One of my favorite discoveries this year, and really, that probably means nothing because there were so many discoveries, was PhotoPeach. Unlike PhotoStory 3 with it’s varied editing techniques and audio capabilities, PhotoPeach is rather simple, almost basic. While you may add music to your creation, you can not add your voice, and, you really can not do much with transitions, effects, etc. So, students found it easier to use. I first used PhotoPeach as an assessment tool for a cultural component with my Spanish III classes. We were in chapter 10 of Exprésate 2 (meaning that I was using the vocabulary as the guide for my lessons, but not using the textbook…I’ll share more about my aversion to texts in a future post), with the cultural emphasis being on Argentina. For me, Argentina is a place that I have longed to visit, a place that simply calls out to me, audibly….”Come see me! Iguazú Falls, El Perito Moreno, Los Andes, el tango, BajoFondo, fútbol, Buenos Aires…” However, my students, while willing to trek along with me and watch/listen/mimic, really only wanted to know “What do we have to do/know?” followed by “to get a good grade?” Do you know this generation of students….the ones who only want to do whatever is needed to get an A/B and have not been introduced to the sheer joy of learning through exploration? So, I decided to forgo the grade system. I gave them a guide sheet, with many, many references to all things Argentinian, and set them on their own. Everyone will get an A simply by creating a PhotoPeach that contains at least two elements from “X” number of references, captioned in Spanish, I told them. Explore what interests you! While some looked at me as if I had really lost it, and others still worried whether they would truly get an A, some students actually did decide that I indeed wanted them to explore. I’m not going to claim that this was 100% successful, or that it didn’t have some problems, because that is not the case. I forgot to include the essential “credits or works cited” page. We ran into problems with music, many wanted to use authentic music, and not the music provided by the program. That, in itself, is not a problem, because PhotoPeach allows you to embed the audio from a youtube video. The problem is with the school system that blocks youtube, and therefore when sharing projects with each other, the music is not there. Some students still did the bare minimum, but other students, yes, other students, actually got into Argentina. My delighted ears heard several times…”Why can’t we go to Argentina?” “Why can’t there be a trip to Argentina?” and “I’m going to visit, travel, study in Argentina”. Some students, chose to use PhotoPeach again when it came time to do our big music project two months later, but the real sense of success came with the final project of the year. Do you know the feeling when your students have finished the HSA assessments and most of your students are exempted from final exams but there are still six days of school remaining? What to do? This year I opted for a “final project”. Yes, insert a huge, collective groan here. Why, why do we have to do this? Well, getting past that, this project was about themselves…using their own photos supplemented by internet photos as needed. The assignment was to share a little about themselves, their friends, the school year and plans for the summer and next year, using vocabulary they had conquered as well as constructions (otherwise known as present perfect, present subjunctive, and the dreaded past tenses) they are seeking to grasp. To their amazement, most groaning stopped, and some pride in what they created emerged. Since we share all projects and encourage feedback, and since these projects were personalized by their own photos, we spent four days in class creating, and one day sharing! The results for the first project (early February), and the last project (June) are below. The work is by the same two students. See what you think.