The iPad Diaries Index

Back in the spring my department was given a set of 10 iPads through a generous grant.  Since then, I have been blogging all about them here at the French Corner in a series I call the iPad Diaries.  Now that the posts have started to pile up, I've decided to create an index page to organize everything.  I will continue to update this as I add new posts, so if you choose to bookmark this page, you won't have to worry that it's out of date.

Index of Posts
Volume 1 - I shared how we used Kahoot! and Jot! Free with the iPads.
Volume 2 - I shared how we used Lino, Jot! Free (again), DuoLingo, and station work.  I also shared my thoughts on the SAMR model for integrating technology.
Volume 3 - I shared how we used Keynote and Jot! Free for a project.
Volume 4 - I shared how we used Kahoot! (again) Move & Match and YouTube videos.  I also shared my EdShelf resources.
Volume 5 - I shared how we used Adobe Voice to make a video for incoming students
Volume 6 - I shared how we used Adobe Voice and Creative Commons to make a video about a French-speaking country while using images legally.
Volume 7 - I shared feedback collected from students about the iPads.

Bonus!  Other Language Teachers Blogging About iPads or tablets:
Mme Mallette
Sylvia Duckworth
Nicole Naditz
Sara Spanglish

iPad Diaries: Volume 7

This is my seventh post on using iPads in my classroom.  In case you missed it, you can read Volume 1Volume 2Volume 3Volume 4, Volume 5, and Volume 6.

At the end of the school year, I needed to gather feedback from students about the use of iPads in the classroom.  This feedback was then shared with the Saratoga Foundation for Innovative Learning, the organization who gave us the grant for the iPads.  I decided to write a post sharing some of this feedback, because it can be potentially helpful to any language teacher using iPads in the classroom.  A few of my colleagues and I gave the students a survey to answer anonymously.  Below are some of their answers to the questions.  While most of these answers came from the survey, some of them also came from conversations, both formal and informal, with students.

How did the use of iPads improve your learning?
· I was able to do work a lot faster.
· They help with pronunciation.
· They gave us an easy and fun way to practice new concepts that we had just recently learned.
· They provided me with abilities to work in real life situations.
· They are more interesting than listening to a teacher.
· It helped me memorize terms more, and it made me excited for class.
· I have gotten a lot better at reading and writing.
· iPads are more mobile, making it easy for groups to move around the classroom.

What about the iPad experience would you change to improve it?
· Use better apps/wider variety of apps
· More iPads so each student could have their own to work with
· More alone station work
· If we all got an equal amount of time on the iPad
· I would work more with oral learning and then speaking it back to the teacher.
· More competition-type games.
· Maybe on the first day next year you could have the students browse the web for safe and appropriate iPad games to learn from and enjoy.

Students’ Feedback on Specific Apps

Kahoot (read more about Kahoot in Volumes 1 and 4)
· It's really fun and I think I benefit from using it each time.
· Kahoot provided a fun and competitive way to learn with your friends. I thought it was cool how everything connected to the Smart board.
· Kahoot motivates me to do better.
· Kahoot has helped my quick thinking in French.

 Keynote  (read more about Keynote in Volume 3)
· With Keynote, when we did the story project, I had a lot of fun. I was able to use all verb conjugations and draw in the same project (with Jot! Free), so that was a lot of fun.

Jot! Free  (read more about Jot in Volumes 1, 2, and 3)
· We could do the same thing on our white boards.
· Writing is too big, not best way to draw. For drawing I prefer the old fashion method such as quality dry erase markers.

Move and Match (read more about Move and Match in Volume 4)
· You can’t really win.
· There is no immediate feedback on whether you are right or wrong.
· It was boring.

Author's note:  Move and Match had a lot of potential, but the lack of instantaneous feedback made it hard to use in a large class.

 Adobe Voice Project – Making a commercial for a French-speaking country (read more about Adobe Voice in Volumes 5 and 6)
· It was a cool program and fun to use.
· There was a lot of background noise, but this was solved by talking closer to the mic.
· It was sometimes hard to find photos to use [legally].
· I learned about lots of francophone countries.
· I would like to have more time to have a deeper understanding of my country.
· Students could give each other feedback by stating two things they liked and one thing they would improve.
· The automatic citing feature was great.

It is evident from the feedback gathered from students that most of them felt the iPads improved their learning and made the subject matter more engaging for them. Students are most motivated by apps that are interactive and offer immediate feedback, as well as competition-type apps. This summer, I have been researching apps to replace the ones that students did not find beneficial, and looking for ones that can move the learning up the SAMR model towards modification and redefinition. I have also been brainstorming more ways to incorporate stations into my lessons so that students can have more one on one time with the iPads, as many expressed an interest in being able to use them individually. Students’ willingness to be honest about what worked for them and what didn’t has made it easier to assess the usefulness of each app and activity.

iPad Diaries: Volume 6

This is my sixth post on using iPads in my classroom.  In case you missed it, you can read Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, and Volume 5 as well.  In this post I'm going to share with you another project my students made using the Adobe Voice app.

You may recall that I did a project last year (well, two school years ago) where students created a video ad for a French-speaking country using a green screen.  I was really happy with that project, but I aimed to improve the project this year through the use of the iPads.

The objective was to have students demonstrate speaking skills, digital citizenship, and cultural knowledge, through a short "commercial" for a French-speaking country using Adobe Voice.

First, I showed students portions of each video from the playlist below, to get them acquainted with the scenery of each country they would have to choose from (I tried to pick a variety of countries all over the world).  We also pointed each one out on the map.

Next, in groups of three, students researched a country using both digital and print media.  This isn't a traditional research project, but students need to know about what kinds of foods one can eat there, what kinds of activities and traditions there are, what the weather is like, and what the major landmarks or cities are.  I gave students the following graphic organizer to prepare a script ahead of time (they also had a set of directions stating what information needed to be included) (click to see full size):

When students were done preparing the script, they got to start using Adobe Voice.  One of the requirements of the project was that they had to include at least three cultural photos (but most included more).  They could search in the app's library (which automatically uses Creative Commons photos and cites them for you), but if they couldn't find what they were looking for, they had to find an appropriate image to use legally and cite it properly, since these were being published to the internet.

Since most students (people in general, for that matter) are unaware that photos that you find on the internet are not free to use without permission, I took this opportunity to teach students about Creative Commons.  For those who aren't familiar, Creative Commons (or CC) is an organization providing a series of licenses that artists can apply to their work, giving permission for anyone to use it, as long as they follow the terms of the license (one of which is that credit must be given to the author).  There are six different licenses, stipulating terms like whether or not the work can be used commercially or whether or not the work can be modified.

I showed my students this video as an overview (the intended audience is younger than my students, but I appreciated this video's simplicity):

I advised students to use WikiMedia Commons to find their pictures, because most of the photos on there are either public domain or licensed through Creative Commons.  Additionally, the licenses are very clearly noted on each photo.  I gave the students another graphic organizer to note their photo sources as they went along.  They then typed them into the credits slide at the end. Again, click the image to view the full size.

Best practice attributions for Creative Common works contain the name of the work, the author of the work, and the specific license the work is under (which can be abbreviated; see above).  Yes, I even made them write the attribution in French!  It may look complicated and confusing, but almost all of the students did their citations correctly.  Now, I'll readily admit that many of the students were skeptical of the premise that not all photos are legal to use, and that they would have to do all this elaborate citing.  People rip off images all the time, and there don't appear to be any consequences (of course, sometimes there are, but rarely for personal use).  What I tried to impress upon them, though, is that although you're not likely to face any legal consequences by sharing a copyrighted photo in your online project for school, it looks unprofessional and unscholarly.  It's a good idea to start now leaving a clear footprint on the internet.

Above, when students hit the "export" button, they have an opportunity to add in credits.  Below, you can save a link to the video to your clipboard and email it to yourself, or save the actual video to your camera roll if you want the file.

I think this project improved upon last year's, and it once again turned the idea of a presentation into something more engaging. Below are some of the finished products. You can see more on my class blog.

Feedback from the Students
As I did last year, I asked students for their feedback about the project.  Here were some of the things they had to say, both about the project and the app in general:

• It was a cool program and fun to use.
• It was boring.  [I included this comment because it is honest; not every student will like everything!]
• There was a lot of background noise, but this was solved by talking closer to the mic.
• There were lots of buttons but it was easier to use than PowerPoint.
• It was sometimes hard to find photos to use.
• I learned about lots of francophone countries.
• I would like to be able to present to the class as well.
• I would like to have more time to have a deeper understanding of my country.
• Students could give each other feedback by stating two things they liked and one thing they would improve.
• The automatic citing feature was great.

Have you ever done a project like this or would you?  What would you, or did you, do differently?  Sharing our ideas and collaborating is what makes us better teachers, so please, share yours in the comments!

20 More Favorite Photos I've Taken in France

Some of you may know that my other passion besides teaching and French is photography.  I have a photography blog where I share many of my photos.  I like to share other culturally relevant materials on this blog besides just lesson ideas, so last year I shared 20 of my favorite photos that I've taken in France.  Since I have been re-editing some of my older photos I have come upon quite a few more that I thought were worth sharing as well.  So, here are 20 MORE favorite photos that I've taken in France.

Sacré-Cœur Sits Atop Paris, 2009
Sacré-Cœur Sits Atop Paris
This is a 560mm (35mm equivalent) field of view - or in other words, a very zoomed-in view from very far away, taken with my old Canon PowerShot superzoom compact.   The great thing about that camera was the ability to take shots like this without having to lug around a huge lens.

Looking Up at the Louvre - Pavillon Richelieu, 2009
Looking Up at the Louvre - Pavillon Richelieu
Although I.M. Pei's pyramids (including one of the smaller ones you see in this photo) were controversial when they were first added in 1989, I like the contrast of old and new.

My First Close Up of the Eiffel Tower, 2004
My first close up photo of the Eiffel Tower
I can remember the first time I saw the Eiffel Tower with my own eyes.  I took this photo not long after, and although I didn't have any special technical skills in photography at the time, it remains one of my favorites.  It was taken at a time of day when it was just starting to get dark, and the tone of the light was very pleasing.

Admiring the Mona Lisa, 2012 Admiring the Mona Lisa
I prefer shots like this to the standalone shots of the Mona Lisa, isolated with no context.  Here, you can really get a sense for how small the painting is, and also how popular.

Notre Dame la Nuit, 2012
Notre-Dame la Nuit
It is hard to capture photos at night on a bateau mouche while it is moving, but I managed to get this one blur-free.

Château de Chenonceau, 2012
Château de Chenonceau
This photo was my desktop all last year at school.

Musée du Carnavalet, 2012
Musée Carnavalet
You just can't find architecture like this in the United States.

Palace of Versailles in the Morning, 2012
Palace of Versailles in the Morning
There aren't a lot of buildings more impressive than this one.

Château de Chambord, 2004
Chambord is my favorite château in the Loire Valley that I've visited.

La Seine, 2012
This photo was one I took out a bus window.  Sometimes you don't have the luxury of stopping!

Inside Notre Dame, 2012
Inside Notre-Dame
Using a wide angle lens I was able to take in an expansive view of one of the world's most famous cathedrals.

View from Le Printemps, 2009
The best free view of Paris just might be from the rooftop café at Le Printemps.

The Fountains of Place de la Concorde, 2009
An early evening view of this Parisian landmark.

A Window on Château de Chenonceau, 2012
I love shooting through windows; they offer such a nice composition.

Quartier Juif, 2012
One of the things I love about Paris are the smaller streets that have such a wonderful European charm.

Gargoyle at Notre Dame, 2009
A cliché shot that's hard to resist.  I seem to remember climbing lots of stairs on that trip.

Windows on Versailles, 2012
Another window shot; but this time in beautiful Versailles.

Eiffel Tower and Palais de Chaillot, 2012
La Tour Eiffel depuis le Trocadéro
This is probably my favorite place to view the Eiffel Tower.

View from the Eiffel Tower, 2012

Probably one of my favorite photos from the Eiffel Tower.

Arc de Triomphe la Nuit, 2009

With just a point and shoot and a small Gorillapod tripod, I was determined to get a good night shot of the Arc de Triomphe.  The tilt is due to the fact that it was difficult to get the Gorillapod to hold the camera straight, but I ended up liking it.

iPad Diaries: Volume 5

This is my fifth post on using iPads in my classroom.  In case you missed it, you can read Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, and Volume 4 as well.  In this post I'm going to share with you a video my students made using the incredible Adobe Voice app.

Every year in June, I have my students make a video for next year's incoming students, showing them what they will learn in a fun way and sharing their thoughts on what helped them learn.  This year I decided to let students use the iPads to create the videos.  I allowed students who were all caught up to work on this while I worked with students who were behind, so they had very little guidance from me while they made this.  That being said, they really did a great job.

Adobe Voice is a video-making app that's sort of like PowToon but less comic-y.  It's only available for iPad.  Users make slides for each idea they want to present and then add text, icons, or photos, as well as record audio for the narration.  The photos are all Creative Commons photos and are automatically cited at the end of the video.  You can also upload your own photos.  The app has a number of songs you can use in the background as well as professional-looking themes and fonts to choose from.  It has just enough options to spur creativity but not so many that it's overwhelming.

I basically gave the students a list of all the topics we learned this year, had them open up Adobe Voice and make example sentences showing what types of things they will learn how to say.  They were also free to share their experiences in English using the iPad's camera in video mode.  I combined all the videos and edited them in MovieMaker to make one long video.  For this blog, I edited it down further and took out the student interviews.  The clip you see in the beginning was done by a student in his own time.  He was the one who brought the app to my attention and he made the video to show to incoming middle schoolers at our orientation night.  I thought it was perfect for this video as well. I cut off all the credits slides and put them all together at the end, which seemed more logical then putting them after each video, since it's supposed to play like one big video.


The students had a lot of fun making this and I think next year's students will really enjoy it.  In my next installment, I will share how students used Adobe Voice for another, much different project.

Passing the Baton: French Club Students Become French Teachers!

This year was the third year I was advisor to our school's French Club.  Each year since the club began, I have tried to find more service-oriented projects for students to do.  Last year we had a fundraiser to benefit the children of Haiti.  Earlier this year, students made a Moroccan couscous salad to donate to the local soup kitchen.  At the first French Club meeting of the year, I asked students to suggest activities they would like to participate in.  One student suggested that we go into the elementary schools and teach French.  I thought that sounded like a great idea, so that is what we did!

Students who participated in the project came in after school on a number of different occasions to prepare lessons and create visuals and examples.  Students practiced the lessons on each other, and we discussed some scaffolding and classroom management techniques.  For the first two lessons, my colleague and I developed the agenda, but for the third and final lessons, the students gave their input.

We went to the elementary school on three different Fridays right after school (while the elementary school was still in session).  Students were assigned to a second or third grade classroom in groups of four or five.  Lessons went for about a half hour.  For the first lesson, students taught the younger kids  colors and shapes, and played color and shape bingo.  For the second, they taught them parts of the body and learned the Alouette song.  Finally, for the last lesson, they taught them how to give their age and say their birth month.  The younger students then made a small poster with some of their information, drawing themselves in their birth month.  Above is an example one of the French Club students made, with some additional vocabulary included.

This was a very rewarding project for the French Club students, and the younger students enjoyed having their "French friends" come in on Fridays.  We are looking forward to repeating the project again next year, and hopefully expanding it to more lessons!

Have you ever done a project like this with your French Club?  If so, what was your experience?

iPad Diaries: Volume 4

This is my fourth post on using iPads in my classroom.  In case you missed it, you can read Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3 as well.  In this post I'm going to share a few more activities I've tried as well as a great curating site my department head showed us.

Kahoot continues to be a smash hit.  Students inquire daily if we can play it.  One way to spice up Kahoot if you finish the game and have time to spare is the ghost round.  I first read about this on Maris Hawkins' blog, and decided to try it when I had a few minutes at the end of one of my classes.  Basically, you play the whole game again, but the students are competing against themselves from the previous round (the ghosts of themselves).  They try to see if they can beat their score.  This round goes a lot quicker because I don't usually stop to go over each answer, since I just did that during the prior round.

Another app I tried was Move and Match.  It's basically a way to make manipulatives that students can move around on the screen instead of cutting them out and sorting them and losing them.  This is a paid app, but you only need the paid version on one machine to make the projects.  The rest of the iPads can use a free version called M & M Lite, which allows students to play with projects but not make them.

Once you make a project, you need to email it to yourself and upload it somewhere like Google Drive or Dropbox.  Then students download it and open it in the app.  I made three projects:  one where students dragged and dropped adverbs into various sentences, one where students dragged and dropped words into sentences to describe pictures, and one where students were given a wide variety of words and were asked to make sentences based on prompts I had on the SMART Board.

Many students enjoyed using the app, and the main advantage is in streamlining the process of distributing the materials.  The other great advantage is being able to slowly scaffold and add more words with the click of a button.  The main concern that students expressed was that the app didn't offer instant feedback.  Groups were left waiting as I hustled around to verify their answers.  I'm sure there are similar apps to this that offer the ability to give instant feedback, it's just a question of finding one.  If you know of an app, please let me know!


Every year when we learn adverbs, I show students short clips of French music videos and the students offer their opinions using "bien" or "mal."  This year, I thought I'd try it with the iPads.  Having the source of input closer will positively impact their engagement.  Students watched one minute of each video in groups, then discussed their opinions.  I didn't have headphones, but I hoped that it wouldn't be too much of an issue if they kept the volume low.  I was wrong.  The interfering sounds made it very difficult to focus.  I do think using the iPads kept the students more engaged, but I'll probably just stick to the SMART Board next year unless we get headphones (or have students bring in their own).

The final tool I want to share today is EdShelf, which is a site for curating apps to use in the classroom.  My department head showed it to us at our last meeting.  You can follow other users, create "shelves" for different groups of apps, and browse apps by discipline, purpose, grade level, and other criteria.  I really like the idea of EdShelf, but I'm hoping to see more users adopt it.  I don't see a lot of language teachers on it as of yet.  If you're not a member, be sure to join!  Here are my three "shelves."

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