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 http://www.goqr.me) 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:

Pros
-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

Cons
-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?

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