Choice boards: the project that simultaneously accounted for all language skills as well as differentiation. It was also the answer to my Thursdays in a hectic year.
What is a choice board?
Choice boards are exactly as they sound: The Bingo-like board give students varying options in regards to content theme and what platform they will present out for the end project. Here is what I drafted on a plane, which was eventually transferred to a Google Doc.
How it works: a breakdown
As you can see, I separated the project areas into reading, writing, listening, speaking, and cultural comprehension. I assign via the “Make a copy” option under Google Classroom so that students can edit the document. Students have the freedom to choose a box (their project), that could last anywhere from two to four weeks, depending upon the student’s own pacing. I require at least one project to be completed within a six-weeks marking period, but students can move onto another box as soon as they finish the previous. Here are my set guidelines:
Choose wisely! If you start a box, you must finish all three levels.
When you finish a box, change the color to show that it is complete.
Turn in your project via the “Turn it in” Google Classroom option. (Some students directly pasted links, etc., in the box of the chosen project.)
All projects must be in French.
Online translators are not permitted under any circumstances.
All writing must be completed in class, not at home.
Have an outside the box idea? Run it by Mme Gatewood!
Within each box are three levels, all of which must be completed before moving onto another project (another box). Students must complete “L1” (level one) before moving onto the other two levels. Here are more examples for the choice board given to French 1-3:
Thursday takeaways – keep these in mind
Check in for progress and accountability: While this is intended to be a self-paced project every Thursday, certain students certainly require more attention than others. Thursdays are also when I conduct weekly speaking assessments so, at first, I was not as actively monitoring the students’ progress on their choice board project. I am now mindful to check in during their speaking assessment to see their progress and help tease out ideas for their project.
Don’t wait until the end to grade! I felt like I had made a rookie mistake when I collected a majority of the projects all at the same time, coinciding with the end of the marking period. (Talk about a nightmare.) I strongly suggest giving students a grade for each level as the projects come in, staggering your workload. I use Middlebury Writing and Speaking Rubrics.
And most importantly…student enjoyment: Students had the option to choose their project, not set to a specific theme or grammar area. I had favorable feedback from students who enjoyed their opportunity to express creativity in varying forms. Whether they were designing French t-shirts and accessories for their store’s Google Site or planning an itinerary for the perfect trip to their chosen destination, students walked in on Thursdays with ideas in hand, ready to show off their creation to classmates.
This was an answer to a prayer of differentiating even further while peaking student interest. After all…it’s all about student engagement, isn’t it?
Many people think of Padlet as an online Post-It board for thoughts and discussion, an excellent visual. You can choose a template or a blank slate to create beautiful boards, documents, or webpages independently or with several other collaborators. People can add content, comment, like other comments, and make edits in real-time, making a virtual discussion easy to launch in your classroom. Check out below for more ideas!
A quick overview:
Once you have followed all of the standard account setup procedures on the Padlet homepage, you will be ready to explore the numerous features Padlet has to offer. Here are some highlights:
User-friendly setup and platform.
Changes are autosaved.
Quick sharing links for easy collaboration. Sign-up not required for contributors.
Available in 29 languages (and intentions to add more).
Updates are live, instantly appearing across all devices.
Various editing permissions, such as read-only, write, moderate, or admin access.
Padlets support almost any file type to be uploaded and can be exported as PDFs, CSVs, Images, or Excel Files.
Padlets can be embedded on a website or blog.
Padlets have a variety of privacy settings (see below).
Upgrade to Premium to create private networks, manage users and monitor their activity, store bigger files, create a custom domain, and have access to more wallpapers and themes.
Let’s dig deeper.
What can be added to a post? Collaborators can add photos, documents, web links, video, and music to their posts, creating an incredibly vivid discussion or page.
Special feature! Afraid of the text that might appear on your screen when in the throes of discussion? Enable the “Filter bad words with good emojis” under the Settings menu.
Can I change the wallpaper that automatically appeared when I created a padlet? Absolutely! Go to the Settings menu (cog wheel icon) and click “Wallpaper.” You will be able to change to other available options or upload your own. Here are Step-by-Step Padlet Wallpaper Instructions for more help.
What are reactions?Teachers and peers can grade, star, upvote/downvote, or like posts on Padlet to give immediate feedback. Each Padlet can only have one reaction type, as designated by the Padlet owner. If reactions are turned on, users can react to their own post or other posts. Users are limited to one reaction per post but unlimited on reacting to all posts on the Padlet. Users can also change and delete their reactions. Enable reactions under the Settings menu and choose your reaction type!
What privacy settings are available? Click on the Share menu (top right) and then “Change Privacy” to modify your padlet’s viewability. Here are your options:
Private – completely hidden from the public.
Password – hidden from the public; password required if I choose to share the padlet with other people.
Secret – hidden from the public but accessible by those with the padlet link.
Public – anyone can see the padlet.
Creative Padlet uses for the classroom
The number one reason to use Padlet? Collaboration. Wait – creativity. No, wait – self expression. Have I made my point? There are too many reasons to pin down the best.
Introduce yourself – Ask students to create a board introducing themselves at the beginning of the year. This could also be a great option for a world languages family vocabulary unit.
Warm-ups and exit tickets – When students respond to the padlet, all of your answers are automatically in one place for you.
Exchange experience with another school – Post topic discussion questions and have students reflect upon their experience in their own culture regarding that topic. Let the two classes explore and compare cultural differences based on responses.
Live questions – Leave a padlet up on the board to see students’ questions come in during the lesson.
Online student portfolio – Students can contribute to their personal padlet over the course of the year.
Student-designed curriculum – Ask students to contribute their i.e., debate topics or current events to be discussed throughout the unit.
Classroom newsletter – Share information with your students and parents in one centralized location.
Brainstorming – Set the topic and let students’ ideas flow.
Philosophical chairs – Post the discussion topic to allow students to analyze and logically form their arguments for debate.
Book Shelfies – Students take a picture of a book they read and write a review.
Story starters – Students complete the story that you begin, whether via opening text or a picture.
Eulogy for a sandwich – My students ran with this serious yet funny writing assignment.
Messages from parents – Parents can leave their child a message for the first day of school.
Icebreaker and emotional check-in – Post a question, i.e., how students are feeling about the upcoming school year. When answers are anonymous, students may feel more secure after seeing other students with the same fears or desires.
Visual vocabulary board – Assign a word to each student on a collaborative padlet. Each student must define the word, use it in a sentence, and add a visual.
Collaborative review – Students must write in a true/false or multiple choice question based on content learned during the week. The teacher can then create a review game (i.e., Quizizz, Kahoot) based on student’s padlet questions.
Padlet is an excellent visual discussion-promoting tool that can make your lessons come alive. Furthermore, it saves student work to one location, making ideas, projects, collaborative vocabulary boards, etc., easily accessible and organized. Try it out today!
I had the perfect opportunity…and I failed. One hundred percent missed the mark and failed as a teacher.
There is a class that I will always look back on and think, “It could’ve been so much better.” I was blessed with a French 3 class of four students (yes, I said “four”). While I had tried abandoning the textbook once in the past, it had been daunting. At the time, I was a young teacher who put more work into the units than the students and I still wasn’t satisfied. I had not attempted it again but realized a few years back that something had to change.
My class of four was bored. They were bored. I was bored. It felt like the longest seventy minutes of every day. They were polite and did their work but no one was excited or fully engaged. I tried every tactic in my teacher toolbox and felt like everything fell flat. It was not that way in my other classes, however, I was noticing a complete lack of listening skills across the board. Writing was strong, reading and speaking were mid-level, with the exception of the few that had consistently raised their hands to answer questions since their early days of French 1. Things had to change.
Step 1: Take the plunge.
A few years ago, students and I rejoiced when I made the move to not be chained to chapters. I had some ideas but also the fear that it would turn out to be the same as my original experience. Fortunately, experience and planning quickly made it seem like the perfect answer. While this will always be a work in progress, the level of student engagement and ownership of their work was immediately noticeable. That was certainly the best payoff of all.
Step 2: Develop a plan.
I had a lot of activities that I thought would be great for a non-textbook setting but quickly realized that a lack of organization could make this experience disastrous. I focused on the basic language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking), and structured my units from there. I also crave routine so, for example, by regularly scheduling speaking assessments on Thursdays, I had consistency across all levels. This helped me check all my boxes by the end of the week that each skill had been addressed.
Develop a plan:
How will you determine units?
How will you determine sub-themes within each unit?
How will vocabulary be organized when they no longer come from a photocopy?
What grammar and cultural content will be included?
In what formats will I present materials if I don’t have a textbook?
What resources will I draw on and give to the students?
Again, routine works for me so I tend to have a similar pattern of how I approach each unit. Unit lengths average two weeks but sometimes lend themselves anywhere from one week to maximum three weeks.
Deciding units and sub-themes:
I always have a starting unit in mind so that I am ready for the beginning of the semester.
Students write their interests on paper and I compile them into a Poll Everywhere to narrow down units or vote which one we will embark upon first. There tend to be common interests but when I have several varying topics, I use Google Forms for students to vote on their top three.
Each unit begins with brainstorming sub-themes in partners or small groups. Whiteboards fill up faster than you can say “Allez!” so limit the time before you go down a rabbit hole of sub-categories.
Common sub-themes along with student votes for or against help start to shape the unit. You will also need to help your students realize that some of their extremely specific sub-themes may not have a place in this unit. But don’t restrict all their fun. When the sub-theme “bizarre foods from around the world” literally has your students bouncing in their chairs and saying, “Oui, Madame! Pleeeaase…,” you let that one in.
Developing a vocabulary list:
I use semantic mapping, a tool strongly recommended by AP CollegeBoard throughout all levels, to brainstorm unit sub-themes and the vocabulary list. Students work in pairs to develop an English list of words they would like to know based on the sub-themes. I input the English words into a collaborative Quizlet and students divide and conquer to add their French terms. Make sure to double-check their spelling and accents!
How to create a class Quizlet: Add a study set –> Create a new set –> Only editable by me (top right), change to “Certain Classes” and choose the correct class. Your students will now be able to edit the set so you can divide and conquer the list. Make sure to double check their spelling and accents!
Developing grammar and culture:
I maintain the same grammar as I normally would for each level. I use Google Docs to create guided notes that can either be printed or used digitally. Students can use their own digital copy (made under Google Classroom) and edit via i.e., Google Docs or Notability.
Cultural content is dependent upon the determined units, pursuing that topic in the Francophone world via literature, news articles, France24 or RFI publications, YouTube, etc.
This is where I put in too much time and effort on my first attempt at throwing away the textbook. Let them research and use different forums to present!
This is my Weekly Speaking Assessment (Master Template). It is a collaborative doc where students contribute an original question for each sub-theme. These are the weekly Thursday speaking assessment questions. No hiding the ball and there is complete student ownership (with a little proofing par moi.)
Impromptu speaking presentations: A Level 3 music unit required daily group presentations outlining a French or Francophone artist, a brief biography, his/her influences and who he/she has influenced, and a sample song link posted to the shared class Google Doc. Students worked in groups of two to three and had ten minutes to prepare their brief presentation.
Create Google Slides to guide discussions and maintain focus. (This is very helpful to give background and prompt discussion for the between units movie weeks.) When you are without a textbook, it is easy to bounce around and lose students in the process. Alternately, have your students create and present their own Slides for an engaging class discussion.
Throw Away Your Textbook – This site was created by a Spanish teacher who felt frustrated after seven years of teaching with a textbook. There are a variety of resources for inspiration as well as “True Stories from the Trenches.”
Common Sense Media – A major concern that might cross your mind when sourcing supplemental resources is if they are school appropriate. This website vets materials for you with a page for teachers and parents.
Google will change your world: If you’ve not already dove into the world of Google, make this your New Year’s resolution. Being a Google Certified educator, I understand how easily Google can 1) organize my life (emails, docs, classroom, quizzes…you name it), and 2) the creativity and ownership I can promote in my students.
A future post to come about all things Google and how to become certified!
Let’s not forget the abundance of resources out there (Nearpod, Edpuzzle, Flipgrid, Seesaw, Book Creator, etc.) that can help create engaging activities or help you write a quick reading exit ticket.
Step 3: Enjoy the process.
Plan but don’t overplan. Make your students do the work! After everyone adjusts to the idea of learning without a textbook, your students will take ownership of and pride in their work. There will be increased learning with more engagement and an overall more meaningful and enjoyable experience for everyone. Isn’t it worth trying at least once?
Music. Música. La musique. No matter how you say it, the word “music” will undoubtedly ignite emotions, memories, and connections in ways only possible by rhythm. Not only is there an emotional connection with music, but a strong cognitive one, too, that takes a stronghold in our memories. How many times have you heard a song from your childhood twenty years later and still remember almost every lyric? How is there so much power in music?
Studies show that the gray matter’s preference is aligned with your own. Different parts of the brain will light up based on your personal preferences. Music preferences trigger a circuit called the default mode network in the brain, which is involved in focused thought, empathy, and self-awareness. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that music memories do not fade, even in Alzheimer’s patients. Alzheimer’s patients in the late stages tend to be unresponsive except when it comes to music. When their favorite music is played, they come to life, and the effect can sometimes last up to ten minutes after the music is turned off. Music has consistently proven beneficial for health in a number of ways for all ages and all walks of life. (Image source: http://www.ucf.edu)
My point? Music is powerful. I think that is undeniable. Now, let’s take a look at how we can implement it into the classroom.
YouTube and then some…
Here are a number of activities you can do with an original video:
My personal favorite: One student has their back to the screen, the other facing the screen. Play the video without sound the first time. The partner facing the screen describes the video in the target language or a blend of target language and English. After the first round, ask the listeners what they are envisioning at that moment! The entire class watches the video with sound the second time and allow time for further discussion.
Provide students with a lyrics sheet that is missing words. I give a word bank to the lower levels and listen to the song at least twice before we review the missing lyrics.
Search “apprendre le français en chantant” (“learn French by singing”) in YouTube and a wealth of resources will appear.
Music journals: Students were asked to discover a new artist each week and reflect in their journals, giving basic info about the musician. Create a playlist based on student interest to play in class.
Impromptu presentations: I provide the class with a collaborative Google Doc that has a template of information they need to fill out in groups. Each group must choose a different artist and has ten minutes to prepare information about the artist, including name, brief biography, personal influences, how he or she influenced music, music genre, famous songs, and their opinion of the artist’s music.
Music soundtracks: Create (or have your students create) a soundtrack for each unit.
Have an end-of semester karaoke competition! Find the subtitled videos on YouTube.
Learn the song then learn to dance! (Salsa, anyone?)
Host an international day or week celebration with performances by classes or language clubs in addition to any outside talent.
One Spanish teacher at my former school taught Christmas Carols and her students serenaded classes throughout the day.
I have always loved music. It was the very first thing I would put on when I entered my college apartment (after taking out my earphones from the walk, of course). It gives a calm and peaceful background or can make you feel compelled to get up and do.
Apart from playing French artists in class, I regularly play film scores. They are my favorite. I receive quite a few odd stares at the beginning of the year (“Why is she playing Superman?”) but then the conversation turns into, “Wait, is this Superman?” “No, it’s Batman.” Students like to guess the score and complete their warm-ups, bopping their heads to the tune of Darth Vader’s Imperial March. While music tastes vary, there is a certain bond that happens when everyone at the table knows the tune of Indiana Jones swinging from his rope.
Another benefit? It is the signal that tells students to work. Even when the warm-up is on the board, you have explained it, and said “Go!” some students still don’t budge. I have found that when they hear the music, they know it is time to get down to business.
I have created playlists and follow some artists (for example, “This is Zaz” on Spotify). I exclusively speak French to my daughter and have created this playlist that may come in handy if you teach the younger levels: Pour les Petits (Spotify). At less than two years old, she was already clapping her hands and singing half the lyrics of some of the songs!
Yabla is a website with upgraded subscription plans to watch videos with a variety of options. You can choose from their full library or a limited selection if you are under the free version. You can slow down the speed of the audio, loop the video, and have subtitles in the target language, English, both, or none. In the bottom right corner, the blue “Games” button allows for vocabulary review, dictation, fill in the blank, multiple choice, and tracking scores. If you click on one of the subtitled words, target language-English dictionaries will appear on the righthand side. You can also bookmark a video in the top right or leave a comment about the video (subscribers only). Access to Yabla’s growing library containing over 1,950 videos costs $12.95 per month. Currently, Yabla offers videos in Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, German, and English.
LyricsTraining is a website and mobile app that helps anyone learn languages through song. Their are currently thirteen available languages, ranging from English to Japanese. When you select a language and choose a video, you can choose your skill level within that video. This may be my favorite option with LyricsTraining, allowing for varying levels in the classroom and not having to find separate videos for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students.
Music is also separated by genre, allowing you or your students to even further personalize their experience. Game mode allows for multiple choice and fill in the missing lyrics, while the app also has a karaoke option. LyricsTraining can be completed as a class when projected on the screen – shout out answers or students write their answers on white boards – or individually if they are able to download the app. I personally love how it helps keep me up to date with the latest French music as LyricsTraining stays fresh and current.
To close, music is powerful. Music is timeless. Music has a huge place in our hearts and everyday lives so why not incorporate it into our classrooms? Many of us already do! There’s no such thing as too many great ideas. How do you use music in the (World Language) classroom? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your ideas!
Class Dojo is a platform whereby teachers can engage families and create a more connected educational experience. Families can have a better understanding of what happens daily in their child’s classroom. Teachers can easily communicate messages in a split second. Students can build their own portfolios. According to the Class Dojo website, ninety-five percent of U.S. schools use Class Dojo to engage kids and connect with families. Ninety-five percent prompts at least looking into it. So, let’s take a look. Shall we?
Class Dojo’s mission is to connect teachers, students, and parents to build an all-inclusive learning environment. By doing so, Class Dojo strives to…
Create a positive culture through the encouragement of positive behavior.
Give students a voice: students can share their learning by adding their own photos and videos to their portfolios.
Share photo and video moments with parents to create a more connected experience.
Furthermore, you have Class Dojo’s guarantee that it will be “free for teachers, forever.” The platform is compatible with iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, and any computer, and always built with privacy in mind.
Let’s get set up!
Note! This is addressing the teacher login. Read on for how to connect students and parents.
Hop on over to https://www.classdojo.com/ and sign up for an account. After finalizing the typical account procedures, you’ll find yourself ready to set up your classes. Click the large blue plus sign and personalize the course title and grade. Now, click on the “Options” dropdown menu in the top right, then “Edit class” and let’s see what we can do:
Add skills: There are a variety of skills already in place, (“Working hard,” “Participating,”) but you have the option to delete these. You can add positive and “Needs work” skills, altering the skills and point values to your class. You have the options of allowing parents to see all points, only positive points, or no points at all.
Class Dojo in the World Language classroom: A competitive game changer.
I tailor the skills to create a cumulative speaking grade over the course of a week. Here’s my breakdown:
+3 points for an answer completely spoken in French
+2 points for an answer in “Franglais” (part-French, part-English)
+1 point for a good effort
-1 point for being chatty in English
-1 point for avoiding speaking
I had to add the last category because some students decided to go on strike and not speak at all or were painfully shy, thus maintaining a 100% average over the course of the week for doing nothing. Points are put in during or immediately after class so students can see where their average sits. A pleasant ring sounds for positive points but an ominous noise will stop students dead in their tracks from chatting, wondering if they were the guilty -1 point party. I encourage students to continually check their averages and increase their speaking toward the end of the week if they are not satisfied with their standing grade.
Add students: You have the option of copying and pasting an entire student list, adding them individually by first and last name, or finding a student. If the student is already in another teacher’s Class Dojo class at your school, then he or she will appear once you begin typing their name. You will also be able to see the teacher’s name, enabling you to easily connect with other Class Dojo teachers at your school.
Invite students and parents: Students can connect with your class via text message, QR code, or their Google account. You can also download respective student and parent invites for their own personalized codes. Additionally, you can invite parents via phone number or email.
No one is left out: features for everyone.
Here’s a brief breakdown by user of great features built into Class Dojo:
Set quiet hours to tell families when you are busy. (Change under “Account Settings” and “Messaging.”)
Class Dojo Toolkit (Available through the app.) Click on the class and you’ll see the “Toolkit” icon on the bottom of your screen with various options:
Classroom Directions App: No more repeating yourself! Easily display directions.
Random Group Generator: Group students by pairs, threes, fours, or more.
Classroom Music: Choose from two playlists: “Focus” or “Active.”
Classroom Noise Monitor: Show students the noise meter through the app and encourage them to self-manage.
Think Pair Share: Add questions or topics and pair students to discuss.
Random Student Selector: We don’t mean to as teachers, but sometimes we fall into calling on the same students. Use this tool to switch things up!
Classroom Timer: Students can have the constant visual of how much time remains.
Today: Display announcements or morning messages for students to see as soon as they log into their account.
Dojocast: Your phone acts as a remote that connects with your computer. Click here to see more on how to sync your phone and computer.
Organize by classes and then further by folders, such as “Exit Tickets.”
Student stories: These student-led digital portfolios are the ultimate tool within Class Dojo for student ownership. Students can create their online portfolio to showcase their work, approved first by their teacher which is then ready to share with parents. For privacy, parents can only see their child’s portfolio.
Students can add photos, videos, drawings, annotate images, add to the journaling section, and upload files to their portfolios.
No more remembering passwords! Login is simple with a QR code scan.
“You see all the different activities […] Now you get to be a part of something you normally wouldn’t be able to because you’re at work.” -Edison Elementary parent (Westland, MI)
Join by using any device.
Messages can be translated into 35+ languages.
Leave encouraging messages for their child within the student’s digital portfolio.
Cherish beautiful moments: “Her teacher captured a moment last year, one of my favorites, when she was in first grade. She was on the playground making a wish with a dandelion. That’s one of mama’s favorites. I’m going to keep that.” -Edison Elementary parent (Westland, MI)
“In order for education to truly happen, it has to be mom and dad, family member, whoever is working with that child […] for success to happen.” -Edison Elementary teacher (Westland, MI)
Class Dojo is a powerful tool that can help unite all parties involved in a child’s education. The ease in which teachers can connect and vary their class activities is easily facilitated by the app. Parents will now be able to have a visual they can save and cherish to accompany that story of “What did you do in school today?” on the car ride home. Let’s not also forget the student empowerment that can come by giving our students a platform to express themselves, share, and take pride in their work.
If you haven’t already tried Class Dojo, I encourage you to apply it in your classroom today! The ability to edit the “Skills” will make it easy to tailor the app to your content. Want to share Class Dojo with other teachers? Click https://www.classdojo.com/resources/ for resources and FAQs and spread the word!
Poll Everywhere is a free live poll service (with available upgrades) to engage your students during lessons. This is a tool I have used since my first year of teaching that I have kept in my teacher toolbox. The company was founded in 2007 and has grown in options of how you can survey and engage your students.
Features (free and upgraded)
There are a variety of polls to choose from and Poll Everywhere continues to add features every year. I have never personally upgraded to a Premium account. The main difference between the Free and Premium memberships are data recording and data segmentation, which I do not use. See the K-12 Education Plans for upgraded pricing and features.
Poll Everywhere started with the classic Multiple Choice poll, one that I still use the most often. My students love the real-time responses that come in and they start shouting out, “No, it’s C! It’s C!” fighting for the answer they chose. My students are immediately engaged when they see the bars bouncing back and forth every time a new response comes in.
Multiple Choice – Watch the bars bounce back and forth!
Word Cloud – A beautiful and creative visual.
Q & A & Upvote –The audience can submit open-ended responses, then upvote or downvote other submissions.
Clickable Image – The audience clicks on an image to respond.
Survey – The audience can answer multiple questions at once at their own pace.
Open-ended – Select your visualization type: text wall, word cloud, cluster, or spotlight. Choose from icebreaker, retrospective, discussion, brainstorm, short answer, or bulletin board.
Competitions – Exactly as it sounds! Gamification. (Only multiple choice questions are a part of this type poll at this point.)
Leaderboard – Vote on your favorite team!
Emotion Scale – Choose from the smiley faces!
Presentation Feedback – Choose from multiple choice, word cloud, Q & A, clickable image, open-ended text, or ranking options.
Assign Teams – A quick poll to see who is on what team.
2 x 2 matrix – Participants can click on an image to relay information (i.e., click on the map to show your region; click to rate projects from low to high priority).
Styles of data presentation
Ideas for the classroom
I tend to do stand alone polls but new features permit you to build several activities into one poll. When you create a poll (top left blue button), you can assign a poll to a group or leave it ungrouped to receive all answers in one area. Once you have added one poll style, you will see the “Add another activity” button in the bottom right. Note! Make sure to choose the style of activity you would like to add next before clicking “Add another activity.” If not, you will simply add the same activity from your previous question type. (If you’re first activity within the poll was Multiple Choice, your second activity will be Multiple Choice unless you choose another activity.)
I primarily use polls to introduce cultural content. For example, I ask my students about the origins of Step dancing, which leads into this Gumboot Dance cultural video and discussion of the history of Step dance origins. I also poll students on the meaning of the invented French verb “giraffer.” When they discover that students in Africa created this word to describe another student cheating off of his or her paper, I then ask them to make up their own “to cheat” verb based on our geographic surroundings!
Class competitions and film festivals easily integrate polls with voting for the winners. The clickable image can test your students’ knowledge of geography. I also personally love the Word Cloud function for emotional check-ins. On Fridays, we have #vendredis, sometimes both in the beginning and end of class when the content is heavy. Have your students upvote their favorites!
Sometimes polls are just for fun. I often enjoy the “Who do you think will win the Super Bowl?” or “Do you think Peyton Manning will return to the NFL?” poll when I was teaching in Denver. My all time favorite is the World Cloud where students suggested names for the then upcoming birth of my daughter. The top two? Stormageddon and Padrah 2.0.
Fun or serious, Poll Everywhere is a way to engage your students that is quick and easy, providing the perfect transition for discussion and your upcoming lesson. Give it a try! I’d love to hear how you use Poll Everywhere!
I recently published a post with tools to help organize and manage various aspects of your life. Wakelet is certainly at the top of that list. Here, I will detail more about Wakelet’s features as well as how educators and students are using it in and outside the classroom.
What is Wakelet?
Wakelet provides an extremely user-friendly platform to save, share, and organize content from across the web into beautiful collections. I love Wakelet because it reaches a variety of sources so that my thoughts and ideas aren’t scattered across email, Twitter, Pinterest, bookmarks, Google docs, etc. I can save all of these to one location and easily add text with descriptions to each item. I can also search for other collections and make a copy or export it as a PDF, as well as share it with friends and colleagues.
Let’s get set up!
Sign up for a free Wakelet account and also add the Wakelet Chrome Extension. By adding the extension, you will easily be able to add to your collections while perusing the internet.
How does it work? Once logged in, click on “Create a new collection.” Add a cover image (upload your own or choose from Wakelet’s library), give your collection a title and description, and start adding items by clicking on the green “plus” icon. You have a variety of options available (see photo below):
Once you have added an item, click on the pencil to edit any description or notes you might want to add. When you are at the Wakelet home page, your open browsers will appear on the right. You can drag and drop them to automatically be added to a collection. Click on the “Easy reorder mode” and hover to the right to move items up and down.
Note! You have the option to make your collections private or public. You can also search for public collections by topic or people and easily add their items to your own collections.
Saving from the Chrome extension: If you are on a website, in a Google Doc, etc., you simply need to click on the blue Wakelet extension icon at the top of your browser and you will be prompted with this screen to save the item to a collection. It’s as simple as that!
Teachers and students can organize and collaborate with ease.
Wakelet published this article on how teachers and students are using Wakelet with beautiful examples of student and teacher work. Here are a few ideas:
Collaboration among other teachers & idea boards
Tech coach: Compile tech tool sites and video tutorials for your team.
PLCs: Create a collaborative board with ongoing resources. Add a document with your weekly agenda plenty in advance to promote preparedness and discussion.
Professional development organization: Encourage teachers to make a collection with their own notes and sources regarding the PD topic, especially if reoccurring throughout the year.
Speaking pictures: I have an Google Doc of random pictures that serve as speaking warm-ups. I added the doc to a collection but like the idea of being able to see all pictures at once without continual scrolling within a doc. I will be adding more pictures to this public Speaking Pictures (Padrah Gatewood) Wakelet. Feel free to make a copy!
Weekly newsletter: Share your collection with parents to keep them apprised of what is happening in your class, along with any upcoming events or important announcements.
School website: Some schools have opted out of overloading their website with information and instead share out a Wakelet collection with parents on a regular basis.
Student resources: Share your notes, articles, videos, and supplementary materials with your students in a public collection.
Search for public collections by topic or person: Easily make copies or choose a single item from a collection to add to your own.
Save your tweets and articles for later:
My “Read later” collection contains tweets with links to articles, or other materials I don’t have time to read until later.
I read a recommendation to add tweets in reverse order to see them from start to finish if saving a Twitter conversation.
Digital storytelling: This is a beautiful example of digital storytelling featured in the above Wakelet article. The author weaves the story of a dressmaker in Khair Khana, Afghanistan, who risked everything to protect her family from the Taliban. Audio accompanies the text at key transitions. The author’s voice navigates the reader through the dressmaker’s story in her writing by simply adding the “text” item in Wakelet. Further resources are included, such as the Council on Foreign Relations website, a Vimeo video bringing visual and audio to the reader. Imagine the possibilities and how expressive presentations could become beyond the standard essay.
Collaborative research: The ability to collaborate on a collection means that students can be at their respective homes or study spaces and still working together toward their common project.
Portfolios: Students can keep a collection of their work and see their progress from over the year.
Recipe collections: Add a friend as a collaborator and see their favorite eats!
Activities and resources for kids: My Pinterest was just taken over by Wakelet. I love the ability to add notes or just simply the picture if I don’t want to navigate Pinterest –> find a board –> click on Pin –> scroll, scroll, scroll through pages to finally see the activity.
Collaborate with other parents to post upcoming events and times.
House projects: DIYs, decorations, etc.
Book club: Add future book ideas with commentary and reviews.
Plan a trip collaboratively as a family with links to sites of interest, hotel and flight info, comments on top places to visit.
Create a collection with your family photos and favorite memories!