Friday, February 22, 2013

I LOVE Quizlet!

Have you heard about Quizlet? It's a very powerful tool all teachers should know about! Basically, Quizlet is a website that allows you to create flashcards in many languages. Students can access the cards you've created and play games and even take tests in order to learn the words on the cards.  They can also listen to any word in French and hear how it's pronounced.  And it's FREE.
I decided last year to make Quizlet flashcard sets for every unit for each level of French that I teach.  That was a lot of flashcards!!  I put links to all the sets on my class web pages, and now students can go there any time they want to and study for any unit they want to, which I think is a great resource for a teacher to provide.  If you would like to see the sets I've made, or even use them, you can search for my user name (madamermwood) at the Quizlet site.

The questions becomes, however, how to integrate this tool into a world language classroom.  If you ask students to complete an activity on Quizlet during your class time, how do you hold them accountable to do so?  There is a very easy solution to this, and I learned it from my friend Joanne Thomas.  She published a fabulous new French program for middle school which I'm using, and she has integrated Quizlet into the whole program.  Joanne asks her students to complete an activity and then provide proof of completion by sending her a screen shot of the final "page" of the activity.  Here's an example of one:

Students can't get to this view until they've completed the whole activity, so this works very well.  A word of caution, however.  If a student clicks out of the activity, they have to start again at the beginning of the activity. 

I've seen how well Quizlet works to help students learn by using Joanne's middle school program, so I've begun to use it in my high school classes as well.  I've been assigning Quizlet activities during class as review before a test or quiz.  I sometimes give students part of the hour to complete the activity, which I can do easily since I'm lucky enough to be in a high school that has a 1:1 iPad program.  I'm happy to report that Quizlet works well on iPads!  Students can complete the activity in class and send me a screen shot from their iPads.  I can easily see how everyone is progressing by walking around the room and looking at the blue progress bar you see in the upper left hand corner of the screen shot. 
Obviously, it would be easy to assign these activities as homework as well.  There are many ways you can use Quizlet, and it really does help students improve their mastery and even their spelling of the vocabulary words.  My favorite activity is the new "Speller".  In this activity, students hear a person say the vocabulary word in French, and then they have to type it correctly with accents included.  The screen shot above is from a "speller" activity.

If you haven't tried Quizlet, I encourage you to check it out!  You won't be disappointed :).

Friday, February 1, 2013

Puppet Pals App for iPad!

This year I tried a new project at the end of the semester as a way to review what we'd learned.  My high school is in year #2 of a 1:1 iPad program, and I consider myself lucky to have this amazing tool to work with when considering a new project.  I decided to try an app I'd heard of called PuppetPals HD.  This app allows students to create puppet shows using different backgrounds and different characters, and they are able to record their voices as well.  The possibilities for creativity are endless, and to top it off, the app is free!

I asked students to create a puppet show after giving them specific guidelines for what I expected to be included.  Students had a lot of freedom to create whatever sort of story they wanted to.  While creating these projects, I was happy to see lots of smiling and giggling going on.  I was also pleased with the results.  Here's an example.

I was delighted to be able to give my students a new and different way to use and practice their French.  I would recommend this app for use in any world language classroom!


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