The French Corner 2019 Recap

Well, 2019 is coming to a close, and at the end of the year I usually reflect on what new things I tried and what new experiences I had in the classroom.  Here's what happened with me in 2019.

This year I attended the NYSAFLT (New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers) Annual Conference in my hometown of Saratoga Springs.  Conferences are a great way to connect with other colleagues and gather new ideas.  I came away with lots of new ideas and had a chance to connect with other teachers I hadn't seen in awhile.

Martina Bex
The amazing Martina Bex came to my school to talk about comprehensible input in November.  She gave us lots of really great ideas, including one I'll talk about below.

Card Talk
Card Talk is a no-prep, fun activity that Martina led us through in her workshop.  She explains it in detail in this blog post.  In summary, you ask the students a guiding question (such as what is their favorite activity or food) and the students draw their answer.  The teacher shows the class the students' responses and uses it to introduce new vocabulary and prompt a discussion.  This can then be used for a variety of future activities.  I had students draw their favorite food and used it to introduce some new vocabulary at the beginning of the food and meal-taking unit.

Earlier this year, after attending several workshops on the topic, I began developing IPAs (Integrated Performance Assessments) for my students.  Each exam consists of an interpersonal task, an interpretive task, and a presentational task, centered around authentic resources.  While there are a great many resources and sample IPAs available online, I ultimately ended up developing them in collaboration with my colleague, because I wasn't able to find any that tied in properly with our curriculum and learning objectives.

Secret Phrase
I started using a password or secret phrase with students as they enter the classroom this year.  It has proven to be a very effective way to reinforce key vocabulary and increase student engagement.  I blogged about using a secret phrase here.

Norming with Students
I learned about the process of norming with students here on Annabelle Allen's blog, and I tried it for the first time this year.  I blogged about it here.  Essentially, norming with students allows the students to take ownership of all the ideals you already wanted them to practice.  I was so encouraged that the norms my students came up with were essentially all the things I was going to tell them anyway.

Positive Notes
I started handing out positive notes to students when they do a nice job on something.  It's a nice way of letting students know I appreciate their efforts.  I usually make out the note right there during class and hand it out.  I also made a note to hand students that are misbehaving to invite them to conference with me, but my students have been so well behaved this year, I haven't needed to hand any out yet!

Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth Book Read
This past fall, my colleague Sarah led a book read on the book Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth.  Not only did it give me a chance to read a great book and pick up some new ideas, but I got to connect with colleagues from across my building and partake in some great discussions.  Have you ever done a book read at your school?

For the first time in the spring, I had my students write poems about themselves.  I loved seeing their creativity!  I blogged about it here.

My colleague Sarah introduced me to GooseChase earlier this year.  It's basically an online version of a scavenger hunt.  I had my students look through French books and find images that represented various adjectives in French and then share them for the class to look at together later.  I blogged about GooseChase here.

SuperHero Comic Book Maker
When it seemed all the cool apps I used to use were no longer working, a Twitter user tipped me off to SuperHero Comic Book Maker, a great way to assess students' speaking.  I blogged about the app and shared some examples of student work here.

La main verte
When I was in St. Pierre and Miquelon this summer, I picked up a new book for my classroom called La main verte.  I read it in some of my classes this year, and my students loved it.  They loved how strange it was, and the images accompanying the words made it fairly easy to understand.  Do you have a favorite book that you read to your students?

Well, my 2019 was filled with lots of new things.  Here's wishing you a happy new year from the French Corner!
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5 Uses for Socrative

Full disclosure:  Socrative did not pay me anything to write this article, in fact they did not even ask me to write this article!  I just happen to love their app.

Socrative is an app that works on just about any device and it's a great easy, quick, way to assess and review with students.  I only use it for formative assessment, because I use Canvas (our school's learning management system) for summative assessment, but it could be used for summative assessment as well.  I previously blogged about Socrative here, here, here, here, and here.  In this post, I will recap some of the methods I previously blogged about and add some more.

Stations Review
Before I give a quiz, I often do review in stations.  This originated out of necessity, because before we were 1:1, I had a class set of iPads, but I did not have enough for every student to use.  I ended up keeping the model after we went 1:1, because I like getting students out of their seats and usually one of the stations does not require a device. Usually one of the stations involves the use of Socrative, in the form of a multiple choice quiz.  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 tend to prefert multiple choice, because I like how you can provide immediate feedback for it.  With short answer, you can enter in a correct answer, but if the student spells it wrong or leaves out an accent, it is marked wrong. 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 reset the results after each class so the breakdown only reflects the current class.  I previously blogged about using Socrative as a review station here and here.

Interpretive Reading Practice
I recently started giving IPAs (Integrated Performance Assessments), and each IPA has an interpretive task, which is usually reading centered around an authentic document.  While I give the actual assessment on Canvas, I make up a mock activity with a similar type of document to practice on.  I prefer to use this over Canvas for the practice because it easily lets me see a breakdown on how students performed on each question.  Below is a sample reading question (the students can click on the document to make it bigger).

Sub Activity Socrative is the perfect activity for a sub if you're 1:1.  The sub doesn't even need to have access to a computer, as long as they write the room code on the board.  This is helpful also when the sub doesn't speak the language - the feedback that you can provide to students after each question helps compensate for that.  I can also check from home and see how they are doing and go over answers the next day if I choose. Worksheet Alternative
I've converted several worksheets to Socrative activities.  It makes it more interactive for the students and easier to go over at the end.  Usually if I'm having students do an activity like this, they are working with a partner.  This is especially helpful if you don't need the students to keep the worksheet - it saves paper!

Open Ended Response
Most of what I do on Socrative is using the "Quiz" function, but there is also a "Quick Question" feature that can be useful. Do you ever have a few minutes left at the end of class and spontaneously decide to have the students respond to a question (or maybe you've planned it)? There is an option that simply allows you to have students respond to a quick question, be it true or false, multiple choice, or short answer. You don't have to pre-plan anything. You can ask them the question orally or write it on the board somewhere. Then, if you have more, time, you can have your students vote for their favorite response (if you chose short answer). This would be cool for a creative writing question. In the question below, I simply asked students to order an item off a menu.  I previously blogged about using the quick question feature here.

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