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:

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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!

Posted in Listening, Technology

How to make audio QR codes

I have seen a lot of awesome scavenger hunt ideas for a foreign language class.  I wanted to try a QR audio code hunt for a particularly gorgeous Friday day.  It took me about 20 minutes to create and print 10 QR codes.  I found an old tutorial on how to create audio QR codes, and none of the websites worked, so I wanted to update this idea with what I used here.  You could also print double if you have a large class.  Here is how I did it:

  1. First I made my recordings in Vocaroo.  I love Vocaroo because it doesn’t require a log-in, is free and produces a link.  Once you record, you save the recording, and you can copy the link.
  2. Then, I went to this QR code generator.  I put the link from Vocaroo into the website and click “create QR code.”  I downloaded the QR code that they displayed.  When you click on download, an ad pops up.  It is free- you do not have to click, log-in or buy anything!  (Don’t click on the ad!)
  3. I put all of the downloaded QR codes on a Word doc.  I also numbered the codes, so I could keep track if I lost any between classes.
  4. The best part is that students can use Snapchat to read the QR codes.  They aim their screen at it, and take a “snap.”  A few seconds later the link pops up!  I would recommend using this platform for HS students.  I had students recreate the pictures as I described them in Spanish.  You could also have them draw pictures of each one which would be fun as well.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from Friday:  Also share how you use QR codes in your classroom!

QR Code

Posted in Technology

First VedChat tomorrow night!


Many people participate in Twitter chats.  It is the main reason that I joined Twitter in 2012!  (Whoa- I cannot believe it has been 5 years!)  However, they can be somewhat limiting as tweets are flying fast, and you cannot tell the tone or expression of people.  What would make that better?  A video (and Flipgrid!)

One of my fellow EdCampMetroDC friends Matt Frattali had the genius idea for VedChat.  Each question has a different board in Flipgrid.  You check out the video intro on each board then record your answer in a “flip.” (Stole Matt’s name!)  You can practice recording your flip by recording an intro here.  If you are new to Flipgrid, you hit the green plus button and record a quick video.  Then you have to take a picture and type in your name.  That’s it!  Done!  You don’t need an account or even have to put in an email.  (You don’t even need Twitter or worry about including a hashtag!)  Then, you can record responses to other people and interact with them.

You can sign in to record an intro NOW, but the fun will start Tuesday night (tomorrow!) at 9 pm.  The theme is storytelling- and as one of the question recorders, I can promise that there are some thought-provoking questions.  I cannot wait to go beyond Twitter to #vedchat!

Posted in Technology

Triventy: A collaborative online game


As much as I love Kahoot and Quizizz, they are not collaborative.  Triventy is a multiple choice quiz, but students can add questions on their own.  It is very easy to do and add questions.  In order to create a quiz, you can create an account.  Then you click on the green “create a quiz” button:


After this, you can invite others to participate.  You can type a name then click on the yellow button that says “invite others to add questions.”  This box pops up:Triventy 2

After you click on “invite” this box pops up:

Triventy 3

I used the link for my students.  You could also incorporate it into Google Classroom or on Facebook or email.  When students add questions this pops up:

Triventy 4

My students were able to figure out how to add questions without any explicit instruction from me.  They all seemed to figure it out easily.  I like that they can click on “survey question” to see what others would pick instead of awarding points.  Also, I can edit any question before they play it.  Then you can click on play game!  Just like the other games, it generates a code for students to join.  However, you cannot kick inappropriate nicknames out!  I will say that the game itself isn’t as “flashy” as Kahoot or Quizizz, but it was awesome to get each student’s question up there.  The students were also really invested in seeing their questions.  This could be great for an interpretive task or as a survey!  At the end, my results were emailed to me.  Have you tried Triventy in the FL class?

Posted in Technology

Adobe Spark Video Tutorial

Adobe Spark Video Tutorial

Obviously I love Adobe Spark.  Almost all of my graphics are made as posts in Adobe Spark (including the one that you see above).  Next year, I am excited to teach Spanish V.  Since we have a lot of different electives and choices, we were asked to make a video to explain our classes.  I reached out on Twitter, and a lot of people helped me formulate an idea.  Here is my finished video using Adobe Spark!  This video probably took me 30-45 minutes to put together including the edits and suggestions from others.

If you would like to make your own video, I put together this tutorial to explain how to put one together.  Also, even if you do not want to create a video, I discovered this website which has free music to use for videos!  I searched “Spanish” and came up with a ton of music to use and download.

If you are looking for ideas to use for videos, I published a list here.  Also, I came up with a new activity for my blended students that I am excited to use.  I started a story with two sentences in a Google Doc.  Each student has to add on two to three sentences to form a story.  Then after they create the story, they have to illustrate it using Adobe Spark video!