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!

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.

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 No Prep Required, Technology

Quick tip: Google Forms for Stories

Google forms for stories

I am definitely run down.  I have been battling a headache on and off for a bit that has made it difficult to get everything done.  I am sure that you have had weeks that are similar.  I saw Martina’s blog about having students write true/false statements about a storyboard.  I wanted to do this, but I wanted it to be zero prep for me (other than the story!)  I decided to use Google Forms.  I also believe that knowing how to make a Google Form is an important life skill (probably because I love them so much!)

I have students create a five question quiz on the reading that must be either true/false or multiple choice in Google Forms.  In forms to make it a quiz, you can change the settings under the gear.  I also have students keep the option to release scores immediately:

settings- google forms

change form to quiz.png

Then when students add questions, they can choose the correct answer and assign points.  I give them flexibility when they assign points, and some go crazy.

answer key.png

Once they hit answer key, it looks like this, so they can select the correct answer and assign points:

answer key screenshot

Then, they can click back for “edit question” to add more questions.  They sent their forms to everyone in the class, and then they completed the other forms.  Therefore, they were getting more repetitions of the story.  Plus, they would ask some harder questions than I did.  The students enjoyed tricking each other and seeing the results.  In my first block, the students were surprised when class was over!  Also, once I set up the activity, students could run it themselves.


Posted in Technology

PearDeck Vocabulary

PearDeck Vocabulary

I have posted about how much I enjoy PearDeck before!  Today, I used it to survey my classes about their likes and dislikes before discussing it as a class.  However, their new addition- PearDeck vocabulary- is great for many classes especially foreign language classes.  It will allow ALL students to engage in creating pictures and creating examples of vocabulary.  Plus, once you copy and paste your Quizlet list into PearDeck- that is all that you need to do for prep!  Instead of starting with a new deck, you can start with the vocabulary.  Then, you can start with any Quizlet list that you have.  Click on the three dots for more then export in Quizlet, then copy the box at the bottom of the page.  It will look like this:

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 12.12.08 PM

You can paste that into your PearDeck set, and you are ready to go!  When you open the PearDeck vocabulary with your class, they will all log in in the same way that they log into a regular PearDeck:

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 12.13.37 PM

After everyone joins, you can click clock in.  Students are divided into groups- night shift and day shift.  Within the groups, they are also paired up.  If a student does not have a pair, it is ok as well.  This is what the screen looks like.  I encourage you to have the pairs sit together to help.

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 12.15.09 PM.png

Once you click on Let’s Play, this screen appears:

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 12.17.07 PM.png

Each student works on a picture of the vocabulary word or a definition in Spanish/example of the word.  You could also have them use it in a sentence accurately depending on the level of the students.  Below you can see my attempts to do so!



Once the partners (or individuals of those working by themselves) finish, they see the finish product and ship it off!


Once you have all of the words finished or you finish for a set period of time, you will get to do quality control.  Each drawing, word and definition pops up, then as a class, the class votes on whether or not it works together.  You can click the check or X for each one.

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 12.21.31 PM

Once you vote on all of them, the ones that you approve are exported to Quizlet!  It is a really neat integration.  Also, a “shift” wins.  I will say that overall, my students really liked it, and I plan on using it throughout the year.  I want to change up the approval process because many people tended to not always pay attention.  I may make signs for them to vote.  I had my students work for about 15 minutes then we voted for about 5-7 minutes.

The only downfall is this is in beta currently… but get on the list!  My fellow teachers moved up the list and got access pretty quickly.  This is the perfect technology tool that enhances instruction, encourages collaboration and involves all students.

Posted in Technology

Mentimeter: Fun presentation tool

Adobe Spark (34)

I have appreciated the time that our principals put into planning back to school meetings that made them innovative.  One of our assistant principals used the tool Mentimeter and I instantly fell in love with it!  I really liked a lot of the features, and they were easily apply to foreign language classes.  Mentimeter is a presentation tool that allows you to interact with all members of your class or audience by using 1:1 devices.  Students could use laptops, tablets, or phones.  They each log in using the code provided by Mentimeter, and then you can get started!  You pace the questions, and the students follow along and reply to your questions.  You can also see what students have said because all students sign in.

Mentimeter has some similar features of other presentation tools where you can ask students multiple choice questions or polls.  Within the questions, you could include a video or picture to ask a question.  You could also allow students to vote on more than one option.  Instead of having words for each choice, you could also have students vote from a variety of pictures.  This would be fun if you are working with an ideal vacation, houses or even just for paintings or sculptures!  While reading a novel, you could have students pick out how they envision the characters from the book.  Or who would play each character in a movie adaption!

One of my favorite question types was that you could have students enter individual words on their device, and Mentimeter will display a word cloud on the projector of all of the words combined.  As more students enter their words, words that are frequently mentioned appear larger and larger.  This would be amazing to brainstorm previous vocabulary to activate before a new unit.  You could have students pick out key words from an authentic resource reading or story.  Students could also describe characters as well.  The possibilities are endless- and it is fun to watch the words appear.  Also, they have a profanity filter which is always reassuring.

Another fun feature that I saw on Mentimeter that I haven’t seen on other presentation tools is “who will win.”  You can give students multiple choices, and they can vote on who they think will win.  Then only the “winner” is displayed with a trophy and some confetti.  This would be fun before a big game like the Super Bowl or local sporting events.  You could also use this before the big celebrity events like the Latin Grammys.  Or at the beginning of the week- everyone could vote on their favorite lunch menu for the week.

Finally, my other favorite feature is that students can react to the slides that you include with type or images.  You can choose the reactions that the students can use, but they include a heart, thumbs up, thumbs down, a question mark or a cat (just for fun!)  You could have students react to quotes or memes in the target language.  You could also have students react with just a question to see if anyone was confused.  I would caution you that once the students react, the reaction is animated.  If you want students to really focus on the slide, you might want to take off the reactions for that particular slide.  But they are fun to include on some slides!

In addition, the program has a variety of typical presentational questions: open-ended questions that display all students’ responses,  scales, and quiz questions that provide a question for all students to answer with a countdown timer.  However, many of your questions can also include a picture or a video (in Beta) which is awesome for FL classes.

I think that it is pretty intuitive to use, but I wanted to include a few screenshots to get you started.  When you log-in, your screen will look like this.  You can choose the teal button that says “new presentation.”

Mentimeter opening screen

The next screen includes all of the different types of slides that you can include in your presentation.

Mentimeter slide 2

You can choose a theme, and as you create the slides they will appear in the section on the left.  Once you choose a specific type of slide such as quiz, you will switch from type to content.  Within the content side, you can choose specific settings to that type of question.  To get back to the options, you can click on type for question type.

Content question

This is the zoomed in version of the quiz questions.  Once you are done, you can click on present!  I highly encourage you to check out this program!  I am excited to integrate it into my classes this year, and I would enjoy hearing how you have used it as well. Edited to add (thanks to Wendy!) on the free plan you could only add two questions per free edition. You could create multiple presentations if you want to add more questions!


Posted in Technology

Tips for teaching with technology

Tips for teaching with technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Favorites, Quick Tip, Technology

Quick tip: EdSurge weekly email


I love a good curated email list!  (I still enjoy getting the Intercom every Monday morning in my email box.)  Toward the end of the year, I started to subscribe to the EdSurge newsletter.  Luckily, I had a free block every Thursday morning.  Each week, I enjoyed sitting down and reading the various articles about educational technology.  Frequently, I would get so excited that I would email one of our edtech coordinators to discuss something that I had read.

I enjoy EdSurge not only because it highlights all of the recent news and developments, but it also tackles issues such as equality in technology and privacy implications with some of the programs.  At the end, they also highlight a tech tool based on teacher feedback.  In short- this has become one of my favorite weekly professional developments!  Add it to your summer to do list to check it out!

Posted in Technology

Goosechase: Try it TODAY!

Goosechase Scavenger Hunt App

Recently I came across the app called Goosechase.  It sets up a scavenger hunt via the website and an app.  It was really easy to create, and my students were able to easily figure out how to play as well.  The directions to set up the game are here.

I logged in and then I set up the game with a name and a password.  Then I started setting up the missions.  I stuck with the photo and video missions.  Students could choose for the most part, but sometimes I wanted actions, so I had them record a video.  You can also add in a text submission.  If you wanted to hide something somewhere with a message and have students write it back, this would be a possibility.  We were working on directions and city vocabulary, so I stuck with many of those words.  I would write a description of what they were supposed to do all in Spanish.  I wrote 14 missions, but students were finishing them faster than I thought.  I was able to add more missions in once the game started which was a nice feature.  I ended up with 24 missions and most of my students finished within 30 minutes.  You may want to aim higher if you want students to have extra questions.  It probably took me about 20 minutes to sign up to create the game and create all of the missions.  The app also provides suggestions which you could translate for students to your TL.

When students came into class, they split up into teams and used the directions under the team tab for how to join the game.  Again, this was pretty self explanatory.  My students only used one phone per group.  I did not see a way to add more phones per team, but this may be a possibility.  With the free version, you can have up to five teams playing the game at once.  Once the teams were in, I clicked on start/stop and set the game for 30 minutes.

Here is the BEST part: while the students are playing, I get an update any time they submit something!  Therefore, I can tell what is going on even though I am sitting back in my room.  Here are some of the videos that I saw coming across my screen:

activity feedactivity feed 2

I could also give bonus points or takeaway points while they were doing this.  If I wanted to add points, I could do that by entering the points.  Using the bonus point feature, I could also subtract points by adding the subtraction symbol with the points (-100 etc).  The students didn’t actually see this though while they were playing.

While they are playing, we can all see the leaderboard.  Then once the game is over, I can see all of the pictures in each section:

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 1.42.30 PM.png

This was a lot of fun for my students to do.  It gives them a lot of input with reading, and it allows them a way to visualize their learning.  Plus they completed about one task a minute- which is a good pace!  I hope you will check out Goosechase!