The French Corner 2020 Recap: The Top 10 Things I Did or Tried in 2020

Wow, this year certainly came with a lot of unexpected challenges, didn't it?  And the end of the year, I often round up my favorite new tools and tricks that I tried for the first time that year.  This year, I suppose a fringe benefit to all the chaos is that I had the opportunity to try a lot of new things with the pivot to hybrid and virtual learning, so without further ado, here are the top 10 things I did or tried in 2020:

1. Whole-Class Collaborative PowerPoints
Well, I certainly used PowerPoint prior to this year, but I had never really tapped into its full collaborative potential prior to this fall.  That's when my amazing colleague Sarah tipped me off to a project idea where each student is assigned a slide.  Well, from there, I started experimenting with other activities and assignments.  At this point, it has become a crucial tool for helping my facilitate student interaction in the hybrid and virtual settings.  Click here to read the two posts I have written so far on the topic.

2.  Virtual Taste Test
Food has always been an important part of my curriculum, so the realization that we simply cannot have students sampling food in the classroom for the time being was a tough pill to swallow.  Going virtual with the food was really the only conceivable alternative.  For National French Week, students prepared or purchased treats from the francophone world to share with their classmates during our virtual day.  It went well, but the feedback that students gave me afterwards will ensure that it goes even better next time.  The day before break, which was a virtual day, students had the option to prepare a bûche de Noël or French Hanukkah dish to show off.  So many more students did it than I expected for an optional task!  In most classes, we spent nearly half the class discussing and talking about what students had made and students that had not prepared anything came away excited to try their hand at it over break or even next year.  Click here to read about the National French Week taste test.

3. Zoom
A year ago, I hadn't even heard of Zoom.  As of September, though, it has become a crucial part of every lesson I teach, be it hybrid or virtual.  Incorporating a videoconferencing platform into my daily lessons is something I would never have even conceived of before covid, but now it's just a normal part of the routine.  Click here to read posts I wrote about incorporating Zoom into my lessons.

4.  Revamping My Independent Homework Assignments
For the past several years, I have been giving my students "independent homework," where they basically go out on their own and watch a movie or TV show in French or find another way to explore the language independently.  Prior to this year though, I didn't really give the students a lot of easily accessible options.  Over the summer, I spent hours creating a large library of resources on various topics that students could explore for their independent assignments (I now call it "Independent Exploration.").  Students can still watch a movie or TV show of their choosing, or do something outside of the library of resources, such as have a conversation with someone they know who speaks French, or teach a lesson to a friend or family member (because I feel those things are very valuable too), but now students do not have a lot more options, and as a result, a lot more opportunities to get hooked on exploring the language and culture independently, which is the goal!  In the past, I used to have students get a parent signature that they had completed the assignment in order to receive credit.  With the pivot to paperless in the midst of covid, though, I decided to nix the parent signatures and have students submit a short note sharing what they got out of it.  It ended up being far more valuable than a parent signature.  Click here to read my posts about indepdent exploration.

5.  Canva
Ok, so Canva hasn't exactly transformed my teaching or anything, but man it sure does make it easy to make cool looking graphics for both my blog and for my students.  Using engaging graphics draws in students' attention and makes them more likely to click on links, especially in places like my Independent Exploration pages, which is a good example of a page that has a lot of Canva graphics on it. Click here to view more posts featuring graphics I made on Canva.

6.  Not Assigning French Names!
This year, for a variety of reasons, I stopped my practice of allowing students to choose a French name, and it turned out to be a really wise decision.  Click here to read about why I used to have my students adopt French names, and click here to read why I stopped.

7.  Hybrid Lessons with Nearpod
I've actually been using Nearpod for years, but this year I started using it for nearly all my hybrid lessons. It's the perfect tool to engage two groups of students at once, make sure students at home are participating, and keep all students on the correct slide.  Click here to read more posts I've written about Nearpod.

8.  Nearpod's Time to Climb
Time to Climb is yet another game to join the multitude of games to engage students, but what I like about it is that if you're already doing a Nearpod lesson, it doesn't require an additional login, fitting seamlessly with the rest of the lesson.  Click here to read more about lessons where I incorporated Time to Climb.

9.  Canvas Discussions
Online discussions are hardly anything new, but I had never used them much in my instruction until this year.  This year, I have used Canvas discussions on several different occasions to encourage students to share ideas and react to videos they watched.  Click here to read more posts I wrote about Canvas discussions.

10.  Flipgrid
I finally got on the Flipgrid bandwagon this year, and it has been an invaluable way to assess my students' speaking.  Click here to read about my first steps with Flipgrid.

So, what were some things you did or tried in 2020?

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for this round up of ideas. You always have such innovative, practical ideas. Merci!


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