Posted in Blended Class

Tips when developing a blended class

Tips for developing and teaching a blended class

I am currently in my third year of teaching a blended class.  In some ways, my blended class is different from what many teachers think about a typical blended class because I designed all of the blended days by myself.  I wanted to highlight a few things that I have realized make a successful blended class.  These can be applied to a blended class or an online class.

  • Start with the same type of activity each day.  As I have two blended days a week, each day at the beginning, students are either completing an EdPuzzle or a journal.  I have found that this helps students tackle the challenge of the full blended day by always having the same task.  Routines do provide good structure for students.
  • However, within these platforms, I am able to vary what my students do.  With an EdPuzzle, they may be watching a vlogger video, a part of a telenovela or a commercial for a product.  I also find out what my students really love and use more videos like it.  Last year, it was Plaza Sesamo!  With Seesaw, I give my students three topics to choose from or they can choose their own topic.  I will also have them reflect on their writing twice a year and write a poem with a partner twice a year as well.
  • My feedback is key to keeping students on task.  It can seem overwhelming to grade a lot of this work that students complete on blended days, but if students know that they do not have to complete the task, they will not.  While I like to ask a lot of open ended questions, I will also ask multiple choice or fill in the blank questions that give students instant feedback.  Therefore, they can tell if they are on the right path.  This year, I am prioritizing asking more follow up questions on their journals as this is what I want to model for them when they have interpersonal activities.
  • It is important to have group work to break up the individual activities.  I will have students interview each other.  They also collaborated on an authentic resource article to create questions for another group.  My class must rely on asking each other questions on the blended days, so the community aspect is very important.
  • I try to house as much of the material in our learning management system/LMS as I can.  We use the platform Haiku/PowerSchool.  I typically use it for online practices and discussions (in addition to having all of the directions for the online page).  Many people like other online sources for discussions like Padlet, but it is nice to have as much of the class in the LMS as I can.  This also helps provide consistency for students.  I haven’t explored Padlet or Flubaroo as much because I stick to my LMS platform.
  • I try to balance what students are able to do in Spanish.  I do not want them writing in every assignment for the whole 50 minutes.  I make sure that they are reading an authentic resource or listening to a different video.  I felt guilty of this when I was first developing my class to focus on output instead of the input that students could get from different sites and information.  I make sure that within each week, there is at least one speaking activity and one reading activity on the blended days.  This balance can be key to make sure your students do not burn out in the class.
  • Getting feedback from students is also crucial.  Do they feel that the work is manageable or are they overwhelmed?  Do they like the activities that they are doing?  Are you asking them to try too many new technologies at once?  Can they figure out your instructions?  Without my students’ feedback, I would have never developed a successful class.  While I have kept many similar parts of the class, I have also really changed from my first year.

What would you add to my list for a blended or online class?

Posted in Blended Class

General Tips: Online Snow Days

Last year, my school decided to start online snow days.  I think they were very effective as long as the teacher was thoughtful and clear about assignments.  As it looks like the East Coast is about to get pummeled, I wanted to share my online snow day tips.  However, these tips can be used for any blended teacher.

First, make sure that you are specific.  If you want students to write 10 sentences, tell them to write 10 sentences.  If you write “write a reflection,” some students may write two sentences whereas some students will write two pages… and you wanted two paragraphs.  Let them know exactly what you expect because they cannot read your mind (and many times, they will not ask you in an online snow day!)

When you are typing online, you should write in lists instead of paragraphs.  This is easier for students to read.  All of my instructions are bulleted in my blended/online days (see below).

General Tips: Online Snow Days

If you cannot read Spanish, my directions are:

  1. Watch the videos and write a list of the vocabulary words.
  2. Listen to the videos again and write the theme.
  3. Also, write down any words that you want to remember.
  4. You should at least write down 8 words per video.
  5. You are going to use the list tomorrow when we talk about the videos.

Within my LMS (learning management system), I also have a few tips.  I typically create a different page for the snow day.  I can link this page in our calendar.  Also, at the top of the page, I list everything they must do that day.  Below, I put the different activities in order.

General Tips: Online Snow Day

You can see the list above.  They needed to complete a journal entry and watch two EdPuzzle videos.  I posted the journal theme and the EdPuzzle videos below.  Students can always reference the top to see if they have done it.

Additionally, you should try to think of ideas that students will enjoy and mimic what they may do in class.  These days should replace an actual class and should not just be more homework or rote practice.  I really like Zaption and EdPuzzle.  These two sites allow you to embed any YouTube video and add questions.  You can think of it as an extremely interactive lecture.  It also provides great feedback to teachers to see students’ progress.

Many teachers use Kahoot which is engaging in class.  Quizizz is very similar, but it can be assigned on a virtual day.  Students can also still “compete” against each other, but it can be completed asynchronously.  It is also good because students receive instant feedback via memes.

Students can also complete discussions using Linoit, TodaysMeet or VoiceThread.  TodaysMeet is better if the students and teacher are participating at a set time together.  Linoit and VoiceThread can be done periodically.

One of my other favorite ideas is to have the students create a quick video explaining a topic.  They can do this to summarize what they have learned, and it is more exciting to them than just writing.  However, many students become too excited with special effects and editing.  Make sure you explain the time limit and description to them, so they do not go overboard.

Finally, make sure you have had students complete similar activities in class.  They can quickly become overwhelmed with brand new technologies.  You can typically also link to YouTube tutorials if you feel that students may have a question.

Posted in Blended Class, Technology, Uncategorized

Three Day Texting and Emoji Unit for High Novice Spanish students


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My students have just taken their first trimester exam, and we have three class days before Thanksgiving break.  Instead of starting something new, I decided to plan a fun mini-unit that incorporates what my students know and adding in a few more details.  My objectives are that my students will be able to hold text conversations using Spanish abbreviations and emojis.  Finally, students will be able to explain why to use a certain emoji in Spanish.  Here is the overview of my lesson:

  1. I am going to introduce the lesson by showing them this article that shares the real meaning of the emojis.  Some of them are very different from how we use them.  Some of the vocabulary is a little tricky, and I plan on supplementing some of the words by adding different Spanish vocabulary that they know.
  2. Students will create a chart and record the meaning of the emoji in Spanish and English.
  3. Then I will share snippets of this article that reviews how to use text speak in Spanish.
  4. Sara-Elizabeth mentioned table texting, and I found this template to write in Spanish for table texting.  I am going to encourage students to use as many text abbreviations that they can as well as any applicable emojis.  They will complete a few of these as they “text” with their classmates.

This will be the end of the first day.  My next day is a blended day where they will be working with their computers. However, you could also do this without each student having a computer.

  1. I am going to put this video into Zaption.  It explains the meanings of different emojis.
  2. With Zaption, I am going to ask when students feel this way (furious, laughing and crying at the same time etc.)  Also I am going to ask them a type of text that they write in Spanish with this emotion.
  3. Finally, either individually or with a partner, I want them to create a short video explaining what text they will say in Spanish and what emoji they use.  They should use at least three different emojis.

This will be the end of the blended day.  The last day will be our face-to-face day.

  1. If students need the time, they can finish their video.
  2. We will screen all of the videos.
  3. Finally, I will have students take pictures using the props that I mention here and writing an Instagram or Snapchat post using their newly acquired text speak.

I am so excited to start this unit!

Edited to add: One of my colleagues sent me this addition! It is a news article on favorite emojis for each Spanish provence on WhatsApp!

Posted in Blended Class, Journal, Technology

Journaling and the Seesaw App

Seesaw App and its use in FL classes

Last year, my students were journaling in my blended class.  While I believe that I was able to learn interesting facts about them and it helped with their writing, they were a pain to find and read on WordPress.  They were unpublished, so I had difficulty accessing them.  However, this year, I want to try something different!

This past week at #langchat (a weekly Twitter discussion on Thursday nights), Amy Lenord discussed the new-ish app Seesaw.  I have read a lot about it, and it seems perfect for the foreign language classroom!  Students can create an e-portfolio using this app.  You can add photos, videos or PDFs of their creations.  They can also add voice (up to 5 minutes), drawing and written annotations.  Since I have created a class, it will all go through me, so I won’t have to try to find all of the old blog links.

Parents can also see what their children are doing!  They can add the app and receive notifications when their child has posted something in the journal.  I am really excited about this piece!  Many parents really want to hear their child speaking in the target language.  Many students really do not enjoy speaking a foreign language in front of their parents.  (Aside: I am totally one of those people.  My parents get really excited when I speak in Spanish and will try to push me to do so at ANY OPPORTUNITY even now!)  This way, it is a non invasive way for parents to hear their students speaking.  Parents can only see their own child’s work.  However you can tag multiple students, so if you take a picture from a field trip, you could tag the students, so all parents can see.  Parents can also give feedback to their children.

While I will use it with journaling, it can also be used for retells of stories.  Students could quickly sketch out a picture from a story then retell the story using the annotation piece.  It would also be neat to use with FVR (Free Voluntary Reading).  Students could snap a picture of the cover of what they are reading and explain the story.  I encourage you to check it out!  (A 90 second video is here!)

Posted in Blended Class

Blended reflection

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As I have posted before (and others have mentioned as well), sometimes it seems like I am a perfect teacher and have a perfect classroom.  That is not true.  However, I do not always reflect on here.  Today, I wanted to post my own reflection on one aspect of my blended class.

Blogging!  For my blended class, I wanted all of my students to blog at the beginning of class.  This amounts to twice a week for them. At first they were excited, and I was excited!  I came up with lots of fun topics that I thought they would love to write.  Now the enthusiasm has really waned.  Since they haven’t had as much time, I eliminated blogging a few days, and they are happy about it.  Plus, I realized that I have been expecting a lot of output during Blended without always providing as much input.  If I want my students to become more proficient, I need more input.

I am changing things up!  I am going to minimize their blogging to once a week.  While originally, I also wanted them to do a few vlogs, I did not require it.  I am going to require it.  The other days, I am going to use EdPuzzle and Zaption to provide more INput.  My students have really enjoyed these activities on their snow days.  While I have provided various activities, I think including more of these will make my students enjoy the class and be more successful.

Posted in Blended Class, Technology

Another sub day or blended program technology application

Hope everyone is enjoying their time back to school!  Today, we had a presentation from one of my awesome co-workers Marcie.  She presented on BlendSpace.  I have used Mentor Mob in the past, but the benefit to BlendSpace is that you can see how long students have spent on each page.  You can see which students are rushing through the presentation and which students are completing each activity. I logged in with my Google account then I click on create new lesson.  Then you can search for the YouTube video or webpage that you like:

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 3.47.26 PMThe search is on the upper right corner.  Then you drag the video that you like to the square on the right, and it populates your lesson.  You can also click quiz, and students complete a quiz for the assignment.  This would be perfect for a sub day or if you teach a blended class.  You could also use this for homework.  Have you used Blendspace before?  How did you use it in your classes?

Posted in Blended Class, Technology

Linoit for Blended Class

A screenshot of the Linoit for my students
A screenshot of the Linoit for my students

One thing that I quickly added this year for my blended class is Linoit.  It is a virtual corkboard.  Since my students are not in the same room that I am, they can post their questions here.  I have the board open, and I see every time a new sticky is added.  I can respond to their questions.  This was a safety net of sorts when we started.  In the beginning, students would ask me questions frequently.  Now, they have not posted a question in the past few virtual days.  It is impressive to see them becoming more independent.  You could also use Linoit for homework.  You could post different questions and have students respond with their name.  Once you create a board, you can just select your sticky color and type a response.

Posted in Blended Class, Technology

Google Form Tutorial

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Today, my students are creating a Google Form to conduct surveys in their blended class.  Many of them were having difficulty, so I created the following tutorial for them to help.  This also may help you to create your own survey!  I complete surveys to get feedback for students- how they feel things are going or what is easy or difficult for them.  You could also use it to practice asking and answering questions or in a unit for likes and dislikes.  Hope this guide helps you or your students!

Google Forms Guide

Posted in Blended Class, Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: September 19, 2014

Happy Friday!  I have survived Back to School night and have one more day before the weekend!  Ours ends at 8:45 pm, and I just think, I am normally almost in bed at this hour.  However, we have lasted another week!  Here are some of my favorite sites from this week:

1.  This is a great tip about how to search online specifically for powerpoints.  I know that a lot of the teachers in my school attend Alan November conferences and really enjoy them.

2.  This Colocolo presentation is wonderful!  I really want to do a scary story unit during October with my Spanish II class.

3.  In that same vein, Kara Jacobs has some excellent resources about La llorona.

4.  This is a great post about blended learning.  I know how blessed I am to have an administration that is pushing blended learning and has offered me the opportunity to grow in this way more than I could have ever believed.

Posted in Blended Class, Technology

My Blended Class Debut!

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I did it, I did it, I did it!  After much work, my blended class is done…ish!  I am still making my final edits (grammar, a few goal tweaks, adding some more Zondle activities etc.)  If you see anything wrong, let me know.  I have been looking at these pages for… forever!  Also, I have used a few activities from wonderful teachers like Amy Lenord and Sharon Birch.

To explain, I will have two face to face classes a week.  Those classes are not on here.  I will have two “blended” or online classes a week- those classes are here.  All in all, I am really proud of it!  I hope that this can help you if you are working on a blended class.  Are there any foreign language blended teachers out there?  I would love to hear from other blended teachers!  I really love Haiku (the platform that we use.)  If you have any Haiku questions, I have figured out a fair amount.  So for now… enjoy!