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:
- Friends :
- Activity :
- With whom?:
- Activity :
- With whom?:
- Activity :
- With whom?:
- Film/TV/Netflix/Amazon :
- Favorite Move or TV Program:
- Favorite Actress or Actor:
- Favorite Book:
- Favorite Writer:
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.
The final step is where the projected is differentiated by proficiency level. You can see a review of proficiency levels here.
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.
Posted in Activities and Games, Classroom Procedures, Grammar and Structures, Speaking, Technology
Tagged ACTFL, foreign langauge, french, language, language learning, spanish, time capsule
As I write this post many of us are teaching remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I have been using Zoom to teach and communicate with students. One of the features is breakout rooms where students can be put into small groups. Other platforms offer similar possibilities. I was trying to find a way to see what groups are doing in real time in addition to popping in and out of each group.
I saw on Twitter that Rebecca Blouwolf, ACTFL Teacher of the Year, was trying out using shared Google docs during breakout group time. I have known Rebecca for over 20 years and I respect her so much. We started our teaching career together and I have been very impressed with all that she has accomplished. When I saw what she was doing with Google docs I knew that I had to look into it.
My first iteration looked like this.
I shared the doc (I used Google sheets) with all students and groups worked collectively in the same document. I was able to see what they were entering in real time and could write a message to all of the groups (broadcast message in Zoom) when I saw saw some common inaccuracies or I could go into an individual group when I wanted to support them verbally. There was one problem with this, they were all doing the same questions and could see each other’s responses. It didn’t seem to be much of an issue, but I wanted to give each group different prompts while all working in the same shared document. I could have shared different documents with each group, but that would mean looking at different documents. I wanted the individual group work all together so that I could see what all groups are doing at once.
So, I got back to work. This is the second iteration and the version that I have been using successfully.
This allows for different prompts for each group (blue column), while being able to see all responses in real time. Atelier means “workshop” in French and the is the word I use with students for “breakout room.” They type their group responses to the right of the prompts in blue. In addition to text, groups can insert images in response to a prompt or a link to audio or a video that that they record or through search. My initial intent was to use this to see work done in real time in Zoom breakout rooms, but I’m envisioning using this for asynchronous (not in real time) student work as well. Though this is a work-around during a crisis, I plan to continue using it when we are back in the physical classroom.
If you would like to us this with your students, make sure that you share one document with the entire class and allow editing when sharing a Google doc. For ease of formatting I use a Google Sheet, but you can do this with any of the Google doc options. I tell students that they can delete it out of their Google account when done so that it is not yet another document taking up space. I have the original with all of their responses….another benefit of having it all in one place. You can also have a spot for groups to put their names in next to the the breakout room. I keep track on my own.
This link will make a copy of the breakout room document in your Google Drive (just like assigning to students in Google Classroom) and you can modify it for your own personal use. This is a work in progress for me. I’d love to see and hear about what works for you.
Posted in Classroom Procedures, Speaking, Teaching Methodology and Research, Technology, Writing
Tagged ACTFL, foreign language, french, language, language learning, spanish, zoom
I’m writing this post during the Covid-19 quarantine and distance learning. Many teachers have had to figure out this new world of distance learning in a very short amount of time. Though not ideal in many ways, I have had to discover new ways to keep language learning moving forward, or at the very least not regressing. Thanks to social media and the many generous and insightful language teachers out there I have a long and inspiring list of apps, Websites and ideas to try. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time to get to them all. Until now.
I am using this time of reinvention to look into and implement these ideas that I have come across, but have not had the chance to implement. One of these is Flip Grid. Now that I am using it regularly to keep students engaged in all of the communication modes I can’t imagine not continuing to use it when we get back to the classroom. Dare I say that I appreciate the opportunity to try out new things during this time.
Flip Grid allows teachers to post a prompt, such as written questions, videos or images. Students then simply click a record button and then begin recording a video response.
When done, they can edit, work with filters and then submit. The teacher can decide which of these functions to make available. The teacher can then choose to make the videos viewable by the entire class or to keep them private and only viewable by the teacher. Personally, I have used it both ways. When only viewable by me I use the platform for an assessment (formative or summative) and make the videos available to the class when I want students to interact with each other.
There are lots of things that can be done directly on the Flip Grid Website, such as students leaving video comment or reactions to each other, leaving feedback on student videos and following student interactions. Many of these features require students setting up an account. That may be something that you are interested in doing. I only use the video response feature and created unique usernames for each student in the class. You can send them direct link to the grid (prompt) either through email or directly on Google Classroom. Students just simply enter their username and they go right to the prompt.
I’m also having students watch each others videos and answering questions that I create based on each individual video. This is a way of keeping the communication modes alive. Sometimes the videos are spontaneous responses and I have also had students read something that they wrote. These are the videos with more accurate language that I use for follow-up questions for the rest of the class to engage with.
Also… “Flip Grid, which has 20 million users from all over the world, will now be completely free for schools; previously, the service cost $1,000 a year per school. The purchase will help Microsoft in its push against Google and Apple in the classroom.”
Worth a try at that price!
Posted in Activities and Games, Classroom Procedures, Listening, Speaking, Technology
Tagged ACTFL, Flip Grid, foreign language, Frech, language, language learning, spanish, World Language
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.
Spanish Digital Task Cards.
French Digital Task Cards
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 word. 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.
Another version is Spinner Wheel. Also 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.