Using Google Slides to Create a Set of Interactive Whiteboards for my Students

Hello!!!Hiya!!! Still in confinement in Spain. What about you, guys?

I have to say that I am pretty busy (thank God for this) with all the projects I am involved in. One of the things that has kept me very busy is looking into ways of making my online classes more interactive, more like they used to be when I was teaching face to face and having fun with my students.

To be honest. My classes are not the same. They cannot be. I miss that.

 

Just a couple of posts ago, I wrote about a very nice little tool you could use to create a set of interactive whiteboards with just a click. Here.  It was useful but …. when I used it, it realized I needed much more. I wanted to have the possibility of:

  • Assigning a slide to each student in case I needed to give them different assignments.
  • Choosing the layout of the interactive board.
  • Inserting images
  • Changing the size of the board in case they needed to write more than a sentence or more than a paragraph.
  • Correcting their assignment synchronously or asynchronously.
  • Being 100% in control of the interactive boards

And then, I had like an epiphany moment and realized that I had been working for a long time with a tool that did that and … much more:  Google Slides.

Just below, you will see a 10-second video of my students working on Google slides on a translation activity I designed for my online class this week.  Prior to the class I had, of course, decided what kind of assignment I was going to give them and done a number of things: I had chosen the layout for the first slide (size, font, font size) and  inserted an image. Then, I had duplicated it and assigned a slide to each student. So, this is basically the idea.

Note: notice how Student 4 is writing. The highlighted words in yellow indicate where students have made a mistake that needs to be corrected.

If you get the gist of  how this works, you can stop reading right now. But, if you need some guidance, I have prepared some video tutorials.  I will give you a heads up of the content in each one so that you can skip the ones that do not interest you. The videos are in Spanish but there are some guidelines in English and they are easy to follow. I also help Spanish teachers introduce technology in their classes so I don’t feel like recording tutorials in two languages and, to be honest, Spanish is easier for me.

Before you jump right into the tutorials, let me share with you some ideas of written work using Google Slides for small written assignments.

  • translating sentences
  • revising vocabulary and asking students to come up with a sentence.
  • Assigning three words and some connectors to each student and asking them to write a small paragraph
  • Chain stories
  • Minisagas: 50 words
  • Picture description
  • Assigning  each student a word and ask them to write a small quiz with three options for the definition of the word: two incorrect and one correct

For bigger written assignments like book reports, you will need to change the size of the slide.

Part 1: Introduction.  1:45  (only in Spanish, so skip this part if you  don't know my mother tongue)

 

Part 2: How to create our first slide, how to delete a slide and how to duplicate it. (1:26)

Part 3:  Our first slide and how to assign each student a different slide (4:05)

Part 4: How to change the size of our slide (0:41)

Part 5: How to share the presentation with our students (o:44)

Part 6: How to see all the slides at the same time and how I correct students' written work (0:48)

Honing Listening Skills with Radio Garden: All the Radio Stations Just a Click Away.

These long, long days at home make us crave for new things which break, even for a little while, routine.

I know you might come with a better idea or a  funnier thing to do than dedicating some time to brushing up your listening skills. Yep. I am pretty sure you can come up with a few. But, and this is a big BUT, probably not as necessary or useful.  Today, I am going to suggest a site I think you are going to love 😆  and that is going to help you improve your listening skills.

So, have a look.

It is a website called Radio Garden, which allows you to tune into live radio stations around the world. Anywhere in the world. And my favourite part is how you find the radio stations: the interface of the website shows a 3D globe you can spin. You will see hundreds of glowing green dots representing cities or towns all around the globe with radio stations. Click on one of these dots, choose a radio station and let’s get down to some serious listening time.

Free Reading and Downloading Graded and Unabridged Books

Here, in Spain, we are beginning our fifth week of quarantine. A few days before lockdown,  I asked my students to go to the school library and borrow a book to read. Some of them could not attend that day for various reasons – I never ask, they are adults- and therefore could not borrow the book. Their  problem now  is that confined at home, some of them are finding it difficult to get their hands on a graded book in English. No worries! I’ve got you covered!

But before sharing with you this site, let me tell you the story of a time in my life when I almost hated reading.

Why  I don't select  reading books  for my students

I never tell my students which book to read. I have always enjoyed reading, not the point of being called a bookworm, but pretty close. However, when I was at university I was asked to read tons of books, compulsory books someone had decided for me. Every literature teacher had a long reading list of books we had to read if we wanted to pass his or her subject. No point in cheating. Some teachers in exams ,  to make sure we had read them, simply wrote a paragraph from a chapter in the book  and we were asked to write what went before and after the paragraph. They thought they were being smart! I thought they were nuts!

These teachers almost made me hate reading. Almost. So I promised myself that if I ever got the chance to decide on this matter, I would never pick a compulsory book for my students. I would just take them to the library and let them choose something that would engage them. This is what I have been doing for a very long time and have never regretted my decision. I find that students read more and learn more if they are allowed to select their own books.

But, enough of my ramblings and let’s get back to the part where my students are at home, confined, but still in need to find a nice graded book to read. And this is where I need to thank María Argente del Castillo for bringing English e-Reader to my attention.

What is English E-Reader and why do I like it?

English e-Reader offers one of the biggest online libraries of graded e-books. Here, you can find plenty of ebooks in different digital formats: epub, fb2, mobi, rtf, txt, as well as audiobooks in mp3 format. You can download the ebook of your choice and if you sign up, you can read it online for free.

Most books in this website are graded (also called adapted)  by levels: from Starter (A1) to Advanced C1, but you can also find unabridged books suitable for level C2.
Now, choose your book and let’s enjoy reading! 

 

Remote Teaching: Set up a Class and Give Every Student an Online Interactive WhiteBoard

Looking for a way to spice up your online lessons?  What if you could give every one of your students a whiteboard and have them interact with you from their homes?  What if you could create a class, have them join the class, ask a question and have them answer at the same time, each on their own whiteboard?

What if I told you that neither you nor your students need to sign up, give an email or any other information and that it is super simple to set up?

Have I managed to persuade you? Then, keep on reading!

How to do it
  • Go to whiteboard.fi and click on New Class
  • Give your class a name and click Create new Class
  • Give your students the link to your class or the code
  • Ask students to write their real names. They will appear in your class as they join in
  • Have students answer your questions on their whiteboards and you will be able to see their answers in real time.
  • Clear all whiteboards and ask your next question
  • Don’t forget to close your room when you have finished your lesson

Some quick ideas to use it:

  • dependent prepositions
  • irregular verbs
  • spelling
  • words related to a given topic
  • sentences using vocabulary or a grammar structure
  • pub quiz

I have created this video tutorial to help you set up a room. It is really very easy and it could help spark your next online lesson.

Enjoy teaching!!! Even from home!!!!

Remote Teaching: 3 Tools to Assess Students’ Speaking Skills

And here we are. Trying to make the shift to online teaching as smoothly as possible. For most of us, it is uncharted territory. Lack of information as to how we need to assess our students does not help either. We are on a roller coaster of emotions and sometimes we feel stuck, restless and unsure about what to do to help our students.

But, we need to stay at home. This much is clear. For how long? Quite uncertain. What is certain is that remaining at home is an unprecedented act of love to take care of each other and that we need to stay safe to keep our loved ones safe.

How can we assess our students’ speaking skills?

Meanwhile, the question of how to assess our students remains unanswered. In this post, I am going to share with you 3 easy ways to assess your students’ speaking skills. The tutorials are in Spanish but I have added notes in English to help you understand the steps you need to follow. Most of the times, the notes are unnecessary as everything in the app is in English.

1. The Easiest One:  Audio Recording with Vocaroo

Why do I like it?

  • Students don’t have to register.
  • They just need to click a button and start recording.
  • They can upload their own recording and then share the link with their teacher.
  • They get a link for their recording and share it with their teacher. So, no need to upload or download their recording unless they want to.

2. As if you were in class: Videoconferencing with 8x8.vc

Why do I like it?

  • Neither the teacher nor the students have to register.
  • You can create your own room with a click and then share with your student the link for the room, which is always 8×8.vc/ (nameofyourroom)
  • It is a videoconference platform so the interaction is automatic as if you were in class.

3. The Whole Package: Video Recordings with Flipgrid

This is a more complex tool but it allows students not only to record themselves from their homes and then share the video clip in a secure platform but also interact with their classmates or teachers. Not in real time, though

Why do I like it?

  • It is very reliable and safe for the students
  • It is completely free.
  • Students can record up to 10 minutes
  • They can upload their own video clip or record their own computer screen
  • Teachers can send written or video feedback within the app straight to the students’ email.
  • Teachers can develop their own rubric.
  • Teachers are   100% in control of the videos
  • Teachers can even share the recording with the student’s parents.

(NOTE: you might want to watch the original webinar here)