Today, I am so excited to bring you my first guest post! This year, I have been learning so much about Google, but Kristine Keefe is an expert. She takes what many teachers are doing and applies it to foreign language classrooms. I already have many ideas based on this post, and I hope that this will inspire you like it has inspired me!
If you work in a Google school/district, there are so many ways to integrate G-Suite into the World Language classroom. With Google Classroom, you can easily share resources and assignments with your students. You can create individual and collaborative assignments. You can even record over your Slides with Chrome extensions like Screencastify so students who are out, are still able to get comprehensible input when they are out. I find this extremely useful with things like Movie Talk (check out this link from Martina Bex if you are new to Movie Talk). Yes, it isn’t exactly the same as being in class, but I feel like it is the next best thing. And it is way better than absent/homebound students missing out entirely. One of my favorite features of Google Classroom is that you have the ability to share with individual students, so you can share the screen recording version with just absent students.
Of course, I love Google Forms, Docs, Sheets & Maps and use them frequently. But my favorite G-Suite tools are Google Drawings and Google Slides. I use them constantly for a variety of different purposes. My students have often commented that they used something from G-Suite that they learned in my class in their other classes. The priority in my classroom is language acquisition, but all the better if they can learn something they can apply in other classes as well!
There are so many ways to use what I like to think of as a hidden gem of G-Suite – Google Drawings. If you are in Drive, you click “New” and then “More”. It is under Google Forms. Some of my favorite uses of Google Drawings are interactive posters, digital manipulatives, infographics, timelines and graphic organizers.
My personal favorite is #BookSnaps (check out Tara Martin’s awesome blog for a detailed description of #BookSnaps). Before going any further, if you don’t already have the bitmoji chrome extension, stop reading this post for a minute and add it to your Chrome! #BookSnaps are an idea that came from Tara Martin, who is an innovative educator from Kansas. She had the brilliant idea to harness the enthusiasm many of our students have for Snapchat into a 21st century form of annotation. We read novels from Fluency Matters in my ninth grade classes (intermediate low proficiency goal). Creating #BookSnaps using Google Drawings is an easy way for students to react to what they are reading. They are also something that they can complete quickly in class or at home. Tara has created a great video explanation on YouTube that you can check out. Here are some examples of student created #BookSnaps (sample 1 & sample 2) for the novel Felipe Alou by Carol Gaab.
Graphic organizers are another great option that are easily created with Google Drawings. To make things even simpler, there are many templates for graphic organizers available free that you can start with and then modify to meet your needs. Some of my favorites come from Eric Curts and Matt Miller (of Ditch that Textbook).
Digital Manipulatives are simple to create by adding text boxes or images to a Google Drawing. They make great clues for digital breakout games (here is my blog post on creating your own digital breakout games – I also have shared some games I have created for Spanish class on my blog). The trick to these is knowing the Google hack to “Force a copy” – you get the shareable link from the share box (make sure you allow others to have access), copy the URL into the ominbox of a new tab. Then, change where it says ‘edit?usp=sharing’ at the end of the link to ‘copy’. This forces anyone with the link to make a copy. You can also share digital manipulatives via Google Classroom. In addition to clues for digital breakout games, they are great for sequencing stories, events in from a novel or images from a Movie Talk. A nice feature of Drawings is that if you use the ‘Arrange’ tab on the menu bar, you can group images and text together which makes them moveable without separating them. One way to make it easy to grade/review if you are using these as any type of assessment (formative or summative) is to change the background color of each phrase/sentence. Then you can simply see if students have the correct order (ex: red, blue, green, yellow, purple, orange).
An interactive poster takes an old fashioned project to the next level because you can include links to audio, video and websites. You can create these to tell class stories or for Movie Talks. And, when you teach students of higher proficiency levels (intermediates and beyond), students can create their own interactive posters to share. With all of the sharing options available with Google, you can create a virtual gallery walk and have students react and respond to their classmates. Check out this sample of an interactive poster.
Infographics, timelines and classroom decor can easily be created with Google Drawings. It works much like the rest of G-Suite, so if you are comfortable in Slides, Drawings has many of the same capabilities. The possibilities are really endless. The only limit is your creativity.
Another G-Suite tool that I love is Google Slides. They are great for Movie Talks, storytelling and just about anything you want to share with your entire class. With Google, collaboration with colleagues and your students is facilitated and simplified with all of the different options for sharing. I did a presentation on Google Slides over the summer for teachers in my district and you can access my slide deck here. I have since found even more great things to do with Slides (add-ons, add-ons and more add-ons!)
I sometimes have students create #BookSnaps via a collaborative Google Slide Deck. I share a blank slide deck on Google Classroom as an assignment, allowing all students access to edit. Each student takes a slide to create their own #BookSnap. Afterwards, I like to have students comment on the #BookSnaps created by their classmates. I usually have them use the speaker notes for this. This adds to the conversation, inside and outside of class. If you have any concerns about students intentionally or unintentionally editing the work of their classmates, remind them that you can use version history to track everything they did.
Also, in Google Slides, don’t forget to check out the “Explore” tool (that thing on the bottom left that looks a little like a cross). It is an easy way to insert images and search the web without ever leaving your slide deck.
Another creative way to utilize Google Slides is to make interactive slideshows. You probably know that you can add links to your slides to external websites. But, Google also gives you the ability to link to other slides within a slide deck. You can create interactive quizzes and Jeopardy games this way. However, the most fun I have with this feature is creating “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories. Think back to those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books that you read as a kid. Students can create their own stories and have a variety of different endings. They can also write several different endings to a class novel or story. The steps to creating a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story using Google Slides are:
- Create a slide with the title/cover to your story
- The next slide could tell a portion of the story and offer two or more options to choose how the story continues.
- Each option is linked to different slides in the presentation.
- Then, you can branch off to different slides to tell alternate versions of the story.
An organizer is helpful for planning a Choose Your Own Adventure story on Slides. Here is a link to a simple organizer and one that is more complex. The first time I tried having my students create their choose your own adventure stories was during state testing. My students had so much fun (and it was a low stress activity to do in groups after testing all morning). Here is one of their stories. For these to work, make sure you view them in “Present” mode and click on the links, do not just advance the slides like you normally would.
Poll Everywhere for Google Slides is a great way to make your slide decks more interactive. It adds “Poll Everywhere” to your menu bar on Slides. Then, you can create and insert several different kinds of polls directly into your slide deck. I like including these when I do Movie Talks or stories to make predictions and to get a sense of how students are comprehending. A word cloud poll is also a great way to brainstorm before starting a Movie Talk or story. Here is a brief tutorial I created on Poll Everywhere for Google Slides.
If you are using Google Slides in your classroom (for either student-created work or for your teaching), you should check out The Noun Project to find literally millions of icons. They are free to download (though you must give credit to the designer if you do not have have NounPro – the paid version). If you decide on NounPro, there is an educator price of under $20 a year that allows you to use the icons royalty free. There is also an add-on for Google Slides which allows you to search The Noun Project and drag icons directly into your Google Slide deck (you get to change the colors, too).
Pear Deck also has an add-on for Google Slides. I use it much in the same way that I use Poll Everywhere for Google Slides. If you have used Pear Deck before, it works much in the same way and allows for interactive presentations. You can get immediate feedback from students and control the slide students are on (which is great when you are doing things like Movie Talk and do not want your students going ahead). You can ask multiple choice questions, reflection questions, audience “temperature checks” (incidentally these are a great way to do a comprehension check without students having to worry about being the only one who is unsure about something – this is especially helpful for more timid students) and for exit tickets. Eric Curts has a great, detailed explanation of the features of the Pear Deck add-on. The one thing to remember is that you need to use the add-on to “present with Pear Deck” for the features to work (rather than using Present as you normally would). I have just begun playing around with this add-on, but I can’t wait to explore its full potential.
Hopefully you found something that you could use in your language class!
Kristine Keefe is a high school Spanish teacher in Edison, NJ since 2001. She has experience teaching level 1 through Advanced Placement Language & Culture. Kristine is passionate about getting her students to love learning Spanish and to continue their study of the language beyond high school. Kristine is also always looking for new ways to integrate technology in her classroom (and to make her life easier). She is a Google for Education Certified Trainer and has given workshops in her district, at technology and learning conferences, helped organize edcampWL for language teachers in NJ and will be presenting this spring at the Foreign Language Educators of New Jersey Annual Conference. You can find her on Twitter (@kkeefe_hassan) and on her blog La profe alta.