Tag Archives: Educational Technology

Technology Tools for French Language Learners

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend a French Immersion conference, focusing on French instruction. Some of the ideas presented at the conference, are ideas I already integrated into my French Immersion classroom, but the why and the how are worth mentioning to my greater PLN. These ideas are not new and may be familiar, but it’s worth taking another glance at a few tools that can be utilized when instruction students in a second language. Three different tools will be highlighted:

Read & Write through Google Chrome Extension or CD Software

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 1.41.42 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 1.39.28 PM

Read & Write Gold allows students to highlight text in a Google doc or on the Internet and the program will read the text for them. This is helpful when trying to read more complex text such as autobiographies from Wikipedia or researching scientific terms. It can also be helpful for students who have not yet developed reading strategies or vocabulary in French.

Below is a link to their website if your school does not already own this tool:


iTranslate app

Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 11.01.54 PMWriting or speaking in a second language can be difficult if you do not have the vocabulary needed for the topic being discussed. The iTranslate app or an online French-English dictionary can be a very useful tool when used correctly. This tool should be used to translate one word at a time and not whole sentences. When translating a whole sentence from English into French, the meaning of the text can change or become a little confusing. To understand the full effect of a Google translate gap, check out the video Fresh Prince: Google Translated (Collectivecadenza, 2013).


An advantage to using an online dictionary is that you can also look for the French dictionary afterwards and find out the type of noun the word is, assisting with adding the proper “articles.” I will often use this tool to verify the correct article use in my written French. My favourite online dictionary is: http://dictionary.reverso.net/french-english/  An alternative online dictionary is: http://www.larousse.com/en/dictionaries/french

When composing written or oral French, it is important to have the students think in French when trying to compose their thoughts, instead of having them translate in their minds. Translating materials is very difficult, even for very skilled writers. This is why authors hire translators to convert their books into another language and why the House of Commons hire translators to translate Member’s of Parliament’s speeches while they are delivering their speech.

iOS and Android apps

There are several great apps on the market for both Apple software and Android software than can be applied to French instruction. When choosing an app, it’s important to plan how the app will be used to enhance and improve learning. My recommended app page for elementary students provides a list of productivity and creation apps.  Meaning that students can demonstrate learning and understanding through the use of these apps, verses practicing or reviewing facts. Students have more options on how to represent their learning, as not all students prefer to demonstrate understanding through written text. These apps can also be used at the secondary level in either French or English instruction. If any of these apps are new to you, I recommend trying them out to see how they can be utilized in your classroom.


Collectivecadenza. (2013, January 15). Fresh prince: Google translated [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMkJuDVJdTw.

Twitter and Sir Ken Robinson

I have only just recently joined the Twitter world and already I am making some great connections to other colleagues or people in my field of interest (Ed Tech). Now that I have been posting articles about Mobile Learning and have been reading other Tweets about Ed Tech, I stumbled across a huge slew of Tweets about Sir Ken Robinson (http://sirkenrobinson.com/skr/). I’m not sure if you know of him, but he was one of our Key Note Speakers at the Teacher’s Convention this year. I must admit, I did not have time to really read his bio on the Convention Website, so I really had no intentions of seeing him, until I started reading all the Tweets about him Thursday night. At that point, I had really wished I was there listening to his session. Luckily a friend mentioned that I could see him the Friday and I was thrilled. Here are some of the Tweets that inspired me to go watch his session on Friday:

“We’re all good at very different things. Communities depend on this diversity.”

“To be born at all is a miracle. So what are you going to do with it?”

“There are countless examples of narrowly focused schooling not recognizing the true talents of students”

From his session, I have come to learn that Sir Ken Robinson believes in creativity in learning. He does not believe in standardize testing, nor do I. He notes that the No Child Left Behind policy is suppose to ensure all students meet a certain standard, but in reality it “leaves millions of children behind” (Sir Ken Robinson, 2013). It creates students who lack flexibility in their learning as they spend most of their time trying to figure out a response to a PAT than trying to understand and solve the question.

I think the point that most resonated with me was when he made the following analogy : Americans are rushing towards where the puck is, instead of where it will be. They are looking at how to fix the problem now and in one perspective instead of thinking ahead about the future and where our learning should be going. I will be thinking about this as I continue through my teaching.

Robinson, K. (2013, February). Creativity & innovation.  Keynote session presented at The Calgary Teacher’s Convention. Calgary, Canada.

Mobile Learning (m-learning)


Mobile Learning is an emerging trend in education today. Please visit my group’s wiki site to learn more about m-learning in education. We have information for both elementary and secondary teachers.


I’d love to hear about your favourite app and how it can be used in the classroom. Feel free to add it in the comment section of my blog post.


Is it worth taking distance learning?

After 2 weeks of intense learning in this subject matter, I can confidently say that YES, it is worth taking distance learning courses. There are many benefits that outweigh its challenges.

Here are a few reasons I believe that distance learning is worth it:

  • It’s good for bridging time and space (Dr. Kowch, 2012). When you are a busy mom and are working full time, it’s nice to have the flexibility of doing courses when you can find time. Whether that means you dedicate a night to course work or certain weekends, you can be flexible.
  • It enhances the learning experience (Heinich et al., 2002 as cited in Simonson et al., 2012). If designed well, a distance course can provide me with multiple ways of accessing and viewing materials. This can be done through audio, videos and visuals (diagrams/pictures/3D images). As Amber stated in class: “if you have a very good visual, it will make it easier to access the harder concepts” (Amber Mazur, 2012)
  • It allows users to review content several times. I like having the option to review course notes, reread assignment/group work expectations and deadlines. I can refer to discussions made in class by reading notes that were posted online.
  • “If it’s designed well, engagement won’t be a problem” (Brian ‘t Hart, 2012). It won’t be difficult to keep student’s attention if the content is interesting, well presented in various ways, allows for interaction and reflection.

So, the next time you are offered an opportunity to take a distance course, take a look at how it’s structured and designed and then enroll yourself in the class. If it’s well designed then you won’t be disappointed.


Kahramaner, D., Rodriguez, J. & Kallman, B. (2012). Remote Learning Project. Retrieved from http://remotelearningproject.com/

Ed Tech journals in elementary are rare

Did you know that it’s very difficult to find good peer reviewed material on educational technology in elementary? Educational technology is not a new concept. In fact, distant learning has been around for many decades. It was first used as an audio/video lecture for external students (students not on campus) at the secondary or post-secondary level. Now it can be used as a stand alone distance learning environment or a blended environment (M. Gosper et al., 2010).

Why has there been no need to try distant education for elementary students?

There can be two reasons for this:

1) People perceive early elementary students as incapable of understanding or accessing technology tools at such a young age

Although this may be true for some students, I believe that the majority of students are capable and eager to use new technology tools. In fact, my 4 year old son starting learning how to operate a mouse and turn on/off the computer at the age of 2.5 years. He now knows how to access YouTube, Netflix and mobile apps on his own. He can then navigate through these sites and find the information he needs. He’s well on his way and able to use technology tools. Same holds true for my second grade students this year. During projects and computer lab time, students will assist each other on using the different technology tools. They will help troubleshoot and introduce new tools they learned at home.

2) Young students aren’t able to guide their own learning

This is a statement than can be both true and false. I think it all depends on what teaching style and pedagogy the teacher uses (just like Dr. Kowch mentioned in class) and the readiness of the student. If the teacher creates an enviroment where students are trained to be independent learners and are motivated to work through learning models on d2l (Desire2Learn), then students can be quite successful at guiding their own learning. In fact, grade 2 and 3 students at Brian’s school are responsible for guiding their own learning. The teachers at his school provide students with a rubric of expecatations and responsibilities for learning and projects. On the otherhand, if students are very young (K-4), they will still need a lot of guidance and support through guiding their own learning. At these ages, children are just starting off with formalized learning and still need that guidance and on-on-one support to figure out what they need to learn and what needs to be learned. Most students may not be ready to take on their learning independently.

With the constant changes and advances in technology, ed tech journals in elementary may be more common than they are now.


Gosper, M., McNeill, M., Phillips, R., Preston, G., Woo, K., & Green, D. (2010). Web-based lecture technologies and learning and teaching: A study of change in four Australian universities. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, Research in Learning Technology, 18(3), 251-263. Retrieved from http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/10768.

Would you use a bike or a Ferrari?

My instructor, Dr. Eugene Kowch, made a very interesting analogy today in regards to technology tools. He asked the class whether we would take a bike or drive a Ferrari to get some groceries at the store. The obvious answer is the bike as no one really needs a fancy car to pick up groceries (unless their bike was broken of course). The same analogy should apply when considering what technology tools to use in class. We should be asking ourselves if this tool will enhance the student’s learning or whether this is just a fancier way of doing a task that could be done more easily the way we do it now. Do we need to buy an iPad to watch movies when we have a perfectly functioning dvd player? Probably not. Could we use an iPad and install instructional gaming to support learning outcomes? Absolutely! So before buying or using that shiny new piece of technology we should always be asking ourselves if it will make a difference in our student’s learning.