Can Do Statements are essential to backwards design. They are what keep us focused on what our students will be able to do with the language they are learning.
I wanted to find ways for students to use the statements actively and regularly throughout a unit. I’ve used various paper versions, but I took on the task of finding a way to do this digitally and in a way that lets me check in on student progress at any time.
I initially started with a Google Form, but the data was only available to me, not to students once they submitted it. I then moved on to several versions using Google Sheets. This is the one that has worked the best.
The sheet is set up with the Can Do Statements for the unit.
As we progress through the unit, students choose their current ability to meet the objective by choosing from the drop-down menu to the right of the statement.
I have the responses set to change color for easy identification.
When students choose “with confidence” they type in an example to show that they can meet the statement objective.
When shared through Google Classroom I set the assignment to make a copy for each student and then I can check in on their progress individually. I have been particularly impressed with the conversations about proficiency that come up. Students take an active role in concretely understanding where they are and what they need to do to level up and meet the goal.
I’m sure that you have seen Bitmojis™ around the Web. If they are new to you they are little cartoon versions of yourself, which are used on social media, in texts, or in a virtual classroom spaces. You just create an avatar that resembles you, and there are lots of options from which to choose once you are all set up.When we entered into distance learning teachers began creating virtual classrooms. They are shared with students as a go-to spot for resources and assignments or as a screen share when conducting synchronous lessons on platforms such as Zoom™ and Google Meet™. Teachers then add their Bitmoji™ avatars to the virtual classroom to personalize the space. This is a good video tutorial that walks you through creating your own Virtual or Bitmoji™ classroom.I have seen many versions of these classrooms being used by world language teachers. It appears that there is not any particular version that is the the best way. Some options include:
The possibilities are as endless…anything we do in our physical classrooms can happen in our virtual classroom, provided we can digitize it.
I created a Bitmoji™ classroom a few weeks back and asked my PLN friends on Twitter and in my Facebook Group for feedback. The most common feedback was that there was too much stimuli and too much going on. I needed to pare it down to focus on one activity or task at a time. I started with this version.
I then made templates of the same room with a task-specific focus. For examples these are classrooms I use for conversation or topic hooks and class openers.
Who is our guest today? Students ask questions to try to figure out who the special guest behind the door is. There are prompts posted to support the question process. When students figure it out I have the animation set to make the door disappear revealing the guest. This can be a celebrity, a person from school, a character in a story or book…anyone with a connection to the topic of the day to get students thinking about the topic.
What’s in the box? This works just like the previous activity, but instead of a person it is an object in a box. Again, students ask questions to try to figure out what is in the box. There prompts posted to support the question process. When students figure it out I have the animation set to make the box disappear revealing the object. This can be anything with a connection to the topic of the day to get students thinking about the topic.
Where are we? For this opener the window is linked to Window Swap. This is Website that shows views from windows all around the world that people submit to the website. The views change each day and there are multiple options to click through. While this does not work as direct hook to the topic of the day, it is an engaging way to get students talking and describing what they see, who might live there, and they can also learn the names of countries and cities in the target language.
We would all love to see what you are doing with your virtual classroom. Please share on Twitter and be sure to tag @wlclassroom. Looking forward to seeing all the great spaces.
I am enjoying figuring out everything that you can do with Google Slides™. I’m a big fan of digital task cards (like Boom Cards) and I use them often with students, but I wanted to find a way for students to do similar activities with vocabulary, but that are available without needing to log into a Website…activities that students can access and use to review right from their Google™ account.
These Google Slides™ activities give students opportunities to identify words, phrases or pictures, then to identify and read words, and then to practice spelling. I particularly like that there is absolutely no prep needed. You just share with students. Easily used for distance, hybrid, blended or in school learning and teaching.
Here are examples of these interactive vocabulary activities using Google Slides™.
This activity is an effective follow up and extension to comprehensible input activities. Once students have seen (in writing) and heard verb forms in context the next step is to begin the process of producing language. I like to use activities that show students various possibilities and have them choose the accurate form based on their interaction with the language forms. If you are moving away from direct instruction of verb conjugations try this out with students. If they have had sufficient contextualized exposure to the verb forms and meanings you will likely see that students can choose the correct form based on what “sounds right.” When this happens we know that they are progressing in their proficiency and moving toward accurate language output.
Deductive instruction is a “top-down” approach, meaning that the teacher starts with a grammar rule with specific examples, and the rule is learned through practice.
Inductive instruction is a “bottom-up” approach, meaning that the teacher provides examples of the structure in context and students make observations, detect patterns, formulate hypothesis, and draw conclusions
The inductive (implicit) approach focuses on meaning along with the forms communicatively. The deductive approach focused more (or maybe even only) on the forms. Brown (2007) reminds us that “While it might be appropriate to articulate a rule and then proceed to instances, most of the evidence in communicative second language teaching points to the superiority of an inductive approach to rules and generalizations.”
I am also using digital activities more with students and now have them do this activity using Google Slides™ that can be shared directly through Google Classroom™ and students get their own copy. Ideal for distance learning, homework, in-person classes or blended, hybrid model.
Students at the novice proficiency level typically speak and write in memorized chunks of language and phrases that they learn by memory. As they progress in proficiency teachers can support their attempts at creating language on their own. It is useful to guide them in finding their own ways to add on to the target language that they produce. I find that one effective way of doing this is to begin by focusing on verbs that they know well and give them opportunities to use them in context. First with various subjects and then by adding on to the verb phrases in ways that shows their understanding of the meaning of the verb.
This activity is called Hidden Forms (Formes Cachées in French and Formas Escondidas in Spanish). It is useful to use in PACE lesson as students engage in extension using the verb forms and structures that were introduced. There is an added element of fun and strategy as students search for the correct verb forms in the grid. Not necessarily the most communicative part of the activity, but I always think that students enjoy these small amusing elements and it has the added benefit of being done in the target language.
These Hidden Forms activities are all done in Google Slides and can be easily shared with students through platforms such as Google Classroom. They work well whether as an in-class activity, homework or when doing distance or hybrid/blended learning and teaching.
First slide: There is a subject pronoun and an infinitive. Students write the correct verb form.
Second Slide: There is a grid with subject pronouns, infinitives and verb forms. Students find the subject, infinitive and verb form together from the first slide. They then highlight the boxes and “color in” the boxes with the fill color tool.
At the novice writing levels, students write with single words and lists initially, then move on to chunked phrases.
apple, banana, orange
My favorite color is green
I like apples, bananas and oranges
My name is Josué
I play soccer and football
On the weekend I like to go to the movies and to a restaurant
As students move up to the intermediate proficiency level they begin to create discrete sentences on their own that move beyond chunked phrases. This can be challenging for students because they are no longer relying on memorized phrases to chunk together. We can help scaffold this process for students by supporting them in creating sentences. Students often don’t knowhow to add details to a sentence to make it their own, particularly when writing.
I have found that using question words with students is a simple and effective way to have students add details to their sentences that move from memorized, chunked phrases to discrete sentences that are created by the student. The more they do this the more they will grow in confidence and begin to do it on their own when writing.
Here is an example of an activity that has been effective in showing students that they can in fact move up the proficiency ladder by creating their own sentences. I call it “Staring with a Verb” (A Partir d’un Verbe, A Partir de un Verbo).
I created these activities in Google Slides so that students and type their sentences directly in the slide and then submit the document when finished. This is particularly useful when using Google Classroom and ideal during distance learning.
The organizational part is step one, then we need to figure out what the actual choices are. I compiled suggestions for each option below. Since the choice board template is designed to be used for any language, theme or proficiency level I am keeping the suggestions and resources general so that you can easily adapt them to the content that you are focusing on in your classes. Hopefully this list will spark some ideas and make the process of creating choice boards more manageable.
There is increasing research that shows that learner independence builds confidence and increases academic performance and language proficiency. I have seen an increase in choice boards among language teachers on social media. These boards provide students with options of how to learn and practice content or a skill. They also encourage students to be more responsible, accountable and independent as they work at their own pace. In a time of remote/distance/hybrid learning these choice boards are a great way to keep students engaged in or out of the school building.
As I took on this challenge of implementing choice boards I soon realized that the challenge comes in the organization and keeping track of assignments. When students are completing different assignments at various times how do I manage it all? So, I took to Twitter to ask teachers how they do this in their classrooms. There were great suggestions from generous teachers all over the country. I compiled responses and got to work creating two versions of choice boards. One uses Google Slides and the other uses Google Slides and Forms. There are apps, Websites and platforms out there that do this sort of thing for a fee, but I wanted to find a way that uses Google (Classroom) that does not require yet another username and password… and does not have an annual cost associated with it.
Be sure to look at this post if you would like to see ideas for each of the options.
There are 9 options on the choice board, which include the communication modes as well as culture, Web activities and art, music, etc. There is also a “nuts and bolts” option which all students begin with. This is for initial presentation of content through comprehensible input. This is all done in a Google Slide presentation that is shared with students so that they each have their own copy. In this first version all work is put on the corresponding slides either as an image or a link to a Google doc.
Be sure to take a look at this follow-up post that has ideas and suggestions for the choice board options. I hope you have success with choice boards and that these templates help to make it a little more manageable for you.
Like everyone else I am figuring out what I can use during distance learning. This is a speaking activity that I do in the classroom either as a whole class or in small groups. It has transitioned well to the remote learning classroom, particularly with platforms that allow screen-sharing. You can copy the template to your Google Drive by clicking HERE.
I call this activity “Advance” (Avancez! in French and ¡Adelante! in Spanish)
Here is how it works. This is for the Spanish version, but just replace the word ¡Caramba! with Zut! for French…any language would work with the template.
This activity can be done with the whole class broken down into teams of 2-3 or in a small group of 3-4 individual players. Project the slides if playing with the entire class (share your screen if doing remote teaching). If playing in a small group they will need one computer or a tablet with Powerpoint or Google Slides. Be sure that they play in slideshow mode so that they can’t see the thumbnail images on the side.
Give each group (if playing with the entire class) or each individual (if playing in a small group) two objects that they can use while playing. This can be anything really… erasures, slips of paper, popsicle sticks or game pieces. It doesn’t matter what they are, as long as each group (or individual player if playing in small group) has 2. I just keep track of this on my own in the distance learning classroom.
The object of the game is to have the most points at the end. The teacher can set a time limit to determine when the end arrives. It’s good if you can set a timer, but without students seeing the countdown. If players arrive at the “Fin” slide activity is done.
Determine the order that the groups or individuals will play in.
Begin on the first slide. The first player (or individual player if playing in small group) identifies the picture or responds to a prompt either by speaking or writing. If correct (clicking on the slide will show the correct answer) the group or player gets a point. If the answer is incorrect no point are awarded or lost and play continues with the next group (or individual).
The next group (or individual) can decide to advance (¡Adelante!) to the next slide and identifies the picture or responds to a prompt. However, there are slides that say “¡Caramba!” instead of a picture or prompt and the group (or individual) loses all of their points. At any time a group (or individual) can choose not to advance and skip a turn. They can only do this twice in the game and must hand over one of the objects mentioned in the set up.
If a group or individual decides not to advance the play continues with the next group (or individual).
Once a group (or individual) has used both of their “skips” they must advance to the next slide when it is their turn.
Players should not assume that there are not 2 “¡Caramba!” in a row. There is no pattern.
Change up the order of the slides and location of the “¡Caramba!” if you use the activity multiple times so that students can’t anticipate where the “¡Caramba!” are.
Depending on the proficiency level of students they can be required to identify the picture (novice level) or use it in a complete sentence (Novice High to Intermediate). If it is a prompt it will require a novice high or intermediate response.
Set an alarm on a timer and when it goes off the game ends and the group (or individual) who has the most points at that moment is the winner. It is best to play between 20-30 minutes, though the teacher can adjust this based on the dynamics of the class. Or, if players arrive at the “Fin” slide activity is done.
You can copy the template to your Google Drive by clicking HERE. Fill in the prompts to fit your needs on each slide. Copy as many slides and ¡Caramba!/ Zut! that you would like and put them anywhere you would like, and as many as you would like.
If you teach multiple grade levels, or various proficiency levels, you probably like to find an activity or project that can be used across levels. I would like to share a project with you that you can use with novice and intermediate learners. It is essentially the same concept. It differs only in how students engage with the content that they produce.
Students create a time capsule that is a snapshot of their life over the past year. I typically do this as the school year, so you will see 2019-2020 in the examples. I have students do this digitally in Google slides. I have seen in done in a journal as well with pictures and writing glued to the pages. While the tactile nature and opportunities for creative design are more apparent with the physical product I find that that it is logistically easier to manage when it is digital.
Students begin by responding to prompts in the target language.
Personal adjectives (3) to describe yourself:
Family (name, age, relation):
Gratitude (3 things you are thankful for or appreciate):
Teachers and Subjects:
Favorite Move or TV Program:
Favorite Actress or Actor:
Once these are done students find pictures to go along with each of these topics and put them in google slides. I provide the template and they fill it in.
Novice mid to novice high students write about what is “in” their time capsule and these sentences go on each slide with the images. At this level I usually provide sentence starters as well, such as “My favorite actress is…” or ” My math teacher is…” At this proficiency level the work is done in the present.
Novice high to intermediate low students write as if they were opening the time capsule in five years and write about they did, what they liked, who their teachers were, etc. five years ago. For languages with preterite and imperfect tenses, this lends itself to distinguishing between the preterite and imperfect. Students at this level tend (in my experience) to be better with the preterite. For the sentences that would require the imperfect I typically provide sentence starters. Intermediate low to intermediate mid students write as if they were opening the time capsule in fifty years and writing about they used to do, what they liked, who their teachers were, etc. fifty years ago. For language with preterite and imperfect tenses, this lends itself to using the preterite and imperfect accurately, and it provides an effective way to contextualize the tenses.
I also include a speaking component. Once students are done with the time capsule, and are very familiar with all of the content, I set up time for them to have a 5-minute discussion with me about their time capsule.