Monday, November 24, 2014

Storyasking & Nearpod

Lately, I've been having fun exploring the uses of Nearpod to present the target language in context in a way that engages all students.  

What is Nearpod?  It is an ipad slide sharing app that enables the teacher to control which slide the students are viewing on their ipads.  You can create a new presentation or upload a powerpoint presentation you have on file onto the Nearpod site.  The teacher views the presentation from her account on Nearpod as the students view the same presentation on ipads or ipods.  

Nearpod goes beyond being a simple powerpoint presentation.  There are options to embed quizzes, polls, sketches, matching activities, fill in the blanks, add voice, etc.  As the students answer and complete the activities, the teacher can view their answers in real time on her computer screen.  Also, there is the ability for the teacher to share the students' answers anonymously with the class.  By clicking "share", one student's answer will appear on all the ipad screens.

Below is an explanation and example of one of the Nearpod presentations I created and used with my Spanish 2 classes.

My focus structures were: se durmió, se despertó, and estaba cansado.  I wrote a story with a plot that provided opportunities to repeat those structures throughout the story.  You can write text directly on the Nearpod slides, but it was too limiting to me, so I wrote the text on a powerpoint slide and uploaded it as an image. I looked for places in the text where I could check for students' comprehension, and places where I wanted the students to add their ideas to the story. Then I added slides in the Nearpod presentation with comprehension questions, polls, questions that required the students to sketch, and a fill in the blank activity to summarize.with questions and polls. I drew some sketches to accompany the story and added the sketches to several of the activity pages on Nearpod. 

The title of the story is Pedro se durmió. Below is a screenshot of the first part of my presentation as it appears on my Nearpod account. 

To start the presentation, each student had an ipad and I gave them the 5 letter code to enter the Nearpod presentation.  As they entered, my screen showed the names of the students.  It also showed the number of students that entered the presentation in the top right corner.  (If at any time a student leaves the Nearpod presentation to explore the internet, the number changes from green to red to alert the teacher that a student has left the session.  The teacher can then click on the icon and see which student is not on task.)

After the students were in the session, the picture of Pedro and the title appeared on their screen.  Then I moved to the first slide with text and I told  them about Pedro.  I used the circling technique to familiarize the students with Pedro's information, along with personalized questions about the students' ages, if they ever went to San Antonio, etc.  

Then I swiped to the next slide, which moved the presentation to the next slide on each of the students' ipad screens. This slide had 4 short comprehension questions for them to answer.  As they submitted their answers, I quickly saw which students needed more circling and repetitions of the information.  Below is a screenshot of an example of what the teacher sees as the students answer. (I took this screenshot for this post, not during the actual presentation with the students.)

The next slide had additional text, followed by a slide that asked students why Pedro was so tired.  They typed in their answers and I watched the answers appear on my screen.  I told the class about 3 of the options the students had written and I wrote the sentences on the board rather than share the students' screens. (This is a Spanish 2 class and since there were small errors in the answers, I didn't want the students seeing the errors.)  I then wanted the students to choose which option they wanted to be part of the story so on the following slide they could choose a, b, or c.  Their answers appeared on my screen, and the answer with the highest votes became part of our story.

Below is a screenshot of what the teacher sees when the class completes a poll.  (This particular poll below, actually is later in the story.)

I continued the storytelling by reading the text with the students, asking comprehension questions while they had the text on their screens, and asking more personalized questions.

In one part of the story, the students had to sketch what Pedro's two friends did when they saw that he was sleeping. The picture to the right is an example of what a student could draw on their ipad. (I actually drew it to create this blog post).  After the students had submitted their work, I was able to view ALL of their sketches and then anonymously shared the student sketches with the students.   It provided me material for a LOT of repetitions of verbs in the 3rd person plural.

Below is the teacher's screen that shows 3 student sketches.  The teacher can choose all or only a few of the sketches to share with the class to discuss.

On the very last slide, I created a fill in the blank activity.  Since I wanted the students to read, yet one more time, the target structures, I DID NOT choose those words for the students to fill in the blanks.  I chose words close to the target structures so the students had to read the target structures in order to figure out which word in the word bank at the bottom of the page was the best choice.  

The following day in class, we reviewed the story that the class had helped me to create.  Then I distributed a copy of my original story and we read it together. For an additional reading, I had the students form a diagonal line from one corner of the classroom to another. They paired up with another student and their task was to read the story in English.  When I told students to change, one student had to move to the right, and the person at the end of the line went to the front of the line.  Students continued reading with their new partner.  While they were busy doing that, I placed a paper with questions related to the reading on their desks.  I sent them to their desks to complete the questions. After all of the readings and work with the text the previous day, the comprehension and short answer questions were a cinch for the students to complete.

I used the Pedro se durmió story with two classes.  After we finished, I asked for student feedback.  They said they enjoyed helping to create the story with Nearpod. 

Advantages of using Nearpod in connection with storyasking/storytelling:
- All students participated
- Instant feedback on which students understood the story and which students needed additional circling and repetition. I didn't have to specifically call on students to find this out since ALL answered the comprehension questions.
- It is easy to return to earlier slides when more repetition is needed.
- Students really wanted to see ALL their classmates' sketches.  This meant they heard a LOT of examples of verbs in the 3rd person plural.
-  It kept the students actively engaged.  There was not much time for them to "zone out".
- Quiet students were engaged.  
- I liked the ability to share answers anonymously.  If I wanted to share a sentence that was incorrect, I could ask students what they would do differently, but none of the students would know who had written the sentence that was being shared.

Disadvantages to Nearpod
- I STILL...haven't been able to receive help from the Nearpod staff on why I am unable to share the presentation.  (frustrating) Update: I found a way to share the interactive presentation that is on my Nearpod account. If you want to view it and have a copy of it, send me your email (in comments below or a direct message through Twitter if you don't want to make your email public) and I will email it to you.  You need a basic free account with Nearpod in order to access the presentation.OR...try the following link (you must have a basic nearpod account to open it).
  open this link.
- It takes more time to prepare for a story than regular storytelling.
- We are not a 1:1 school, so I need to plan ahead to ensure that I have access to the ipads on a particular day.
- There is a limit to how many presentationsyou can save to the Nearpod account.  If you have the free basic level (silver level), only 30 students can log into Nearpod at one time.
- You need an internet connection.
- Technology, overall, diminishes that one-to-one interaction.

Overall, I liked trying something new for storyasking/storytelling.  I will probably use Nearpod for this type of activity 2- 3x/semester (1 semester = 90 days).  I don't want to overuse it or the novelty will wear off quickly. 

Another story uploaded to Nearpod
If you want to see the full presentation/story, click HERE to see the presentation that I uploaded to my GoogleDrive. (It isn't interactive because it is a powerpoint of the Nearpod presentation.) I took screenshots from the student's view and from my desktop view for the presentation and then added those screenshots onto a powerpoint.  It would be much easier to share if/when Nearpod figures out why my Sharing is not functioning in my account.

I have another Nearpod storytelling presentation that I used with another class on "Larry el vampiro".  If Nearpod can correct the issue with sharing, I'm willing to share that one through the app email with anyone that is interested.

The above is an example for storyasking/storytelling. Nearpod has MANY other uses which I am interested in seeing and hearing how other MFL teachers have incorporated it into their classes.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

ACTFL 2014 - Breathe Life into Reading Document

Several hours ago, I returned home after a busy 3 days at ACTFL 2014.

For those that attended my session with Krista Applegate entitled, "Breathe Life into Reading to Increase Student Engagement and Comprehension" and others that may be interested, I uploaded a document on the ACTFL website with information from the session.  

You can also access it HERE.
If you have trouble accessing it, or have questions regarding the information, please do not hesitate to contact me.  You will notice that I added links to my website or others, because with the exception of 2 or 3 of the activities, I have blogged about it in the past or have directed readers to others' blogs with excellent descriptions.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

El Día de los Muertos - Painting Faces & Pumpkins

To teach about El día de los muertos, my lesson plans were probably similar to many other Spanish teachers throughout the US and in other countries - video clips, cultural readings, songs, etc.  (Find more information on these activities in previous posts: Videos & reading materials, and 23+ Activities for Day of the Dead and Halloween

Surprised with my student's face paint!
But this year I added a perspective to El día de los Muertos that I've wanted to do for the last two years - face painting! I did a trial run and painted half my face two nights in advance and was pleased to discover it took only approximately 30 minutes from start to finish.  (see photo on right) Then I convinced our other Spanish teacher to join me, and I spent part of my first period plan with paintbrush in hand and her face as my canvas. :-) 

However, the BEST part was when my first class period of student arrived and one of my students also had her face painted for El día de los Muertos.  

I used to think this would be hard to do, but IT IS NOT difficult.  If you want to surprise your students next year for El día de los muertos, this may be what you need.  I have to add that I have supportive administrators who gave me the green light to teach like this for the day!  

Two of my classes did their own version of "face painting" by painting pumpkins to look like calaveras.  Since there were a limited supply of white pumpkins where I bought the pumpkins, students needed to paint the pumpkins with two base coats of white before the decorating began.  I didn't want to take class time for this so I allowed students to come to my class during lunch and after school.  They students came two days in a row during lunch to work on their pumpkins and, even though I really enjoy talking to my colleagues during lunch, it was really enjoyable to have students in my room and chatting as they painted.  

I have a great photo of the students with their finished "calaveras" but I didn't obtain permission from each of them (yet) to post it on my blog.  If I get that permission, I'll be sure to add it to this post.

Both of these activities would be great ideas for Spanish Club.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fluency Writes - the Power of Slowing Down Instruction

It has happened - finally. Two weeks ago I collected a class of student Fluency Writes and, across the board, they were much, much better than I had anticipated.  

The only difference from other years in which the Fluency Writes were "ok", (but without a doubt much better than students could have ever done when I used to teach directly from the textbook in a very traditional manner), and this year in which the Fluency Writes are consistently better written, is that I forced myself to go SLOWer in my teaching and to not rush into new grammar structures and vocabulary words.  When I thought students knew the materials "well enough", instead of moving on, I created yet another story to recycle the words or another activity which included the use of the words in a different manner.

I was a bit concerned when, in mid October, I realized I was at least 3 weeks behind where I was in my lessons from the previous year, but it turns out that the extra time working with the structures resulted in students writing better. 

Below are two writing examples:
 Example A:

 Example B:

These two examples are not necessarily from the top two students in the class. I remember when I took the papers home to read over the weekend, after reading the first 3 or 4 that were really well written, I was expecting the quality to soon go down. After all, surely the majority of the class couldn't write that well.  Wrong - the majority of the class really did write "that well".  

Background on the Fluency Write:
- I had "storyasked" a story similar to the Larry the vampire story; later told them the story about Larry el vampire; they worked with sketches and matched sentences to them; they put the events in order; retold the story to their partner; and helped create a few other stories that used some of the same vocabulary.  
- I then projected a collage of the sketches we had used in class to help remind them of the plot, and students had 10 minutes to write.
- I underlined the correct writing in orange; I used a green marker to underline a sentence that wasn't correct and the following day asked students to work with a partner to decide what would be a better way to write that sentence. I didn't make any (well, maybe a few) marks on the papers after the first 100 words.
- This was their second Fluency Write of the semester; the first one was on a different story.