Category Archives: Web 2.0

Authentic Texts Part Deux: the Hows


Many teachers struggle with ways to expose novice learners to authentic texts.  If you scaffold appropriately, novice learners can handle a variety of materials.  It’s certainly easier to use anything that has audio or visual in addition to written text.  Here are simple steps to scaffolding an authentic text:

In the context of a larger unit on travel, I had my students interpreting the safety procedures on a plane through videos, online brochures and websites.  They watched several videos.  Here is one example.  It is a good choice for novice learners because of its familiarity and cognates.

1. Preview the text: Before students learn any new vocabulary, allow them to watch the video a few times, trying to see if they can identify any words or phrases.  Tell them to watch it in a relaxed manner.  I usually use a calm voice, and say, “Just listen.  You don’t need to understand every word.  Focus on what you can understand, not the words that you can’t understand.  Just listen.”  During the second viewing, as a formative assessment, they can write down the words they hear that they are familiar with, and new words they can infer based on the context.  At the end of each viewing, I ask them to hold up a hand low in front of them using their fingers as a way to represent their comprehension, 5 being the highest.  They mark this down on the same paper.  I can collect the papers and see what does not need to be retaught or we can make a class list off all the words we already know as an anchor activity. Read the rest of this entry

Don’t Beat ’em, Join ’em!: Cellphones Allowed!


Ian Jukescommitted me” a while ago.  We live in a time of exponential change, and education serves our students only if it prepares them to live in the world as productive citizens.  When we think of the real world, we don’t think of an isolated classroom containing barriers with no access to technology, or where its use is prohibited. Unfortunately, many schools are continuing to educate students in this manner.  Often, teachers are burdened with narrowing technology budgets and limited resources.  Most students have access to cell phones, which currently act a lot more like computers than phones. How can we see them as helpful to our classes rather than hindrances?

Take advantage of the fact that you have 10 or more “computers” in your classroom available for use at any moment, no training required!!

Here are are some useful and meaningful ways to use cellphones in the world language classroom:

1.     GoogleVoice: Save time and go green!  As an oral assessment, have students leave you a message by calling your GoogleVoicemail in class responding to a  prompt. Then, text or email back your feedback and score. Read the rest of this entry

Make classwork homework! (and make class time more effective)


How to use class time more effectively is something I always ponder.  I try to find new ways to compact information and give bursts of instruction in order to make the face time with our students more productive.  Class time is precious, so we have to ask, “What is it important for students to complete in class, and which are the things they can reasonably complete at home?” was my inspiration for this blog.

Can a lecture or direct instruction be done at home, and the practice and application be done in class?  Why not?  Doesn’t it make more sense to use the class time more effectively?  In math class, this would look like a video lecture at home, and practice problems done in class where the teacher is available to help. 

But what would this look like for the foreign language class?  If you are covering a grammar point, have the students watch a video, powerepoint or prezi at home. You can differentiate instruction this way because students can watch it on their own time, without distractions, as quickly or slowly as they would like, using a template or a self-generated graphic organizer.  You can even have them post on a discussion board asking questions, giving answers and sharing thoughts that would facilitate the learning. Students that were more advanced could learn by teaching others, and more reluctant learners would be more willing to participate in a less stressful and intimidating setting.  By flipping the work, class time could be devoted to what is most important and what should actually be assessed, the students using the language.

Here’s an example: I assigned these videos for homework with an accompanying blog discussion or a notes template or graphic organizer:

The next day, I provided cut up sentences as the activation activity, in which students had to match the verb ending with the stem but also have the sentence make sense. (This can be done as a whole class activity with colored paper in fron tof the class, or at desks in small groups.) 

The processing activity was a speaking activity in which they asked each other questions.  What would you do if you were…..???  They were given the prompts ahead of time to read and formulate answers.  Then they were each assigned one question to ask each student.  In a speed dating style activity, they asked and answered a question.

As a closing activity, they could, in groups of four, tell their classmates what they learned about other students in these hypothetical scenarios. Or this could be the start of a writing assignment, and the closing could be the beginning of a brainstorm to prepare.

Back to School Makeover


Set the tone in your classroom from day one!  High school students are overloaded with policies and procedures the first day of school.  Why not begin by getting them immersed in the language and excited about the class?

Think about what is important in your classroom……for me, it’s that my students feel comfortable with me and each other, and that there is an excitement for learning each and every day. Students must feel that positive affect if they are to thrive in a world language classroom.  Play music, decorate with color, and use interesting technology to enhance the student experience.

I use a Prezi slide show and a Voki avatar the first day to model what I expect them to discuss with other students.

The students then interact by asking each other questions in the target language through a “speed-dating” activity  that helps them get to know each other in a relaxed, fun, non-threatening atmosphere.

As a closure, they write about one new friend they made.

Hopefully, they immediately see the focus in my class: an authentic, respectful, and exciting learning experience!

Technology in the Classroom


Any teacher that can be replaced by technology deserves to be!!

Technology in the classroom on Prezi


 This was a presentation that my co-worker Liliana Lopez and I gave to the supervisors in our district about how teachers can use technology in their classroom


Voice Thread as an Assessment in the World Language Classroom


Voicethread is a fabulous tool for a world language teacher for several reasons.
1. It is a performance assessment.
2. It can be differentiated to varying levels and needs.
3. The student is the creator and the audience.
4. It can be viewed publicly.

In my French I class, we completed a unit on the children’s story, Il y a un Alligator Sous Mon Lit (There is an Alligator Under My Bed). The students learned the rooms and furniture of the house, prepositions, fears, and how to compose a message before reading the story. Then they listened, read, watched, and acted out the story through various activities. There were many formative assessments along the way to test acquisition of vocabulary, and the summative assessment was to create a unique story based on the format of Il y a un Alligator Sous Mon Lit.

This assessment showed me what the students are able to do with the language. Rather than testing the students for discrete information, in a test or quiz that shows what they don’t know, they took what they learned and produced the best product they could at their proficiency level.

This class is extremely varied in needs and proficiency level and, I was able to modify the requirements to fit each student. Some students had more requirements than others. I provided templates for certain students, while more advanced students were given less direction. I compacted the past tense for one extremely advanced student and she wrote he story using the preterite and imperfect complete with irregular verbs!! Voicethread allows individual needs to be met on both ends of the spectrum!

After the student creates the Voicethread,they were required to view and comment on all of the other students’ Voicethreads. Because they know their project is public and viewed by their peers, the quality is better.

Using this tool in the classroom enables students to become better equipped to use Web 2.0 in a productive and responsible manner.

Below I have included a few examples of varying proficiency levels: