Some of my favorite tools to transform Language Learning!
Google Tour Builder
Google Tour Builder is super easy to use. You need to go to this site: https://tourbuilder.withgoogle.com/ and start creating your tour. Students can make a virtual itinerary, including locking street views and add text, pictures, videos to their journey. This is a great way to tell a story. For instance, you can create a biography (of yourself or someone), a virtual tour of a trip you took, recreate the story of a book in space and time…) There are plenty of opportunities to create, share and show your work. I like that students can write and then present their tour orally.
What I love the most about Socrative is to use the short answer unlimited responses to brainstorm with students to get their feedback without making students feel insecure by making their names show up and comparing themselves to one another. Socrative is easy to use. The teacher creates a question and shares the class code for students to join and start answering. I typically ask a question and project the answers of the students as they come. I like to let them write multiple answers so that the individual responses enrich collective thinking and we feel connected and collaborative. I really appreciate that this way of using Socrative promotes students’ engagement and pushes them to strive to write more and more.
Padlet is an amazing tool for brainstorming and collecting artifacts. The first use-case is to make students add in to the Padlet about a topic, a way to substitute paper post-its and then categorize together, develop ideas. The second use-case for me is to use it as a personalized learning wall where students have one pad to share their goal and the pathways to achieve their goals. They can attach videos, visuals, links and keep adding throughout a unit. This way, they have a personal space but are part of a bigger picture: only one Padlet for the entire class, so everyone knows each others’ goals and can collaborate, encourage peers and empower themselves in a climate of trust and transparency.
Storyboard is a great tool that you can integrate with Google and use for free (up to 2 storyboards per week, which is fair). You basically create comics by selecting background images and characters and adding bubbles. Very easy to use and could be interesting for so many projects!
Creating maps is not only for Geography class! It’s super easy to start making a map with. Simply go to: https://www.google.com/maps/d/ and start creating!
One idea would be to show a travel itinerary (of a past or future trip), another idea is to make a map for a brochure in order to help tourists find their way. I have seen teachers recreating the journey of a character in a book or making scavengers hunts. I really like that the students can work collaboratively and edit quite a lot of things: they add location and details to the location such as an icon, a title, text, photos and videos. They cite their courses if they use any media that is not theirs. It’s a tool that can really help us embed digital citizenship as students must respect one another online in order to be productive and share references if they use other people’s media.
Google Slides, a very common tool, yet under-used. It’s not a just a presentation tool for teachers or students. It is a way for students to collaborate on various levels: they can work individually on a slide part of a master, or several students on one slide of a master. There is a chat feature as well. A great tool that makes students explore digital citizenship in action. Usually, the first time, students misbehave but mistakes are opportunities to set agreements and improve attitudes. Here are some examples of slide presentations:
Google Docs (and templates)
Googledocs has always been an excellent tool to start teaching a new concept and practicing together. There are plenty of ways Googledocs can be used. As a teacher, I like to create hyperdocs and teaching material which I then share on Google Classroom. I also love to collaborate directly with students or let them collaborate together on their own docs. This is an example of a googledoc that I have created about pronunciation based on a video I created and using the “Silent Way” approach.
This is another example that I love to use with teachers to explain how to create Tic-Tac-Toe menus. It includes many EXCELLENT videos that every educator should watch!
This example is made with two of my students at the time. I created the template, modeled on what I expected and asked the students to complete their row to practice the three tenses and make their learning visible. Any error becomes an opportunity to review a concept and practice:
Finally, another way to unleash the power of Googledocs, in particular in language classes is to use the “voice typing” tool. Here is an example of a template and the homework for students is to type with the “voice typing tool” in order to practice pronunciation:
QR Codes are so great to create inquiry and mystery in your classroom! I love to create scavenger hunts to make students discover things and move around, taking them outside the classroom to explore places. This is an example of QR codes that you can reuse to make students roam around the school with a purpose: learning French!
Students can be amazing video creators. Videos are an exciting way to showcase students’ learning with style! In the process, the students plan, research, practice, iterate and once they finish producing collaboratively, they publish and feel very proud.
First of all, a nice video just for students to “show off” their nice French pronunciation by making fun of English accent when trying to speak French and what French actually sounds like!
Here is an example of students who made a video of the three tenses of French:
Here a video to show French prosody:
This is a student explaining what motivated him in class while using Minecraft:
This one is a stop motion video (what you need is really only ONE device for this) to show the different verbs that need the auxiliary “ETRE” in passe-compose:
You don’t need to be a gamer to use Minecraft! Students are often experts or they learn super fast! I remember someone said: “it’s not about what happens IN Minecraft but what happens BECAUSE OF Minecraft” that is meaningful in class. Minecraft is not a place “to learn” but rather an opportunity to demonstrate learning. Here, for instance, students took screenshots and placed them on a Googleslide to show their learning:
I actually did not use it yet but I will soon! Soundtrap is a web-based music making platform. It works across all devices. It allows students to create music collaboratively. It’s like a musical googledoc! I imagine to use it to create rap songs, slams, beat boxing and looping songs which include French. I also think it’s a great tool to make connections between subjects and work on trans-disciplinary units.
A beautiful tool to use in order to integrate the arts into a language unit. When I work on tourism, I like to ask students to create collections there but its also great when they find a French museum with street view and prepare a virtual visit of the museum to present to their peers or to record. It’s amazing. This is a student presenting his tour of the Versailles Palace. To know more, check: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/
Of course now, there is Google Expedition that can take our virtual tour to their next level!
Voki seems a bit old-fashioned but it’s still very relevant. I like how simple this is, it is a bit like Tellagami. Go to http://www.voki.com/site/create and start creating you avatar and make him/her speak. It’s an easy exercise for foreign language classes or for a new way to provide feedback or share/reflect. It’s unfortunately paid to embed so I cannot share an example here but it’s still a useful tool for practice in class.
Mystery Skype calls are amazing way to connect your students with other people around the world. This is an excellent opportunity to empower students in being global collaborator and problem-solvers. The concept is that your own classroom has a Skype with another classroom in the world but the students in each part do not know where the others are and they need to find out by asking yes-no questions. There can be variations of this concept but the point remains that it’s student-driven and organized with roles and responsibilities for students, it’s timed and ALWAYS a success, no matter what. Engaging with global peers is amazing and very empowering, students feel very good during the experience and the reflections are very rich after the event. You can also plan a lot and extend the experience by collaborating further with the other classes (global penpals for instance).
3 reasons that make me LOVE Google Classroom:
1- It supports learners’ VOICE
You can use “Ask Question” for quick assessments or exit tickets
Use Googledoc and create templates (here are some of my favorites: 1, 2, 3)
Integrate third party tools like: Socrative / Padlet / Voice recorder
Use the chat
Organize by topics (create a “blog” topic where students post/reply to one another)
2- It helps me give more CHOICE to students
Use the “Ask Question” to poll students
Differentiate or individualize tasks by the “select” option
Let students choose the medium to share/demonstrate their learning
Allow students to share links and resources likes games or sites
Create Tic Tac Toe Menus (Template)
Create a bank of resources for the “About” section
Plan your curriculum together on Sheet and share on the “About” section
3- It integrates Digital Citizenship
Encourage Positive Comments
Real-time collaboration, Chat
Share to classroom
Use Creative commons
Make suggestions about resources, moderate to post on About
Integrate YouTube Restricted mode and approve videos when required
Screencastify and send it as an assignment
I like the extension “Screencastify” – you can use the free version to make short screencasts and you can also simply take a selfie video. It’s super easy to use and after you download the video, you can share it on Google Classroom as an assignment. A very powerful tool!
In the same spirit, I really like to have the app “voice recorder” http://online-voice-recorder.com/ for students to record their voice and share on Google Classroom. It’s a quick and easy way to get students to practice the language or share reflection. Very cool for homework.
The Read&Write extension is a powerful tool to support English Second Language Learners or students with dyslexia for instance but I just find it cool for anyone anyway as it promotes visual and acoustic learning. Find out more in this review that I wrote on Common Sense Education.
Wow! This is AWE-SOME! One of my favorite edtech tools to remix videos and make them relevant for my students. I create videos that I use for formative or summative assessments. For instance, you might like a video in a language and you wish it existed in your language. This is a great tool which can help you “silence” the video and change the voice-over. You can also trim the video and pause to “force” students to answer open or close-ended questions and the best part, it integrates with Google Classroom!
It took me a while to write this post but I think it’s a great one 🙂 cause this would help me if I was getting started with edtech in my language classroom (I hope so!)