The Year in Review: My Favorite Apps, Lessons & Activities from 2015

As 2015 comes to a close, I'd like to share some of my favorite lessons and activities that I tried for the first time this year, just as I did in this post last year.   I attempted to choose a hybrid of high-tech and low-tech activities, but with the exciting acquisition of iPads this year, a lot of the new things I tried were very high-tech.  As always, some of these activities are my own ideas, but many of them are adapted from other teachers' ideas.

1.  iPad Review Stations - I blogged about iPad review stations here, here, and here.  The stations have been a great way to give students one on one time with the iPads, as well as a way for me to incorporate more activities into a review day and easily monitor students as they review independently.

2.  Kahoot! - I blogged about Kahoot! here and here.  I don't know of any teacher who's tried Kahoot! and didn't like it.  It's a highly engaging way to review material with students.

3.  French Club Students Become the Teachers - I blogged about this here.  Seeing my students teach and encourage younger students was incredibly rewarding.  I can't wait to repeat this project!

4.  Adobe Voice - I blogged about this app here and here.  Adobe Voice is a really easy way for students to create presentational content that actually looks cool.  I also like the way it is easy for students to find images to use legally.

5.  Nearpod - I blogged about this app here.  Nearpod is a great way to introduce content, keep students engaged, and check for understanding.

6.  Student Surveys After Food Tasting - I blogged about this here.  After getting the idea for this at a conference, I put it into practice during National French Week.  Having the students actually sit down and fill out a short survey ensured they actually knew what foods they were eating, and promoted some target language conversation in class that day.

What were your favorite new activities that you tried this year?

iPad Diaries: Volume 11

This is the 11th post in a series on using iPads in the language classroom.  Click here to view an index of previous posts.  In this post, I will be talking about how I have used the TinyTap app in class.

TinyTap is an app that allows teachers to create games for students to play, with a variety of options.  There are a LOT of sites like this, but I haven't found one that suits my needs as well as TinyTap.  I first discovered this app when I asked on the World Languages group on Edmodo if anyone knew of an app or site where teachers could provide words for students to drag and drop into sentences.  A teacher suggested TinyTap.  While it is really geared towards the younger crowd (pre-school through mid elementary), since you can pick and choose which designs you use, it's easy enough to make your games visually appealing to middle and high school students.

Based on my experience with other quiz and game apps, allowing students to input a short answer is sometimes too difficult and too time consuming, and doesn't provide immediate feedback.  On the other hand, multiple choice is often too easy.  The word bank option is often just what I'm looking for, and in TinyTap I've found that and much more.

What I've done in the above screen is write a series of sentences with clip art cues (lots of clip art is provided in the app).  I then digitally "cut out" the words I wanted the students to drag and drop and moved them to the bottom of the screen.  As soon as a student drags a word into a black space, it either bounces back if it's incorrect, or stays put and shows confetti if it is correct.

Another feature you can incorporate into your game is listen and tap.  You record a command of something to tap, and the student taps it.  As you can see, I did this below with prices.  Once again, immediate feedback is given as to whether it is right or wrong.

The other features you can incorporate are tap and listen (to introduce vocabulary), and short response.  I tried the short response on my most recent game, but since I was asking for sentences, it proved rather difficult.  Punctuation counts towards whether the answer is right or wrong, so next time I will only use it for eliciting single words.

Below you can see the two games I've used so far.  I used one of the games as quiz review in stations, and the other as supervised in class practice.  I put a QR code on the smart board (copy the URL of the game, and paste it into a QR code generator site, such as and have the students use the QR reader app to scan the code and access the game.

Here is a breakdown of pros and cons of TinyTap:

-Variety of features allows for lots of teacher control
-Can be played on desktop or mobile devices
-Game-like features make it fun for students
-Can browse already made games to have your students play
-Built-in graphics to choose from

-Must use app on iOS or Android to create (can't create on desktop)
-Time-consuming to create (but you can use it over and over)

DISCLAIMER:  This is NOT a sponsored post.  I genuinely like TinyTap and wanted to share it with my readers.

The iPad Diaries Volume 10

This is the 10th post in a series on using iPads in the language classroom.  Click here to view an index of previous posts.  In this post, I will be talking about how I have used the Socrative app and a little bit about how I have used stations for review with the iPads.

When we first got the iPads last year, I realized the best way to give students one-on-one time with them was to do stations.  Since then, I have incorporated stations into quiz review and I really like it.  They keep students moving frequently, and allow them to work independently while I observe and help out where needed.

Since we have 40 minute periods and I have around 30 students per class, I design 3 stations that last about 10 minutes each.  I try to incorporate different functions into each one (listening, reading, writing, speaking), but my my main goal is immediate feedback.  The stations that are able to give immediate feedback through the use of an app or an answer sheet are more useful for students.

Usually one of the stations involves the use of Socrative, an app that allows the teacher to give a quiz, while collecting the results.  I don't grade the quiz, but I can see how the students did when their results come in (I let them answer anonymously).

You can allow short answers or multiple choice, but I have only used multiple choice, because I like how you can provide immediate feedback for it.  Once the student answers a question, a dialog box pops up telling the student if their answer was correct or not, followed by an explanation.

At the end of class, if time allots, I go over some of the questions that were missed the most.  Socrative also allows you to see a breakdown of how many students chose each response.

I usually have 2 iPad stations, the other station having either some sort of listening exercise or a quick Kahoot game, with a student acting as the teacher.  I'll then have a 3rd, non-tech station, which might involve a speaking exercise in partners or a puzzle to put together (see below).

I'm always reworking my stations, but I have found them to be a great way to incorporate multiple methods of review into one day, while also giving students one-on-one access to iPads.

How do you use stations in your class, if at all?

How We Celebrated National French Week

From November 4-10, French Teachers around the US celebrated La Semaine du Français with their students and schools.  I originally planned to post this earlier, but with the events in Paris, I felt my previous post was more timely.  I figured it was still worth sharing with you what we did at our school, as this is an annual event.

Students in French club drew flags of French speaking countries with sidewalk chalk on the front entryway to the school.  I got the idea from a teacher at this year's NYSAFLT Conference who said she took her elementary students outside with sidewalk chalk.  Well, middle schoolers like sidewalk chalk too!

My students brought in dishes from francophone countries to eat in class, such as tarte tatin, clafoutis, meringues, and madeleines.  I give students recipes the week before, and I have them sign up to bring in the food.  I also invite parent volunteers to help serve the food.  It's a great way to get parents into the classroom, which they love.

This year, students had to circle what foods they ate, jot down which one was their favorite, and then turn to a neighbor and share verbally as well.  Another great idea I picked up at the NYSAFLT conference!

I collected a random sampling of sheets that the students filled out and made a pie chart that I showed them the next day, illustrating which foods were the most popular (since this was based on all my classes and not one particular class, students didn't have to feel badly if their dish wasn't popular).

Sample pie chart from (I misplaced the file with the actual pie chart I showed my students).

Students had the option of making a poster showcasing why they are learning French.  The 8th grade French teacher picks a winner (below is this year's winner).

So, those are a few things we did in my classes this year for National French Week.  How do you celebrate National French Week?  Or, more importantly, what do you do in your class or your school to reinforce the importance of learning French? 

Nous Sommes la France: Responding to a Global Tragedy on a Local Level

By now, as a French teacher, you've already made you've already made your decision as to how, if at all, to address the terrible events of Friday, November 13, in Paris, with your classes.  You either chose not to address it, perhaps because your students are too young or because you didn't feel you had the appropriate amount of time to dedicate to it.  Or maybe you spent a day or even a week on it with your students.  Whatever it is you did, you had your own students' backgrounds and ages in mind when you made your decision.  In this post I am going to share what we did with the French students at our school on Monday of last week.

Social media was abuzz following the events, not only with updates as to the latest developments, but also with teachers sharing how they planned to address things with their students on Monday.  Teachers were incredibly generous in sharing their lesson plans and resources on Twitter, Facebook, and on their blogs.  After perusing their ideas, and keeping in mind that I teach 7th graders, I decided that the best course of action would be to briefly address what happened without getting into too many details, share some facts about the United States' friendship with France, and then let them create posters to send to their pen pals in France in the form of a video.  My colleague and I decided that it would be nice if we both did the same activity.  We each showed showed our students examples of designs that had been circulating on social media (the Jean Jullien Eiffel Tower peace sign, among others), and encouraged them to draw inspiration from those but also come up with their own designs.  They could also include phrases such as "Je suis Paris," "Nous sommes la France," or "Nous sommes avec vous."

I photographed each poster, then put them into a video.  I sent the video to the school in France where we have our pen pal exchange (click here to read about the project).  My students, the 7th graders, are excitedly awaiting their first batch of letters from their pen pals in France.  My colleague's students, the 8th graders, wrote to students at the school last year.  The English teacher at the school in France said that they really appreciated the video, and they posted it on their school's website.  Our students here in the US were so pleased to know they had done something to lift someone's spirits following these tragic events.

I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that every student took this activity seriously.  They genuinely wanted to do something to help.  We hung many of the posters in the hallway and shared the video with the other teachers in the school, and many of them indicated how proud they were with the students as well.  Some of them also showed the video in their classes.

Here is the video, as well as some of the posters hanging in the hallways:

iPad Diaries Volume 9

This is the 9th in a series of posts about iPads in the language classroom.  Click here to view an index of previous posts.

In this post, I am sharing with you a presentation about the benefits of using iPads in the language classroom.  I adapted this presentation from one that I had on display at a fundraising event for the Saratoga Foundation for Innovative Learning, the wonderful organization which gave our department the iPads.  This presentation incorporates a lot of the ideas from my previous posts, as well as ideas I'll be addressing in forthcoming posts.

What are some of the ways you feel iPads benefit the language classroom?

10 Ways to Incorporate Culture Into Your Everyday Lessons

As French teachers, we focus so much on language, it can be easy to forget the culture piece to our teaching.  Not all culture needs to be taught explicitly or have its own lesson, though.  There are lots of ways to incorporate culture into your every day and create a more authentic experience for students.  Here are a few easy ways to do just that:

1.  Have students write their names on their papers the French way (SMITH John).  I believe it was my cooperating teacher when I was student teaching who first suggested this to me.

2.  Lots of students like to listen to classical music while they are working on a test.  Play some Debussy, Ravel, or Saint-Saëns for them.

3.  Count starting with your thumb, as is customary in France.

4.  When learning numbers, practice by reciting French phone numbers to students so they can see the formation.

5.  Use authentic artwork or photos from French speaking countries as speaking or writing prompts.  See my post on how I use Google Maps to incorporate geography into my lessons.

6.  Write your 1s the French way (which look like 7s to Americans).  Be sure to explain this to students!

7.  Use Canadian zip codes to practice alphabet and numbers at the same time.

8.  When using mobile devices, have students use the French keyboard.  They will be able to see how the letters are laid out differently, but they also get the advantages of French autocorrect and predictive word guesses!

9.  Doing a pen pal project?  Consider snail mail (or at least a snail mail component!).  In this era of digital everything, students really relish a real live piece of paper from France.  They get to see French handwriting and notice other nuances, such as the "carré" style of paper commonly used.  Read my post on how I do my pen pal project.

10.  Got 5 minutes left at the end of class?  Why not have the students sit back, relax and watch one of these beautiful videos showcasing Paris, or one of these beautiful videos showcasing the francophone world.  Better yet, show them as they are coming in the door!  It will inspire wanderlust!

What are your favorite ways to incorporate culture into your everyday lessons?

iPad Diaries: Volume 8

This is the 8th post in a series about using iPads in the French classroom.  Click here to view an index of previous articles.

I first got the idea to use Nearpod from a post on Sra Spanglish's blog.  Nearpod is an interactive presentation app.  Instead of standing at the front of the room, pointing to your presentation on the SMART Board or whatever other piece of technology you are using, students now see the presentation on their device (in addition to seeing it at the front of the room).  This is helpful because many students focus better when the focus point is nearer to them, and for students in the back of the room, they can see much better.  The students can't advance the presentation; only the teacher can.  This is helpful for keeping students with you.

Aside from simply viewing the teacher's presentation on a device, you can embed several different types of interactive comprehension activities.  When students participate in the activities, their names show up on the SMART Board for the whole class to see.  In light of this, I allow students to use nicknames if they prefer to keep their responses anonymous.  The activities you can choose from are open-ended questions, multiple choice questions, polls, and draw-its.  They take longer than simply asking the class to answer out loud or calling on students, but they are more effective because more students are engaged.

I found the open-ended questions to take too much time the first time I used the app.  I gave students a picture prompt and they were supposed to type the vocabulary word.  Students were overly concerned with spelling (which I guess isn't a bad thing!).  Multiple choice proved to be much more efficient in this type of situation.  Open ended questions would probably be more useful for situations where full sentences are required.  You can then click on a student response to display it for the class.

Multiple choice questions are useful, but it quickly shows students what the right answer is when they look up at the board (see below), so I mute the board during each question.  As you can see, the pie chart gives you a quick glimpse of how students are doing (they had a picture prompt for the question in the below example).

Polls are great for questions that don't have a right or wrong answer.  For the example shown at top, I showed students a picture and they had to react to how they felt their mood would be (such as a snow day, or no homework).

Draw-it is good for when you want students to, well, draw.  So far I have only used it to have students draw vocabulary words and it took waaaaay too long.  I'd like to try this feature again when I teach weather and have the students draw scenes as I describe them to them.

If you're using Nearpod with your students, I recommend getting the free app.  It's much less buggy on devices than the web-based version is.  You can also import images and PowerPoints into your presentations, so there's no need to start from scratch!  There appears to be a "homework" version of the presentation, where students complete it at their own pace, but this requires an upgrade.

Have you used Nearpod?  Do you like it?  What is your favorite interactive presentation app?

Greatest Hits: My Favorite Songs for Learning French

Many language teachers enjoy using songs to reinforce vocabulary and grammar in a contextual setting.  While authentic songs are usually preferable if you can find a suitable one, at the lower levels it's often the songs created specifically for language learners that contain the most comprehensible content.  That said, I do enjoy playing authentic songs for my students to spark their interest and integrate culture.  I've played many songs for my students over the years, but in this post I will share the ones that I keep turning back to year after year.  If you enjoy using songs with your students, chances are you've heard of or used some of these songs, but maybe you'll discover something new!  Of the songs available on YouTube, I've made a playlist.  I also reference some songs that will require separate purchases.

Songs on the Playlist

Salut by John DeMado
John DeMado is known for his rap songs targeting various French vocabulary topics.  I like this particular song because it has a lot of useful greetings in it, such as "à bientôt," "à demain," and "bonsoir."  It also has vocabulary that I use in future lessons, such as "un ami/une amie" "J'ai __ ans" and "Il/Elle a __ ans."

La danse d'Igor
A colleague in another district, Meghan Chance, first showed me this video.  It's a great song to use on testing days to get students out of their seats and dancing.  It contains some body parts vocabulary, as well as terms such as "Peux-tu..."

Alouette by Alain LeLait
What would a parts of the body lesson be without Alouette?  I particularly like Alain LeLait's video because it's got some cute animation and dance moves that the kids love to imitate.

Les chiffres et les nombres 1-20 by Alain LeLait
Another winner by Alain LeLait.  The dancing worms and reggae music keep the students dancing and singing.  Alain LeLait has just made two more videos for numbers 20-50 and 50-70.  I can't wait to introduce those this year!  For more resources for teaching numbers, read my other posts on the topic.

C'est l'Hallowe'en by Matt Maxwell
I really love this song because it reinforces the pronunciation of "c'est."  It's a very important and often mispronounced word, and having it appear in a fun song about Halloween is certainly more fun than just repeating it over and over again!  For more resources for Halloween, read my post on the topic.

French Alphabet Rap
While most of my students tend to prefer Barbara MacArthur's military version (see below), I like to show my students this song as well to mix things up.

Les chiffres 1-20
This is another song that usually comes in second to Alain LeLait's numbers song, but it's nice to have some variety.

Les trois petits cochons à la Gaga
I show this song to my students at the end of the year.  The production is hilarious, and it reinforces lots of vocabulary, such as "Je veux + infinitive," "Tu es," "Il est," and "Je ne suis pas."

Vive le vent
Vive le vent is one of the few traditional French holiday songs whose lyrics are simple enough for first year students to understand.  It's also a neat way to show students that often times when songs get translated, it is not a word-for-word transfer.

Songs Not on the Playlist

Ma grande famille by Barbara MacArthur
Barbara MacArthur's Sing Dance Laugh at Eat Quiche series features fun songs about a variety of topics.  Her catchy family song names off the many members of the narrator's family, only to find out at the end that they have only one bathroom!  Ms. MacArthur sells her songs on CDs or as digital downloads.  For more resources for teaching about family, read my post on the topic.

L'alphabet by Barbara MacArthur
This song, which is sung to the tune of the traditional "I don't know but I've been told" military cadence, gets students really excited about learning the alphabet.  Sometimes I even have two sides of the room face off to see who can sing louder.

Bon bonhomme de neige by Barbara MacArthur
While not a traditional French holiday song, Barbara MacArthur has put "Frosty the Snowman" to French lyrics that beginners can understand.  It incorporates parts of the body and physical description.  The students love it.

Les pronoms by Étienne
A colleague of mine suggested to me several years ago that I spend a couple of days reinforcing the subject pronouns out of context before using them contextually with verbs.  Although I teach them implicitly all year long, students still sometimes struggle with keeping them straight, especially the plural ones.  This song, along with the motions, reinforces the meaning of each word.  I have volunteers take turns holding up the pronoun cards as each one is said.  You can buy a DVD with a music video for this song over at Étienne's website.

Dansez by Étienne
Dansez is just a fun song that names all the parts of the body.  It also has a video that shows a stick figure acquiring more and more body parts as they are named off in the song.  It gets kids out of their seats, it's funny, it's a winner!

Disclaimer:  This is not a sponsored post and I receive no compensation if you choose to buy the products linked on this site.  These are my genuine opinions!

10 Blogs I've Been Reading This Summer

This summer I've been reading lots of great ideas on the blogs I'm subscribed to.  As we roll into a new school year (I know many of you already have, but I don't start until Tuesday), I thought I'd share some of the blogs I found myself reading the most frequently.

Blogs About Teaching

The Language Gym - Gianfranco Conti's blog has been generating a lot of buzz.  His research-based ideas and suggestions offer a lot of insight on a variety of topics related to the teaching of languages.

PBL in the TL - Laura Sexton's blog delves into project-based learning, student choice, and technology integration with some truly great ideas.

Tuesday's Tips for Staying in the Target Language - Señor Howard offers lots of great suggestions for keeping instruction in the target language, if you couldn't tell from the title.  He even has videos of himself teaching his class!

Blogs About Paris (in English)

Bonjour Paris - Okay, I just discovered this one recently, but it's got a lot of great information.  It's a nice way to keep updated on goings-on and current events in Paris that might be worth integrating into a lesson.

Paris Breakfasts - Carol Gillott's beautiful watercolor drawings and photos of daily life in Paris make this blog a must read.  There are lots of authentic resources to be found among her photos and drawings.

Blogs in French

French Authentic Texts - Not really a blog, but I subscribe to the RSS feed, so it feels like a blog to me.  Mme Henderson shares lots of great authentic resources on this Scoop.It! feed.

Le français et vous - A Tumblr with lots of resources for teaching French.

Paris ZigZag - This blog has all sorts of neat articles about Paris from old photos to neat places to explore.  Beware, before sending students to explore the site, of the occasional not-school-appropriate article.  There are plenty of articles (and photos) in isolation that would be great for the classroom, though.

TICs en FLE - Ma José posts a wealth of authentic resources on this blog from songs and lyrics to posters and signs.

Le blog des profs de l'Institut Français à Madrid - A blog with lots of resources about teaching French and lots of links to other articles on the subject.

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.
Volume 8 - I shared how we used Nearpod with the iPads.
Volume 9 - I shared a presentation on the benefits of using iPads in the language classroom.
Volume 10 - I shared how I use Socrative and iPad Review Stations.
Volume 11 - I shared how I use the TinyTap app.
Volume 12 - I shared the benefits of MakeBeliefsComix and the French keyboard
Volume 13 - I shared more of the benefits of Socrative, along with Quizlet and EdPuzzle
Volume 14 - I shared a project for reinforcing the weather
Volume 15 - I shared how I used Quizlet Live with shared devices.

Other posts that mention iPads:
Activities for Practicing Time, Day & Date
Pronouns, Part I
The Year in Review:  My Favorite Apps, Lessons & Activities from 2015

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!

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