1 Two 1, Collaboration, Google, iOS

Second Semester!

Whew! Second semester is in full swing! It’s been a bit crazy here but things are starting to settle down nicely. Last semester I taught French 1, French 2 and French 3. This semester I’m only teaching French 2 (block & year long classes)! I have high hopes for a much less stressful couple of months. Some things to stay tuned for…

*My class will be getting a class set of ChromeBooks soon as part of our district’s 1TWO1 initiative.

*My French 3 class finished up their final projects, so I’ll be sharing more on that soon.

*I also found out that my proposal for the 2012 SCFLTA conference was accepted. In February I’ll be presenting on using mobile devices (phones, ipods, etc) in the classroom.

*My semester French 2 classes are just finishing up their review projects. I’ll have more to share about how it went this time around.

*On a whim (and since my desks were in groups) I experimented with a speaking activity with my year-long French 2 classes today. I think it went decently well but I want to get it down on “paper” for the future.

à bientôt!

Google, iOS

F3 Project Proposals

Yesterday my French 3’s final project proposals were due…

After they submitted their proposal, I had individual meetings to discuss their project. Together, we tweeked their ideas so that they didn’t require too  much new vocabulary (I don’t want them to be reliant on a dictionary). We also made sure that they would be able to talk about the past and future. As we met, I edited the spreadsheet to reflect what we discussed. After class, I took screen shots of their final proposals and emailed them to each student.

They have the rest of this week, plus the week that we come back from break, to work on the projects. It is completely up to them if they work on the projects during break…but if they use class time wisely, they shouldn’t have to do too much at home. We shall see what happens!

Google, iOS

#iPads and Open House

This is going to be a quick post because I am completely overwhelmed with all the things I have to do in the next week. However, I am a procrastinator by nature…donc voilà! I’m blogging 🙂

We have Open House every semester at my high school where parents are encouraged to come meet their children’s teachers. It is a drop in format and I like to keep it this way (NOT have individual conferences with each parent). In the past I have had a sign-in sheet for parents. This, like all paper, usually gets tucked away somewhere never to be seen again!

In the spirit of trying to be paperless and to give the parents a little taste of what their students were doing in class, I set up a couple iPads in my classroom (the table cleverly blocks parents from staying too long ;).

I had google doc ready and open for parents to fill out when they came in.

Although I was constantly re-logging into the network wi-fi, I really liked how this worked! Parents are definitely not as tech-savvy as their children, but I think it gave them a good experience. Before Open House started, I made a note of all the parents who hadn’t filled out the beginning of the year surveys. After they finished signing in, I helped them navigate to those surveys. Two for the price of one!

Like all google forms, the results were in a neat spreadsheet. The next morning when I got to school, all I had to do was copy and paste their email addresses and send them a note thanking them for coming. It was quick and easy and I like making positive contact with parents!

Collaboration, iOS, Social Media

New #twittclasses exchange!

I was excited when @Mister_Street asked if I wanted to collaborate! My @rvhfrancais3 students were also pretty excited. They were disappointed not to be able to tweet in real time (time zones!) but hopefully they will realize how cool it is tomorrow when they see responses from @3eVictorHugo! Like my French 1 students, they will be filling out a google form using iPods. We will be tweeting from our class account and I will be discussing their mistakes with them before sending them off. Our hashtag is #rvhclv and you can find the archives here.

My French 3 class has been very interesting this year. This is my 3rd year teaching and the 3rd year in a row that I have had 5 of the students. Another 7 of them I have taught previously (French 1 or 2) and only 2 of them this is their first year in my class. This has added an interesting dynamic to the class. They know how I run my classroom and usually all is good in our world (we have developed great relationships!). However I have been struggling with them lately – they’re almost TOO comfortable (with me and each other)! It has also been very interesting for me to hear their opinions – many don’t think going 1:1 is worth the money, they want paper and pencil, they don’t like twitter…. Basically they are resistant to change! They’re only high school students and already so jaded! Part of me is sad that they are a block class so I won’t have them next semester…another small part of me will be ready to let them go.

Collaboration, iOS

Review – Part 3

Last post on this review!

After the round robins and activities, we looked at the presentations as a class and talked about if anything was wrong. I changed the slides (as much as I could) before I posted them for the students to see. Then all students took a quiz. My French 2 students took the French 1 final..but I let them work with a partner of their choosing. I wanted to hold them accountable for learning the information from the other presentations. However…weeks and weeks and weeks later, I’m always surprised at how much they don’t know (or don’t care?) 😦

Some of the groups had really great ideas for activities! One group did a variation on the amazing race – in pairs, students had to go to note cards around the room in sequential order and answer the questions. The first pair done, won. A couple groups did scavenger hunts with note cards placed around the room – individually students went around the room searching for answers to questions. One group made a cross word puzzle for groups to complete – puzzle was filled in by correctly conjugating verbs. The two French 2 groups with numbers created activities where students had to count – in one class students had to go around the room counting (un, deux, clap, quatre, cinq, clap, etc). This presented problems because students didn’t listen. In the other class, students got in a circle and threw a beach ball to each other. Students had to say the next number (en français) and were out if they got it wrong. Both activities made me realize that they don’t know numbers! Most of the other activities didn’t really go well or were taken directly from the textbook. One very unconventional activity in my French 3 class was called “Stoned.” A student stood in the center of the room and was asked a question. If they got it wrong, other students threw paper balls at him/her. Luckily they are a very close group and could handle it. However I doubt I’ll be repeating that activity 😉

I put all of the presentations on my website so that students can go back to them throughout the year: French 2 & French 3. Some of the groups used the iPods to take pictures and I transferred them from the iPods to the iPads using the mac computer. This could have been much simpler if we had iPad 2s! I loved the idea of adding pictures though. I think videos would also be pretty cool to add in the future (this would definitely make it more stand alone).
Here are the final notes that I wrote to myself…
*grade presentation & activity separate? that way students can grade it immediately after and not have to try to remember presentation after activities
*make sure to have time for all students to be able to do grades (they used iPod touches and didn’t always have time to finish)
*when students are completing grading forms – make sure to include group number in form
*have written on board – group # with names & topics
*remind students that they are grading the material, not the people
*put groups together based on strengths/weaknesses
Collaboration, Google, iOS

More review with #Keynote and #iPads

I was really excited about the review project! I was finally able to use the iPads for something meaningful and students were excited to be using the technology.

I love allowing students to teach each other but I just didn’t know how it was all going to work. I asked my Integration Technology Specialist at the time (MaryAnn) for ideas about how groups could present their lessons. She recommended round robin sessions…genius! I set up my desks in groups of 5 or 6. We used the cases that came with the iPads to stand them up. I gave students the choice to leave a group member with the iPad for a few minutes (to introduce the lesson) or not. Most groups chose not to and I encouraged this because they needed to be traveling around so they could learn from the other groups!

**Note: Next time I would tell students from the beginning to create a stand-alone tutorial. I didn’t like when students had to stay behind and weren’t able to get the most out of the activity**

I gave groups a few minutes to finalize and get set up. Then we rotated every 8-10 minutes. Students took notes at each station and wrote down any questions they had so we could address them later.

After the round robin sessions were over, each group led at least one activity so that students could use the information they had been reviewing. Some were great, others were not.

**Note: The process of presenting and activities took several days. It worked really well in my block class (French 3) because we were able to do all of the round robins and then all of the activities. However my French 2 classes were more difficult to organize because they are only 45 minute classes.**

As I mentioned before, I wanted students to be involved in the grading process and take ownership of the project. For each lesson (Keynote & activity), I asked them to complete this survey…

They also graded each of the members in their group. I asked them to look at the Collaboration Rubric and they completed this form…

I averaged the grades from their peers and created a rubric for each group (in google docs). I then made copies of the group rubric for every student in the group. I shared this rubric with each student individually so that they could see their grades (our district has google apps for education). It probably took more time than if I had used paper, but I hate making hundreds of copies of rubrics that students are just going to throw away 😦

I also believe that teachers need to get feedback from their students about projects and just in general. Of course I gave them a google form to complete!

I was a pretty happy with their answers to the survey. I didn’t make it anonymous which I probably could have. Maybe they would have been more honest. French 2 is periods 3 and 5, French 3 is 6/7 block.

Whew! In total, this project took about 6.5 blocks (95 minutes) for my French 3 class and 11 skinnies (45 minutes) for my French 2 classes. I’ll blog again later with examples of the presentations and activities and my final notes 🙂

Collaboration, Google, iOS

Review with #iPads

**I meant to do this post awhile ago, but it’s been crazy around here.**

At the beginning of the year, I always do weeks and weeks of review with my French 2 & 3 students. I start with a pre-test to see where my students strengths and weaknesses are. I was going to embed these, but they’re too long! French 2 & French 3 pre-tets. Usually the results aren’t so positive 😦

Since I’ve already taught all of this information, I don’t really feel like teaching it again. I put my students in charge of their own learning, making sure they understand that if they can teach somebody else something they are that much closer to mastering it. This year I decided to allow the students to create their lessons using the iPads and Keynote. I’ve used the iPods a lot, but having only 5 iPads doesn’t allow me to use them very often.

**Note: I really enjoyed using iPads for this project and would definitely do it again. We bought Keynote but I think it was worth it. Since this project I have been told about a couple other apps that I think would work great for a stand-alone tutorial although I haven’t experimented (ScreenChomp and ShowMe interactive whiteboard).**

Based on the pre-test and discussions with students, I made a list of review groups. For my French 3 class, these were 1) useful vocab, present -ir & -re verbs and faire; 2) object pronouns; 3) passé composé & imparfait and present tense avoir & être; 4) futur proche & passé récent, reflexive verbs and present tense aller & venir. I randomly drew students names and allowed them to sign up for their desired group. Groups were capped at 6 people (for my large French 2 class) but most groups but most groups had 4-5.

**Note: Next time I would probably put them into groups taking into account their strengths and weaknesses, their ability level and how they work with other students. I would also limit the group size to 3 or 4 instead of 5 or 6.**

After the groups were figured out, I asked students to choose a job. All the students were responsible for finding the information for the presentation (using the textbooks, dictionaries, online textbook and any other sources they wanted). I promoted google docs for collaboration, but its awesomeness doesn’t always sink in. One to two students were in charge of finding the correct answers for a section of the pre-test.




A couple other students (2-3) started creating activities for the class to do after learning about their topic. In order to help them create engaging activities so that the class could use the learned information, we had a class discussion about what type of activities they would be interested in. They were most interested in activities that got them up and moving and involved video. I have lots of kinesthetic and visual learners! Lastly, one person was in charge of creating the Keynote slide show for their lesson. I asked that this person be tech savvy but I did not tell them that they would be using the iPads. 😉 I took these students out in the hallway, gave each an iPad and had them walk themselves through the tutorial provided when you purchase Keynote. Then I had them create their own presentation to mess around with.




**Note: I think it is extremely important to allow students to to play around with the new technology first. After having iPods for a year, I have learned to explicitly teach them how to use new programs and to let them explore before allowing them to create the final product. This takes quite a bit of time up front, but is always worth it in the end.**

The next day, after I allowed them to get started, we created the rubric together. I told them that there were two non-negotiable criteria for the rubric – depth of content and accuracy of content. Then I had them complete an anonymous google form to gather information from them.

Here are some of their responses:
As you can see, many of them had similar ideas. These similarities appeared not only within the same classes, but across classes and levels. This is our final rubric. Lastly, I asked them who they thought should grade each portion of the rubric. With a little bit of guiding from me (only a little!), all classes decided that I should grade on both of the content criteria but that all students should have some say in how creative & original the lesson was and how engaging and educational the activity was. They also decided that the group members should decide on the grades of the other members of the group.

**Note: I had never allowed students input in the rubric and I thought it was a great experience! I was surprised at how similar their responses were. I think they took more ownership of the project and their grades because of the input I allowed them.**

This has been very long winded! Later I’ll be back with how we set up the lessons & activities, how I collected student input for the group grades, final student products & their thoughts on the project and some final notes 🙂

Chromebooks, iOS, Social Media

Life Happens

Life has been hectic lately. I don’t have time for much of anything extra. I’ll be at a Working on the Work conference in Georgia Sunday to Wednesday, but hopefully I’ll have time to get some more posts up. Too many good ideas, not enough time!

In the meantime, here is the video my district did about our Twitter project with M. Davignon.

p.s. My name is Lissa (not Lisa) – as in Melissa without the ‘me.’

Google, iOS

Summer Reading Celebration #rvReads2011

Today we didn’t have a traditional day at school. We celebrated reading!

Students (and teachers) choose a book from a long list to read over the summer and then we spend one day discussing the books and celebrating! In the morning, we had pre-discussion time with our advisories (so they could actually have time to remember what they read). Then we moved into the gym and auditorium for the summer reading movie. This year’s was way better than last years’ but not much can compete with two years’ ago! After that, students separated into groups based on their books (about 2 teachers per group).

Keely Hitchings and I read The Orange Houses. We started by having them fill out a google form.

This served serveral purposes: attendance, iPod use agreement and gathering their student number so I could give them author priviledges to our blog (more on that in a minute). For our getting to know you activity, everyone (including Keely & I) wrote 3 truths on a half sheet of paper and crumpled it up in a ball. As students picked out paper balls, they read the 3 truths and tried to guess who it was (most students didn’t know each other). When we guessed correctly, the student told us their name, grade and gave a star rating to the book. Ratings ranged from 2 to 4 with mostly 3s and 4s 🙂 Yay for a good book! (seriously, you should go read it)

Our next activity was a philosophical chairs anticipation guide. Students moved to one side of the room or the other based on whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement displayed. Going back and forth between sides, students summarized the previous person’s argument and then gave us their own opinion. Last year, this activity didn’t go so well for us (we read 13 Reasons Why). This year, however, it took up way more time than we thought it would and we actually had to stop students from talking…because we wanted to move on the the awesomest part of the day!

Keely and I choose a couple good movie trailers (The Dark Knight Rises, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and a couple bad trailers (Twilight, Click, Transformers). We noted that it was not that these were bad MOVIES, but bad TRAILERS. We asked the students to think about what made them good or bad as we were watching them. This is what Keely and I came up with:

good because:
*makes you want to go see it NOW (even for $10)
*tells you just enough about the story to intrigue you
*tells you about the story, but leaves big gaps
*good music

bad because:
*gives away the entire movie (predictable plot)
*don’t need to pay to see movie after seeing trailer
*doesn’t make you wonder
*scattered, not organized

Students then had options for what they created based on our book. Using iMovie, they could create a movie trailer. Because of time constraints, we only had one group choose this option.


The other options were a storyboard trailer (using Keynote), an epilogue, detailing which Hollywood actors would play the characters in the movie version (and why), and a countdown to a life-changing event in their own life. Because we had so little time, most of the students chose to write an epilogue or choose movie characters. Check out our blog to see what they did! The logistics of how they edited the blog…During lunch I added each of the students in our group as an author (using their google apps account). They were sent an email from me inviting them to join the blog. Using the iPods, they checked their email and followed the instructions for registering for blogger (in the future I would be diligent about having them create appropriate usernames – first initial, last name). Then students accessed and edited the blog using the Blogger app that I found in iTunes and downloaded to each iPod. This app was a great way for them to create posts with pictures. Last night, I went through and took away their author privileges so they can’t go do anything irresponsible now that we’re not watching over them. If we had more time, it would have been fun for them to comment on each others’ posts.

For the last 1.5 hours of the day, everyone headed to the gyms for a carnival. There were tons of games, face-painting, dancing, and FOOD. It’s craziness, but most of the kids have fun.

Overall, I think this year was the best celebration since I’ve been here. My only complaint was that the carnival was too long and we didn’t have enough time in our book groups. But I know other teachers would complain that they had too much time. Although we maybe get half of the student body to come to school (I don’t know exact numbers), the ones that do come seem to have a pretty good time even if they don’t want to admit it 🙂