Higher Level Thinking with Novices

When I was doing my student teaching (in English) our methods teacher said something like, “The complexity of your language is a reflection of your complexity of thought.”  While I can get behind this statement for a native language, this isn’t true for a second language.  I mean, I’m entirely capable of complex thought, but I certainly can’t express that in Spanish.  Depending on the topic I may be able to express a complex-ish thought in French.  And on any one day, I may or may not find complex thought expression in English a stretch.

This makes it easy to say oh, those novices, they can’t do any critical thinking.

Not True – Beyond DOK 1

Here is a simple activity, that I did not invent that asks students to think critically with very little language.  Let me start out with that in the first hours of French, I tell this completely ridiculous story about a crab who has its heart broken by a chain smoking rabbit and who is ultimately consoled by a snail.  It’s riveting.

This activity is actually what I think of as disguised input.  (I suppose some people would argue that the best comprehensible input is disguised, but for me it means that this is not an input activity per se.)  This activity is meant to give students the opportunity to hear the words chien, chat, lapin  several times in a meaningful context and it asks students to think critically without producing a lot of language.  They need to say impossible, possible, probable (with the French pronunciation-ish).

I put up the slide and then ask in the TL, “Rabbits eat carrots? Yes, that’s pretty logical.”  “Dogs eat hamburgers?” You’d be surprised by the answer to that one. “Dogs eat cats?! What?! Dogs eat cats! Nooooooooon.”   “Dogs speak French.”  “Snails eat lettuce.”

You get the idea.  We go through many, many possibilities.  You’ll notice that the second row is all cognates except fleur, which is like a half cognate.

Enter Google Forms

This year I’m taking this activity to the next level with a Google Form.  I asked students to read the statements and then answer and some of the statements were different than the ones I said outloud.  And then you know what we did?  We practiced numbers by talking about percentages of people who think it’s probable that dogs eat cats, etc.  Because there is never not a good time to use numbers in context.

I didn’t do this next step because we didn’t have time, but to extend the activity I could ask students to make their own sentences that (im)possible or probable.  Or I could ask them to move sentences and categorize them.

And then…

I make enough work for myself, so I love when I can re-use things I’ve already built.  The next activity involves the students using aime/adore/n’aime pas/déteste with the same slide.  Additionally, we re-tell the whole story by using aime/adore/n’aime pas déteste.  This year I added in parce que for the students and they made amazing sentences for such limited hours of French.

I’m not suggesting that my silly story and activity will leave students enlightened, but it does allow for them to think critically and respond to a complex question with simple language.

 

#edublogsclub Advice for New Teachers

In my myriad of roles at work, I get to work with new teachers often. When I saw this topic I thought what a great opportunity!  Here’s my best new teacher ideas.

  1. Plan.  As I work with more and more teachers I am absolutely astounded at the number of teachers who don’t have a thoughtful lesson plan.  It’s not ok.  “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  It’s amazing how a little thought will have effects on any number of classroom issues.
  2. Use your textbook.  Throwing out that textbook is quite sexy right now.  Sure it might seem like all the cool kids are ditching their textbook, but right now, as a new teacher- hold onto that book.  Get your bearings first.  When I was at the CLTA Summer Seminar I saw someone had a sticky on their computer that something like, “Use the textbook and supplement the f%^k out of it.”  Try that.
  3. Two Hour Limit.  When I did my student teaching my master teacher told me that she tried never to work more than two hours extra per day.  This has always stuck in my head as a personal check.  It is easy to spend hours after school getting ready and planning, but balance is key to being healthy.
  4. Find a role model.  On any campus there’s a variety of characters.  Look at who they are and why.  Who has the respect of the leaders?  How are the leaders moving the campus and students forward?  Are there bullies who push everyone into accepting their ideas?  Who are the grumpy grouchy grumblers?  Who do you want to be?
  5. Remember our impact.  Every day we have the ability to impact a child positively or negatively.  It’s easy to get caught up in all of the things we have to do.  It’s worth remembering that we are in the business of people and students are people.  Kindness and fairness go a long way towards creating a lasting impact.

Resources for Accents

I updated what I give my students so they can learn how to do the accents because the amount of time in college class I am willing to devote to this is 0.  (Note: For younger learners, I believe it’s important to devote as much time as you need to teach students how to do the accents.)  My students have all types of devices so this covers everything.

I’ve made a one page webpage guide for students or teachers.

And I’ve made a printable slide deck with the key codes.  There are four per page so the kiddos can tape to their device.  And one full page for the Chromebook for my college students.  Note: The PC laptop without 10 key codes in the slide deck- I got this to work on one computer, but not another and I don’t have a PC without 10 key to figure out why, so I recommend if your students have that to advise them to use the Character Map.  I’ve left them in the slide just because I wanted to and in case it was useful for someone.

 

I always ask students to practice and here’s my practice sheet.

 

Week in Review and a Bonus Flipgrid Self-Reflection!

This past week Kicked. My. Butt.  Nevertheless, it was quite a productive little week.

Monday

Because I don’t know how to stop giving myself more work, my massive effort to visit every teacher in his/her classroom to find out how I can help them integrate technology thoughtfully kicked off and I visited 20 teachers. #tired.  I began to have feelings again for my iPad.

Tuesday

I am lucky enough to be considered part of the CAMP (Computer and Media Pathway – a CTE/CPA Distinguished Academy) Team and Tuesday we spent the day team building with students as a disguised method for teaching these kids about college.  It’s called the Ropes to College and is an model example of why academies and pathways are good for kids.

I also submitted my workshops (2) and interest sessions (2) for the CLTA Conference “The Quest for Proficiency” in Ontario in March.    You’ll be there right?  Right?

Wednesday

Full-fledged, 100% fell back in love with my iPad.  I was giddy.  I was so crazy in love that I bought my iPad a stand so it can take it’s rightful place on my desk.

I also took 19 seconds of a different video and turned it into another fifteen minute activity, using Google Forms.  Why had I never done this before??  Instant data!  Click on the image to see the slide show.  (Is it still a slide show if there’s only one slide?)  And click here to see the accompanying form.   (You’ll be asked to make a copy.)  My next step is to add these little video gems into EdPuzzle.

 

And then we talked about the data which was a great way to practice numbers.  Because there’s never not a good time to throw in a little number practice.

I also played around with Flipgrid, pretty much having the same experience as Colleen at Language Sensei. Except, today when I was listening to the responses,  I had what I hope is going to be a brilliant idea: I think it will be more effective if they listen to their responses for the things that I heard over and over again.  Instead of me giving feedback, they could hear it themselves and hopefully correct it.  Jo Boaler said that your synapses fire when you realize you’ve made a mistake and when you correct it, so I’m hoping this will cause some synapses to fire twice which will in turn have some effect the next time they talk.

Today I made a Google sheet, which I’ll pass out in Classroom so they each have a copy and here’s the brilliant part, I used a formula so if a student answers “Non” to any of the things they should be listening for a message pops up telling them to re-record!  At least I got the formula to work on the first try making me feel like my formula skills are improving.  Click on the image to see the form.  You’ll have to make a copy to see the down arrow (and my fancy formula skills.)


Thursday

Confirmation that the House voted to restore funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers.  This is a good thing.

At my Technology Leaders meeting the meeting leader said he wants to do a book study of The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros and he was so excited about the idea that I’m going to participate just because he was so enthusiastic about it.

Friday

Continued classroom visits with my love, iPad and catch up day for everything I haven’t been able to get to including starting the catalogue of the performance based assessments the World Language teachers will be giving in a couple of weeks.

Despite being beat up by the week, I can’t complain because I have the best job(s) in the world!

#edublogsclub Professional Development Wishes

Great and Timely PD

I’m straight off of two days of professional development for Instructional Coaches with Ann Hoffman.  She’s amazing and got me thinking about a ton of stuff which I’m not going to talk about right now because the ideas are just swirling too fast in my head to make any sense of just yet.  It was highly engaging.  This was countered by my dad, who was preparing for his own two-day workshop by going on a Pinterest binge of terrible meeting memes that he sent to me all. day. long.

PD Wishes

In one of our partner activities my partners and I were talking about professional development and what we “wished” it looked like.  Here’s what I wished PD could be like:

  1.  Mandatory.  The teacher who thinks they don’t need to improve or doesn’t need to learn anything new baffles me.  The Patriots won the 2017 Superbowl.  Did they just say, “Nah, I’m good” and then act annoyed and put out when the coach started to talk about improvement?  Probably not.
  2. Relevant.  I’ve been to some pretty crappy professional development.  Making it relevant means knowing what the teachers’ immediate needs are and meeting those.
  3. More Frequent.  Last year because of the fires, we had a day where students didn’t have to go to school, but we did.  In my district we have two teacher-only days during the school year and one of those is the last day of the year.  This fire day when everyone was at school was amazing.  Teacher were everywhere.  Meeting.  Getting Stuff Done.  Learning from each other.  I can not see how more of that would negatively impact students.
  4. Followed-Up.  Training is useless if there’s no follow up.  Did it work?  What needs to be tweaked?  What’s the next step?  This is so often left out because of time.  This doesn’t have to be painful or another meeting.  It could be just an intentional conversation, “Hey how’d that go?”
  5. Impactful.  Whatever the training, the student impact should be clear.

Quickly Make a Quizlet Diagram

Work smarter not harder

Quizlet has a feature that they call “diagram.”  It’s pretty darn cool.  You upload a photo and then place dots on it and student identify the dots.  The implications for language learners to practice identifying vocabulary are clear.  Here I am using it not so much as a “diagram,” but as practice for vocabulary for a story.  But I am also going to use my diagram for a speaking activity and possibly some Bingo because who doesn’t love a game of Bingo?

I’ve got enough stuff to do besides giving myself more work, so here’s a “hack” you can use to make it go faster.

For this hack, I’m assuming that you are also teaching this vocabulary somewhere and that this likely involves a slide deck or Powerpoint.  I like when I can reuse something multiple times in multiple ways because it feels like time well spent making whatever I needed to make.  Did you know you can download individual slides as a jpg?  That you can then load into Quizlet saving you hours of time?  You can!

Make a slide

We’re going to import lots of images using the Explore tool and I like everything nice and neat so I first made a table.  The pictures won’t actually go in the table, but it will keep them nice and neat.  Choose the number of rows and columns.

Use the Explore Tool

If you are not already using the Explore Tool in Google Slides to find your images you are doing too much work.  Click on Tools>Explore Tool and search for what you need.  Click on “Images” to get a wonderful selection.  The search button isn’t like regular Google search so if you want a cartoon search something like: writing cartoon, or writing png.  That will help narrow it down to cartoons.  Click the plus sign to insert into your slide. Repeat.

Bonus:  My slide is actually a speaking activity to be done with partners.  I’ll show you what I did in my workflow.

Download Your Slide and Upload to Quizlet

You need a file for your Quizlet, so click on File>Download and choose .jpg.  Then upload that to Quizlet and add your dots et voilà, you’ve quickly made a diagram out of another activity.  #multitasking

 

Last week I published a workflow of my slides and it seemed well received.  (Nobody threw virtual tomatoes, anyways.)  So here’s another which shows how I also made this into a speaking activity.

Link to the Interactive Slide itself.

 

#edublogsclub Be the Expert

Mad Skills

One of the prompts for this topic is “Tell a story about the most positive experience you’ve had as an expert in your subject matter.”

I’m not going to tell any of the stories about my actual professional experiences that were positive, but more when I had an adjacent positive experience.

In 2003-2004 I did a Fulbright Teaching Exchange.  I swapped jobs and houses with a French teacher.  I lived in her house in Strasbourg, France and she lived in mine.  I taught English at her high school and she taught French in mine.  In October of that year I met another American on a Fulbright scholarship who was studying Chemistry at the university with French chemists.

These Chemists became my Bestest Buddies in all of Strasbourg, France.  When I talked about my job as a language teacher aux USA, they mostly just made fun of me in the way that only Bestest Buddies can. “You tell stories?  We should go to her class and tell stories!”  A good great time was had by all.

When we came back aux USA, the American went to San Diego to work on his Ph.D. and one of the French chemists came to do a post-doc at UC San Diego.  When I could make it down to San Diego we were once again Two Americans and One French Guy.   One day the French chemist was telling us a story about how he had missed his plane because he had been locked in an elevator.  Only he didn’t use the word missed.  He kept saying, “I lost my plane.”  It seemed a strange mistake to make to me, since I couldn’t come up with a context in which the French verb rater would mean lost, but language acquisition is a strange thing.  I didn’t even think about it and I kept saying back, “Oh you missed your plane?  I can’t believe you missed your plane because of the elevator.  I’ve never missed a plane.”

My non-language teacher Bestest Buddy, though, sat in the front of the car repeating loudly and sarcastically in only the way Bestest Buddies can, “You lost the plane?  Lost?  Really lost?”

I thought my recasting was for naught because eventually the conversation degenerated into something else, but later on my French chemist told me, “You’re easy to talk to because you just say the right way back.” It’s not easy to do what we do and it meant a lot that something that came so naturally to me had been actually been noticed and appreciated.

I responded to him, “See- you guys think all I do is tell silly stories, but I’ve got some mad skills.”

Turning 17 seconds into 15 minutes

Using Video for Input

A couple of weeks ago I happened across some absolutely adorable videos on YouTube that I wanted to use with my Novice Lows because the videos all started with a short introduction.  Video can be a powerful tool in the language classroom for communication.  Alternately, it can easily become background noise for students if it isn’t made comprehensible.   I used the video option in Google Slides to add video directly to my slide deck and the video options allowed me to maximize the languages and images for my class. Here, the tools I used to turn 17 seconds into 15 minutes of awesome.

(Google Slides has wildly simple and effective videos options that can be used for a whole class activity as long as the teacher has access to YouTube.  If students have access to YouTube you can also use these tools for video that students would interact with on their own.)

Find a video…

You can search directly in Google Slides for a video, but that is #nofun so I suggest finding the video in YouTube and then copy and pasting that video into the Insert video box.  Click on the video and then Select.  The video will automatically be inserted into your slide.

 

And know what you want to do with it.

Why are we watching this video?  How will students’ language be different after watching this video?  What’s the point? 

I thought about putting this first, but I think with the YouTube rabbit hole sometimes you know you want a video for a vague reason and then when you find the right video your mind goes crazy with ideas for using it.  Let’s say they should happen concurrently.  Here I’m using a bunch of videos from “Détecteur de mensonges” as input and interpretive listening for the second and third hour of French class.  I want students to listen to what these peoples names are and we are also going to talk about them using the (limited) vocabulary they have at the end of three hours and to introduce some new vocabulary (man, old, young).  The first 20ish seconds of these videos will be comprehensible.  The rest will be noise, so I am going to crop them out.

Set the start/stop time

Google Slides video options allow you to set the time the videos run.  First insert the video into your slide.

Next, select the video and choose video options and set the time you want the video to start and stop.   In this example I am only using the first 17 seconds.

Faux-Cropping

You can faux-crop any video using the start/stop time option. Found a 4 min video where you don’t want to show the middle 2 minutes?  No problem!  Make a slide and import the video.  Set the run time for 0:00 to 1:00.  Copy that slide and in the copy set the run time for 3:00-4:00.  Voilà!  Video crop done.  When you present your slide deck and click from one slide to the next the video will automatically start after the crop.

Mute Video

In my lesson after the students watched the video several times and after we talked about the “characters”, they “role-played” the conversation themselves.  One person played the role of the little girl and the other the détective.  I wanted them to do this in time with the video because that seemed more fun than just role-playing on their own.  I used the same 17 seconds of the video and muted the sound.

The “Mini” Lesson

My lesson involved several slides (because I do everything in slides.) I didn’t just start off with the video.  First, I used screenshots of the “characters” to talk about them using the limited vocabulary of the students.  I introduced the new words: mignonne, jeune, homme and we talked about the characters using that.

I added three guiding questions for the students as they were watching the video.  Giving the questions helps students focus on what they should be listening for in the video.  We’d been practicing this all class.

Next, I used a slide of all of the “characters” to ask questions about them.  This was at the end of the second hour of French, so the questions were pretty simple.  

For me, this is what I think of as “disguised” input.  We had talked over and over about il s’appelle, elle s’appelle and I wanted them to hear that again in a different context and not about us.

The whole thing took about 15 minutes from beginning to end.

Resources

You can click here to access the slides I used.  Someone asked me over the summer about how I do all of the stuff I do, so for this lesson I made a “workflow.”  Literally, I just recorded myself making it and it includes the rational and shows the tools I used.  I hope it’s useful.

 

#edublogsclub Digital Citizenship

I’m way behind on my #edublogsclub posts because, well…summer.  So just like the pile of New Yorkers sitting on my coffee table, I’m going to have to skip a few in order to get caught up.  Further there were some topics that when I saw them I thought, “Huh, I got nuthin.”

When this topic of digital citizenship hit my inbox,  I groaned and then ignored it.  How are we supposed to teach students digital citizenship when adults don’t follow many of the rules that we “teach” kids?

In 2011 I had my first negative experience with students and technology when while I was gone students used a thread in the LMS I was using at the time to say incredibly mean things about one another.  They were sitting right next to each other and then wrote to each other bad stuff.  Discipline ensued.  Anti-cyberbullying was taught and we moved on.

The students behavior, while their choice, was also on me.  I didn’t teach them what they should and shouldn’t say.  I didn’t give examples of appropriate language and phrasing.  I just assumed that they would know how to act.

No more.  Now I am very explicit with students about appropriate and inappropriate language and place for comments.  I did this with my high school students and I do this with my college students.  I give them examples of how they should ask for help including specific examples of when an email should be sent or when they should comment in Google Classroom.  I give sample comments and make my expectations clear.

I teach what an appropriate email should look like.  College students are, in general, terrible at email.  After I had emails from students that were incomprehensible, I started explicitly teaching what an email should look like.  And then, after I get the first email of the semester that starts with, “Hey…” I reteach.

I no longer assume that just because students can download apps and Snapchat faster than me that they know how to appropriately act in an digital situation.

More importantly, I feel it’s necessary that I act like the digital citizen I’m trying to teach.  Students might not see me acting like that, but it’s important to me.  Don’t be mean.  Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in person.

Google Classroom Updates

Some big updates this month in Google Classroom including a view that shows all of an individual students’ work.  Whaaat?!  I know.  It’s exciting.

Here’s a quick walk through.

You can view all of the Tech Bytes on YouTube.