When does technology aid language acquisition?

C_Cavage Christina Cavage

If you are like me, you are probably willing to try anything to engage your students and help them make significant gains in their language learning. Maybe you have jumped on some bandwagons like myself—early CALL trends. Back in 1992 when I got my first teaching job, I used to create ‘interactive’ lessons using HyperCard on Apple 2es. I spent laborious hours making copies for my students on floppy diskettes, just so they could line up in our one lab to try out these lessons. Even with those early HyperCard lessons, I saw how students reacted when something was new, engaging and different. Those light bulb moments kept me digging deeper into not only the impact technology has on learning, but also the most effective and valuable ways to incorporate technology into my classes. Continue reading

Mandela and King:
A Lesson for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day


Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. never met and they lived at opposite ends of the world, but their paths of struggle for civil rights in South Africa and the United States intersect as two of the twentieth century’s most important achievements in advancing human rights and freedom.  As the holiday commemorating Dr. King approaches, it is a compelling time to consider the contributions of both of these extraordinary leaders.

A WebQuest

Here is an online research activity students can do to explore the lives and accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela.  Students can work on their own or with a partner or small group to find the answers to these questions and then share as a class.  Through this activity, they will discover some of the ways in which these two leaders had similar views and shared similar experiences during their remarkable lifetimes.  READ MORE

Study-Skills Tune-Up

SarahLynn1Sarah Lynn

What are the most effective ways to study?  Teach your students these four simple principles.

1: Study one thing at a time.
Multitasking doesn’t work.  Research has shown that multitasking actually depletes your ability to learn. If you are not fully paying attention to new information, you cannot move it into long term memory.

Teaching Tip:  Remind students to turn off electronics when they study.   Check out the app SelfControl.

2: Study a little bit every day.
Research has proven that distributed learning (studying a little bit every day) is much more effective than studying a lot in one or two sittings.

Teaching Tip:  Get students to look at their weekly calendar and commit to 20-30 minutes of study every day. Continue reading

Hitting the Right Note:
Extending the Theme of Your Song
[Song-Based Activity #2]

2013_Heyer_SandraSandra Heyer 

One way to extend the lessons in True Stories Behind the Songs and More True Stories Behind the Songs is to follow up each unit with a supplemental song that connects to the theme of the unit, plus an activity to go with the supplemental song. Each month I’ll share a song-based activity that has worked well with my beginning and high-beginning students.

This month, let’s look at some examples of song choices and the summarizing exercise. Just as a story can be summarized, so can song lyrics – as long as the song tells a story. Once the summary is complete, it can become the basis of further spin-off activities. Continue reading