Thursday, April 30, 2015

Como Escribir Los Acentos

How do I type accents in Spanish? This is an issue that has plagued Foreign Language teachers since the dawn of technology. Although it isn't that difficult...it can be a bit of a headache and every device is different.

On my iPhone or iPad, I touch and hold vowels, such as the /e/, and a pop up of various e's comes up and I can choose the accented one. 

When using my PC, I use ALT commands and have used them enough that I have them memorized and it goes pretty quickly for me. This also works while typing in web pages etc. on a PC. This is my preferred method.

ALT + 130 = é
ALT + 160 = á
ALT + 161 = í
ALT + 162 = ó
ALT + 163 = ú
ALT + 164 = ñ
ALT + 168 = ¿
ALT + 173 = ¡

My Chromebook turned out to be the biggest challenge. In a Google Document, you can choose "Insert Special Characters" and find what you need.  There is also a Google Add-on called "Easy Accents" that you can install. I found the add-on to be the easiest while working in Google Docs.

A web-based tool is that works on Chromebooks or other computers is http://spanish.typeit.org/, a webpage that allows you to type/select the characters you want and then copy and paste them into your document.

None of these is difficult to use, but as mentioned above, all are a bit different. Once you find a system that works for you, you'll be good to go! Do you have another way you insert foreign characters? Comment below and tell us about it!

Monday, April 27, 2015

LMS Showdown: Google Classroom vs. Moodle

In my computer classes, I try to teach paperless as much as I can. I first started this practice when my school made Moodle available to teachers several years ago. I vividly remember being completely unsure of how this would go, and wondering how I'd teach paperlessly. Now I can't imagine having done it any other way, and I really don't miss piles of paper on my desk, in my bag, in my car, on my kitchen table...you get the idea.

I used Moodle for several years, mostly for 9th grade Digital Literacy--a Microsoft Office class. Although several of our teachers use Moodle now, I am the teacher that introduces students to it in 9th grade. Moodle can be daunting, visually, and a little scary for both teachers and students. Moodle has so many options and features that it can be a little cumbersome to work with, but it has a lot of options and features. Moodle will always be my first LMS love.

Google Classroom is a new feature in Google Apps for Education and I have been using it for a semester. Visually, Classroom is much more streamlined and easy on the eyes. It reminds me of a Facebook page, only without the ads, of course! A consequence of simple and streamlined though, is not as many options as Moodle.

Just recently Google Classroom added the ability to create posts/assignments and save them as a draft until you need them. A must for teachers who plan ahead. There are several features I still miss from Moodle such as the ability to group tasks and resources within a block/unit, and the ability to empty a course for a new year and/or copy a course to a new year. These features are not yet in Classroom.

Besides visually looking cleaner, Classroom has a really simple and easy-to-use interface. Both students and I find it easier to see what is assigned, when it is due, and what has been done. Giving students feedback is easier in Classroom. A huge advantage of Classroom is its seamless integration with Google Drive, if you use Drive for student assignments.

So what is my verdict? Well...it depends on what you want to do and how/what you teach. For my project-based 10th grade class, Google Classroom is my pick. But for classes with lots of assignments grouped by unit or chapter, I still prefer Moodle because of the way I can organize tasks and hide or show blocks at a time. If Google Classroom continues its improvements, however, I think it could become a powerhouse in the LMS arena.

I did not include in my review other popular LMS options such as Schoology and Edmodo because I have not actually used these with students. What LMS do you use? Do you like it? Why?