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August/September 2014

August/September 2014

Open Library
Open Library says that its goal is to provide a page on the web for every book published. It is a catalog that can be searched by subject, author, place, person, or time in history. Users can also create their own search criteria. The Accessible Books section currently has several million free e-books, and the Lending Library has about 200,000 e-books.

Spanish in Texas
Spanish in Texas is a project of the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL) at the University of Texas, Austin. Its purpose is “to profile Spanish as it is spoken throughout Texas today and to provide open learning tools that allow students, teachers, and the general public to explore Spanish language variation.” The website has an archive of authentic Spanish videos for language learning and a blog with posts about how to use the content. There is also a section for researchers interested in building upon the work of the project or replicating it in other contexts.

Teaching Controversial Issues
ProCon is a free resource that is intended for presenting unbiased information on controversial issues. The topics include education, elections, health and medicine, media and entertainment, politics, science and technology, and world and international issues. While some of these may seem too controversial, even elementary schools are finding ways to use the resource. The “Teachers’ Corner” on the site offers lesson plan ideas and explanations from teachers about how they use ProCon in their classrooms to promote critical thinking and skills such as research and essay writing. World language teachers have used it for helping their students learn about the differing viewpoints on issues such as immigration and global climate change. The site is accessible in a number of different languages.

Free Audio Editor and Recorder
Audacity is free, open-source software for recording and editing sounds. The 2.0.3 version is now available for Windows, Mac, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. The Audacity website has a wiki with tips and tutorials and a forum for questions and discussions.

The French Corner Blog
Samantha Decker, a middle school French teacher from upstate New York, started the French Corner website for the purpose of teaching basic French, but she then began adding information on French culture. The site has now evolved into a blog focused on teaching French, which features articles, videos, a YouTube playlist, activities, games, and authentic resources. Decker welcomes submissions from other teachers who want to share ideas and materials.

What Works Clearinghouse
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) is an initiative of the Institute for Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education and is administered by the National Center for Education Evaluation. It identifies studies that provide “credible and reliable evidence of the effectiveness of a given practice, program, or policy.” The information is then made available on an online searchable database. The database currently has more than 700 publications and 6,000 reviewed studies, and among the topic areas are English language learners, children and youth with disabilities, student behavior, teacher incentives, and education technology.

Setting up Interactive Notebooks
This page is intended to help teachers with setting up interactive student notebooks with their classes. There are general guidelines, strategies, and examples, as well as links to other sites where teachers share advice and information. There are a couple by language educators, one of whom is Jillane Baros, a Spanish teacher who uses ACTFL’s recommendations and standards as the basis for her classroom teaching. Her blog ( has a very helpful section on interactive notebooks.

SMART Board Resources and Ideas
SMART Exchange is intended to provide teachers with ideas, lesson plans, and images for use with all of the SMART resources, as well as provide a professional community in which they can connect with other educators. Resources are organized by subject and grade, and include “Modern Foreign Languages.” Customized searches also can be created. The site also supports 48 different countries in 23 languages.

Live Lingua
In addition to its paid Skype language lessons, Live Lingua offers 60-minute free trial lessons in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. The site also has an archive of free language learning material as well as a blog with numerous articles of interest to language learners and teachers of world languages.

The French Writing Center
A Vos Plumes! is a project that was funded by the University of Virginia’s Teaching + Technology Initiative. UVA French professor Alison J. Murray Levine notes that the site is for students who want to write better in French and for teachers who want to help them. The section for teachers includes articles, handouts, classroom writing and oral activities, and interactive written homework exercises. There is also a forum where teachers can post questions for other teachers, and students can ask questions of French teachers or other students.