Posted in Technology

Technology Updates for the World Language Classroom

Technology Updates for the WL classroom

Being the tech nerd that I am, I love seeing the technology updates for some of my favorite products over the summer!  Typically most edtech companies update their products before the ISTE conference in late June.  Here are some of my favorite companies and their updates that will be relevant for the foreign language classroom:

  • I have always loved Seesaw!  I know that I will continue to use it as I move back to elementary and middle school because it is so intuitive.  They have added more features to help students annotate their work.  This will be AMAZING for foreign language!  After telling a story, students can take a photo of a picture and demonstrate their learning through captions, recording or labeling the picture.  I also used Seesaw when students were on field trips, but now, they can create a collage!  This is a game changer.  Now, students can make a collage from a field trip and comment on it, or after reading a chapter or two in a book to represent their understanding.  I saw that one teacher would have various ways for students to express their understanding after each story.  These new features would be perfect for these activities!
  • I use Adobe Spark for my graphics on the blog all the time.  This year, I also had an extra week at the end of the school year without an exam.  I had students make their presentational writing about the novel into a video or comic strip.  Adobe Spark is great because it is also pretty intuitive and the end product looks great.  Now, students can collaborate on the same video.  Many times with video projects, only one student will work on it.  This allows more than one student to edit it- although only one student can edit it at the same time.
  • Kahoot has also made some great updates.  The character limit has been increased.  Also, they have created a question bank.  While you are creating, you can also drag and drop to rearrange the questions.  This should decrease the time it takes to make your game.  Finally, the interface is updated as well.
  • Google is always updating their products, but some of the most recent updates will be great for educators in particular.  In Google Forms, you can now lock quizzes, so students can’t navigate away from the questions while they are taking a quiz.  You can also start importing questions from various Google Forms to a new form to save you even more time.  They have also started integrating many of the tech tools into GSuite including Kahoot and Seesaw.  Finally, for Google Classroom, they have started beta testing for rubrics and syncing the grade book and Student Information Center.  (Next year, I will be using Google Classroom, and I cannot wait!)
  • Finally, Flipgrid has added some great updates as per usual!  There are enhanced storytelling capabilities to add text, emoji and creative flair to videos.  (Doesn’t everyone love some creative flair??!!)  It is also perfect as students can add an emoji over their video if they aren’t comfortable sharing their faces.  Students can also stitch together various videos.  There is also whiteboard mode which looks awesome!  They are going to also integrate with Wakelet, which I love for personal use.

What are some of your favorite technology tools to use in the classroom?  Any updates that I missed?

Posted in Technology

Quizalize: My new favorite tech tool for sub or snow days!

quizalize post

When I first rolled out my blended unit plan, I had students take a quiz then based on how they did, they had different tasks to complete.  I thought- Wouldn’t it be great if there was a program that differentiated for you?!  Well friends, Quizalize is it!  Quizalize can take a bit of time to set up on your side, but it allows students to be self-sufficient after that.

This year in Spanish V, we are starting this month with last year’s commercial for the lottery.  We just finished Part II, and I found a Quizlet set with questions and answers.  If you have Quizlet sets, you can easily import them into Quizalize.  After I imported the questions into Quizalize and I set up a class, students can join then they answer the questions from the Quizlet set (or any other quiz that you create).  The program gives your students all of the questions to go at their own pace (although it is timed.)

Then after all of the questions at the end, it goes into MASTERY MODE!  Students have to re-answer all of the questions they missed the first time until they get them correct.  I LOVE this because as much as I “review the ones that they miss” it is much more effective if they have to re-do it.  Plus they don’t have to listen to me review one that most students got wrong if they did not answer it incorrectly.

After mastery mode, students can complete another activity BASED ON HOW THEY DID ON THE PREVIOUS QUIZ!  So they can watch a YouTube video, read a PDF or try another quiz.  For this section, I was lucky to find a few quizlet sets already done.  In one, students could review vocabulary from Spanish to English if they scored below a 50%, they could do a vocabulary in context if they scored between a 51 and a 79%.  If they scored above an 80%, they could watch another Dreaming Spanish video because they enjoyed the first one.  I can’t scream it from the rooftops loud enough- I LOVE LOVE LOVE this!  This program can TRULY offer differentiated learning automatically on a sub or snow day.

Anyone who has a Quizlet set can use Quizalize!  I will continue to use this while discussing stories.  You could also use this if you want to highlight more vocabulary words.  Regardless, I recommend that you check it out!

Posted in No Prep Required, Novel, Technology

Conceptual maps in units and novels

My Post (99)

This year, we planned a PLC to allow us more time to collaborate with both Middle and Upper School teachers.  We have some really excellent language teachers in the Middle School, but it is hard to find time to discuss what we are doing in our classes.  Marcela Velikovsky shared a wonderful idea on how to have students create conceptual maps for the novels that they are reading.  Both my department chair and I were eager to use it on our classes!

For her level 1 class, she gave them notecards with main events and people on them.  They are reading Agentes Secretos, so she would write down main characters like Paula and Mario, places like Barcelona and Paris then other key words like romántica, mural etc.  She gave them to the students then they would connect notecards on a large piece of paper and finish a phrase in between them.  For example, one student may put the Paul card down then draw a line between Paula and romántica and write es on it: Paula ——- es——— romántica.  Then they could use Paula again, draw another line and write Paula ——– habla con——– Mario.  However, the students could organize the cards together in any order that they choose.  I love the support for a beginning level class!

In her Spanish 2 class, Marcela allowed the students to brainstorm the events, people and places for the book Patricia va a California.  Then, they did the same conceptual map using the notecards to connect them together.  Students could discuss how they wanted to arrange all of the topics.

Today, I decided to do the same thing in my Spanish V class, but because it is me, I wanted to techify it!  We have read two of Kara’s Ecuadorian legends.  I had students brainstorm the characters, main events and the importance of each legend.  Students worked in groups of 2-3.  This allowed them to review and get more repetitions of key words and events.  When they were revisiting each legend, they would also ask me clarifying questions.

After this, they used the program to make connections between the legends.  I told them they couldn’t just make a conceptual map with legend #1 and legend #2.  They had to think of ways that both legends intertwined.  With the, they don’t need to register, and they can just download their conceptual map at the end.  Here are some of them:

Mind Map: LeyendaScreen Shot 2018-11-07 at 4.32.51 PMScreen Shot 2018-11-07 at 4.33.01 PM

I like the fact that the project was open-ended, and that it can be used at many levels.  I was thinking that this would have been useful as we were reading Vidas Impactantes.  You could also do something similar with vocabulary from a unit.  Sara-Elizabeth used this last year with her students for Robo en la noche.  Although you cannot include visuals, it would still be effective.

How do you use conceptual maps in your language class?  Now that I have started, I can’t get enough!

Posted in Technology

GimKit 3.0! Coming out soon!

GimKit 3.0!

My students and I LOVE GimKit!  It has somewhat of a legendary status in my school as well.  I have been anxiously awaiting GimKit version 3.0, and it looks like it will not disappoint!  Here are some of the updates that I am excited about:

  • The main upgrades are around upgrading the game, so students don’t know how to to conquer the game so easily.  (Josh rewrote the whole game over the past 6 months!  Whoa!)
  • One of the design changes is that the students will see both the question and correct answer when they are playing if they make a mistake.
  • In the shop, students will be able to purchase themes.  This doesn’t necessarily give the students a competitive advantage, but it is more of a cosmetic upgrade.  It also changes the theme on the leaderboard.  GimKit 3.0 will start with a Halloween theme for only $5 for students to buy!
  • In addition to upgrades, students can also buy power-ups.  Power-ups range in benefits, but students can only buy and use them once.  Therefore students have to strategize when they will use them.  Also, the power-ups get more expensive the more money that you have!  This helps people at the bottom of the leaderboard get closer to the top.
  • Some of the power-ups are basic: either a second chance power-up to answer a question again or a fifty-fifty power-up which eliminates two of the options.  Some other power-ups include a megabonus which can multiply your earnings or a minibonus which can do the same.  Another one is a discounter that you can use to discount everything in the store for 2 minutes.
  • In addition, there are some attack power-ups like the subtractor or reducer.  With the subtractor, you can subtract from someone’s overall winnings.  With the reducer, a player’s per question answer will be limited by 50% for a minute.  Finally you can use a shield that will block people from using an attack power-ups on you for 60 seconds.  If you play in teams, each player can purchase and use power-ups separately, but the attack power-ups are used against a team.  If you don’t want your students to use them, then you have the ability to turn them off.
  • You can now search for other kits!  This way you can find other kits quickly and easily.  You can also edit and remix the kits.  The ability to edit the kits only goes along with the paid version.  However, the free version allows you to search and play any kit.  This will help people who are on the fence about upgrading.  You will be able to try more kits before deciding.
  • Along with this search ability, by default, your kits will be public.  You can edit it and make them private.
  • Also- there will be more than 100 languages available now!  Yay for foreign language teachers (who if I do say so myself, were the early adopters of GimKit!)  It will be done by a service, so it won’t be perfect, but I am sure if you see any errors, you can contact Josh to fix it.  The hosting screen will also be in a foreign language now.
  • Finally, you can have students make their own kits WITH YOU for Kit Collab!!!  I LOVE THIS!!  I keep using Triventy because of this feature, but to really love the ability for students to collaborate with you.  Currently, students are only able to add one question per kit.

This will come out October 13th to try!  I encourage you to try it and to try the paid version.

Posted in End of the year, Technology, Uncategorized

End of year video app smash with Flipgrid, Adobe Spark and Goosechase!

end of the year video app smashing

So each year, I have wanted to put together an end-of-the-year video for my students.  But each year, I don’t have enough pictures or videos to make it happen.  When I was at the conference with Tina this past summer, I was committed to make it happen.  I still didn’t take nearly enough pictures this year… but luckily many of the technology tools that we used captured enough for me!  Thanks to both Goosechase and Flipgrid (in addition to just the off chance that I take one or two pictures per class…) I have MORE than enough!  Here are my shortcuts to download these videos and pictures.

On Flipgrid, I can click on “topic details” for each topic in my grid.  All the way to the right, it looks like this with the “activity.”


If you click on “actions,” these options appear including download video and download selfie!


This gives you a great place to start for your video.  You have a wealth of videos and selfies to use to download!  Then, my next stop is Goosechase.  Once you have played a game, you can click on the submissions button on the left side.  Once you are looking at all of your submissions, you can click on the “download submissions” button on the right part of the screen.  It will download it as a ZIP file.  It is organized by teams and their submissions.

So where to make the video?  I used Adobe Spark.  It is free and easy to use.  There are plenty of tutorials that can walk you through how to create a video… like this one!  My only tip is to turn down the music, so it is easier to hear your students.  Also, for me, I teach two classes of the same level.  I organized my video by topics, so I could easily replace the videos and pictures, but I have the same structure of the video which saved me some time.  Hope this inspires you if you have wanted to do a video, but keep forgetting to actually take pictures!

Posted in Technology

Google Tours and Slides with novels

google slides and tour builder

I have mentioned before that I really love the Google Teacher Tribe podcast!  I have found two of my newest favorite Google uses for the classroom recently.  One is super LOW prep, and the other is definitely high prep, but I have two that you can already use (and I think it is worth the sweat required to make it!).

I have loved the idea of Pecha Kucha since I first read about it on the Creative Language Classroom blog.  I heard them mention it in conferences too, and I thought- I need to do that!  Pecha Kucha is a presentation style where people can only talk about each slide for 20 seconds.  So here it is probably 5 years later, and I am finally getting around to it.  (True story- while there are some things that I implement immediately, there are other things that I just sit on for awhile.  Just because I love an idea, doesn’t mean that I use it right away!)  My students have been reading a variety of novels.  So I made a blank slideshow in Google Slides and invited all students to collaborate on it- that’s it!  That was all of my prep!  Each student had about 5 minutes to find two pictures that represented some part of the book and include their name.

Then, they had to describe the picture and what was happening in the book in 30 seconds (I stretched it a little).  They did this in front of the whole class.  A few things that I did to keep it a BIT lower stress- if they finished early, I would ask them questions.  I also allowed them to stay in their seats if they preferred.  Finally, if they would rather talk with a friend, I allowed them to talk about one picture for a minute by alternating talking with a friend.  My smaller class was easier to do, but I think my longer class dragged a bit.  To help for next year, I want to have students write down two new words that they hear in each presentation.  Since I hope that hearing others on their level will help them remember words to incorporate into their own discussions about the book, this would be effective.

The next idea is to use Google Tours with novels!  (I had only heard about this for one year before using it- so a bit better on the implementation curve! 😉  I am using Bianca Nieves in level 2 and El Ekeko currently in level 1.  However, I am confident that you can find ways to incorporate this into many of the books!  (I wish that I had figured it out sooner for La Calaca Alegre.)  I figured out how to make these tours based on Jen’s super helpful post on Secondary Spanish Space.  Essentially, you can put pins down to create a tour of any part of the world.  Then, you can add pictures, links or videos to each “stop.”  You can also have students drag the little yellow person symbol to the screen and they will get an automatic street view!

I gave my students a handout to write on as they were exploring.  I believe that this is easier than trying to navigate back and forth between screens.  (Maybe because I am getting older??!)  You can see my example of the tour from Bianca Nieves including a trip to a bull farm and the city next door!  (I kept it all in the same town, but you could go to Madrid with the larger Plaza de Toros.)  Here are my guiding questions that I used.  Also, here is my tour for El Ekeko through La Paz.  The questions are linked here.

I would love to hear how you have used either tool!


Posted in Technology

GimKit! An amazing interactive game

Gimkit game

So evidently one of my awesome teacher friends (of the Medieval Bestiary Unit fame!) found GimKit and told me about it last week.  I maintain that I was gone during that part of the conversation, but we discussed it again Tuesday afternoon, used it Wednesday morning and had students acting like I had been holding out on them!  It was that good.  And I am also pretty much as obsessed as my students!  (And it was made by students and run by students which makes it that much cooler!)  Pardon my overuse of exclamation marks, but it really is that exciting.

It is an interactive quiz game similar (but better!) than Kahoot and Quizizz (and I will even say Quizlet Live!)  You can easily import your Quizlet sets into GimKit.  Then, you can set up the objective.  I LOVE how much you can personalize this part.  (Although I haven’t tried all of them because I wanted to get this post out to you so you can try it!)  Here are some of the settings:

  • You can have students work individually or in teams.
  • You can also set up how many players you have per team.
  • You can come up with a game goal.  You can have students race to earn enough money during a set time limit (that you create).  You can set a goal of money that all teams have to reach to finish the game.  You can also set the goal as a race that students are trying to reach in order to win.  Or you can do all in, where all of the teams race to earn a total money goal.


I will say that to experiment with my class, I started with a target of 1 million dollars in team mode.  They all reached it in about 30 minutes.  I am sure they would go faster in the future, but we were both figuring it out.

Then, they also have some of the regular settings from most games.

Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 11.27.34 AM

Then the fun starts when you create a game!  Students join without an account by putting in the code into their computers.  I would use just laptops as one student had difficulty with his phone.

As students answer multiple choice questions based on the Quizlet set, they earn money for answering questions correctly and lose money for answering incorrectly.  Their money all goes into the same pot for the team mode, but the amazing thing is that they are ALL answering questions at their own pace.  They aren’t waiting for others to answer.  Also, if they answer questions correctly, they just get more questions.  They don’t feel the pressure to answer based on speed.  As individuals or teams earn more money, they can spend it on different things to help them earn more money.  Then students can try to buy more perks.  They can buy:

  • More money per question
  • Streak bonus (to earn more money after you answer two questions correctly)
  • Multiplier (every dollar in OR OUT gets multiplied!)
  • Insurance (you only pay out a certain amount when you get a question incorrect)

The fun part is that if they are in teams, they can use their total winnings to buy these perks.  So sometimes one student will buy something without consulting his or her team. 🙂

Overall, my students felt like they were really remembering these words well because it was going to quickly.  Also, the analytics after it are amazing!  Check out this list that I got after my first game based on the words in El Ekeko:

Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 12.26.40 PM

I also can see individual student progress:

GimKit 4

I encourage you to try it!  You can only create 3 kits to store with the free version, but I think your students will love it.  My students and others have also commented that they felt like they were really learning the words.

Posted in Technology

Let’s have our students speak Spanish together! Collaborate via Flipgrid

Let's have our students speak Spanish together

I have really been enjoying incorporating Flipgrid into my classes.  In the back of my mind, I have been wanting to set up my classroom with other classes.  But, it keeps getting pushed back on my to do list.  Then, Melanie sent out a tweet to connect with her classes!  We set up a grid for level 5, and I wanted to do the same thing for my other levels, too.

I sent out a tweet thinking that I would get a few responses, but I kept getting more and more responses.  I thought that I could do something similar to Laura and set up some Flipgrids that would be a bit more universal.  Everyone can participate- the more the merrier!  I want to keep the topics a bit universal and conversational.  I hope that each topic will be universal enough that it is part of your curriculum already.  I will add a new topic to the same grid every two weeks.  I hope that the two week timeline will give students enough time to record AND respond to one another.  They can have mini conversations on each topic and get to know one another!  (All while practicing their interpersonal skills!)

I have an account, so all students can add their thoughts to my Flipgrid!  One of the best things about Flipgrid is that students don’t need an account.  You can also see your students responses on the grid.  To start this week, students can introduce themselves!  To create a flip video, it typically takes my students 5-10 minutes.  Therefore, you can fit this into a regular day.  I have also assigned it for homework.

Here is my grid for level 1.

Here is my grid for level 2.

For level 2, my students will make their first flips on Monday.  For level 1, my students will make their first flips on Wednesday.  Feel free to add to them before that!  If you haven’t used Flipgrid before, your students can just push the big green plus button on each topic to start a new video!


Once there is a video, students can reply to the video by pushing the button to the right that says “add reply to…”  Let’s get started!  Share one of these grids this week to connect our students!  If you have any questions or suggestions- let me know!

ps: If you are reading this now, we are on our second round of conversations!  You can find the links here.

Edited to add: If you want to see the former Flipgrids, you can use the grid password Spanish1 for the level 1 grid and Spanish2 for level 2.  A new feature is that all grids must have passwords.  Also, if you want to learn more about Flipgrid and how it works, check out my tutorial.

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 Guest Post, Technology

Guest post: Google en la clase de español…¡Guau!

Google en la clase de español

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!

Google Drawings

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.

Google Slides

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.