The Year in Review: My Favorite Lessons, Apps, & Activities in 2016



As 2016 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.   As always, some of these activities are my own ideas, but many of them are adapted from other teachers' ideas.



1.  Using the clocks app to practice time - Stephanie Bass of Bonne idée! shared the wonderful idea to use the native clock app on the iPad to reinforce time (click here to read her presentation on using smart phones and iPads in the FSL classroom). I took this idea and had my students complete a Socrative quiz about time in different francophone cities.   Click here to read more about it.

2.  Quizizz - I haven't blogged yet about Quizizz, but I've been using it a lot this year.  It's multiple choice quiz style game that's a fun alternative to Kahoot.  The big difference is that it is student-paced instead of teacher paced.  My favorite thing about it is that you can choose whether or not you want the quiz to be timed.  I usually don't make it timed, which encourages kids to take their time and not rush.  Because it is student-paced, you can actually assign it for homework and/or allow students to play it outside of class unlike Kahoot.




3.  Quizlet Live - I recently blogged about Quizlet Live.  It's yet another game, but students get incredibly into it.  In my post, I share some of the things I really love about it that differentiate it from other games.

4.  Independent Homework - I started giving independent "choice" homework last year after reading language teachers' accounts of giving real world style homework in class (Musicuentos and Creative Language Class have great examples).  Last year, I only did it once, but this year, I have been working it in more and more.  Whenever there is a break coming up or a long period without any homework to be assigned, I have students choose an independent assignment off my list.  Click here to read more about independent homework (aka Personalized Learning Goal) and other ways I try to keep students engaged at home.

5.  Quel personnage de Disney es-tu ? -  After reading about Amy Lenord's Superhero Talk Read Talk Write Lesson, I decided to make one of my own and tailor it to my own students' level.  The results were great!  Click here to read about my version, "Quel personnage de Disney es-tu ?"

6.  Speed Friending   - Some people call this speed dating. I call it speed friending since it's really just about finding friends. After seeing a lot of teachers use this activity, I adapted it for my classroom.  Click here to read about it and other "in context" activities for reinforcing verbs.

7.  Humans of Paris  - This year I used the Humans of Paris Facebook page to prompt speaking among students. It turned out to be a really interesting lesson. Click here to read more about it.



8.  Adobe Voice Weather Forecast - This year, I had students complete a weather forecast using the iPads. With a partner, they opened up the Chaîne Météo app and entered in the name of a francophone city provided by me. They then took a screenshot of the forecast for the week and prepared a script of the weather report. Then they opened up Adobe Voice (one of my favorite apps) and imported the screenshot. They then took turns announcing the weather for the week in French and saved the result as a video.  Click here to read more about this activity and others for practicing weather.

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

Taking Street View to the Next Level



The advent of Google Street View has allowed language teachers to bring culture closer to students than ever before.  Even more recently, though, businesses and institutions have slowly been allowing Google Street View access inside their locations, further bringing the idea of a virtual field trip to life.

What kinds of places can you go inside?  The majority of them are restaurants, stores, and museums, but occasionally you can find a hotel, airport, mall or even a hospital that has inside street view access.



Finding these places is the tricky part.  Google has a list by country of some of the major attractions that offer this, but this doesn't account for all the small businesses (stores, restaurants, hotels).  To find those, you have to hunt a little.  First, pick a big city in a target language-speaking country (availability will be great there).  Then drag your little street view guy into the map.  You'll see all the street view streets light up in blue (see above).  But you'll also see blue dots and orange dots.  The blue dots indicate user-made photo spheres.  These can be handy in spots that don't have indoor street view access.  The orange spots indicate spaces you can go inside and walk around in.  Place your street view guy over one and check it out!



When I did my Google Maps scavenger hunt this year, I had students go inside some of the restaurants, such as this café in Montmartre.  To read more about this activity, click here.



Above, a store in Belgium you can walk around inside.



If you want to find a museum or cultural landmark to explore inside, check Google Arts & Culture's list.  Above, you can walk around the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.  To learn more about how I use this feature in class, click here.

Have you used the "Go Inside" feature in your class?  What did you do with it?

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