Friday, December 23, 2016

Breaking the Language Barrier in the School Library

Carmen's class posing with Àngels' class and their ofrenda
We had an opportunity to connect with Àngels Soriano and her class in Valencia, Spain back in November to share about the Day of the Dead event our Spanish classes had just celebrated. Mrs. Carmen Christner's AP Spanish class and Mr. Fryar's Spanish class had created ofrendas in the library to show and explain to Àngels' students. Our students had the chance to practice speaking Spanish to Àngels' learners. In addition, Àngels' students had the chance to speak in English to our students. Both groups had the benefit of practicing their second languages! The event went so well, Mrs. Christner and Àngels planned an additional connection.

How We Set Up The Event

Carmen and Àngels plan their next connection via Skype
I had known Àngels for months via our connection on Twitter. We are also both Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts. I shared a direct message via Twitter with both Àngels and Carmen so we could all communicate about the possible date. We also connected via Skype to work out the details prior to the event. Carmen and Àngels decided they wanted to try to connect 5 computers simultaneously using Skype. Each of our students would use library laptops with web cameras. The day prior to the event, we had our students connect to each other via Skype to test the technology. Everything worked great!

What Happened

On the day of the event, we couldn't get any of the student computers to connect to Skype. We connected to Àngels using my computer to keep her updated on our technology problems. After about 15 minutes of troubleshooting, we decided to proceed with the conversation using my computer. After this, everything worked very well! The students read and discussed an informative text together in Spanish. Then they discussed cultural interests in both Spanish and English. I was so excited to have this exchange in the school library.

The YouTube link above is to my Facebook Live broadcast of the event

Teacher Reflection (Carmen Christner)

Wow! What a great experience for my students to be able to connect with another school in a Spanish speaking country to practice their Spanish! It is one thing to be able to practice with classmates who are native English speakers in class, but to be given an opportunity right here in our own school to travel across the globe and meet face to face with students who speak Spanish is such an awesome opportunity for these students. Not only were we able to share academically with projects and texts relevant to our own cultures, but we were able to share about life in general, like sports teams and Christmas carols! 

In the future, we are looking forward to many more face to face exchanges in addition to starting a pen pal program & connecting on social media so that our students can start "doing life" with each other! I am SO looking forward to great things!

Àngels' Reflection (Àngels Soriano)

Skype: connecting the future

We all know the Skype options within our lives every day, family in another
country, or continent. And this power closer to other people is maximized if we
use this technology in our classrooms.

Students who are learning new languages, connected students who are
separated by an ocean, thanks to Skype can initiate a conversation about
Las Fallas, one of the two cities, traditional party to make them known to their
fellow Americans. And all this, in a just click.

This is the experience that today we have shared with students at Lakeside high
School in the hands of Stony Evans, and the teacher Carmen Christner with 
whom we have shared a session of her Spanish class. 
My students are always somewhat fearful of speaking in English have explained the
half of the session in English, while his fellow answered them in Spanish. Of this
form, the session has been fluid, to get to the last moments, that all the Group has
finished to the called singing Jingle Bells, a traditional Carol of Christmas.

Our students are the future, and all the learning options they may have will be
bridges which be operationalized to grow as persons, and especially as
apprentices for life.

Àngels reflection in Spanish: 

Skype: conectando el Futuro

Todos conocemos las opciones que Skype tiene dentro de nuestras vidas
cotidianas, familiares en otro país, o continente. Y este poder de acercarnos a
otras personas se maximiza si usamos esta tecnología en nuestras clases.
Alumnos que están aprendiendo nuevos idiomas, conectado estudiantes que
están separados por un océano, gracias a Skype pueden iniciar una
conversación sobre las Fallas, fiesta tradicional de una de las dos ciudades,
para darlas a conocer a sus compañeros Americanos. Y todo ello, en un solo

Esta es la experiencia que hoy hemos compartido con los estudiantes de
Lakeside high School de la mano de Stone Evans, y la docente Carmen McCart
con quien hemos compartido una sesión de su clase de Español.

Mis estudiantes siempre algo temerosos de hablar en inglés han explicado la
mitad de la sesión en inglés, mientras sus compañeros les contestaban en
castellano. De esta forma la sesión ha sido fluida, hasta llegar a los últimos
momentos, que todo el grupo ha terminado la llamada cantando gingles Bells,
un tradicional villancico de navidad. 

Nuestros alumnos son el futuro, y todas las opciones de aprendizaje que
puedan tener serán los puentes en los que se sustenten para poder crecer
como personas, y sobre todo como aprendices de la vida.

Student Reflections From The Connections

I really enjoyed getting to Skype with the class in Spain. They were very nice and it was great getting to hear all their names. One of the best parts for me was when the class picked who they thought was their best English speaker, and she spoke to us. It really illustrated how even though we were a little nervous about speaking in Spanish to them, they felt the same about English. It really showed that we could break the language barrier, and have fun while doing it, and that even though some people are halfway around the world, there's no reason why we shouldn't get to connect with them. It was a great experience, and I hope we can all do it again sometime. - Sidra H.

It was a fun experience to chat with a class from Spain because it challenged me on speaking Spanish fluently. It's interesting that a class from a different country got the chance to talk to my class via video chat. Technology made communication easier and I'm glad that the library is coming up with creative ways to use it. - Jean-Paul Z.

Today's experience with getting to talk to the class in Spain was so much fun and a great way to reach out to other cultures. I loved being able to interact with the students... it was a little nerve-racking at first because they are native Spanish speakers we were talking to. Over time, we warmed up to them... I hope we will have more opportunities to reach out to other cultures. - Mady R.

It was interesting to try and understand what they were saying in Spanish and hearing their accents. It was also really cool to relate to them since they were just as nervous to speak English as we were to speak Spanish. I can't wait to be able to do this again! - Kayla B.

Next Steps

 Àngels' class in Valencia, Spain on our screen
As a teacher librarian, I was very happy to put my Twitter Personal Learning Network to use by helping connect our learning community to Àngels and her students. It might be intimidating for many to connect with new friends that speak an unfamiliar language or are of an unfamiliar culture. I choose to embrace these differences. There are tools like Skype Translator to assist with such barriers. It is important for our learners to become global citizens as they strive to be future ready. Working through communication challenges and cultural differences now are valuable experiences for them draw upon later in life.

I am already connecting with teachers in other countries like Australia, Japan, and Egypt. I hope to connect our world geography classes to some of these countries during the spring semester. This will provide a new dynamic for learning about countries and cultures. Mrs. Christner, Àngels, and I also intend to keep the conversation happening between their classes. As I've stated before, libraries connect people, information, and technology. The school library is a perfect place for students and teachers to connect with new international friends!

My table of contents for the blog is here!

My first experiment with Skype Translator with an educator in Spain.

Our Google Hangout with 4 Spanish classes in the library.

I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

Contact Me/ Follow Me

Are you on Twitter?

Follow me : @stony12270

No comments:

Post a Comment