish it on my computer. Then later, I can access it on-the-go via my phone. I like how quickly Evernote opens up on the iPad so I can start jotting down notes when I’m in a meeting and then I can add in additional details and formatting when have more time on my computer. I also started using Evernote’s Clearly recently to remove ads and extra text from webpages when I’m using the Web Clipper which makes it simpler to grab information cleanly from the web. Evernote also allows you to create Notebooks, where you can keep multiple notes and then you can create “Stacks” or groups of notebooks, so you can keep everything organized in a file system. This works great if you’re working in the classroom and want to have multiple notes for a child and then a notebook for each child that you keep within one stack. Of course one of the best parts about Evernote is that it’s free! There’s also a reasonably priced Premium version which allows you to share editing capabilities to your notebooks with other people and increases your storage capacity. What’s your favorite thing to do with Evernote?

App: MindSnacks (Free, Full Access $4.99)

Favorite Feature:  I love the Word Birds game because it helps me learn the spelling in addition to the meaning and pronunciation of the word.

Description: MindSnacks is a fun, affordable way to learn, practice, and review a foreign language. There are currently 7 different languages, including English, that you can learn and each one includes over 1400 words. I like the fact that you can hear each word or phrase spoken by a native speaker and that there are pictures associated with each one. Although some of the pictures are not as representative of the vocabulary as I would like, the visuals really help me to associate the new words with things I already know. After you are exposed to each new set of words and phrases (there are 50 sets/lessons in each app), you can play six different games (that you unlock over time) to practice your new knowledge. You have to reach a certain level of mastery of each new word or phrase before you can move on to the next lesson.

: Cue: Know what’s next (Free!)

Favorite Feature: If you receive a shipping notification in your email, it will put a link to the tracking number at the bottom of your day so you can quickly check in on where your package is and Cue will let you know when it’s scheduled to arrive.

Description: This is a really useful iPhone app (also works on the iPad) that helps you keep track of your to-do’s and appointments by pulling them from various other apps/programs into a quick daily snapshot. You can sync your calendar, mail, contacts and tasks from multiple accounts and Cue will order them chronologically each day, giving you notifications of your next appointment. It also lets you know the current weather and when the sun will rise/set so you can quickly tell whether your events will occur after dark. It’s a great app if you keep separate personal and professional calendars and email accounts but want to be able to view them together in one app to make sure you don’t miss a birthday, personal appointment, or work meeting.

App: Apps Gone Free (Free!)

Favorite Feature: I like the clean interface that makes it easy to learn more about each app.

Description: This app will notify you each day with apps that have “gone free” and it will let you know which device they will work on, as well as a short description. Although there are other apps like this, I like the clean interface of the app and the fact that it doesn’t present an overwhelming amount of information so you can quickly scan and see if there’s a good app for you. As they say, “it’s an honest to goodness human-curated list of the best free apps each day.”

App: Buddhify ($2.99)

Favorite Feature: The ability to choose between home, travel, gym, and walking when selecting a meditation.

Description: This is a great app if you want to relax or keep up a meditation routine but you’re always on-the-go. The app is built for the iPhone (iPad compatible) and is made to be used at home, at the gym, while commuting, or walking. Within each of these four locations you can choose a “bitesize” or longer meditation to practice mindfulness. I like that the meditations are short and also allow you to choose four different focus areas: clarity, stability, embodiment, or connection, depending on your mood and the type of mindfulness you want to build. I like to use the app when I’m riding the train or at the gym to just take a few minutes to pause and be mindful without having to dedicate a huge chunk of time to it in my busy schedule.

App: Toca Boca Store ($1.99)

Favorite Feature: The social aspect of that app which invites multiple children to engage in play.

Description: I couldn’t talk about apps without sharing at least one of my favorite early childhood apps! Toca Boca Store is wonderful for young children who are learning how to share and take turns and who are looking for creative ways to play. The app allows one child to be the cashier and one or more children to be customers who are shopping in the store. Once children choose the 5 items that will be in their store (a great discussion prompter), they can select items one at a time to bring to the front counter and purchase. Buying an item requires the cashier to select a price and the customer to count out the correct number of coins to pay for their item. Then children must take their item and put it in their bag, which allows for additional fine motor skills practice. I also like that at the end of the shopping trip (after 5 items have been bought) a receipt is printed and enlarged on the screen so you can review with children how much each item cost and how that adds up to the total amount on the receipt. Since many classrooms have a dramatic play area with items to play “store” this app allow teachers and children to make new and interesting connections between what they can and cannot do digitally and with classroom materials.