Bingo! – Interactive Slide deck

Who doesn’t love a good game of Bingo?

This is a Google Slide deck for Bingo.  Share in Google Classroom as “Make a copy” and you can play infinite games infinitely.  Students drag the numbers into the grid and then when the teacher calls the number they can drag the dot onto the number.

2016-09-18_19-32-03

Bingo Interactive Google Slide deck

Find a Partner

Two weeks ago at my Instructional Coach training, the trainer had us do an amazingly simple partner activity.  We divided a sticky into four quadrants and in each one wrote a word: Winter, Summer, Fall, Spring then we had to stand up and find a partner for each square.  We wrote the name of that person in that square and they wrote ours.

C’était un coup de foudre.

Immediately my mind turned to how I could adapt this for my students.  One of my goals for this semester is to get my college students up and moving more because that class is two and half hours long and I need all the help I can get.  I’ve got some lessons where I’ve done this well and others…well, let’s just say there’s room for improvement.

I decided to use a language ladder to structure this.  We were only in our fourth actual hour of French class when I introduced this to students.  I gave them a copy of the ladder.  I had the same image on the board, but I had covered up everything but the first box in each category.  I told the students “We’re going to do this every week and by the end of the semester you’ll be able to use all of these, but to today we’re going to start simple. Nobody needs to be a hero.”  Additionally, I told them there’s actually a level before this where you just point to the square and say “Partenaire?”  I didn’t want anyone to feel like the words in this activity was too hard after four hours of French.  ask-for-partenaire-1

This is what it looked like in my Slide deck:2016-09-18_18-46-53

And on their sticky I had them do this:2016-09-18_18-47-20

Then the students got up and spent ten minutes having authentic conversations, with a real purpose with their classmates.  In the lesson, when I wanted them to move, I put the image of that square on the activity in my Slide deck.  The students switched seats and found their partner and then did a quick activity and went back.

It’s not often that I think, wow, great idea and well executed, but that’s what happened.

Here’s what the future looks like with this.  Every lesson (week) I will change the squares for something for that lesson and every week or so I will add another choice from the language ladder.  At the high school level, I’d do exactly the same thing.

A simple, easy method for authentic conversation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voice Typing to Practice Numbers

I am always up for some good number practice.  In my perfect lesson plan there would be some attention to numbers every day- I just feel like students always need more practice.  Of course, there’s a ton of ways for students to practice listening to numbers, but not so many for them to practice speaking on their own.

Google Voice Typing to the Rescue!

2016-09-18_18-28-48

I created this document and video to explain what to do for students to practice their numbers.  Basically, students say the number in the TL and Google recognizes their voice and fills in the number.  Though not perfect; it’s pretty darn good.  Of course, I chose the numbers that give early learners the most difficulty and the ones which they mix up the most.

Voice Type Numbers Document

Video Explaining How it Works (for students)

Back to School-First Day

Last week was the first day of my college class.  I used my basic: hour of boring syllabus + hour and half of French sequence, but this semester I made some big changes.  First, for the syllabus I ditched reading the syllabus (yes, I was guilty of doing that type of beginning of class), for having a “syllabus slide deck.”  I used the slides to touch on all of the important aspects that I wanted to talk about.  This allowed me to breeze through the talk of the syllabus quickly and leaving me plenty of time to talk about the proficiency scale.

I decided to do 50% proficiency grading this semester- each semester the percentage has gone up and I’ve always had a rubric to go with it.  This time however, I’m using the ACTFL Proficiency Scale for grading.  I arbitrarily decided at the end of 16 weeks the students should be at Novice High.  Low Novice High.  Like just barely crossed over.  I feel like this is a reasonable target.

Because this is all rather new for students, I also wanted to discuss what all this meant with students.  Luckily, I didn’t have to think hard about how to do this.  When the ladies from Creative Language Class presented to the Inland Empire Foreign Language Association in April, they did an activity that I thought was so great I took it.  Literally, I asked if I could have the examples in English that we used to talk about the different levels.  And I took them.

So for the first day in French 101, I gave the students the rubric and put the posters up on the wall.  I asked the students to decided which example was which level and they did.  And they discussed.  And it was definitely not boring.

For the second half of class I did the same sequence I’ve done for 17 years: Numbers, letters, Bonjour, je m’appelle and some fun verbs.  During the Creative Language Class workshop, they mentioned not doing numbers and letters to start because it’s not as exciting.  Probably true, but I like my sequence because it’s so concrete and easy to grasp and gets everyone talking immediately.  Most important to me is that at the end of the hour, the students feel confident that I can talk entirely in French with them and they can learn.

Oh, did I mention that the projector stopped working in both classes? I had to think on my toes and in the second class, I ended up drawing on the board and we made class rules in French.  Despite the technology woes it was the best start of class I’ve ever had and I can say that I don’t think I would change anything.

Reset student responses in quizzes in Google Forms

If you are using the new Google Forms for quizzes and have it set to allow only response, but then find yourself needing to let a student take the quiz again you can work some form magic to do it.  It will delete the student’s original response, but if you’re ok with that follow these directions.

From Forms itself:

Click on responses.

2016-08-13_13-35-33

 

 

 

 

Choose the student’s name under who has responded.

2016-08-13_13-51-43

 

 

 

 

 

Then hit the trash button.  This will delete the student’s response from the form and the form will allow them to do it again.

2016-08-13_13-52-32

 

 

 

You can also do this in the Google Sheet associated with your your Form.

In Forms click on responses.

Click on the green cross icon to open up the sheet.

If it asks, tell it you want to create a new sheet.  (If you’ve already done this it won’t ask.)

In the sheet, right click on the number next to the row of the student who you want to be able to re-take the test.  Choose “delete row”.  Now the student will be able to re-take it because the sheet no longer sees their name.

2016-08-13_13-41-07

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now the student will be able to re-submit the form!

Why I’m not ready to ditch my textbook, yet.

This summer at ISTE I won a free copy of “Ditch that Textbook” by Matt Miller.  I’d heard about this movement of course, so I was interested in reading the book.  After much reflection I’ve decided that I’m not ready to ditch my textbook and here’s why:

I want the extra resources.  I teach at the community college and I’ve got essentially 15 weeks to get students from nothing to novice mid or high?  I can’t do everything in class.  I’ve been focusing on oral proficiency in class and letting the writing be done at home.  The textbook we have has an online component that corrects their homework with immediate feedback. The textbook also has videos, flashcards, and other practice activities that students can do on their own.  I don’t have the time or the motivation to create that amount of resources for students who might want them.  That portion is 1000 times better than anything I could create on my own.

I like my textbook.  I had a textbook before that the department had agreed upon and I spent a significant part of my time writing angry notes in the margin about how awful the textbook was.  I couldn’t figure out how to make that textbook flow or useful.  I felt sorry students were expected to spend money on that crap.  I would get disgruntled and agitated every time I went to plan because it was so awful.  Even thinking about it right now is making my blood pressure go up.  At the end of the last semester we used it, I literally tore out the pages and threw them in a fire.  I hated that textbook and I ditched it as much as I could while keeping with department policy.

I don’t teach from the textbook.  I’ve tried to always use the textbook as a resource instead of The Only Resource.  And this textbook uses a flow that I find easy to adapt.  In any one lesson I’ve got #authres, videos, and a multitude of activities that don’t involve the textbook.  Most of the activities in the textbook I will tweak so that they are more communicative.  And I think I do a pretty good job of doing it.

I don’t know that everyone agrees with me.  I’m also reluctant to give up my textbook entirely because I don’t know where these students are going after me.  It’s all fine to use proficiency based grading and no textbook if everyone has agreed on that, but if my students leave me and go on to an instructor who does not hold that same philosophy they could be at a disadvantage.  I want to provide the maximum amount of proficiency within a generally accepted structure.

I don’t use one method exclusively to teach.  I’ve always tried to have a variety of methods and activities to deliver content.  I do TPRS.  I do partner activities.  I do group activities.  I incorporate technology.  I talk about grammar.  I don’t talk about grammar.  I write out verb charts.  I correct errors by recasting.  I correct errors explicitly.  I do all of this because one method won’t work for every student.  The textbook is one way to deliver content.

I don’t have one tool in my toolbox.  To me a textbook is just one tool in my professional toolbox and I’m not ready to put it in the discard pile yet. At least for right now, I’ve decided to continue to exploit the resources the textbook offers while adding in the authentic resources and CI that I know I can do as a teacher.

And that’s ok.

Reflection, tweak, repeat.

 

I’ve been taking advantage of our “no school because of smoke” days to re-do my college syllabus for French 101.  I’ve had a few ideas in my head since the end of last semester that I’m finally processing.  I’ve taught this class at least seven semesters and never the same way twice.  While I haven’t found that teaching community college French is that different from teaching high school French, there are some significant considerations as I update and tweak.

  •  There ain’t no time for nothing.  I’m “supposed” to cover 15 lessons in 16 weeks.  And if I have a Monday/Wednesday day class, I always lose at least one day due to holidays.  Yes, I know the whole bit about the difference between “covering” and “mastering.”  (For more on that see my post on why I’m not ready to ditch my textbook.)  Nevertheless, the pacing is fast. I’ve reduced the number of lessons we cover and I’ve paired those down to what I feel is essential for communication.  I am constantly trying to come up with ways to maximize class time (more TL, duh) and increase authentic, engaging and meaningful activities outside of class.
  • In any class, I will have students who have never heard a word of French and students who have 2, 3 even AP level French at the high school.  I’ve been moving towards a proficiency grading model for several semesters, but this poses the question- if Novice High is the goal, the students who had French in high school could easily be at that level on day one.  I don’t want to give them the impression that they don’t have to do anything because I will call BS that for any one of them, their French would not improve sitting in a class and hearing and speaking more French, even if it isn’t at an advance level.
  • There are students for whom this is their first class back to school after 25 years.  Their affective filter is off the charts.  Tell a high school student to do something new and they are like OK, whatever and go back to their phone.  Tell the student back to school for the first time in 25 years the same thing and you can visually see the panic taking over.
  • A mix of students.  Some of these students were accepted at major universities, but couldn’t go because of financial reasons.  Some of them are just out of high school and will drop out of community college in a semester.  Some of them are only there until they get their financial aid.   (That one boggles me, but it’s true.  There’s a certain amount of attrition after financial aid is released.)  In the night classes, most of them have full time jobs and families.  And some of them are finally grown up and ready to learn.  I want to have a class that is mindful of the fact that sometimes French class isn’t the most important thing going on in their life, while respecting the students who are committed to being there every session.

Here’s what I’ve decided to do this semester:

Grading: 50% Proficiency – based on three assessments at the end of each unit.  I am comfortable with the percentage because then the student who had two years of high school French will have to work on writing (homework) and come to class in order to earn a passing grade.  At the end of the first unit I’m going to forego what would normally be a formal assessment and instead, make appointments with the students so we can talk about where they would score and what they could do to make it better.  I will give them personalized “tasks.”  For the student who had French before I will tell them what they need to do to go to the next level for them.  This is where I plan on combating the student with two years of high school French who insists on pronouncing the “s” in “est” and the -“ent” in “parlent.”

I’m also giving up quizzes.  They just weren’t worth the time it took up in class.  Instead I’m going to “grade” their homework.  (Well, let’s be clear, the textbook website will grade their homework.)  They can redo any homework exercise as many times as they want until they get 100%. It’s about getting better, right?  The time I gain back from quizzes, I’ll save for the appointments and more TPRS.

I’m going to use the new quiz feature in Google Forms to do an end of the the lesson informal assessment.  I’ve had students do a weekly reflection for a couple of semesters, asking them to rate their confidence on their ability to complete the can do statements for the lesson and then asking them to do something that I would give feedback on.  It’ll be a short, ungraded (not in the gradebook) assessment that will give me an idea of what we need to still work on and I’ll use the feedback option in the quiz to lead students to what they might need to review.  I’m going to continue to ask them to do something so I can give feedback.

Last semester I started working in some TPRS.  Or just S because I didn’t have college students stand up and do gestures.  I want to continue to do this and add more because of course, it’s effective.  Feedback I got last year was that some of the students were less comfortable (i.e. on the edge of panic) because they didn’t have anything to “review” for those lessons. This semester I’m going to use screencasting to record the stories and EdPuzzle for checking for understanding for the students who want more practice.

Google Forms Quiz for Exit Tickets

I’m so excited to use the new Google Forms quiz feature, but I doubt that I will use it much for quizzes.  I can see using this feature as a quick exit ticket.  I’m going to ask my students five to seven questions at the end of each lesson based on the lesson objectives.  Because I know what the objective is, I can create these quizzes ahead of time and because they are so easy to edit, if we don’t explore something as much as I had hoped I can easily change them.  Or, if there is a magical teaching moment in class, then I can edit them on the fly.  (I think of magical teaching moments are those times in class when something happens and it is so funny, or so memorable or so whatever that it just becomes part of the classroom culture.) Then, I am going to use the feedback feature for right and wrong questions to tell students what to do next.

I can see several applications for this new feature including:

  • Did you tell a story in class?  Upload a video of you telling the main story and ask questions about it.  (Of course your class version will be different.)  If the student gets the question right, ask them a follow up question in the feedback.  If they get it wrong, ask them to review the video.  I particularly am excited about this because I’ve had students ask to be able to hear the story more and this would be a great way to check their understanding.
  • Writing practice.  Yes, a boring close activity, but ask students several fill in the blank questions.  If they get it right – great!  If they get it wrong, direct them to review their notes (or a webpage or an activity or whatever you deem appropriate.)
  • No Homework Pass!  If students get above a certain score they don’t have to do homework that evening.  I think I would use this selectively and I would have enough questions on there that I would feel certain that they had a good grasp of the objectives.  I also wouldn’t tell them it was an option until the very end of the quiz.
  • Have an #authres you are using as an IPA?  Give quick feedback to students for them to know if they are understanding correctly.  If they get it wrong, you can even direct them to a more scaffolded version of the #authres to try again.

Prepositions Slide deck

I love Google Slides because you can use it as a whiteboard and the whole class can participate.  (Read: never again spend hours copying, cutting and sorting only to have someone lose one card and not be able to fully participate.  Oh wait, students can’t lose these because they’ll be saved in the Google!)

I use this Slide deck to practice prepositions.  If I’d had time, I would have had students write about their rooms and their partner’s room.  They can write directly in their Slide decks.

For the Win

 

Click on the link and the slide deck will force you to make a copy.  Share in Google Classroom as “make a copy for each student.”  And talk, read and write.

Room Preposition Slide deck

2016-07-18_17-30-44

Google Forms for Quizzes

With the new changes in Google Forms, making quizzes is now even easier.  I’ve been using Google Forms exclusively for quizzes in my paperless classroom.  Here are some tips for making your Google Forms into Awesome Quizzes.  For more tips, watch my workflows on setting up a quiz from Google Forms.

Google Form Quizzes