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 Technology

My current favorite Chrome extensions

My favorite Chrome extensions

I have had this post on my to do list for a year probably.  I love Chrome extensions.  And I love Google.  I listen to the Google Teacher Tribe podcast.  But at times, I feel like there is even MORE out there that I could never know.  And I have barely scratched the surface of Chrome extensions.  So I kept postponing it.  Then on the Cool Cat Teacher podcast, Steve Dembo mentioned that many people feel behind the technology curve!  It was inspirational for me!  I feel that way sometimes even though I use and write about technology frequently.  I felt compelled that I should share what I currently use that makes my life easier.  So here we have my current favorite Chrome extensions that make my life easier:

I love EdPuzzle as a tool in class!  I love annotating authentic videos and allowing students to watch at their own pace.  Did you know that there is an EdPuzzle extension?  When you are watching a video on YouTube, you can hit the extension, and the video will pop up in EdPuzzle- all ready for you to edit!  In EdPuzzle itself, you can crop videos, leave notes and ask questions.  This extension saves me a fair amount of clicks and time.  (Also, I have mentioned this before, but if you are a Spanish teacher, check out this Google sheets of EdPuzzles where you can search for topics.  Also, add some of your EdPuzzles!)

Another one of my favorite websites Print Friendly has an extension.  You can just click on the extension when you are reading any webpage, and then you can easily edit the document there and convert it to a PDF.  It allows you to delete ads, links to other articles and big white space.  (Also, if you are me, go ahead and delete any part of the text that isn’t useful for your students.)  I never print any authentic resource without using Print Friendly.  Again, the extension doesn’t do anything differently than the webpage, but it does save time.

I recently found Tab Scissors, and I don’t know how I lived without it!  If I am trying to put in grades between two windows, I cut the tabs, and they format to BOTH fit on my screen.  It is magic!  Also, when I am trying to write news, it helps to have both screens easily visible.  The scissors will split the windows on the tab where you click it.  Also the inverse Tab Glue can put your windows back together when you are done.  (Thanks to everyone who clued me in on this secret on Twitter!)  BAM!

My last favorite extension is Screencastify.  I love to use this on my blended or sub days, so I can explain any concept to my students.  It allows me to record myself talking and annotating my screen.  I can choose to create a screencast of my whole screen or just the window.  It helps me quickly give details that would normally students awhile to figure out.  Plus, I think it is nice for students to hear your voice!  Even more magic- after I record it and am happy with it, it saves to my Drive.

Now- time to share!  What are your favorite extensions?  I will try them out and add them to my list here!

Posted in Authentic resources, Presentational, Speaking

House resources for novice mid students

House resources for novice mid students

I have started my house unit with level 1.  Another benefit that I have found with dropping the textbook is that I feel like I can integrate previous activities and units more.  With the house unit, I wanted to integrate describing what they were seeing in a house with activities that they did in each room.  One interesting conversation that we had as a result of this topic is to hear how many of my students can cook!  Since they are in 9th grade (and I never cooked that young!), it was fun to discuss what my students could or could not cook.  Here are some of the activities that we have used throughout this unit:

  • On Friday, we did stations.  For the reading activity, I used this article.  (Remember to use Print Friendly to get rid of all of the extra material!  I also deleted a few paragraphs that they didn’t need.)  For the listening activity, I did the simplified version of this site.  When I send it to students, I make sure to download it, so they don’t see the transcript.
  • After that, this week, my students are putting together a short small group presentation on their house.  My speaking activities are both based on ideas from Laura Sexton: her small group presentation and puedos.  I put both here.  The first page has some can do speaking statements and the presentation with the rubric is one the second page.  To prepare, they also did a Flipgrid about different rooms in their house as well.
  • I was trying to find a good “house tour” video for my level 1.  They were all a little too detailed (15 minutes!) or the person spoke too fast.  Then, I stumbled upon this video of a house tour of a Barbie house, so I made this EdPuzzle.
  • Edited to add!  I forgot to include my study guide for the interpretive reading assessment.  While I don’t like to add my actual quiz, my quiz is very similar to this study guide.  And here is the PDF: airbnb_es-2_Dormitorios_2_Duchas_Apartamento

Let me know your favorite resources/ideas for working with the house!

Posted in Professionalism

How to become engaged as a language teacher

how to become engaged as a language teacher

I believe that every teacher has something to offer other teachers.  At times, it appears that one has to tweet all the time, start a blog and travel/present at multiple conferences to be truly involved.  While this may be some people’s cup of tea, you do not have to do all of this to get involved!  I know that it can seem daunting and intimidating to do even one or two of these things.  However, there is plenty that you can do to become more involved.  I wanted to share a few ways that you can become engaged easily and quickly:

  • Help fund a podcast.  For just $10, you can help Ashley start her Inspired Proficiency Podcast.  This quick way, you can get a larger project started.  She wants to interview teachers- and maybe you can even be interviewed on her podcast!  Nonetheless, you can make a difference by helping and contributing to this fund.
  • Call, tweet, email or review a podcast.  I love We Teach Languages podcast and frequently have come away with new ideas.  Do you like it too?  Review it here and help to spread the word.  Also, I know so many teachers enjoy Tea With BVP which is a call-in show.  You should call in!  You can ask a question or answer the Diva question (like me and win some prizes!)  Again, shows like this are successful when more people engage.
  • Leave a comment on a blog post, tweet or Facebook page.  If you like what a blogger has written, tell them!  If you used their blog post in a different way, let them know, so they can change it the next time, too.  If something doesn’t make sense, ask them.  If you disagree about something, engage them in conversation!  I did not become a blogger to speak to a void.  I want to hear what works and what doesn’t work.  I loved that one teacher used the phrase lectura lunes with the news articles!  However, I am not alone in this pursuit.  Many other bloggers want to hear from you as well.
  • Want to share an activity, but you aren’t ready to start a blog?  Share it on a Facebook group.  I have gotten so many wonderful activities from Facebook groups where teachers share through Google Docs or slides.  (Looking for a group to join?  Check out Laura’s list!)  Or- ask if you can guest post on a blog!  I would love to highlight teacher’s ideas here!  It can be as simple as sharing an activity that you love and how you implement it.  (Ready to guest post?!  Email me (marisdemosthenes AT
  • Film a quick video for Laura’s Flipgrid videos for novices THEN use some of her videos as well.  She has three different topics for you to discuss, but I am sure she would be willing to add a topic you would like if you would be willing to film more videos!
  • Finally, share on databases!  I started one to share both reading and writing prompts that have engaged students.  In it, I also mention the database for authentic resource activities and for MovieTalks.  (These are for ALL languages.)  On a recent Facebook group discussion, someone shared one that I had never seen for Spanish EdPuzzles.  Or TWO song databases! (Number one and number two)  I know that you have some amazing ideas to add to any of these.  (Or if none of these fit your needs, start a new database and share for others to add their ideas!)

As much as I love December, it can be a drag!  Become more engaged, and you will reap the benefits of feeling more involved and helping others.  Just try one activity and see how much you have helped others!  Also- if you have another way to get involved- don’t forget to share it in the comments!  🙂

Posted in Authentic resources, Technology

Five authentic resources for novices and how I used them in class

Five authres for novices

I was so excited the other day!  I had actually pinned these videos earlier, and they were PERFECT for my unit!  They are the MasterChef Junior contestants introducing themselves in Spanish!  Each one is between 30 seconds to a minute long.  Instead of putting them into EdPuzzle, we watched them as a whole class.  Students had time to list words that they heard and understood and any facts/information that they understood as well.  I like to have open ended prompts like this from time to time because it really does highlight what students can do- instead of me trying to listen as a novice listener trying to pick out items that they should hear.  If you look on the side of the video, they have a ton of suggested videos that are all the same!  Also, many of my students really like MasterChef in general.

I shared this on my Facebook page recently, but I loved this Coca-cola ad.  I typed up a transcript with some help from the #langchat group to find a word.  We also discussed the phrase “¿cuál elegirías?” where I gave them two options before watching.  This helped scaffold the difficult part at the end.  Students listened twice to focus on the words then watched the video, and I discussed it in Spanish.  Then we went back through and highlighted the descriptions of everyone.

For my unit on activities and how we spend our time, I like this infographic!  I used this to introduce the topic and had students answer questions on this, but you could easily have students create their own schedule on the same chart and compare it to each country.  It doesn’t involve a lot of writing either.

I found this website with a ton of infographics about Thanksgiving in the US.  This is my exam theme for my level 2 class because our exams are right before Thanksgiving.  Plus, it combines many of the themes from level 1 and the beginning of 2.  In addition, when I traveled to Spain, I had to answer a lot of questions about Thanksgiving!  (My favorite was when my friend mistakenly said “polvo” instead of “pavo” and her host family asked if she went to the backyard to gather it!)  Many times, I plan an activity to go with it, but I just opened a blank PearDeck and kept adding questions as I was going.  It was easy to prep on the fly- and I could cover all of the different types of questions.  You could also use some of these for level 1 because students are aware of the celebration, and there are many cognates.

This infographic also discusses families.  I had students look at a word cloud with all of the words ahead of time.  Many of them could start to see the topic before they saw the actual infographic.  Then I had them identify facts that they understood.  Everyone was able to identify at least 4-5 facts, and they also made good observations as they were able to focus on what they could understand.

Edited to add! If you are interested in PearDeck, here is how I set it up if you want to ask questions on the fly.  I set up a PearDeck slide and add a blank slide.

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 9.24.30 AM

Then I click the green start presenting button.  Once my students are in and my slideshow has started, I can just click on the add a question.


You have to hover over the bottom of the screen for these choices to appear.  Then this screen will pop up, and I use ask a new question.

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 12.58.56 PM

Here are your choices.  I think the drawing part is part of my premium subscription, but I know that you can choose the other choices.

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 12.59.05 PM.png

If I put text answer, the screen looks like this and all students can put in their answers.

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 12.59.14 PM

Many times, I will also write a question on the board to help them if needed.  The beauty of PearDeck if you haven’t used it is that you can display all students’ answers.  Then we can review them all as a class.  It gives everyone a good amount of processing time as well.

Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: November 10, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 1.22.23 PM

Happy Friday and a happy early Veteran’s Day!  I am a proud wife, daughter, granddaughter, daughter-in-law and sister-in-law of many people who have served our country.  Although I saw my husband’s sacrifice up front, I always like to reflect on how much time he gave to our country.  I am so proud of them.  Don’t forget to thank all of our veterans this weekend.

In a professional part, I was the guest moderator for #langchat last night!  We discussed how to prepare for ACTFL, and how to follow along from home.  Some of my favorite tips were:

  • Reflect on what you think that you need the most help with and attend sessions based on that topic.  You will have a more focused view on how to improve when you go home.  This is my favorite post on how to do make a plan.  Also Valerie mentioned that you could do this at home.  It is tempting to read ALL of the sessions when people share them, but many times, I leave the tabs open for too long.  Think about what you want to focus on if you are scrolling through Twitter at home.
  • Don’t be afraid to take breaks and NOT attend a session.  Take a long lunch, sit down on the couch and chat with a friend.  There are PLENTY of sessions, and you are regaining your sanity by taking a break.
  • Also, go and hang out with Noah Geisel at the unconference!  It is called ACTFL Un-Con from 4-6 on Friday and Saturday.  I did that a few times last year.  It gives you a structured place to just talk with your friends.  You can share what you learned at other sessions.  I met a new friend who lived in Maryland that I now have seen at many subsequent conferences.  I also learned how to play around with Snapchat in the classroom via Noah and Laura and Kara Jacobs.  I used that tip within the first few weeks of returning to school.
  • It is HUGE.  Keith Toda mentioned this as well.  I thought that when I attended, I would run into my virtual friends right and left, but you almost have to hunt them down!  I sent SO many PMs to Laura Sexton to finally meet her in person last year.
  • Don’t be afraid to go to a session in another language if it looks interesting- thanks Bethanie!  This will probably be easier if the language is close to your own language- or you could ask a neighbor to help you translate.
  • Also, don’t be afraid to leave a session!  I know you think that you may offend someone, but many times, they don’t notice.  Last year at NECTFL, one of the sessions I left, I went to another session about avoiding Google Translate by Amanda Robustelli-Price.  It was exciting to meet her, and I was able to incorporate the suggestions immediately.
  • In order to implement change or share your ideas, Señor Pardi suggested having a presenter Skype in to your department meeting.  This is an awesome idea, and I was thinking about doing something similar!  (Do you want me to Skype with your department?!  Let me know- I’m in!)
  • John Cadena also shared how he implements change.  He chooses one idea to implement immediately, one idea to work on a bit before using it and one idea to “percolate” and try later.  I think this is a great idea for how to implement small change without going crazy post conference.
  • Also, you can share your ideas on Twitter or in Facebook groups.  I am loving the information that I am getting from the various Facebook groups that I have joined.
  • Señor Pardi also mentioned that you have to take time and reflect that attending a conference can be difficult.  Many times you feel like you are surrounded by all of these AMAZING teachers doing AMAZING things, and you aren’t.  I am here to tell you that you are doing amazing things in your own classroom.  No one is perfect- not even the Teachers of the Year.  Everyone you meet at ACTFL has problems in their classroom and boring days, but you can also learn from everyone there- from the first year teacher to each presenter!
  • Finally, bring your sweater and water bottle!

Here are my favorite posts from this week:

  • Check out this alternative that will give students’ definitions of words in L1 when they are reading from Noah!
  • I used a variation of this from Laura, and it was AMAZING!  SO many of my students kept talking and the next day, they independently had a 21 minute conversation!!
  • Another thing that I want to try ASAP- this goal reflection sheet!
  • I am addicted to Google Add-ons!  Check out this list of 25!
  • My friend and co-planner for EdCampCIVa Lynne shared this post on Facebook about how to plan a Crime Scene Investigation.

Flashback time!

Whew!  And if you made it this far- thanks for reading it!  🙂

Posted in conference

EdCampMetroDC Reflections, Fall 2017

Edcampmetrodc takeaways 2017

This was the first year that we hosted a fall version of EdCampMetroDC at Lowell School.  While I was excited, it had been a particularly long week, and it felt like one more thing on my to do list.  However, when I got my coffee and saw Matt Frattali, I knew that it would be amazing as always.  The one thing that I have realized after attending so many is that our EdCampMetroDC has become a community.  It is always wonderful to see new people come, but I also really appreciate people who have consistently come to the edcamps.  I will put it out there that even if you THINK you have something better to do instead of an edcamp or want to sleep a little longer- just go!  Also where else can you mention EdSurge and hear a whooping reply?!

Here are some of my favorite takeaways from EdCampMetroDC (or read the notes here!)

I started with a group discussing blended learning.  I love EdPuzzle to embed videos and insert questions.  I didn’t realize that there was a Chrome Extension to use to save a few steps!  I also like to share that EdPuzzle can be used as a project and STUDENTS can annotate a video that they choose.  This takes away from EdPuzzle always being teacher centered.  Also Amy shared that she would use Hyperdocs after an EdPuzzle.  Depending on how students did, the hyperdocs would send them to different articles or articles with different questions.  I have really been interested in Hyperdocs in foreign language, and I think this was the push to get me to think even more about them.  Also on my docket to check out is weo.

The next session I visited was Genius Hour.  One thought that we discussed was what does a solid, good genius hour project look like.  For example, many times we see that a student has done a lot for charity, and we always hear the example that Google created Gmail during one of these projects.  But what does it look like if I am not going to create Gmail (which I certainly am not going to do… and my students probably won’t either)?  It ended up being a big discussion on Twitter about what work we choose to share on social media.  I have discussed this before on my blog.  As much as I have learned from many Facebook groups, many times, I see “look at what my students have done!”  Typically this is students who have improved significantly or have done amazing things.  I want to see what the average student in your class has done, too.  I can only imagine as a new teacher thinking that my students will NEVER attain this.  I think that we can be more cognizant to say this is what the average student did and some did not do this much.

The last session was about teacher self care.  I think we are all guilty of swinging into working too much at various points of our career.  Lately, I have felt it creeping in for various reasons.  I will say that as happy as I am not using a textbook, it is also stressful for me to make sure that I have enough structure for my students.  One idea that really made sense for me was to make a nightly routine.  I have forced myself to slow down and think about when I can fit my yoga practice in and also include a brain dump as well.  We also discussed focusing on the positive in your teaching and not always think about what you want to improve.  I hope that this continues to help me improve, and I hope that you can share some of your ideas as well.

Finally, it was time for the smackdown!  Sometimes in the smackdown, I hear similar ideas, but this year, there was a lot of excitement from the group and me!  One of my favorite websites to use for printing authentic resources is printfriendly.comMercury reader also does a similar thing, and it is an extension, so you can easily save yourself a few clicks!  Classroom screen looks really neat!  You can add a timer to your screen, directions, a sound level monitor, and drawings.  I haven’t had a chance to really play around with it, but it looks promising.

Well and that wraps up a LONG summary of my edcamp reflections.  I hope that you will soon attend a local edcamp.  I cannot recommend them enough.  Also, if you haven’t gone to an edcamp in awhile, give it a try!


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.