I am going to apologize in advance for the length of this post (again). I will also add that I had intended to focus on my how I have used the technology to improve student oral communication. I may have gotten sidetracked, focusing more on the different activities that we have done and how the technology has enhanced my teaching practice.
Like I said in my last post, I was fortunate to receive 12 iPads for my classroom, which I proposed were going to improve student engagement and oral communication in my Core French classroom. A few days ago, I talked about how I saw these iPads improve my students’ level of engagement.
Today, I want to talk about how I used the iPads to improve my students’ oral communication. In the last couple of years, and with the release of the new curriculum, we have been discussing the idea that “Reading and Writing float on a sea of talk.” (James Britton). When thinking about that, my job became providing as many chances as possible each class for my students to speak.
I am going to talk about how I used this technology to provide more opportunities for communication in the target language and how having access to this technology has enhanced instructional practice.
I was first introduced to the SAMR model about a year ago. It has completely changed the way I think about how I use technology in my classroom. When I started using iPads in my classroom about 3 years ago, (like most people) I tended to lean towards activities that fell more or less under the idea of substitution. I was taking activities that I would do on paper and having students complete them on the iPad.
The more experience I gained, I felt the more naturally I moved across the continuum. My teaching practices were enhanced by having access to this technology because it allowed me to create activities that were only possible because of our access to the technology. Last year, when I got the iPads for my own classroom, I felt I was able to plan richer tasks that incorporated technology on almost a daily basis. It became my goal to use the iPads in a way and create activities that “were previously inconceivable“.
I acknowledge that not everyone is at the same level of comfort with this. And that is OK. But I encourage everyone to reflect on where you fall on this continuum, so you can continue to grow.
Below are some of the ways I used the iPads in my classroom to get my students speaking. The activities fall at various spots on the SAMR continuum, and sometimes I find the way I use the app doesn’t concretely fit in one spot or the other. How we choose to use the app can change where it belongs.
“Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional change”
There are many different apps that can function as a French/English dictionary. Instead of looking words up in a dictionary, they access the dictionary on the iPad that offers examples, parts of speech and a variety of definitions. This was a simple substitution to a paper option.
“Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with functional improvement”
Socrative is an app that allows teachers to create quizzes, exit cards, or quick questions. You can have multiple choice, short answer or fill in the blank questions. Teachers like it because it will mark the quiz for you as soon as it is done, and you can download the results in an easy to read and follow excel file.
Here is an example of where the lines can be blurred as to where the app falls on the SAMR continuum. I personally think its how you choose to use the app that determines where it belongs. If we are using this to replace a multiple choice quiz that we previously had done on paper, it might better fit under the Substitution column. However, I used this app to help inform my next lesson. I would download the results immediately and use the nicely colour-coated results to determine quickly what my students knew well, and what they needed more work on. In my opinion, this significantly improved the functionality of the paper activity.
Again, how a teacher chooses to use Google Drive can change where this falls within the SAMR model. We started using Google Drive to type up the written tasks, for example they had to complete journals for me last year (around once every two weeks) about what they did on the weekend. We improved the functionality by having students share their written work with peers, so their classmates could provide them feedback on their work based on the success criteria. I could also provide feedback in this manner or make comments on specific parts of their work as well. Students could then go back into their assignment and use the feedback to make improvements. Last year, when my grade 5s and 6s didn’t have access to Google Drive yet, we did similar activities using Scrawlar (www.scrawlar.com) to provide feedback to one another.
I believe that this year, in collaboration with Google Classroom, having access to GAFE with all of my grade 5 through 8 students, we have moved to the far right of the scale reaching redefinition with some of the activities we are now able to complete. (More to come on that below)
“Tech allows for significant task redesign”
Quizlet is an app that allows teachers to create vocabulary lists that can be shared with the students online. Students can practice the vocabulary at their own pace by using the flashcards (which read the words and expressions to them using proper pronunciation). It also offers them a variety of games to play to reinforce the language, such as a matching game that times them or a ‘learning’ game where students have to type in the correct way to say the word or phrase. In the learning game, if students type it in incorrectly, the correct answer will flash in front of them before they get a second turn to type it in (other games are available through the website). It is amazing that my students have the opportunity to learn and practice the words and expressions that they are having the most difficulty with and they can do it at their own pace. Another great feature is they can log in from home to access the vocabulary lists too for extra practice. Talk about redesigning how they learn vocabulary.
Kahoot is an app that allows the students to login to a quiz with a ‘game pin’ number from their own device. The questions (that teachers can create) appear on the Smartboard with the possible answers that the teacher also creates. The possible options also show up on the devices in the students’ hands and they have to select the proper answer. They get points for getting the proper answer and more points for how quickly they can come to this answer. It has created a great competitive atmosphere, as the scores are posted and students are trying to figure out who they are in front of or just behind. Students can choose an alias for the day if they don’t want people to know how they are doing. Teachers can ask students to login with their real names and download the results after as well to see how each individual did. The students LOVE this game and come to class almost everyday asking me (in French) if we can play it. Again, this has revolutionized rote learning.
This app began our journey of redesigning how students present orally in class. There are many different apps that offer oral recording and video, and each app serves its’ own purpose. We used Face Talk as an option for students to present themselves. They had the opportunity to take a picture of themselves, ‘cut the mouth’ and record their self-introduction. We were then able to upload these to my website so they could be shared with their friends and families.
Book Creator allows students to create professional looking books that can be exported in a variety of forms (.epub, .pdf, etc). They can add pictures, videos and even record their own voices telling the stories. Books can easily be shared via by email, airdrop, Google Drive, etc. In my class, students in Grade 6 last year wrote books introducing a famous family of their choice. It was a final written task after they learned to introduce other people. I had students even ask me if they could sell their books on iTunes and that we could collect the money to buy more iPads for class. Pretty neat! If you are on an iPad, you can click here to see some examples by opening them in iBooks.
“Tech allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable”
Here is the fun part! These are the activities that wouldn’t have been possible without having access to the technology. These are the activities that have truly enhanced my teaching practice and which have provided the best daily opportunities for oral communication.
Students were able to easily create movies and animated stories using apps such as iMovie and Toontastic. Students were motivated by the chance to create something new. They were excited about the product and all the while they were speaking in French. We used Talking Picture to get the students to talk about the images they were looking at in more spontaneous situations. Students participated in the Hour of Code, en français, thinking critically while practicing their directions in French.
We have been able to use apps like Show Me to screen capture the students speaking and showing their thinking at the same time. Students have shown their thought process with where things are located on a map (),
they have played Pictionary and guessed what the other person has drawn by asking questions in the target language.
While these activities could have been completed before without the technology, I wasn’t able before to provide the detailed feedback they can get now. They weren’t able to so clearly see the things they did well and the spots where there is still room for improvement.
At the beginning of the year we talk about why it is important to learn French. This year, I had the students record a video of themselves telling me which reason was important to them. They uploaded these videos to Google Drive (opened the sharing to ‘people with the link’) and then used the links to create QR codes. Once the classes all submitted the QR codes to me, we posted them to the bulletin board. Now students can use a QR code reader, such as ‘I-nigma’ to scan the codes and hear the different reasons people want to learn French. An interactive bulletin board.
Having access to a Voice Recorder, Google Drive and Google Classroom has totally revolutionized the way I get students speaking. Students complete oral recordings on average once every two weeks. These are uploaded to their Google Drive (where they are creating an oral portfolio) and they submit their work through Google Classroom. They will be able to see their progress with speaking from the beginning of the year throughout the end. These oral recordings allow students to listen back to their work immediately and make corrections if they feel they need to. I can provide them feedback via Google Classroom, or send them emails with this information.
All of these recordings and assignments, have made it easier to organize and document the students’ learning. I can attach their work specifically to the student in apps like iDoceo, where I now keep my markbook and daybook (an AMAZING app by the way).
I haven’t been able to use all of my ideas yet, but have thought about where I would like to go from here.
I want to take my interactive bulletin one step further, by using an augmented reality app, such as Aurasma. I want the students to create informational videos related around a cultural topic. The videos would then be embedded over an image, so whenever the picture is scanned with the app, the informational video would appear.
Finally, another goal for the year is to use the Green Screen app by Do Ink for creating oral presentations. It was something we stumbled upon while trying to figure out how to create a floating head for our haunted house (which turned out pretty cool in my opinion – here it is). I can see this app being used to help the students travel to different francophone communities, to create news reports, for setting restaurant scenes and so much more.
The best part about all of the technology that we have gained access to, and what makes all of our tasks ‘previously inconceivable’, is the fact that the students have worlds of information at their fingertips and the fact that the things they create can be shared also with the world. While I haven’t been sharing everything in my class, the next step for me is to try to ‘live more out loud’.
Wish me luck!