1 Two 1, Chromebooks, Google

How I used #Chromebooks in the classroom today

In my next life I’ll be better at planning my lessons ahead of time (also at blogging regularly). I’ve found that in my teaching life I think on my feet way better than I think in advance. Today was a perfect example!

I was planning on having my French 2 year long class rewrite a present tense story using the imperfect tense (imparfait). Then we’d put the new verbs on the board and talk about what was happening in the story. I was also planning on introducing how/when to use imparfait in a new way & show some videos from my previous classes.

HOWEVER, as my students were working on their bellwork, I realized how long it was taking them and how difficult it was proving to be for them.

Text of story…
C’est une nuit de décembre. Il fait froid. Il neige. Nous sommes deux dans la voiture – ma sœur Lucienne et moi. Mais la voiture ne marche pas. Nous n’avons plus d’essence (gas). Au bord de la route, il y a une vielle femme. Elle a les cheveux blancs et son cou est très long. Elle promène un chien et elle chante très fort. Ma sœur et moi la trouvons un peu bizarre.]

On the spot I made a google form (while they were finishing).

I had students grab their Chromebooks. First I needed them to download a new Chrome extension that my ITS found. It’s genius for math or world language teachers! (I took this picture after I wrote the directions for my block classes – I do this often…write something on the whiteboard, snap a picture with my iPod touch and use it later or share it with students!).

I then had students check their email (I almost always email forms to students so that it shows up right in their email instead of giving them the link…saves steps and is much easier to explain!). As you can see in the form above, I broke the paragraph down into sentences so they could more easily find the 12 verbs to conjugate. I also chose to automatically collect students’ email addresses so that they would receive their responses. (Note: I realized today that students have no idea how to find verbs in sentences. My English teacher next-door neighbor assured me this is the case in English too!)

After all the students submitted their answers, I downloaded the Flubaroo script, ran it and graded the assignment (see website for tutorial & video…super easy!). I opted to have Flubaroo send the students their grades. Tonight’s homework is to use their responses & and their grade to correct their answers.

Tomorrow in class I will share the results of the form with students so that everyone can see on their personal Chromebook (I created gmail groups for each class so that it is easy to share & email gdocs). This is what students will see…

Obviously I don’t want students to see who submitted the responses. So I have hidden the columns with student info (right click on column heading, select ‘hide column’). I also hid the Flubaroo spreadsheet. I didn’t want to delete this information because I still need it! Tomorrow I want students to quickly be able to see which answers are completely correct, which ones would have received partial credit (had this been a formal assessment) and which ones were completely wrong. In order to do this, I used conditional formatting to identify the correct answers in pink. I did have to go through by hand and change the almost correct answers to blue. Anything in black is wrong. Depressing huh?

It wasn’t until today that I realized the power of having students use google forms to submit responses and then share the spreadsheet with them so that they could see others’ responses and we could talk about them. I’m excited for the possibilities!


Speaking Activity w/ Tech

One of the things that I struggle with the most teaching in a foreign language classroom is getting students to actually SPEAK. They are nervous to speak in front of their peers (or me), they can’t talk without writing everything first, they resort to English whenever they can’t ‘find’ the French word, they don’t care about the topic being discussed (textbooks are so lame and rarely authentic)…I could probably go on and as I’m sure other world language teachers could too.

Two weeks ago, my desks were set up in groups (as opposed to modified rows) so that my block classes could do group work (more to come on their review projects soon). As usual, I was finalizing what my year long classes would be doing that day. I had also recently added Frenchified to my google reader. So…5 groups + frenchified + 5 iPads = a speaking activity based on authentic & interesting topics!

I allowed students to sit wherever they wanted and then placed an iPad at each table. When I told them we’d be speaking, there was a collective groan. For some reason, they don’t actually want to speak 😦 First we discussed strategies for how stay in the language once I turned the flag over to the French side (piece of paper – 1 side French flag, 1 side English flag). Demonstrating how (on the smartboard) and telling them what to do, I helped them navigate to their assignment (I’m still having trouble embedding google docs) on the iPads. Each table read/looked at the links for their table and then discussed (in French) the big picture (i.e. music, TV, etc). After about 8 minutes, we debriefed (in English). We discussed strategies that worked and those that didn’t. We talked about any words they didn’t know how to say and the strategy of ‘talking around the word’ (circumlocution). I allowed them to ask questions before they moved on to the next topic (I want them to be successful when speaking French!). I also talked to them (again) about how important it is to actually attempt to speak in French when the French flag was showing (they’re only hurting themselves if they don’t!).

This lesson actually ended up taking 2 days (45 minute periods). Students were able to make it to each topic and had to switch group members between each (variety). At the end of the 2nd day, I asked them to tell me what they thought about the way we did the activity, if they would want to do it again, if they enjoyed talking about relevant topics, what their favorite topic to talk about was, how they felt when they were successful in speaking only French, etc (I think student feedback is extremely valuable).

This format for speaking could have endless possibilities because of the variety of topics that could be discussed. I liked that students had to interpret & communicate. Students could also do the job of finding the articles to make them own it even more. I would (and hope to) do it again 🙂




I’ve known for about a month that my ITS applied for a promotion to go from the school level to the district office level. I found out last week that she got the job 😦 She starts Monday. That means I’ve lost a great resource that is just feet away. But I’m really excited for her! Luckily she will still be just a gchat away.

The sweet part of the deal is that I know have a (hopefully) permanent guest on my desk 🙂

This is especially nice for me because I am not a plan-aheader (at least when it comes to lesson plans). It seems as though I come up with my best ideas at the last minute. Having the iMac and a cart of iPods in my classroom means that when I have last minute ideas with potential, I can try them out. After having the iPods for almost a year, I truly believe that the best way to use technology more effectively is to just play and experiment with it. Sometimes it’s going to fail miserably. Other times it’s going to be genius. Most times, it’s going to need some tweeking – which is one of the main reasons I started this blog. I hope that writing about and reflecting on what I do in my classroom will make me a better educator.