Comprehension with Emojis


I occasionally give students comprehension assessment options and one of the options is to summarize the passages using emojis. Emojis are great in the language learning classroom because it forces the student to infer meaning through drawings and pictures rather than just writing in English.

Today we continued reading Chapter 2 of Frida Kahlo by Kristy Placido. I wanted an activity where the students worked without me to read and comprehend, yet I still wanted to check and see how they were doing. And it was 8:11 in the morning and I hadn’t thought of anything.

Quickly I revisited my objective: What was it that I wanted? I wanted the students to read Chapter 2 and demonstrate that they comprehended key information. They read Chapter 2 silently and then I read it out loud to them.

As their comprehension exercise, they created a Google Doc with three columns; in one column they put emojis and in the second column they described in English how that emoji or emoji phrase relates to the text, using the third column to cite information in the text.

It was a quick activity that I was really pleased with. The students demonstrated creativity and good textual comprehension.

Fun in Timbuktu


Timbuktu is a fun app for elementary students.  Think of it as a daily magazine for children, including reading stories that are graphically attractive and interactive.

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The content changes everyday.  Some features are premium and would cost something.  Timbuktu is 100% geared to be an interactive magazine for children so the features are all kid friendly and exciting.  There is a regular feature called “Ask Auntie Rita”, where children write “Dear Abby” type questions and get advice from kind Aunt Rita.  It’s interesting, relevant reading and hits on topics like getting along with an older brother, what to do about bullies, and how to get better grades in schools.  The reading features in Timbuktu are awesome.  The day I played with the app, there was a horror story to read.  But, instead of just reading it like a normal, students have to use their finger as a flashlight to read the story.  It’s reading and it’s interactive.  It’s fun!

You can also go back and access older content in Timbuktu.  They recently had a three part feature on Romeo and Juliet.  Students had to read about the story (in nice kid-language) and also got to interact with the story.  I put a mask on Romeo so he could go to the Capulet ball.  I helped Romeo find Juliet’s balcony.  It’s reading and it’s interactive.  It’s fun!

Timbuktu also has some activities and interactive features with pictures and videos.  They are all kid relevant and are created with education in mind.  Each activity is designed to pique the imaginations and creativity of young minds.  It’s interactive.  And it’s fun!

I really enjoyed my little tour through Timbuktu and think it would be a great addition to the Daily 5, center work or free time with the IPads.

 

 

Sentence PhotoBooth and Dictations


 In order to prepare for an upcoming test, I thought it would be a good exercise for my Spanish 1 students to use our important verbs and vocabulary words to build simple sentences.  I’ve done this before by giving students a large word bank and the task of writing down as many sentences as they could create on paper.  I liked that, but I felt that for a review activity, I needed to add a collaborative element in order to promote discussion.

So I thought, “How about using cut out words and having students take pictures of the sentences as they create them?”  Since I didn’t have enough digital cameras to aid my new idea, I decided to work with the built-in camera on laptops using the PhotoBooth program.  And since the PhotoBooth takes inverted images, I couldn’t just give my students printed words from a word processor.  I had to write a list of words, take a picture of those words and then flip the image using PhotoShop.  (It sounds way more complicated that it really was). So on Monday I split my students in groups of 3 – 5 students.  I gave each group an envelope with the inverted words and 20 minutes to take photos of as many different sentences they could create.  I loved watching the collaboration of holding, reordering and taking the pictures as well as the educational goal of good sentence construction. My favorite part:  when students sheepishly admitted that they “cheated” in making the sentences by only changing a verb or subject.  They would make a sentence that said, “I go to the library” and then simply change the verb to make the sentence say that “We go to the library”.  To me, it’s a great way to practice sentence construction and grammar, similar to when children learn how to put letters in front of the word “at” to make “cat” and “hat”.

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The sentence pictures turned out very well. Students made a folder of their photos and saved their folders to my folder on the school server.  They were pretty easy to grade too, although this was more of a formative assessment than a straight assessment.

For an added step, I had the students create VoiceThreads using Voicethread.com (one of our favorite internet applications).  Students choose from over 100 of their sentence pictures and created a thread of pictures.  For each picture, they recorded themselves reading the English translation of the Spanish sentence.  This helped me assess their comprehension but was also just a nice extension activity in using their own photos.

(I can’t embed the VoiceThreads here, but please check out these examples to see the complete project: https://voicethread.com/share/2765151/  and http://voicethread.com/share/2765172/)

The photo taking lesson was for one day and the recording also took just one class period.  I will certainly be doing this lesson again in the future.