Samantha Carr is a 9th through 12th grade French teacher at Arroyo High School in El Monte, California. She was recently given the honor of Teacher of the Year for El Monte Union High School District for 2011-2012. Samantha’s favorite subject in school was French. She is still very passionate about French and hopes that her love for it will pass on to her students.
How did you learn about StudyBlue?
I saw StudyBlue in an advertisement in an online publication.
How do you use StudyBlue with your students?
I start class by going through the flash cards for the topic we’re studying that day. Then we use the quiz feature and I call on individual students to respond.
Why do your students like StudyBlue?
They like being entertained in class, and I use funny pictures to keep their attention. Some tell me that it makes studying less boring for them. Staring at a picture in a book with the vocabulary in front of them isn’t fun.
What types of “devices” are permitted and/or used in your classroom?
I use a computer, an iPad, iPod Touch, and smart phones for the students who have them, and MobiView—a portable smart board.
What other technology tools do you utilize with your classes?
I love my portable smart board that allows me to walk around the room and control the computer, write on the screen, capture images and write on them. It’s full of templates and cool tools to use like a timer, stamper, a camera to capture anything on the screen, etc. In order to call on students in random order I use an app on my iPod Touch called Class Cards that will shuffle the students’ names and allows me to give a grade. This also ranks the students in the class by correct answers.There are so many websites I like in addition to StudyBlue. I like Polleverywhere.com, French.about.com, and Yabla.com – a site that has music, interviews, news articles, etc., with subtitles in French and English simultaneously. Google Earth is great for tours without a passport. TV5.org and TV5 Monde.Org are websites from France that I use a lot for my advanced students.
How do you integrate them into your curriculum?
My advanced students watch news clips every Tuesday from TV5. They respond to questions on a worksheet that is provided by the site. I encourage my students to use their smart phones to check vocabulary while writing essays and articles. They also like to watch the news clips from TV5 on their own at their pace rather than the pace I set. I use Polleverywhere.com for pre-tests to get an idea of where the students need extra work and where they are proficient. The students like the use of their phones in class to text a response and see the results immediately. Grammar lessons are far more interesting using music, so I have students look at the lyrics and highlight the words they know. We talk about the meaning of the song, the grammar that is used, and then watch the music video using the Internet site Yabla.com and the projector to see it on a wide screen. It helps the students focus on more than just being entertained.
What are some challenges you face to integrating technology in your classroom?
I find that the toughest challenge is time. It takes time to develop lessons, find interesting material and put it all together. Of course we have had our share of electrical outages and network down time that hampers lessons, and a plan B is always necessary just in case.
What other technology-specific challenges do you face in school?
Technology is expensive and requires back up support. I don’t have permission to install programs/applications on my computer, nor do I have permission to use my own tech toys unless I write a proposal to do so. I wrote a proposal for a class set of iPod Touch devices to use with my students because they don’t have the money to purchase these on their own. Sadly, the funds were not there to support my request.
What will you and your students do with all the paper flashcards you no longer need?
Well we could donate them to a school, but I think a bonfire at the beach would be fun! Going paperless rocks.