A few years back the concept of task cards entered into education, and, more specifically, into the foreign language classroom. Typically task cards are individual cards that offer students opportunities to engage with a particular topic in various forms. Each one usually has a prompt or activity that students complete either individually or in pairs or small groups at different challenge levels. They are particularly useful because they provide opportunities for increased engagement and differentiation. For a refresher you can read my post on 1o ways to use task cards in the foreign language classroom.
I recently learned about digital task cards and once I saw how effective they are with students I jumped right it. Though I like the tactile aspect of the more traditional physical task cards, digital cards are more sustainable and they provide instant feedback to students.
Watch these videos where I take you through a “deck” of digital task cards on the Boom Learning Website.
Spanish Digital Task Cards.
French Digital Task Cards
No printing, cutting, or laminating, just assign the decks to your students and you are ready to go. Students can get immediate feedback on their progress and you get several teacher reporting tools. A fun, effective, and engaging way for students to engage with the language.
You can create your own decks when you set up an account. There is a limited number with the free account. You’ll have to upgrade if you want to create more. You can also purchase decks that are already made on the Boom Learning Website. I am all in with these right now and I am making more decks every week. You can get them on Teachers Pay Teachers. Users new to Boom Learning get a three-month free trial of student progress reporting for up to 150 students. Your trial includes the ability to make up to 5 free DIY decks. Boom Cards play on modern browsers (released in the last three years), on interactive whiteboards, computers and tablets. Boom Cards apps are also available. If you do not subscribe at the end of your trial, you will be able to continue using Boom Cards with the Fast Play feature.
Spanish Digital Task Cards.
French Digital Task Cards
Technology is all around us and many teachers are integrating various technology tools into their teaching. Though a new app, website, or computer software may appear (through marketing or other means) to be the “new best thing” you way want to decide this for yourself before using it with your students. A great way to assess this is through the SAMR model.
This model, developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, offers a method of seeing how computer technology might impact teaching and learning. It shows a progression that adopters of educational technology often follow as they progress through teaching and learning with technology. It is a framework through which teachers can assess and evaluate the technology used in the classroom. As teachers move along the continuum, computer technology becomes more important in the classroom but at the same time becomes more invisibly woven into the demands of good teaching and learning.
The SAMR model explained by Dr. Ruben Puentedura.
Computers, smartphones, tablets, the internet, apps, and websites are all around us and it is a rare day when a teacher does use at least one of these technology tools. In response to this, Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) have become virtual, easily accessible and quick. A PLN consists of learners (teachers seeking professional development in this case) who create connections and develop a network that contributes to their professional development and knowledge.
Typically, the learner does not have to know the people personally or ever meet them in person. Professional conferences play an important role in professional development, but an active PLN happens on the timetable of the individual, though there are some PLNs that have designated chat session times once a week, but that happens from where you are.
- Twitter (hashtag #langchat for foreign language teachers). Post a question with the hashtag or search Twitter with the hashtag and respond or read responses.
- Facebook (Create a page and invite teachers to join). I am a member of the Organic World Language (OWL) page and the discussions are very formative.
- Pinterest (Follow boards of interest). I maintain individual boards by topic and follow other boards with those topics. Comment on pins or repin the pins that you like to your own boards.
- Instagram (Follow other language teachers and world travelers). Search topics with hashtags (#) and get great visuals for use in the classroom. Comment and share with other teachers.
- Periscope (Interact with language teachers in real time). I follow several language educators and I also scope once a week, sometimes more, about language teaching tips, tools and resources.
- YouTube (Follow channels that interest you). Don’t just watch videos, leave comments and start a conversation. Create a network.
- Blogs (like this one). Follow blogs of interest and you will be notified of new posts. Don’t just read the posts, pin, tweet, post on Facebook and comment on the post on the blog. This starts a conversation.
Here is a quick and informative video on Personal Learning Networks (PLNs):
Once you get a hang of the process, creating QR codes to access student recordings is fairly straight forward and students can quickly learn to do it themselves. There are mays ways to use QR codes in the foreign language classroom.
One thing I like to do is make the codes available to parents so that they can listen to their kids speaking the language. For example, I made this bulletin board interactive so that the students voices can be heard reading their writing assignment. All it takes is a QR reading app on a smartphone to quickly and instantly hear the student’s voice.
Here are the steps for recording audio and creating a QR Code. There are various apps for recording audio and a number of website to create QR codes. These are simply the ones that I use.
Record on an app like Voice Record (available for free).
You can use Google drive to upload the audio files or Dropbox . Create a folder for the audio. Put the audio files into the folder.
Click on an audio file and select share.
Copy the URL.
Generate a QR link. Use http://www.qrstuff.com/
Paste the URL into the box and QR code will generate to the right. You can download the image or copy the image from the screen.
On Wheel Decide, teachers can type in the words that they want displayed on the wheel and on each click the wheel spins and lands on a random color. There are so many uses for this online tool. Fill in verbs and students write or say a sentence; type in vocabulary words and students write sentences or say a sentence in small groups or pairs; type in topics for pairs or small groups to use as speaking prompts; type in student names for setting up groups…so many possibilities
The teacher can even save the wheels that he/she creates for future use. It takes only minutes to create a wheel and you will be using it instantly. And the best part is that it’s free.
Padlet is an online, electronic “wall” where students can post comments or answer questions for the entire class to see and respond to. The possibilities are endless since the link can be shared with students who can easily access the wall electronically.
The teacher can upload videos, photos or documents. It can easily be used for a virtual exchange as well with another school. All students involved can comment on the same photo or video and everyone can see the different responses. Padlet can also be used in real time in class with all students entering comments on the board at the same time. Each comment begins with the student’s name so that everyone looking at the board knows who wrote the comment.
Pixton is a website where students can create their own comic strips by developing characters and dialog. There are various templates and tools to make characters.
There is a section of the website specifically for schools and students projects. You will also find some interesting reasons how Pixton is useful to language students in the ares of motivation, creativity and culture.
Technology can be used to enhance foreign language learning and instruction, but it should be integrated into the curriculum so that it is purposeful and supports learning objectives.
Many times technology is used as a tool that is separate from the learning objectives and it is most useful and effective when it it essential to carrying out a task in the target language rather than just an amusing or interesting way of engaging with the language. Consider the table below from the TeachBytes Webiste. There are concrete and effective idea for integrating technology in the foreign language classroom.
I call this game A Vos Risques (French) and A Su Riesgo (Spanish). It’s an interactive Powerpoint game with many opportunities for students to practice and review vocabulary in the target language. It is a great way to use the animation options in Powerpoint. I typically divide the class into teams that play together against the other teams.
Here’s how it works:
- –Teams choose a square and say the number. The teacher clicks on the number to reveal a question. The number is hyperlinked to a slide in the presentation.
- –The team answers the question on the slide. A click on that screen reveals the answer for verification.
- –This is where the “RISK” comes into play. If the team is correct, they choose a colored question mark on the slide (I put three options.) that will reveal 1, 2 or 3 points, a Zut (French)/Caramba (Spanish)–lose points, a slide with directions to take a point from another team or to give points to another team. I put a home icon on this screen that is hyperlinked back to the gameboard.
- –The team with the most points once all numbers have been chosen wins the game.
- –The three different point possibilities on each screen allow for this activity to be used multiple times with the same class.
You can create this activity using powerpoint animation and hyperlinking or you can download complete version of this game below:
Lingro.com: No need to look up words in the dictionary or with an online translator with this useful translation website. Enter a website address and you’ll be taken to a Lingro supported version of the page where every word is clickable. Click on a word to see its definition. There are 11 languages available with translation available between each of the individual languages. There are even ways to track the words that you click to check yourself after reading the page in the foreign language.