Posted in Listening

New EdPuzzle Videos

New EdPuzzle Videos

When I first started to embed questions in videos, I used EdPuzzle.  Then my whole school switched to Zaption, so I put all of my videos in Zaption.  Now, we are back to EdPuzzle.  There are some great features to EdPuzzle that I really like.  It is very easy to grade when you click on quick grade.  Also it does not allow students to change their answer after they have hit submit.  Last year, when my students were doing Zaption practices, they would change their answer to the correct answer.  I assumed that all of my students were really understanding all of the concepts!  I have even used it as a part of the assessments this year.  This allows students to rewatch the parts that they need to rewatch to understand.

Many times with YouTube, a video is removed, or all of the sudden I cannot access it because I do not live in that country.  Also since I have incorporated it into my quiz, I like to have practice EdPuzzles for students to complete.  Here are some of my most recent EdPuzzle activities:

When I am looking for a video, I like to mix things up.  I like to use cartoons, commercials, parts of a TV show or vloggers.  This helps to keep my students engaged.  Many times, I will ask them for one thing that they learned from a section to help them share what they have learned.  Have you discovered any new videos that you are loving recently?

Posted in Authentic resources, Technology

EdPuzzle (and authentic resources)

Many people wanted to know how to use authentic resources.  One good source of authentic resources that students enjoy is YouTube.  I have wanted to look into EdPuzzle since it popped up on my radar a few weeks ago.  It allows you to embed a video and manipulate it in different ways.  First, you have to find a good video.  For clothes, there is a cute video series called Dress Code.  (Even if you do not use EdPuzzle, check out this series!  She also did some neat videos in Sochi- I wish I would have know last year!)  She also speaks very clearly.  For my beginners, there are a lot of visuals to help understand.  She also repeats many of the clothing words.

In EdPuzzle, you can crop a video, record over a video or create quizzes.  I created a quiz, and it was really easy.  As students are watching the video, they can rewatch it if they miss something.  Each time, they hit a certain point, questions pop up.  They cannot fast forward through the video.  There is a video that explains how the program works.

In my questions, I alternate between Spanish and English.  Sometimes I want students to know how to answer questions and communicate in Spanish.  Other times, I want to make sure that students understand the meaning and are not just copying down or listening for specific words or questions.  Tomorrow, my students will log in to complete this assignment.  This is perfect for a sub day or a snow day.

Posted in Novel

My biggest mistakes using novels (and how I fixed them)

My biggest mistakes using novels and how I fixed them

With my beginning levels, I started teaching novels.  It was going decently, but still many students didn’t enjoy them.  I didn’t feel like I was reaching as many students as I wanted.  However, after studying how more people used novels in class and developing my units, I have realized my biggest mistakes and how I have started to counter them in class.  This has made my novel units much more successful- and now I have at least two novels to read in each level.

My first mistake was almost always reading as a group and translating aloud.  Now this can be valuable, but it also gets tedious as we continued to do this chapter after chapter.  I have found that if you have taught enough of the vocabulary, it is also not always needed.  However, this is typically how I start the first chapter.  This gives students confidence about what they can do.  Then, I change it up.  Instead of reading aloud, I will give them reading guides for a chapter then we can continue to discuss important points.  On my Facebook page, I recently shared a reading guide that I used for chapter 2 with Frida Kahlo.  I also like to have students use whiteboards, and we will pause, so students can illustrate different aspects of the book.  This provides a quick brain break, and I can provide more input- or ask students what they drew!  With my level 5, I am also going to have them read independently and respond to my questions on Flipgrid.  I wouldn’t try this with earlier levels since it may be a bit too difficult.  I have also put some questions on PearDeck which allows students to answer longer questions, multiple choice and also draw.  This provides a nice balance of all of them.  I can put it on student-paced, or we can go through a chapter together with PearDeck.

I have written about this before, but I was also horrible about Reader’s Theater!  I had two main problems- we were reading it WHILE they were trying to act it out.  The actors got antsy.  Reader’s Theater is the best AFTER reading.  This will reinforce the concepts, and students really enjoy it, so they aren’t frustrated that they are hearing the information twice.  Also, my other big mistake was having students reenact the whole chapter!  Even in beginning readers- it was too long.  There were some parts that were not suitable to even reenact.  Again, both readers and actors got antsy.  I suggest keeping it to one page or a page and a half if there is a larger continuous stage.  This year when we reenact it, I will have someone create a video to be included in our year end video.

Also, if you want to include all students in the re-enactment, I suggest digital storytelling!  I have students use Snapchat (although now they could also use Instagram Stories) to take pictures AND edit them.  They can also include a caption in the target language.  It is fun when they also add stickers to explain it more.  Then, they download the picture instead of publishing it.  (Although, they could also publish it.)  This way, they can submit it to you without you even having to be on Snapchat.  Students snapchat so much, they can do this in about 15 minutes.

My last mistake was not incorporating the great culture that is included in the novels.  I tried some, but I could have included much more!  We can listen to music from the country where the novel is written.  In Billy y las botas, we made sure to listen to the song El Burrito Sabanero before the sweater sings it.  Before another chapter in Frida that mentions the Mexican Revolution, I had students complete a short EdPuzzle to give them background before it is mentioned in the unit.  I also put together an EdPuzzle for Chichén Itzá before Billy y las botas go there on a date.  There are so many concepts that could be covered; I encourage you to find some that you know your students will like and you enjoy discussing as well.

Finally, my newest tool to use with novels is Goosechase!  You can come up with a scavenger hunt to give clues throughout the scavenger hunt.  I tried this last year with vocabulary, but Sharon had awesome ideas on how to use it with novels.  If you can, I encourage you to try it!

Originally, I believed that it would be really easy to use novels in class, but it definitely takes some time to figure it out.  How do you incorporate novels?  Were there any lessons that you learned?

Posted in Technology

Tips for teaching with technology

Tips for teaching with technology

I am a huge advocate of using technology in any classroom but in particular in the foreign language classroom.  I frequently blog about my blended class, and I have presented twice about technology tools that facilitate my foreign language class.  However, using technology can be daunting, and I keep seeing a lot of questions pop up in various teaching groups about how to teach with technology!  I wanted to offer some tips that I have learned in the past few years.

First, don’t be afraid to tell students to put away their technology!  (I know, I just told you how great technology is- and I am telling you to put it away!)  Just because your school is 1:1 or your students have iPads does NOT mean that they have to always use their computer.  I believe that teachers think that once their students get a computer or iPad that everything MUST be done with technology.  That is not true.  There have been many studies done saying that if a student is just using a computer throughout class to take notes, he or she will likely get distracted easily.  I struggle like many teachers to encourage students to use an online dictionary and not to rely on Google Translate.  Typically, my students blog and do a lot of writing on Seesaw, but many times, I would have them write on paper.  I gave my students a topic, we brainstormed important words as a group on the whiteboard, then I let them look up 5-6 words that they personally wanted to use.  Then, the students put their computers away and wrote.  Also, I make sure that all students put away their technology in the beginning and end of class when I am introducing/reviewing topics.  You are the teacher, and you know when they are using their technology effectively by using the programs below or if they are watching YouTube videos.

In addition, think about the value of working on an assignment individually versus full class.  Will technology ALWAYS make things better or is it nice to just interact with one another in the class?  For example, I am a huge EdPuzzle fan.  It is great for listening to videos, and it allows students to replay sections as many times as they need to really differentiate for each learner.  However, I rarely have students listen to music or watch music videos on EdPuzzle- even though they easily could.  I like this to be a whole class activity- especially watching the music videos.  I enjoy seeing the reactions by students for videos such as Soy Yo or my C Block’s personal favorite .  Same thing goes for Flipgrid.  I am excited to continue to use Flipgrid next year to have students record themselves speaking in Spanish, but many times, my students need to talk to each other face to face.  Just because it can be done with technology doesn’t mean that it always should.

Be choosy about what you use with technology as many pre made materials for teachers are not necessarily made by teachers with the most recent pedagogy in mind.  I have been playing around with Duolingo to learn some Greek.  I have completed the first lesson, and I don’t think that I have learned much.  Luckily, I was in a sorority in college which helped me eke through the alphabet unit (barely)!  In the program, you can hover over each of the words that you have to translate, and it displays the English translation for you!  Then you just type that into the box.  Also, I HAD to do that when as I have been learning Greek because I barely remember any words from the previous units.  Is this really the most effective way to learn a language?

With that being said- let’s get into the great aspects of using technology!  If you are going to use pre-made materials via technology (and I totally suggest it and use it myself!), use pre-made materials from other teachers.  You can typically find these in many programs that I have included below.  To use teacher made materials, do a search on EdPuzzle for MANY teacher edited videos.  You can find videos on any topic that you want to teach!  And you can still edit their questions- so save the ones that you want and change the others.  It is easy and quick!  Or, use Quizizz to search for pre-made questions on a variety of topics or novels in Spanish.  I was able to create Quizizz practices for homework in about 5 minutes max.

Additionally, make sure that you try the program before you assign it to your students.  Although your students may be digital natives and can figure out how to add filters to their snaps that does not mean that they know how to edit a video in EdPuzzle that you assign them as a project.  (I particularly like this article on EdSurge that debunks some of the myths that we have about our students and technology.)  I practiced on Flipgrid before I assigned it to students.  That does not mean that I can troubleshoot everything that happens to them, but I have SOME idea of how it works.  Once you can give students the basics, they can normally trouble shoot on their own.  If not, I like tweeting to ask for help because so many tech companies respond quickly on Twitter.

Finally, find some basic programs that you like to reuse and can be used in multiple ways, so students are used to them.  While I will throw a wild card at them from time to time (like Triventy when we have played too much Kahoot or a fun Goosechase scavenger hunt!), stick with similar programs, so students do not have to worry about the technology side of things too much.  Also, I like these programs because they enhance my lessons.  Technology should make your life easier- don’t use it because it is fancy or flashy.  Below is a brief overview of my go to resources and why they enhance my classroom:

  • Seesaw is an online learning journal for writing/some speaking: students can upload their writing, and then others in the class can leave comments for some nice interpersonal writing.  This is one BIG reason why it is better than traditional paper writing.  Students have an audience (the class) and can practice both interpersonal and presentational writing.  Or students can upload a picture and talk about it.  They can also leave voice comments or listen to my voice comment.  Again, this is a more efficient way to provide feedback than traditional feedback.
  • Flipgrid is a quick and easy way for students to record speaking videos or interviews with their classmates.  It is really fast to record, and it does not require a log-in which I really like.  I am also hoping to connect with other classes this year to have students communicate in this way.  While face to face speaking is a big goal in our class, some students feel more confident speaking to a video instead of each other.  This can support students to feel more comfortable.
  • EdPuzzle allows teachers to embed questions within a video, and as I have mentioned before is great for differentiation of videos.  When we would watch videos as a class and students needed to listen one more time to a certain section, we had to rewatch the whole video, and many students were already done (and bored).  This way, everyone can listen as many times as he or she needs.  Also, it is easy to grade to give feedback.  If you choose a few multiple choice questions, students can get instant feedback.
  • PearDeck allows you to embed various questions/drawing etc into a presentation and is great to jazz up my presentations.  Students can see others responses if we go through a presentation as a class.  I am able to see where everyone is with the material, and it is anonymous for the students.  Again, PearDeck is a great tool for students who typically would not always speak out in class as it allows everyone to participate at the same time instead of having one student give an answer.
  • Finally, ActivelyLearn is great for interpretive reading.  Students submit their answers to questions or polls that I have embedded throughout the document, PDF or website then the class answers are displayed.  Students can resubmit their answers and learn from their errors (instead of waiting for me to go over it).  By inserting the questions throughout the reading, you can also support students who struggle with reading.

With these programs, I encourage you to choose ONE to start.  Think about what you use most in class: reading?  Choose ActivelyLearn!  Videos?  Try out EdPuzzle.  Again, remember while technology is a great support for the classroom, as the teacher, you know and understand what would help your students.

Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: June 23, 2017

Brillante Viernes June 23

Happy Friday!  It is our last day here at Fripp Island, SC.  When we head back, I will be putting on EdCampCIVa on June 27 in Chesapeake, Va.  I am so excited to join many foreign language educators and continue to spread EdCamps.  I believe that this will be the way to spread professional development throughout the country.  (And- if you are in the area- we still have spots available!)  I thought that the blogosphere may take a little break- but there were some great posts this past week!

  • Check out this new blog about CI in the Richmond, Va area!  I really like their post about storylistening and the Invisibles.  I am looking forward to learning more about Ben Slavic’s seminar.
  • This post about a recipe card is an interesting way to start an activity.
  • This year, I know I am going to focus on feedback even more.  This post will definitely help me.
  • A huge EdPuzzle fan myself- I like how this activity was modified using EdPuzzle.

A flashback to previous years:

Posted in Assessments, Integrated Performance Assessment

How to help students prepare for a final IPA

How to help students prepare for a final IPA exam

This year, my Spanish 2 students are taking an IPA instead of the final exam.  Our final exam had to be all on paper or in ExamSoft which can be limiting for foreign languages.  If we only use paper, the exam cannot consist of any listening tasks or any speaking tasks.  It all has to be reading or writing… for two hours.  Luckily, our principal has been supportive of our transition to have students take an IPA before the final exam.  Then, students do not have to take a final exam on the scheduled day.

For the final exam, we decided to include both interpretive reading and listening, in addition to interpersonal speaking and presentational writing.  This allows us to include all four modes even though the IPA typically has three sections.  We separate reading and listening on two separate days as well as speaking and writing, so students do not feel rushed with any topic.  The speaking section is the fastest, but again, we want to give them time to complete the writing for the full block.  Our classes are all 50 minutes long.

We had to also decide on different themes that could cover many different topics that we discussed during the year.  In Spanish 3 last year, we used the theme of natural disasters.  In Spanish 2 this year, we are focusing on vacations and trips.  Using a broad topic can help encompass many of the themes that we have been studying all year.  It also helps when you can find a variety of resources to select.  I wouldn’t suggest tying yourself to a specific theme where it is hard to find resources.

For other tips, I suggest PrintFriendly to print any reading authentic resources from the Internet.  Even if you do not need to edit the text itself, it will convert any webpage into a PDF in case the website will change or go away as we found out today!  Luckily, we had saved it already or we would have had to rewrite a WHOLE section!

During interpretive listening, students are using EdPuzzle.  I use EdPuzzle a lot especially for novice and beginning intermediate students.  It allows students to replay videos and pinpoints the part where the answer is located.  For many students, this helps make authentic resources even more comprehensible.  If you are worried that students can access it, you could even have students write their answers down on a piece of paper.

However, how do you help students prepare for the final exam that is cumulative but more about skills than about actual conjugations or vocabulary or a traditional test?  First, I asked my students what sections they wanted to practice the most.  This helps me to narrow down what they feel confident about versus what areas they feel the weakest.  My students said they wanted to practice both listening and speaking.  This helped me narrow down what I wanted to cover with my students.  Here are a few ideas that worked for us:

  • I used some of Gianfranco’s micro-listening practices to help with listening skills.  This helped my students identify sounds much better.  I used a variety of different videos from University of Texas-Austin.  They are short, and I can download them, so students do not see the transcript.  I will continue to use these micro-listening practices even more next year!  Students felt like it was difficult, but they really helped them.
  • Although I love EdPuzzle, there is something to be said about watching a video as a class and highlighting what others’ hear.  I found a similarly themed video to discuss in class.  Students worked individually or with a partner to brainstorm answers on a whiteboard.
  • I passed around sheets of paper with different themes from this year.  Students brainstormed different vocabulary from the year on each sheet.  They would add as many words as they could then trade papers with another group.  They would read that list and add more words to it.  Then at the end, they received a new list and had to incorporate 6-8 words from their list into a new writing on Seesaw.
  • Also the BEST thing that I did was sit down one on one with each student, talk to them about how they are feeling and answer any personalized questions that they have about the upcoming IPA.  EVERY time I do this (which isn’t much!) I think I SHOULD DO THIS ALL THE TIME!  Maybe if I put it down as my goal for next year?!
  • I may do this if I have a chance to on Friday- but I love these vocabulary puzzles!  Our Latin teachers used this to help with their review this year.
  • To practice speaking, I gave them various topics to practice.  With our first day, I had students brainstorm what they wanted to talk about first before they talked.  The second day, we did a mock simulation without any writing or brainstorming.
  • Finally, before our last writing assessment, we looked at the rubric again and students evaluated their own work.  They decided how to improve based on each different section of the rubric.  Once this was done, they looked at students’ work from other classes and evaluated those based on the rubric.
  • In addition, each night I have a different sample that students can choose to complete.  I believe that this reassures some students as they are completing an IPA and gives them more of a guide to work on.

How do you provide extra help and support when reviewing for an IPA exam?


Posted in Authentic resources, Video

YouTube videos to use in Spanish class

YouTube Videos to use in Spanish class

Recently, I found myself down a YouTube wormhole with a few purposes.  I want to start to find some more videos for my Spanish 1 and Spanish 5 classes next year.  I have also found a ton of female vloggers (including one of my favorites).  I want to find some more videos with males, so they are not all female focused.  Here are some of the videos (and some EdPuzzles that I have created) that I have found to share with you:

  • Cocinemos juntos has some great cooking videos.  He speaks slowly and clearly and the visuals are wonderful.  He also has some Nicaraguan food videos including one on tacos.  It would be great to have students compare Nicaraguan tacos with Mexican tacos.
  • I really like this fashion vlog for men.  I watched a video about different trends for men.  It is easy to come across these for women, so I would like to assign two different videos for the girls and boys in my class.  I also found this video about outfits to wear when you return to classes when it is cold for boys.
  • This YouTube channel has a lot of pop culture (which I love!)  I could see this video about 9 movies to see to be perfect to inspire a conversation about what students want to see or not.  They also have a who wore it best after awards ceremonies.
  • I love some of the themes that many of the vloggers start.  I would use clips of the 50 things about me to get my students started with authentic resources in the beginning of the year (Spanish 2).  I love Tag 20 canciones.  They have some really great conversation topics.  It would be fun to start with two questions each day in the beginning of the year- like what song do you love in secret and what song do you know all of the words to.  The good thing about these themes is that many vloggers post about them, so you have many choices.
  • Kevin Karla y la Banda has some great covers of English songs.  Check out Laura who covers other English songs including Beauty and the Beast! (My son loves this Maroon 5 song!)
  • My students love Starbucks!  This would be perfect for a more advanced group– tips on what to order and what not to order in Starbucks.
  • Looking to spice up your technology unit and not talk about fax machines?  This girl talks about what is on her iPhone and how to edit photos on Instagram.  Maybe it is just because I love technology, but I really enjoy hearing what apps others use.  This is another topic that includes a TON of videos about what teens have on their iPhone.

Hope my journey on YouTube has helped you find some new videos to try in class.

Posted in reflection

When homework is not the problem

When homework isn't the problem

One thing that I have thought about since DitchSummit is about the role of homework after Alice Keeler‘s talk.  I still have some reservations about ditching homework entirely.  I believe that it does provide a repeated exposure to the words in the target language that can help students.  In addition, all of our students can use the internet for their homework, so I can have a practice with feedback via Quizizz or EdPuzzle.  I also try to write out thoughtful study guides that prepare students for the test or quiz.

However, one thing that really stuck out to me was that Alice said essentially that many times we blame homework on why students aren’t doing well, but that is not the reason that they are not doing well.  Well, that was me.  I would frequently say that if a student wasn’t doing well it was because they weren’t doing the homework.  While there was somewhat of a correlation especially for study guides, this wasn’t the exact reason.  I decided to take homework off the table while reflecting on why students weren’t doing well.

This year, I have realized that some students who struggle have been relying upon Google Translate (or SpanishDict) too much.  While I frequently discourage it and I will tell students not to use it, I can tell when students rely upon it.  They are not really decoding any parts of the reading or sentence if they are using Google Translate instead of figuring out the one word that they needed and use WordReference or Quizlet.  Whereas, it is obvious when students translate from English to Spanish, it isn’t as obvious when students translate from Spanish to English.  They can typically make any linguistic or meaning jumps that are needed.

I have thought about how to combat this.  Although I hate using the extra paper, I am going to print off the Quizlet lists.  Then, I can tell students just to use the lists.  I am also going to implement a SraSpanglish (Laura) rule of capitalizing any word that you look up in writing.  I am going to continue to play around with having students highlight any phrase from the reading that they look up.  Hopefully this will help them to become cognizant of the amount they look up or need to look up.

How do you combat the reliance on Google Translate?  Any other tools to add to my kit?

Posted in Favorites, Listening

How to change slowly


This year, I made a big change for me, but what may seem like a small change for others.  I ditched the cloze song activity on my exam this year which was my listening section.  I really loved (and still kinda love) the song portion.  It was a bit of fun during the exam as many students would ask me to play it again even if they had all of the answers.  Also, I had students practice the song activities throughout the year, so I felt like it was a cumulative activity.  The majority of my students scored well on this section.  I also had students who would reference this song section in later years.  (One group of girls got really excited when they saw one of the songs on my desk just last week!)  Plus, I thought it was so authentic and better than a traditional listening activity from the book.

But this year, I realized that it wasn’t as authentic or relevant as I want.  It doesn’t always mirror what my students need to know or do as Spanish listeners.  This year, I made the decision to replace it with an EdPuzzle.  An EdPuzzle actually assesses their interpretive listening skills, and I can find a YouTube video of a native speaker.  It also mirrors something they may encounter in the outside world.  (Although they will also hear a Spanish song, they do not need to understand every word.  I still hear  the phrase Starbucks lovers when I listen to Taylor Swift’s Blank Space…)

Although this post may not be as helpful or relevant for others, I hope it will inspire you to make a small change.  Many times, it doesn’t seem like our small changes will amount to a lot, and when you want to make a change, small changes don’t always feel important.  It can be difficult to drop an activity that you love and the kids love.  Also, it can be overwhelming to read blogs or posts on Facebook and think that you will never be there like that teacher.  Just make a small change and start there.

Posted in Assessments, Integrated Performance Assessment

Daily Routine Integrated Performance Assessment

Daily Routine IPA

After my Netflix unit, we have been completing the daily routine unit.  Here are some of the authentic resources that I have used.  Recently, I have developed my final unit integrated performance assessment.  I feel that this unit was easy to incorporate into a “traditional” classroom.

First, my students will complete an interpretive section using a vlogger’s daily routine.  I am always shocked at how many Spanish vloggers there are talking about their routine.  I am using this EdPuzzle as a practice.  In my first IPA, I did not have students complete a separate interpretive piece.  I felt like I did not accurately assess their understanding as much as I would have liked.  Also, I will have students complete this section in EdPuzzle.  I really like that students can re-watch sections as many times as they like.  This also makes it much more efficient than having me replay the whole video multiple times, and students are just trying to listen to the answer for one or two more questions.

Then, for the presentational part, I will have my students compare their daily routine to the vlogger’s daily routine.  I will allow students to take notes while they are watching the video.

We have exams before Thanksgiving; however, if I had more time, I would also like to have students interview each other on their daily routine.  They could include all three people in the presentational writing part.

In my overall reflection, I have noticed how much my students’ writing has improved using proficiency assessments.  Students initially were relying on the same vocabulary and verbs.  They were also writing shorter pieces.  Now, their writing has improved greatly!  They use a variety of vocabulary and are adding details to their sentences.  They will have their spoken assessment before the exam.  I am looking forward to seeing their growth!