Let’s GoAnimate!

GoAnimate is an excellent tool for almost anything! This site has a lot of potential. I am so glad that my school got a membership! The options are just unlimited…

Click on the image. It will direct you to GoAnimate's site.

This year I decided to use GoAnimate in both my 6th grade Spanish and French classes. We are currently reading a very fun and engaging TPRS book: Noches misteriosas en la Alhambra/Nuits mystérieuses à Lyon written by Kristy Placido and published by TPRS Publishing – totally recommended, find it here.

So… this book leads to a lot of projects! My students are thoroughly enjoying it. Last year I used the free version of GoAnimate. It is great, since students can create mini project with cute characters for free. But, the paid version is obviously better. With the paid version there are more character and movement options and, the best part, students can create longer movies.

We are currently in the chapter 3 of the novel. I wanted my students to review the vocabulary and events of the story while at the same time showcase some creativity. Therefore, the requirements for this project were to summarize one chapter’s event and creating an alternate chapter. I gave students a document with the following instructions:

You will be creating a long video in GoAnimate in which you will summarize the events that take place in the chapters read so far in our class novel. You can choose to just represent one chapter or more than one BUT you must also include a continuation made up by you. This continuation is the most creative part since only in this section you will not be following the events that actually happen in the novel, you will be making up your own!

You will have one day in class to write your script, another day to be trained on the tool, and three days to work on the project. Once done, do not forget to publish it!

This assignment is due on Monday, March 10th.

Please see the rubric for more information.

So, as you can see, I made sure to scaffold the process:

– Script creation.

– Tool training.

– Project development.

I cannot stress enough the importance of this scaffolding practice. Students tend to get lost in the technology. And GoAnimate leads even more to this ¨lost in the technology¨ situation. The tool is very appealing to students: the colors, movements, and little accessories that they can add are just countless. It is almost like a game for them. The teacher must make sure that students work on the nitty gritty first, this is, the content; later on they can get lost and play with the little cartoons, colors, and accessories.

I am sharing my rubric with you. Please feel free to modify it: GOANIMATE_PROJECT_RUBRIC.

Pros of this tool:

Versatility. This site can be used for almost anything! All you need is imagination. Examples: students projects such as creative writing in any course, even math, government or history class; flipped classroom, created by teachers or students; listening exercises or tests, perfect for language courses. Can you think of any other option? Please post it in the comments field under this post entry.

Audio. Students can record their voices. This is a feature that I specially value in my Foreign Language course since it can be used kind of like a language lab.

Feedback. Students have the option to comment on each other’s projects. You could make this a class activity. I assigned it for homework. They had to watch at least one project and then comment on it in Spanish/French.

User friendly. Very easy to used. If you are not too techy, no worries. Check out this tutorial.

Cons of this tool: Very few, but there are some cons:

Game appeal. Students may get overexcited and may start playing with the cartoons instead of focusing on the content. This con can easily be fixed. All this takes is extra monitoring from the teacher, and scaffolding, scaffolding, scaffolding! Provide due dates and grades per due date so that students are forced to follow your deadlines.

Audio issues. This always happens, not just with GoAnimate but with any tool that has an audio feature. The problem is not as much the website but the student’s computer: their microphone may not work, they may not have Flash installed, they may be using the wrong browser, etc. The good news is GoAnimate has an excellent customer service line so, if problems arise, you can always contact them and they will work on their end in order to fix the problem.

Lastly, I would like to share some of my students projects with you! They are outstanding and very fun, they are so creative and engaged. GoAnimate is a treat, for students and educators alike.

GoAnimate in Spanish here!

GoAnimate in French here!

Let’s play a game

As a Foreign Language teacher, I am always looking for ways to promote speaking and listening comprehension in my class. ACTFL recommends to use the language at least 90% of the instruction time, and that is what I do. It takes effort on both ends: the teacher must speak in a way that is understandable by students (using cognates and structures already learned), and the students must do their best to try to comprehend that cognate, to try to remember that vocabulary word/grammatical structure.

It is, undoubtedly, a win-win scenario, but it could get frustrating for our weakest students.

So let’s motivate them with fun, creative, dynamic exercises! A game?! Yes! Engaging, all about them, and fun, fun, fun.

And this is what I did with my 8th graders last Friday. Last day before our Winter Break, and it was a Friday afternoon, tough. What a better thing to do on a day like that than to play a board game… in French?

Students spent the entire class period playing and speaking the language. The rules were very clear: speak one word in English and you miss a round. So they all made very sure that they would only speak in the target language. It became a competition (you know how much they love competitions!), so each winner from each team would have to play a final round with the winners from all the other teams. Whomever won would be the ultimate winner and would get an award (chocolate and candy for that matter).

imagesI created an spiral (but you could create a game with any shape, just like the picture above), and one prompt in each box with questions such as:

– Your worst nightmare.

– A funny story.

– Your most horrible defect.

– The favorite day in your life.

– A lucky day.

– Your best friend.

– What you think about smoking.set-26774_640

– Your favorite singer.

– The book that you have hated the most.

And the list can go on and on and on. And it can be adapted to different levels and, even, to multiple thematic units!

All I know is that my students were fully engaged, happy, and enjoying the class. Also, what I really know is that by the end of that day, Friday afternoon, exhausted, tired, and ready for a break, I was a proud French teacher, my students were proud French students, and we all went home with a big smile after a great day of French class. Kudos to my 8th graders. I am so proud of them. Bravo!

game

Confessions of a very nerdy Francophone-freak French Teacher

Monday morning :(. Sleepy, moody, pas la patate (just like my French friends would say). Tough! Not in the mood, still tired even if it’s just the beginning of the week… BUT, what does a freaky French teacher do?

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Eureka! Change the lesson plan of the day and just play this outstanding masterpiece. And afterwards? vocabulary review, song analysis, class discussion. Learning outcome? Listening, speaking, writing and reading! And, always vital, ART appreciation…

Ever thought of it? This is why I love being a French teacher.

Enjoy Les Trois Cloches, with the magnifique Piaf, clicking here.

Draw My Life in ELE and FLE

As you may know, there is a ¨Draw My Life¨ trend in YouTube. It consists of recording a video of your life while drawing in a whiteboard. It’s quite cool and entertaining. Obviously, most of your students most likely have heard about this (my 6th graders all knew about it before me!)

Students drawing

Student recording

So, I wanted to create something similar in my class. We have not     learned past tense yet in 6th grade so talking about their lives may       have been too hard for their level. Instead, I had them create a story (creative writing in the target language). In this story they       had to use vocabulary and structures previously learned in the course. Creativity is always highly encouraged! Also, it was required to integrate some cultural aspects of their ¨country of adoption¨. This is, their Hispanic/Francophone country that they are assigned at the beginning of the school year in my class. Students had first to research  about some cultural characteristic that they would later incorporate in the storyline.

Students using Imovie

The story creation was the first section of the project. While doing this, students were not aware yet of what they were going to do with their story afterwards. I do not want for them to get distracted with technology, so I gave them a few days to create their own, personal story in the target language. I shared a rubric with them to make clear my expectations for this part of the assignment: Writing_RUBRIC

Once the story was completed and graded by me, I explained the Draw My Life idea. I gave them the option to use index cards, some students are more technological than others, so I differentiated and made sure that each student was in their comfort zone. I also shared a rubric with them, you can find it here.

And the results were, as usual, outstanding! All students were on task, enjoying every minute of the assignment. They were helping each other record and they were proud with the final result, so was I!

Check out these links to find some examples of the projects that my 6th graders beautifully completed for our World Language Class. Enjoy!

In Spanish:  http://vimeo.com/81144850 and http://vimeo.com/81144849

In French: http://vimeo.com/81144851 and http://vimeo.com/81144852

Mr. Mme. and their personality traits in FLE

Have you ever heard about the Mr. Mme. series? It basically consists of a bunch of cute little books about a monsieur or a madame that has a certain personality trait (i.e. bizarre, gourmand, bavard…). These books are read by little kids in France but I was sure that my Middle Schoolers would totally love using one of these books for a project. And they did.

Mr. Mme.

So, I gave them the choice to work in pairs or individually. I really like to give them choices so that they start to learn to be independent thinkers and problem solvers. I made it very clear, if they were to work with a partner they had to be responsible and choose wisely; I don’t like the excuses such as: I couldn’t work with my partner, my partner didn’t call me, etc. Since I was very clear about this I didn’t have any problem when the project was due, everybody turned it in on time.

Each student or group of two students was assigned one little book. They could swap it with others if they didn’t like the title. Once they had their book, they had to complete three different sections:

1. Verb conversion. Most verbs were in passé simple or even future. We have not learned these verbs in my 8th grade French class. I told them not to even worry about them and just understand with the context. However, they had to select two pages of the book and transform the verbs to present tense, and include them in a sentence created by themselves.

2. Vocabulary. They had to select 10 vocabulary words learned with the book and create ten complex sentences applying the words to their lives (personal connection, very important!).

3. Summary. My favorite! Because this section was the most fun; creativity was highly encouraged and they could choose any way in which they would like to summarize the book to me and to their peers. Once again, I like to give an open-ended direction so that everyone is comfortable with what they are doing and taking advantage of their strongest skill. The good writers may choose to just write, the artsy ones may just choose to do something with their hands, and the good speakers may just want to give a speech (differentiated instruction, everybody!).

So, the results were outstanding. Some students turned in movies that they created with iMovie or Movie Maker, another girl, very artsy, created a comic (a BD in French) illustrating the story, another group decided to reproduce the little Mr. Mme. with clay and create a skit about it, while some other students wrote a letter to the author in French.

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If you want to find out more about the Mr. Mme. please check out their website in English or in French. You may also want to watch some movies about them here!

I was very satisfied with this project, as well as my students, and I will be repeating it again. What about you? Have you ever thought about using the Mr. Mme. collection in your language classroom? See some pictures below:ImageImageImage

Global Citizenship in the 21st Century Classroom

My dear colleague Maria Dona-Morice and I will be presenting a session at ACTFL titled: ¨Global Citizenship in the 21st Century Classroom¨. This session was selected by FFLA attendees as Best of FFLA (Florida Foreign Language Association). In this presentation we will be giving examples of projects implemented in our courses (French and Spanish). This should be useful to any Foreign Language Teacher.

It is our responsibility to promote diversity and culture awareness in our class! Enjoy the Power Point below and drop me a line if you want more information. Bon voyage!

We are the world

Global Citizenship in the 21st Century Class (1)

Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15th to October 15th: Hispanic Heritage! Let’s celebrate it and embrace the culture of traditions of the Hispanic World!

hisp

This year, I decided to approach this as a collaborative project. Not just fostering student collaboration, but teacher collaboration as well. This time, our project has taken place between grades, ranging from 6th grade regular Spanish class to 8th grade Honors class. What a challenge!

Ms. Villa and I thought that implementing this project in our Spanish class would be very educational and fun for our kids. This is the first time that I do an activity with students with so many different levels. Ms. Villa has 8th grade Honors Students while I have 6th grade kids, some of which have never learned Spanish before…. this may look a big crazy BUT it has been done AND the outcome has been tremendously gratifying for both students and teachers.

hispanicFirst off, I started by teaching my kids the most common food and restaurant vocabulary expressions. To this end, I found some very useful slide shares on the web. I found these very easy to visualize and very well explained:

Restaurante Presentation

Comida Presentation

We went over all this vocabulary for two weeks. In the meantime, we reviewed it with games, listening, dictations, readings, and speaking assignments. Students loved to share with the class their favorite foods (using me gusta/no me gusta) and restaurants. We also discussed about:

– Tipping culture in Hispanic Countries (Spain, in particular)

– Traditional foods from Hispanic Countries

– Traditional Hispanic restaurants in our area

At the beginning of the year, I gave each student a new Hispanic “origin”. They are very proud to be from another country for one year! I have some students from Peru, some others from Spain, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, etc.

Before creating our menu, students from both classes had to decide what the name of the restaurant would be. To this end, I created a survey in survey SurveyMonkey. Students voted and we came up with our Restaurant name!

For this project, students had to team up in groups of 3. Each group had to create a menu and bring a 3 course meal. Each dish from the course will be from each student’s country. We ended up having a menu with an appetizer from Peru, main dish from Argentina, and a dessert from Uruguay: a great cultural melting pot!

Check out this Google doc to find out more about Project Instructions and Rubric

I was impressed with the results. My 6th graders mingled in with their 8th grade peers as if there was no language barrier. My students were perfectly prepared so they felt proud and confident to have the required conversations at the restaurant.

With this assignment students learned to implement vocabulary in real life situation. The classroom became the best immersion scenario. Mixing food, traditions and culture was just the perfect melange, the perfect melting pot.

Learn about ePals in this free Webinar

Do you know ePals? Most likely you have previously heard about it. If you haven’t, or if you have but  do not know very well how to implement this tool in your classroom today is your lucky day. Come and join us in this free Webinar for ideas and tips on using ePals in the language classroom! 

Since I found ePals my teaching methodology has been transformed. It was so hard years ago to find a partner in another part of the world. With ePals that is not a problem any longer. What an incredible tool. Incredible and… free!

Please preregister here: http://bit.ly/1b9itPl and be ready to learn from my experience using ePals in my French classroom. This will be wonderfully useful for any Foreign Language teacher. See you on Tuesday, August 13th!Image