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:
- Posters with functional junks
- Audio or music resources library
- Movie or video clip links
- Book (pdf or Web link) library
- Escape rooms
- Posting daily agendas
- Posting tasks and instructions
- Choice board links
- Do Nows or Quick Questions
- Conversation or topic hooks and class openers
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 by 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.
Posted in Activities and Games, Classroom Procedures, Speaking, Teaching Methodology and Research, Technology
Tagged ACTFL, Bitmoji, foreign language, french, language, language learning, spanish, virtual classroom, World Language
I have written about lesson planning using the “Learn, Practice, Apply” sequence that I learned about from the teachers that I work with in Nicaragua. I have found this simple framework very useful when planning lessons and activities in my language classroom. I created Tab Books on a number of French and Spanish vocabulary and grammar topics that follow this sequence. They are interactive and students enjoy assembling them and working through the process.
I reformatted the Tab Books into a no-prep, 3-page activity. They begin with scaffolded notes so that students get familiar with the new material. Then they practice the material, and finally students apply the material in the last section. The “apply” stage is often left out when teaching new material. These activities assure that students get to this stage in the learning process.
Lots of topics available from time, weather date, possessive and demonstrative adjectives to present and past tense verb forms, as well as conditional and subjunctive.
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™.
- Vocabulary review or reference slide
- Students identify words from 4 answer choices
- Students match words/pictures
- Magic Squares
- Students write words
Take a look at these versions of the activity that you can copy right to your Google Drive ™ and share with students.
Lots of topics:
- Greetings and Introductions
- Numbers 1-100
- ColorsDays, Months & the Date
- Seasons and Weather
- Classroom objects
- Food & Drinks
- Rooms & Furniture
Posted in Activities and Games, Online Activities, Reading, Technology, Writing
Tagged ACTFL, distance, french, language, language learning, remote, spanish, task card
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.
Here is another way that includes the infinitive of the verb.
I then take it a step further and have students write a sentence that show that they understand the meaning along with the form. They have some question words to support the process.
This activity is also useful when working with students in a PACE lesson, particularly in the co-construction and extension parts of the process. Keep in mind that this is best used with students when they are detecting patterns with forms in an inductive (implicit) lesson, rather than deductive (explicit) lesson.
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 have done these activities with Powerpoints with the entire class. You can take a look at some examples in the post.
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.
Brown (2007). Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. Pearson Longman
Posted in Activities and Games, Grammar and Structures, Teaching Methodology and Research, Technology, Writing
Tagged ACTFL, foreign language, french, Grammar, language, language learning, PACE, PACE Model, spanish, verbs, Writing
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.
Third Slide: Students write a sentence with each subject and verb form.
Watch a video that shows how students engage with these digital activities.
Take a look at these Google Slides activities that you can copy directly into your Google Drive to share with students.
You can also see paper versions of these activities in this blog post.
Posted in Activities and Games, Grammar and Structures, Online Activities, Technology, Writing
Tagged ACTFL, digital, foreign language, french, google, language, language learning, spanish
At the novice writing levels, students write with single words and lists initially, then move on to chunked phrases.
- apple, banana, orange
- soccer, football
- movies, restaurant
- 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.
Take a look at some possibilities:
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.
The choice board is the same for both versions. It is the way students submit work that differs. Copy of the Choice Board Template to your Google Drive.
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.
This second version begins with the same choice board in Google Slide format, but there are links to Google Forms to submit work. Copy of the Choice Board Template to your Google Drive.
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.
Copy of the Choice Board Template to your Google Drive
Posted in Activities and Games, Classroom Procedures, Cultural Exploration, Grammar and Structures, Listening, Online Activities, Reading, Speaking, Technology, Writing
Tagged ACTFL, choice board, foreign language, french, language, language learning, spanish
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 to this twice in the game and must hand over the an object 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:
- 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