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."

iPad Diaries: Volume 3

In my previous posts about iPads in my classroom, I've talked about the interactive game Kahoot, the whiteboard app Jot, the brainstorming app Lino, and using iPads in stations for quiz review.  In this post I'll share a project students did using Apple's Keynote app.

Every year I like to give students a project that allows them to use ER verbs in context.  I've done both individual and group projects, but I've found that this material can be challenging for students to work on individually.  This year I wanted to use the iPads.  I just wanted a simple app that could make presentations with text and pictures.  After playing around with the few, I came to the conclusion that Keynote was the best, due to its simplicity.

The main idea of the project is for students to state what various people do and don't do in a certain setting.  By anchoring the "story" (and I use that term loosely) with a specific setting, such as a place or time of year, the sentences have more context and don't feel like unrelated ideas.  First, the students choose a character (such as Mickey Mouse or Harry Potter) to be the narrator.  Then they pick the setting (at home, at school, in winter, etc.).  After that they write, as the narrator, what the narrator ("Je") does and doesn't do in that setting, what another person - a friend or family member of the narrator - does and doesn't do ("Il" or "Elle"), what the narrator and another person - could be the aforementioned person or a different one - do and don't do ("Nous"), and what two other people ("Ils" or "Elles") do and don't do.  Then they end it with a question.  It hits on almost every verb form, but it has a story-like feel to it.

First, the students brainstormed on paper so as not to monopolize the iPads, which are shared among the department.  Having it laid out on paper helps me more quickly assess whether they are on the right track as opposed to flipping through slides.

Next the students typed their text into Keynote.  When they were all done, they made original drawings in Jot to insert into each slide.  Many of them wanted to include pictures from the internet, but for copyright reasons I asked that the work be entirely original.  A few of them made drawings at home and photographed them.

Here are a few examples of finished products:

Most students enjoyed working on the project and I was pleased with the results.  Here are a few thoughts going forward:

Advantages of using iPads for this project:
-Ability to easily publish work on blog for a wider audience
-Possibility of narration (although that was not used in this project)
-Built in autocorrect actually helps students with spelling if the keyboard is set to French
-Work is preserved/archived more easily and doesn't deteriorate

-Work cannot be displayed in classroom
-Students get a little carried away on drawings because it is more difficult to make a good drawing in Jot than it is to draw it by hand

All in all, it was a good project, but I'll be looking for ways to further exploit the technology when I do it next year.

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