I’ve been slowly re-vamping my units to include more interpretive reading and I’ve been using Google Forms for the reading. This is a Choose Your Own reading activity that asks students to choose an animal to adopt as part of a bigger Adopt an Animal mini-unit. Here’s the great cool part: it has different choices based on their answers, so that there are basically four different possibilities for reading.
Here’s how to do it.
Go to section
To make the choose your own, you have students go to a different “section” in the form based on their answer. That process is simple enough, but it is helpful to plan out your sections ahead of time. First, I plan, then I make sections with those titles, and lastly I add questions. Here’s my planning document for this form:
Pro-tip: Have an end page where everyone does the same thing at the end. It’s just helpful for setting up the form to have everyone dumped back to a common destination. In this form, the students all get dumped back to a page where they write about why they chose the animal they chose.
So for my reading, first students say whether they want a dog or a cat. Then based on that they go to a different page.
I do not know much about cats because cats make me go to the ER and have breathing treatments and weeks of prednisone, so I had to ask some people about what kind of traits cat lovers look for when I was building my form. Also, I told students if they didn’t like cats or dogs to pretend they did. Maybe I’ll update it for other animals and maybe I’ll just continue to tell them to pretend.
Once they choose a characteristic, students have three animals with those characteristics to choose from. I added those by taking a screen shot and then inserting the image.
And then lastly, students tell why.
You can try out my Adopt an Animal Choose Your Own yourself by clicking here.
To learn more about how to set up this type of form you can watch this video. (Not about reading, but a survey for after school. It’s the same idea.)
At the end of last semester I was wrestling with how to work on pronunciation. Alas, I was tired of hearing “Il essssssssssssst anglaissssss” and so I started to brainstorm ways students might be able to work on this problem without me. This particular pronunciation issue is, in my opinion, an input and reading issue. Students haven’t had enough input and then they are reading the words wrong. Nobody ever makes this mistake before they see the word est. So how could I have them get more input, while working on their reading at the same time? Or how could I get them to focus on the fact that when they hear “il est anglais” and they say “Il esssssst anglaisssss” that that’s essentially a reading error and how could they do this without me?
Here’s what I did.
I wrote/got/copied three short paragraphs in a Google Doc. I wanted them to have typical reading/pronunciation errors that Novices make. I chose one that I wrote, one that I barely “edited” of Cyprien’s Twitter page and one Tweet that had words we had not necessarily practiced with.
I had students install the Read &Write Extension from Text Help. This is an amazing extension that will read whatever is on the page in multiple languages. (Well, it’ll read whatever’s on the webpage and you tell it the language. So if you want to listen to bad pronunciation put up a French webpage and then don’t change the language to French. Icky, blech!) Read&Write Extension does a ton of other things that Eric Curts has explained on his blog Control Alt Achieve.
Students used the extension to listen to the paragraphs. I asked them to listen times. Once just listening. Once by silently mouthing the words as they were read to them and once speaking aloud as they were read to them and then to practice the paragraph themselves and listen again.
Students used the Voice Typing Tool in Google Docs to record themselves reading. This is where it got interesting. I practiced using bad pronunciation and it typed out my bad pronunciation. It was my hope that the students would realize that when they saw “Il a 25 ans” but they said “il est 25 anse” that they would realize that there was an issue that they could work on or re-do.
Students filled out a feedback form so I could see if they thought it would be useful. Overwhelmingly students said that they thought that this type of practice would be useful. Some students reported that the Voice Typing “didn’t work right,” but when I checked what Voice Typing had written, it clearly wrote out their pronunciation issues. The students just didn’t realize that they were saying it wrong. I think that is an issue I can deal with and is just a matter of familiarity with what they are doing and why.
What’s not clear is whether the Voice Typing tool will adjust to their bad pronunciation and write out the correct words even if the student says it wrong. What also isn’t clear is whether this type of work will be effective. I know pointing out pronunciation errors of this type rarely has a positive long term effect, but I also know that if a student feels like s/he is making progress and has something “tangible” to hold onto they will make progress.
What I’m thinking I will do is for each lesson build a document with three or four short, comprehensible paragraphs that students can use for optional practice as part of their goal setting and homework choices work. Even if the pronunciation work is less than optimally successful, they will certainly benefit from listening and reading more.
I’d be interested to hear how you have used Voice Typing tools to work on pronunciation.
I’ve been working on a presentation on reading strategies and updated my “Open Mind” Template for Google Slides. An “Open Mind” activity is pretty simple. Students insert words or images into the mind of a character or person they’ve been reading about. (For example for Romeo Montague a student could put a heart and say that Romeo is in love.) This works particularly well for language learners because they can insert an image and then talk about why they chose that image. Since it’s a Google slide, you could also have students do it collaboratively- two working on it at the same time or even put several in a slide deck and ask students to fill in for different characters and then students could guess which character was which or explain to each other why they think those particular images were chosen. Students can justify their answer in the speaker notes portion of the slides.
I’ve included two templates in the slide deck. One is a basic open mind and the second is a “says, does, and thinks” where students separate out what the character says, does and thinks. I also like this one for language learners because it gives them practice using structures like “he thinks that…” “she says that…” If you were working on the subjunctive you could also use for wants and wishes. So much fun!