Conversation Cups Assessment


I’ve really enjoyed doing simultaneous presentations with speaking practice in my Spanish 2 and Spanish 3 classes but something that I’ve done recently with Seesaw is also working out well. I’ve done Conversation Cups both as a formative assessment and a summative assessment of interpersonal communication.

For Conversation Cups, I create a list of discussion questions in Quizlet, cut them out and put them in a cup. Students sit in small groups and use the questions as discussion prompts. I usually have them record their group conversations in Seesaw so that I can provide feedback.

This week students did the Conversation Cups as a station activity (formative assessment) and then again two days later as a summative assessment. I like to level the groups by skill level so the conversation is balanced but sometimes it’s nice to see what happens when random students get together.

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Reading Assessment & Interactive Google Slides


I’ve reflected in the past on using Google Slides as Hyperdoc activities.  This morning I graded reading assessments that were completed using drag and drop activities in Google Slides and I’m excited about the ease of the activities and the skills I was able to assess.

This week I did a lecture on M-11 and the terrorist attacks in Madrid in 2004. The assessment for this kids at the end of the week was to read and comprehend statements and key vocabulary words. The 4 slide assessment included matching vocabulary to pictures, matching up sentence fragments to create complete statements and matching emojis with selected statements. The end result gave me a great assessment of the student’s ability to comprehend written phrases.

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Although the sentences could be in any order, I looked for color combinations to let me know if the students correctly matched the sentences. 

They enjoyed the ease of the drag and drop elements and I enjoyed the ease of the grading. I color coded boxes so that I could easily compare correct answers. For anything that was not looking correct, I changed the line color to red and made it bigger.

Although these sentences could be listed in any order, I looked to make sure the color combinations were correct. I highlighted in red anything that is incorrect.I would encourage you to play around with drag and drop and color in Google Slides to simplify your assessments. It’s a great way to go digital with assessments and the students really enjoyed this method. I’ll put a copy of the assessment before. If you are interested in this Unit let me know and I can do a write-up and share the lecture, station activities and discussion prompts.

Google Tools to Assess and Provide Feedback


Since making the shift to standards based grading, I’ve wanted to make sure I communicate expectations and give feedback that fosters growth. My goal is to move students along on the path to proficiency. With each assessment, I want to show students what proficiency looks like and provide them a pathway to advancement.

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Google Form with checkboxes of assessment criteria and checkboxes for feedback. 

Recently I had presentational assessments in Spanish 2 and decided to build a Google Form to organize data. The Form had checkboxes related to our specific proficiency standard criteria. Then I included some feedback checkboxes and an open place for me to write comments too. I filled out a form for each student while assessing.

 

So then I had a Google Sheet of data. Cool. How could I get this and deliver this to my students? I tried about 5 different tools and then finally fell in tech-love with a Google Sheet add-on called formMule.

 

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Google Sheet of data from Google Form.

In order to get this data to the students, I needed to copy in their emails into the sheet (using an easy alphabetic sort copy and paste).

The add-on formMule will send a template email using the data in a Google Sheet.

 

 

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The formMule email template

The add-on walks you through the process nicely. I created a template for the email I wanted sent to the students. It uses the merge tags from the Google Sheet and I just placed the info in there the way that I wanted.

When I clicked send, I wasn’t 100% sure what was going to happen. But the emails went through and they looked exactly like what I wanted. I was happy to get the feedback back to the students in digital form. (I was even happier when a student validated me later that day.)

 

 

Interactive Google Slides as Hyperdoc


Recently Kristine Keefe wrote a guest blog on Maris Hawkin’s site about the amazing uses of Google in the classroom. It really got me excited about the possibilities with assessments and different visual activities that are possible by integrating Google Drawings and Google Slides into the classroom.

Typically when I create a Hyperdoc, I use just a Google Doc and include hyperlink or embedded activity elements. For an upcoming Hyperdoc I created to review different tenses and information from the beginning episodes of Internado, I decided to make a Google Slides Hyperdoc.

One thing I already like about the Google Slides Hyperdoc vs. my traditional Google Doc is that it is easy to organize and navigate. I can easily flip to the slide that I want to see—AND the information is visible at a quick glance in the sidebar view. I can easily see if students skipped any steps without having to scroll through a 3 page doc. With Google Slides, I have some added design elements that I enjoyed playing with too. I could color code different sections and create some cohesiveness with design and organization that is not possible with a Google Doc.

The best part about Kristine’s suggestions and using Google Slides is that you can easily create drag and drop elements for interactive opportunities. I used to be able to do this by inserting a Google Drawing into a Google Doc, but it’s so much easier and more intuitive with a Google Slide.  I can create activities where students drag colored text boxes that look like buttons. There is something engaging about dragging and dropping vs. typing answers that gives Hyperdocs a nice element.

Here is a copy of my Internado Tense Review Hyperdoc. It is based on information from Season 1 Episodes 1-4.

In the coming weeks I plan on making listening assessments and reading assessments with Google Docs. If you are interested, check back here and I might do a write up on those.

Instagram & SnapChat to Share Information


I go through phases with this blog but I’m really trying to focus on it more in 2018. But this blog is not the only way I’m using technology to reach out, connect and share information with other teachers and parents.

I’ve had a SnapChat account for a few years. I used to use it as an alternative to turning in assignments traditionally. I have less of a focus on assignments today but still use the application to receive things from the students. Today, I mostly use SnapChat to communicate and share events that happen in class. I take videos and pictures, caption in and add it to our story. Sometimes it’s things I want the students to know and sometimes it’s just sharing what is happening in the room. I’m happy that parents are connected with it and interact with me too. They have commented that they enjoy seeing their child in class and what they are doing. Recently I took video of a student during his most recent speaking presentation and sent it to his mom, which she really enjoyed. You are welcome to check out our SnapChat @espanoldhs.

During the past few months I’ve done a lot of work surrounding George Couros and Innovator’s Mindset. (Highly recommend the blog for anyone interested in 21st century learning and innovation in education) He had prompted the use of social media sites like Instagram so I decided to revisit it and see if I could maximize it’s power. I’ve really enjoyed using Instagram this year to share and document things that the students are doing.

You may want to follow or check out the Instagram for quick activity summaries of things we are doing in class. I sometimes find it easier to just take a few quick pictures and caption what is happening versus writing a traditional blog entry.

One thing I’ve been doing this year with Instagram is highlighting students or groups that I am proud of. I began the year by just posting images but (again) after listening to George Couros, decided it would be powerful to actually record me actually confronting the student(s) and telling them that I am proud of them. It’s highly uncomfortable for me but it’s been a valuable experience.

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Watch the video post here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BbUtly7hzSZ/

I have the Instagram setup to auto post on Twitter as well (using IFTTT). I still use Twitter (@espanoldhs) too but I focus my during-the-day activity on Snap and Insta. I’m so happy for the connections I’ve built using these applications and look forward to all the possibilities ahead.

Inspiring Pages with Adobe Spark


I’ve always thought it was important for teacher’s to have a web presence in a society that is saturated with technology. It always made sense to me that if I can order a pizza on my computer, my students and parents should be able to find out of their education on a computer.

Now there are great learning management systems like Google Classroom, Canvas and Schoology that let teachers share and receive information immediately with students. Everything is just a click away. Miss class? “Check Google Classroom” How can I turn this in to you? “Check Google Classroom”. There are even parent/”shadow” options on these so parents can see every educational transaction as it’s happening too. Plus almost every district has online grade books where parents can check grades and contact teachers through email.

I had a pretty good website. It didn’t require a lot of updating throughout the year, gave an extensive amount of information and looked not too shabby. But it wasn’t a high traffic area. Not often visited by anyone. Why was that? I deduced that it generally was not needed. My lesson plans were easy to find elsewhere. People who wanted to contact me already knew how to do that. Anyone that had questions about policies and procedures would rather just email and ask than click and read.

I maintain, however, that it is important for a teacher to have a web presence.  So I went small-scale and created a one page “hello” website about my Spanish class. Gives info, biography and has links to syllabi but otherwise it’s just some showcase photos.

I love Adobe Spark. Like, love it. It’s incredibly easy to put together a beautiful “web” presentation. I’ve used it only once before with my students but would really like to make the effort to use it more often. Just have to find the right inspiration.

I recommend you play around with Adobe Spark and think about how you can incorporate it into your world. It took me about 1 1/2 to create my new web presence with Adobe Spark and I think it’ll do the trick for a 2017 tech-saavy educational world.

Mrs. Huff's Spanish

(link)

Also check out my TPT store between June 28-Jul 1 2017 for a 20% off everything sale. I’m working on adding new resources and welcome feedback and suggestions.

My Store

A Day in the Life of Classcraft . . . .


6:00 AM Wake-up and check email. Two students completed a Classcraft Quest for XP. Go into Classcraft and award those students XP.

7:40 AM Arrive at school. Award Prestige AP points.

*I have two students that surpassed Level 18 so they have reached “Prestige” status,

which means they earn an additional 5 AP everyday. I have to put these in manually.

9:00 AM 2nd Hour Spanish 3 class begins.

9:01 AM Generate a Random Event in Classcraft and do whatever it says.

9:02 AM Go about today’s lesson plan.

During the class period, I deduct HP when applicable (when students need to charge their computer, have their cell phone out, act disrespectfully, etc)

I also award XP when applicable (finish task early, win a game, help a student, etc.)

9:40 AM We have a test tomorrow. If students want to use any collaborative powers, they should plan accordingly.  If students have time, they go in and use collaborative powers or strategize with their tribe mates.

9:42 AM Dismiss class

1:10 PM Repeat process with 6th Hour Spanish 3 class.

3:10 PM School dismissed

8:00 PM Students continually work on additional (optional) XP Quests on their own time and I look at those when I can

Occasionally . . .

  • Once every two weeks I give some kind of in class assignment to be completed in groups. This assignment does not take the entire class period and students are encouraged to work on “craft” related things during time

Engaging Students Through Gamification


I recently wrote a reflection about implementing a gamification website into my Spanish 3 course. I recounted that after only 3 days, I thought it was a game changer and something that I was really excited about. This is a more detailed account of how I am using Classcraft in a high school Spanish 3 classroom. (For a student reflection on Classcraft, click here)

Why Gamification?

I was very happy with my standard classroom environment but always thought aspects of gamification would really boost student engagement. Meanwhile, I was dealing with two small teacher dilemmas.

  1. I have students coming to class with uncharged computers when they are supposed to have charged them overnight. I have students turning in late assignments. I have students doing small disruptive things that might not warrant a full 30 minute detention but are just annoying none-the-less.  I like the grades in my class to be an accurate reflection of student learning. If I deduct points for having to charge your computer during class, that de-validates my grading procedures. How can I address these things without impacting the student’s grade?
  2. I wish my students would want to do some extra enrichment in Spanish without having to require it from all students. But how can I encourage students to do extra learning tasks when I’m not going to reward them for it in the gradebook?

All this is in my mind and enters Classcraft.  Classcraft is a classroom gamification platform that I could customize to handle both of my concerns while also engaging students in a game type setting. Classcraft is something that I do in the classroom that is completely 100% separate from my gradebookAll students are included but can choose how involved in the process they want to be.

Main Concept

I imported my student roster into Classcraft. I assigned my students to groups of 4 or 5 and I kind of based those groups on abilities, personalities and perceived interest in “gaming”. In each group, I assigned their game characters. Each student is either a mage, a warrior or a healer. Each character has a different gaming experience. So when I introduced Classcraft to my students and they logged in for the very first time, saw their character avatar, their character statistics and their teammates.

Main_Profile

Each character starts on Level 1. They move to the next level by gaining a certain number of Experience Points (XP–explained below). In my game, students level up by earning 500 XP.

Each character also has Action Points and Health Points, all of which I will describe in the next section.

The gamification aspect of Classcraft has built in collaboration components, encouraging students on a team to help out their teammates.

Statistics

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XP: These points are what drives a student to move up to the next level. If you were to keep score, so to speak, the student with the most XP would be your “winner” (even though Classcraft doesn’t have winners or losers). I am in charge of awarding XP. I have created a few preset reasons as to why I might reward a student for doing something but I can also input any XP value I want for any reason I want. Giving out XP is a way to reward positive classroom behaviors without having to tinker with their actual academic grade.

HP: Health Points are represent a character’s life in the game. I deduct HP anytime I see behaviors that I want to punish or reprimand. I can also take away HP for any reason I want to. Once a student gets down to 0 HP, they have to roll a dice of consequence. This will give them some kind of punishment. I created the punishments and they range from having to do extra assignments to bringing me a treat.

AP: Each character can learn powers and take action if they have enough AP, Action Points. Students kind of use these on their own and then the points regenerate every night so I don’t really have too much to do with AP as the teacher.

GP: My students earn Gold Pieces but that’s entirely on their own and it is purely for cosmetic purposes, like adding to their avatar and having pets. I’m not using GP for anything game related.

Powers

Students need an incentive to earn more XP and be involved in the game. Each character has the ability to learn powers. Most of these powers I have written and crafted to fit what I am comfortable with in my classroom.

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At each level of the game, students get a Power Point which enables them to learn a power. The more XP, the more levels advanced, the more Power Points, the more powers a student is able to learn. Some of the powers are collaborative and help out their teammates. Some of the powers are individual. I tried to create powers that students would want and that I thought were fair in the classroom.  For example, if a student progresses far enough in Classcraft to be able to learn an advanced power such as getting to use notes on a test, then they have done enough good things in my classroom and they deserve to be rewarded.

I will probably have more reflection on power usage as the year goes one. At this stage, no student has really used a power so we’ll see how it all works out.

Random Event

Each class period with start with a Classcraft random event. It’s a “Wheel of Destiny” button that generates some kind of rule or activity for the day’s class. I customize these too and some are strictly game based (earn XP, HP, etc.), some are content based (speak only Spanish all day) and some are just silly (make your teacher sing a song). The variety and randomness of it grabs their attention and gets them ready for class immediately. Plus it’s fun!

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Additional Quests for XP

Immediately after introducing Classcraft, I had students asking for different opportunities to earn XP. I thought this would be an excellent way to introduce some enrichment Spanish activities—things that were completely separate from our day-to-day curriculum but that would enrich foreign language learning. Basically a way to make my students do things that I normally would just strongly suggest. This idea mushroomed into a few different things.

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Drill Quests: The first thing I introduced was Drill Based Quests that required students to do vocabulary or conjugation drills through two external sites that we use all of the time: Quizlet and Conjuguemos. If students showed proof that they completed these drills, they earned XP.  One of the Quizlet sets I gave them was a list of the 50 most common words in Spanish, which includes small by valuable words that students often forget. That review has been priceless and I can see the difference already with the students that have done those drills.

Project Quests: And they still wanted more Quests! I created a Google Doc with different project based Quests. There are writing, speaking, artistic, statistical and historical quests involving language and culture. All of these projects are beneficial in the foreign language classroom but might not fit into my curriculum. I love being able to encourage my students to do these things without requiring them.

Bounty Board: Then I created a board in my room where I could pin up index cards that have Quests written on them. These are one-time-only first-come-first-served Quests. For example, I have a board in my room that I need taken down and changed and I never get around to doing it. I made it a Quest and I have students clamoring to do it for me.

“Ok, but this is too much work for the teacher”

I’ve shared this evolution with a few people and I hear a variation of this comment a lot. Yes, Classcraft does look like it’s time consuming and overwhelming for the teacher. Looks awesome for the student, but I can understand how teachers looking at this might think Wow, way too much for me to handle. As with the implementation of any new procedure, there is some significant prep work to get it all ready and to make sure the back end is all set-up but after that, it’s just a matter of going with the flow. Each day I start with the daily event, keep track of what it tells me to do and go from there. As class goes on, if I need to deduct HP or award XP I make a note or do it quickly. The Classcraft website really does make it easy to do those things quickly.

The engagement I see and the enrichment possibilities associated with Classcraft have been worth any time sacrifices I’ve made. I’m also excited and happy to be able to punish small, unwanted behaviors in a way that doesn’t tinker with grades. I see a gamiification platform like this as a problem solver and content enrichment opportunity. I’m so pleased with what has happened so far and look forward to finishing the year with Classcraft!

Student Reflection on Classcraft


I had planned to update my blog this week with a more detailed picture of how we are using Classcraft in my classroom.  While I’m still working on that, I wanted to share something that one of my students recently wrote about Classcraft.  I love that it is in his own words and describes our process in a way that is easy to picture and understand.

Classcraft by definition is “a free online, educational role playing game that teachers and students play together in the classroom.” However I do not believe that the definition I just told you quite captures what Classcraft really is.

The thing is, is that Classcraft is so much more than just any one thing to a person or people. Classcraft is a place where a gamer who doesn’t quite fit in can work side by side and cooperate with a varsity Quarterback on the same level and work as a team. Classcraft is a place where a disinterested student who can’t find the motivation to take time and complete his homework or listen in class can finally have a fun way to learn an otherwise “boring” subject. Classcraft is a place where two girls who maybe aren’t in the same “clique” or do not get along can work towards a common coal (and maybe even become friends in the process). Classcraft is a place where you’re not a Jock, or a nerd, or even the mean girl. It is a place where people forget about the status quo and “the norm” and see their classmates as a level 3 healer who bailed them out so they didn’t have to roll the infamous “Cursed Die” or a level 5 warrior that took a big hit to their HP for you because that’s what teammates are for. And yes, even in some cases as a level 12 mage that stays up way too late completing quests. Classcraft is a place that transforms our classroom from a boring room with a whiteboard to a battlefield where we face other teams in competitions, or a foreign land that we are exploring during a quest. Classcraft can make you or take you anything or anywhere, it really just depends on your imagination.

Classcraft for me personally has been a huge motivator. Instead of procrastinating and waiting till the night before to due homework and projects I know finish the as soon as I can because not only do I get an XP bonus if I do finish multi-day assignments early but if all my other homework is done I have more time to complete other quests that reward me with XP. I also do more quality work because I get more XP if I do. Also by doing quests such as learning Spanish and Spelling Spanish on quizlet I have learned numerous new useful Spanish words that have been a tremendous help on my more recent Spanish assignments.

Classcraft most importantly is a new and effective way to teach kids in an age that students are constantly plugged into technology with their cell phones laptops and videogames. Times are changing and education needs to change with it. We can’t expect new and different generations to learn the same way kids did 50-100 years ago, and in reality our generation is much different from what it was even 15-20 years ago. Classcraft is a proven educational tool that can teach kids in a new and exciting format. Classcraft doesn’t just improve learning it changes it, and for the better.

Thank you to Creed K. for writing this assessment of Classcraft and allowing me to share it.  He did it for the XP but I appreciate it anyway 🙂

Triptico Classroom Resources


A few years ago I downloaded a classroom resource application called Triptico.  It had a great graphics look and some nice and easy tools to use in my classroom.  Recently Triptico launched a web-based application where you can save your activities to the cloud for easy use anywhere.  It’s great!

There are tools in Triptico that any teacher can benefit from—regardless of content area or age group.  All of the resources are dynamic and visually appealing to your students.  So besides being useful, they are fun to look at.

Below are some of my favorite uses of Triptico:

  • Student Groups  I created a class list for each of my classes.  On days when we do group activities, I bring up the Triptico Group Maker resource, load that class list and remove any students that are absent.  Then I tell Triptico how many groups I want and it will randomly generate them for me.  The kids love watching the colors pop up and waiting in anticipation to see who is going to be with them.  And it’s very easy for me to use.
  • Timers  There are a lot of online timers and stopwatches out there.  These timers are dynamic and visual.  I like the hourglass timer because it doesn’t show students the exact amount of time they have left (or that you set the timer for) so instead of being focused and worried about seconds, they can just get a visual snapshot of time remaining.
  • Selected Spinner  I’ve only used this one recently but it has been fun!  I put in a list of questions and answers.  Then when I’m ready to run the activity for a class, I put in the names of the students.  With the click of the button, Triptico will randomly choose a question and then randomly choose a student to answer it.  It’s fun to watch, totally random and the kids were glued to the board.  A great way to do a simple review for any test or quiz.

Check out Triptico for these resources and more!