Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Australian Winter 2014 Bucket List

This is a blog post linking up with Deanna Jump: http://mrsjumpsclass.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/top-ten-things-i-want-to-do-this-summer.html

Top Ten Things I Want to Do This Winter

Hello from Australia,

Ten Things I Want to do THIS winter {in no particular order}

1.  I want to read a few books that have nothing to do with teaching.  I love reading Jodi Picoult, but I am also interested in parenting books with our baby due in October.  At 19 weeks, we are almost halfway :-)        
2.   I want to spend some time just hanging with our fur babies:  Charlie (toy poodle) and Jody (Malmute X Husky).  They are loyal companions, but I am not sure how they will feel when Baby arrives.

3.  I want to spend time with my niece as the arrival of her new cousin approaches.  At ten years old, she is so excited to be included in making a fuss of the new baby.
4.  Spend time in our July trip to Adelaide (4 hours by car) to see my parents and sister's family.
5.  I need to keep on top of the baby stuff we have already bought, and what we still need.  We have just been amazed at the generosity of friends and family already.  And I haven't even thought about having a baby shower yet!
6.  I want and {need} to spend ome quality time with my Mum in Adelaide.  It is great to share your pregnancy with your Mum after years of hearing about her two premature babies back in the 1980s.
7.  I really want to spend time with my hubby shopping in Adelaide for baby stuff (he loves shopping, the opposite of me), looking forward to the June long weekend together and maybe evening going to the Drive In for a date before 2 become 3 :-)
8.  I m enjoying episodes of The Voice.  I never saw it in Season One.  Better late than never to start watching in Season Three (Australian).

9.  My husband and I are both teachers and are both keen fans of The Big Bang Theory.  

Between watching this and now Derren Brown's performances on TV and recordings live in the theatre, we will have a serious amount of TV watching to do :-)

10.  Next month, we have our 20 week scan to meet Baby again.  Husband has been prioritising the music to introduce to baby: from Blink 182 to John Mayer to Jack Black and many more.

  We are both enjoying every little milestone, counting down until we can meet Baby soon.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Comment to blog post by Jemappellemadame.blogspot.com.au

Hello from Australia,

This comment is in response to blog post: http://jemappellemadame.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/battleship-for-letter-and-number.html#comment-form.

I really like your fresh game-style approach to revising letters and numbers in the languages classroom.

I like to use my translation of The Alphabet Song in Italian to revise letter names for spelling.
See my link: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Alphabet-song-in-Italian-905981 if you would like more info on this TpT product.

For a FREE fun numbers activity, I challenge the students to say their phone number and record the phone numbers of students said aloud.  Phone numbers are very challenging catch as the speaker says a number they know well - but faster than the listener may be ready for.  You can use the hundred charts as a reference guide for beginners. A compatible product to check out is: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/100-chart-in-Italian-304202

For FREE teaching ideas for the languages classroom see my blog: http://italienfrancesetpt.blogspot.com.au/

All TpT sales in May are donated to Crohn's & Colitis Australia for awareness month.  Dollars help support my husband and other patients and their families to make every day more liveable.  For more info on this charity, see: https://give.everydayhero.com/au/heather-baverstock-1


Comment to blog post by perfettowritingroom.blogspot.com.au

Please visit:http://perfettowritingroom.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/tpt-tips-tuesday-finding-your-niche-and.html

As a TpT seller,  I am getting better at aligning my products to my own style.  My best sellers use colour coding to tag patterns in grammar of language whether it be products in English, Italian, French, German, Spanish or Portuguese.  Colours help highlight patterns for counting in 10s for number charts, gender and number for nouns as appropriate masculine, feminine and in some cases neuter, and verb groups like the Italian verbs ending in -ARE, -ERE and -IRE suffixes.  My TpT buyers comment on the simple but at the same time effective way this assists beginners (including the strugglers).  So, I have to agree that once I found my style - I have used colour to add value to my TpT products as well as make them more eye catching and more memorable as my own creations at my TpT Store.

What have you discovered as fellow TpT sellers?  Maybe you are a newbiw still learning the basics of products, blogs and even pintetest?  Maybe you are alreday getting a sense of your own TpT style? Comment if you care to share :-)


All May donations donated to Crohn's & Colitis Australia for awareness month to support my husband, other patients and their families and make everyday more liveable.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

21 writing prompts in Italian

There are many different topics for  student to write about. You can use the calendar as inspiration, student interests or tie it to the topics you are teaching in their lessons.  Beginners might write only in English as a cultural component. Then, move into simple assignments in simple Italian as their Italian grows with more vocabulary and grammar.  Advanced students can extend their writing in Italian with more detail and a wider vocabulary.

1.     Writing in future tense on New Year’s Resolutions.  I will write in my journal, learn to cook, walk the dog.  Timely phrases: every day, all day, every week, every month, sometimes, always, every Tuesday etc.
2.     Descriptive writing about Carnevale,  This is usually in April and is a grand parade of colorful costumes, masks and celebration.  Ask students to describe the clothes, colours and foods of the festival.  Is there music playing live? Is the setting in Venice or another  Italian city? Are there gondolas?
3.     Describe an Italian summer.  Include weather, setting, summer holidays away from home at the sea or mountains, foods including gelato.  What is their favourite flavor?
4.     Describe an Italian autumn as the warm summer turns to reds and oranges of autumn before wintry white. What activities are popular in autumn? Are people playing soccer? Playing in a pile of autumn leaves?
5.     Describe an Italian winter.  The climate, the food, the setting and the activities.  Touch of the role of winter in an Italian Christmas.  Is there a snowplough to help people have streets clear of snow.  Have people salted their driveway to make it less slippery?
6.     Describe an Italian spring as nature wales from winter.  What plants are in bloom>? Which colours are starting to appear?   Can you hear young birds or see butterflies perhaps?  Is there a river starting to flow after being frozen over winter?
7.     June 2nd is the national day of Italy.  What festivities are planned in terms of food, music and costumes? Is there a parade? What does the three colour flag of Italian represent?  How was Italy before this important date in history?  What had changed?
8.     Christmas in Italy is different for Australians, particularly because it is a European winter holiday.  There are no barbeques and sun and sand.  There is sometimes snow, and warm chestnuts and panettone to celebrate.  Many meet up with extended family of the aunts, uncles and cousins to catch up on family news.  Often the housewife makes a meal for all which may be homemade pasta and or seafood dishes.  Many Italians are Catholic and attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Day.
9.     Easter is also a religious holiday.  Many Italians are Catholics and attend Church over Easter of Pasqua to recognise the resurrection of Christ. Young people often spend Christmas with family and Easter with their friends.  They may travel for the long weekend to the seas or mountains. Chocolate is a part of Easter in Italy, but the focus is on the symbol of the egg.  The Easter bunny does not feature in the Italian Easter.
10.   When is your birthday? What day of the week were your born?  What is your star sign?  Does your family have special traditions on birthdays?  What do you like to do to celebrate?  Maybe you have a party or a sleepover? Some families like to wrap presents in strange shapes to disguise the present.  Then, the game is to guess the present before you open it.
11.   What is your school like?  How is it different from a typical Italian school?  Which type of high school would you choose?  Maybe science, classic or a trade school.  What subjects do you like?  What subjects are you good at?
12.   Who is in your family? Do you have a sister or a brother? Are you the youngest or the oldest? Do you live in a house or an apartment? Many Italians live in apartments close to town.  Australians are luckier to have room for a backyard to play soccer or have a dog.
13.   Do you have a pet?  What would your dream pet be? Many Italians cannot have pets in their apartment. Describe what it is like to live in an apartment with an elevator and no yard.
14.   Do you play sport?  Many Australians like football or cricket. Many Italians like soccer. How often do you play sport?  Do you play with friends or in a team?  What are your team colours?
15.   When you finish school, what would you like to be?  Describe a few jobs and what would be great about working in that job.

Research based topics:
16.  Introduce an Italian person. Write a profile or an interview about that person.  Include name, date or birth, job, where they lived and any interesting facts you learn about them.
17.   Introduce an Italian place. Write a profile or a poster about that place.  Include name, region of Italy, date founded if known and any interesting facts you learn about them. Perhaps some famous people lived there, or it was the place of an important event in history.
18.   Introduce an Italian event in history. Write a profile or a poster about that event.  Include place and region of Italy, date or dates of the event, who was involved, and any interesting facts you learn about them. Perhaps a famous person was there at the same time.
19.   Introduce an Italian food. Write a recipe or make a poster about that food.  Include name, where in Italy is from and any interesting facts you learn about them. Perhaps you can make it to share with your friends and family.  You might choose a pizza, pasta or gelato recipe.

20.   Introduce an Italian musician. Write a profile or an interview about that musician.  Include name, date or birth, job, where they lived and any interesting facts you learn about them. You might choose an opera singer, an orchestral musician or a pop singer  you history or modern day.
21.   Introduce a famous Italian building. Write a profile or make a poster about that building.  Include its name in Italian and English, date built (if known), who designed &/or built it, which Italian region it is in, is it still standing today and any interesting facts you learn about it.

Please comment to share any topic ideas you have tried with your class :-)

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Duolingo - FREE App - Review

Have you discovered Duolingo? See the website to have a look that this unique product: https://www.duolingo.com/

This is a summary of Duolingo features written by a fan.  I am enjoying being a part of Duolingo since it started.  I have highlighted in bold my hopes for Duolingo in the future.  We will have to wait and see as the Duolingo journey unfolds. 
·      Duolingo currently 5 languages available for English language speakers: Italian, French, Spanish, German and Portuguese.
·      Lessons start from the very beginning.  Early lessons include pictures to help with new word recognition.  Then as your knowledge grows the game is text based.  This works as the focus is on translation through reading or listening and input through writing.
·      You can choose when you want to practise listening and speaking.  There is always the option to toggle the microphone and speakers on/off.  This is useful if you are on the bus or sitting in a waiting room and don’t want to be watched while you talk to your phone using your new language skills.
·      It will always be a free app: whether you use it as a web app on your laptop or desktop computer or you use it in other devices from iPhone to iPod to Android phone.  It is now available for iPhone and Android devices J
·      An independent study has proven that Duolingo is more effective at language teaching than a university level language course.  I believe this is supported by the gamification aspects.  It is social to play with friends online and/or new language learning buddies.  It is using a healthy level of competition to better your own knowledge, compete with friends and now on the new update, you can also compete with Duobot.  Duobot is useful if your friends online are not available for a challenge in the same minutes you have free: either your lunch break or your commute to work/school.
·      The web app has a few different functions than the app for mobile devices.  You can complete timed tests as well as the lessons you access on the go.  You can test your translation skills as you grow your working knowledge of vocab and grammar.  As you level up in the lessons, gaining more XP (experience points) you will be better prepared to tackle longer and more challenging translations.
·      As students complete lessons, there are three hearts (like lives) at risk.  Students complete enough correct translations (usually 10 in a lesson) without running out of hearts to finish the lesson.  The XP earned from a lesson is the total of the number of correct translations PLUS the number of hearts not used.  This system insists students pass with a sufficient skill level and reward students who did not make any careless mistakes.  Early on in levels and lessons, it is useful for beginners that the lessons are never timed.  The timed tests available on the web based app are a good measure of progress combining speed and accuracy.
·      An additional scoring system to XP is the lingots.  They are like high powered points to reward you on your language learning journey. You cash in lingots to reward yourself with outfits for your avatar, a timed translation test or specialised vocab in your preferred language.  I particularly like the timed translation tests.  I am challenging myself to rotate through the 5 available languages from English speakers.  I chip away at lessons, tests and games earning XP until I level up in a language.  When this coincides with 25 lingots, I challenge myself to complete a timed translation test to see how I am progressing.  It is effective testing because it is timed.  It would be useful to see the timer counting down during the test.
·      The lessons are set up sequentially in a language tree.  As you progress through more lessons, new lesson sections are unlocked as earned.  Completed lessons have full completed progress bars.  This information is updated over time.  As you complete later lessons, perhaps alternating with some real world translation practice and strengthening your skills, each word experience level is maintained in the Duolingo database.  When a learned word is not practised it looses more progress bars in the original lesson learned.   This is a reminded to go back and revisit lessons to review your vocabulary.  This is welcome feature.  Just as you might like and work in the country of the language improving your language skills, Duolingo reminds you to maintain your early foundation of language skills.  It insists you build a good sense of the language from a strong foundation.  Any language learned at a university, school or community course would be better prepared before a test as a result of revising the current course content and checking back over earlier vocab learned on Duolingo. Duolingo also has levels of increasing difficulty.  Lesson levels from XP come from completing lessons at a competent level.  However, each level requires more and more XP to reach the next level.  There is also a translator's tier. The system here is similar.  The more online immersion articles you write and/or edit the more points you earn.  However, the system is now tweaked.  You need to be at least 90% accurate in your translation writing. It is determined by how many words are in the sentence.  Say for a ten word sentence, you need the support of at 5 approval votes with only minimal down votes to be acceptable.
·      Language coach is a optional feature.  Students can toggle on and off for each language course and select the time commitment they would like to make to each language.  Like many apps available nowadays, optional settings such as these put the user in control.  Are they keen to beat their personal best, beat their Duolingo friends or want  to make their language learning at their own pace without a nagging daily reminder?
·      There are more language courses still in Beta form while they are being developed including: Indonesian and Dutch and Turkish (all for English speakers).  There are other languages in Beta (Italian for Spanish, English for Korean, English for Thai, German for Russian).
·      I would like to see the same features on the mobile app. It is good to see the Duobot available on mobile devices as a close match to timed tests.  I wish I could work on a web based translation on the go as well.  It is exciting to finally see your translator’s rating level up.  They may be few and far between, but the translator’s levels are well earned.
·      Duolingo has already one two awards from two of the big companies: Apple (iPhone) has awarded Duolingo App of the Year and Google Play (Android) has awarded Duolingo Best of the Best.
·      Duolingo has a merchandise line available for the keen Duolingoists to promote the app, their language learning and be an active part of the community of learners.
·      And finally, the discussion board gives Duolingo users an opportunity to share their learning, ask questions of Duolingo features, discuss vocab and grammar points of the language being learned, and even request new features for future updates.  There is a down vote/up vote system to help the admin team of Duolingo.  This is useful to monitor which features are most requested and may be added to the Duolingo agenda for future updates soon.
·      I would love to see Afrikaans and Welsh available soon.

Have you discovered a web app or mobile device for language learners?  Which one is your favourite?