#edublogsclub – Giveaway

This one was tough, which is why it is weeks late being posted.  I couldn’t come up with one thing that would be interesting to give away besides ideas.

Here’s what I settled on…. a giveaway of an incredibly short activity I am going to do on Monday based on an video I happened upon while reading about the attack in Paris.  In fact, I didn’t even happen upon it, it just started playing in the background and I realized that it fit perfectly with the lesson working with the imparfait and continuing to work on the passé composé.  It’s basically a short listening activity.

I have no plans of an extensive discussion about the attack in Paris yesterday on the Champs-Elysées.  I have nothing to say.  I have no insights.  I know nothing more than what my college students can read themselves.  With the past attacks I acknowledged it and told the students exactly that.

For this, I am going to play the video once, then we will watch one or two more times the first 25 seconds and the students will listen for the phrases and mark if they hear them.  I’m probably going to point out his use of “on” and we may watch parts of TV5 JT for Monday, if after I watch it, it will be comprehensible enough for us to watch without me telling them everything it says.  I expect to spend no more than 20 minutes on this.

Le Parisien website with the video (It’s also in the speaker notes of the first slide)

Link to slides (because I do everything in Slides) -It will ask you to make a copy.



Time Saving Hacks with Google Form Quizzes

Google Forms is a quick and easy way to give an assessment, but it can be time consuming with all of the clicking necessary to make quizzes.  Here is a short video that will walk you through some time saving tips.  (Last week I actually wrote out a post with these directions, but decided on a video instead.)

You can view all of the Tech Bytes on YouTube.


#edublogsclub – The Pendulum

The first suggestion for ideas to write about for this post was:

Write a post about learning styles and your thoughts on the recent research suggesting they are an ineffective teaching/learning tool.

Confession time:  Do you know what I did for the first week of my very first week of being a French teacher?  The whole week we did learning styles!  Yep.  The whole week!!  In English. (GASP!)  We took a test.  We determined how we learned.  We made a portfolio folder and drew designs on it representing our learning styles.  I planned it.  I probably spent a week planning it!  I thought it was a great idea!  I was just out of student teaching.  I knew all about everything that was supposed to teach kids real good!


Well, lucky for me I figured out that that was not the best use of instructional time about two days in (about the time when a student said, “Are we going to do French anytime?”)  I never did that again.  And after that week, I got right into what I was supposed to be doing: talking some French.

I certainly don’t mean to sound like the surly old lady in the lunchroom who rolls her eyes at every new idea.  (I’m actually fairly confident I’m not her, as I’ve usually got new ideas every week for something.)  As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve realized that I’m less about trying every “new” idea I come across that seems great and more about making sure that my core center of teaching is strong and student centered.  I try more and more to avoid jumping from one new idea to the next, but rather to fold the new ideas into my teaching practice so that if you look at my teaching career it looks more like a rainbow.  The changes are subtle up close, but step back and there are some significant differences.

In the end the pendulum may swing, but the core practices are always at the center.

5 Ways to Use Google Q and A

I love using Google’s Q and A feature to get students talking.  In a 1-1 classroom it’s an efficient way to ask a question and elicit a response from the entire class; or rather from each student.  Here’s five ways you can use Google Slides.

Last week we were working on questions.  Students wrote questions about a story I had told and then I asked them to choose two to input into Slide Q & A.  When they were writing I told them not to worry about whether they could answer the questions (in French), so when they wrote their questions into Q & A, I had them “like” the ones they could answer.  I instantly knew which ones I could expect an answer for and which ones I couldn’t and then we answered the ones that were answerable.  Here is a sample (mistakes and all!)

student questions in French

The best part about Q & A is that it doesn’t have to be just for questions!  In fact, the first time I saw it I thought, “Questions? What?  I’m going to have them write responses!”


list of ways to use q and a

Learn how to start Slides Q and A here.


Starting Google Q and A

Slides Q and A is an efficient way to elicit student responses.  This embedded video shows you how to start a Slide Q & A session.


Yelp Template

Write a Review

I made a French Yelp template for Google Slides for an assessment last week.  It has a place for students to write two reviews.  I wanted to design a prompt that would have students using the past tense and wouldn’t you know it-that’s what you do in a Yelp Review!  Quelle coïncidence!!  (Yelp.fr even made it easy by asking “Êtes-vous venu ici?” and “Vous êtes allé dans ces commerces?”  Merci Yelp!  It also fit in nicely with our class discussion of why French people come to visit our desert area.)

french yelp templateIf this weren’t going to be a formal assessment, I would make it a collaborative slide by duplicating a whole bunch of slides, sharing it as “students can edit”and then asking students write a review and then to respond to a another student’s review.  There are stars off to the side to drag in to make it more “official.”  It’s also in 8.5 x 11″ format in case I wanted to (gasp!) print.  Share in Google Classroom as “make a copy for each student.”

Click on the link or image to view the template.

Yelp Template


#edublogsclub – Giving Feedback

Fast Feedback

My new guideline for myself is that I don’t give an assignment for feedback unless I know I can get to reviewing it by the next day.  Within two days max.  Weekend at the very, very latest.

There’s several ways you can give feedback when you’re using Google Classroom.  You can use Goobric (and tutorial video.)   You can use the new Google Keep Notepad to add in pre-written comments.  (See this brilliant post from Eric Curts at Control Alt Achieve.) You can also just use the regular old comment feature in Google Docs.

Here’s the thing:  My Novice Lows aren’t writing enough for me to justify all of the time it would to open each student’s document, click, click and then click to add comments, close, then click and wait for the next student’s document to load.  Instead I use the private comment section of Google Classroom.

Use the Preview Button

First, in Google Classroom click on the assignment name and find and open the folder with all of the student work. arrow pointing to folder

Next, select one student’s work and then choose “preview.”  (It’s the eyeball.) This will bring up a preview mode where you can click an arrow to go to the next student’s work.  The student name will appear in the top left corner.

Now, move your tabs side by side.  (I use Tab Resize to do this automatically.) Not quite done though, you may need to make the Google Classroom window slightly bigger so you get the list on the side of all of the students.  It’s ok if your windows overlap a bit.  Toggle back and forth between the student work and the classroom.  When you are ready to add in the private comment click on the student name on the left and type your comment down at the bottom.

The Twist- Video

I knew I was going to be encountering the same errors and the same issues for most of the students, so I wanted to create a general comment with a review video for the students.  First, I spent too much time on YouTube looking for something that would work for me, then I got smart and used my Snagit to make a quick review video and explaining to students what I wanted them to do in the rewrite.  The video is short.  (You can use any screencasting software.) Less than two minutes.  In the video I asked them to do some color coding so that I could easily see what changes they made.

Always Have a Rewrite

For assignments that are about improving skills, giving feedback without asking students to do something with it is a waste o’ time.

Upload the Video

Upload your video and share it as “Anyone with the link can view”.  Write a general comment and include the link to the video.  Mine said “Good start! Watch the video to review -er verbs and then make the appropriate changes before resubmitting. <<copy link to video here>>” . For the 30 students whose work I looked only two didn’t need to review and I gave a different comment.  For everyone else, I added in something personal after “Good start.”  Click “post” as you finish with each student then click over to the work, click on the arrow on the right in the middle of the page to go to the next student and repeat.

Always Have a Rewrite

Before I returned the work to the students I created a new assignment called #025b and gave directions for resubmitting their work.  I always mark rewrite assignments in the with a “b,” so that students can reference the original assignment.

Using Tables to Organize Images and Text

Quick introduction to adding using tables to organize images and text in Google Docs.

You can view all of the Tech Bytes on YouTube.


#edublogsclub – Pop Culture

Wow.  What a topic- How do you use pop culture in class??… Well, first, because I teach French, I have to have two pop cultures: mine and French; or even Francophone, which to even think about keeping current of “Francophone” pop culture gives me heart palpitations.

I find pop culture a bit of a hit or miss; by that I mean in my family unit I have a picture of the Kardashians and some students don’t know who they are!  (I know right?!)  And I have a picture of the Royal Family and some students don’t know who they are!  (Mind Blown!)  I prefer to use Pop Culture references that are humorous or will get a reaction out of students.  So, I have decided to stick to the bare basics:  The Simpsons, Beyoncé and Brad Pitt.   (Justin Bieber* used to also be a regular  reference, but not so much lately.) It sounds silly, but you can’t do comprehensible input and ask students questions about people if they don’t already know who they are and it’s hard to go wrong with those three.  I’m so grateful that the Simpsons have been around forever, because they are features in many a unit.  And there’s rarely been a time that I can’t throw in Beyoncé or Brad Pitt and not have that work out.

As far as French pop culture goes, I give myself a grade of “eh… significant room for improvement.”  First, I don’t have the time or inclination to be spending hours exploring the latest in French culture.  I’m happy if I get everything planned and the laundry done in one weekend.  I follow Cyprien and Norman on Instagram and along with all the news French Twitter feeds I follow, I call that Good Enough to Get the General Idea.  If I were going to plan something specific about Topic X, I would spent some quality time on the Internet researching current French popular culture on Topic X.  And I imagine that if College Me were in college now, College Me would be as connected via Internet as any 20 year old French person, but I just don’t have the time that College Me had.  College Me would have already watched everything in French on YouTube.  College Me would be following everything getting as much as possible from all of that.  (College Me doesn’t realize how good she’s got it.)

(* Let’s go with 7ish years ago I used to talk about Justin Bieber a lot.  Freshmen girls loved talking about Justin Bieber, so so did I.  So much in fact that some girls brought me a four-page size poster of Justin from some teeny magazine which I put up on my wall immediately.  One day I was out and I came back and my Justin Bieber poster had been signed, “To my number one fan, Bethany, Love Justin.”  This was my colleague being funny.  So the next year when I got a new group of Freshmen girls who loved Justin Bieber, I had some girls walk up to me after class and they said really quietly, “Madame, is that poster really signed by Justin Bieber?”  We were bestest buddies after that.)

Adding Video in Google Slides

Quick introduction to adding video via Google Drive in Google Slides.

You can view all of the Tech Bytes on YouTube.