15 February 2015

Listening Assessments and Activities Using Google Forms, Autocrat, and other scripts

Listening Assessments and Activities Using Google Forms, Autocrat, and other scripts

In the January 2015 National Bulletin, I published an article on using a variety of digital tools to create engaging and enriching listening activities for students. Limited to space, I was not able to go into detail about Google Forms with embedded videos, pictures, and links. 

For this post, I will concentrate on the "assessing" side of using Google Forms. Creating a form will be addressed in the next post. However, I encourage you to experiment with a basic form by adding pictures and videos from YouTube. This video will show you the basics. You will find that creating an interactive form is fairly intuitive.  

Listening comprehension activity - French III: Flânons à travers Paris! (Let's walk around Paris!)

I chose this video by the SNCF (French railway company) because it is fairly short (5mn) and highly visual. While the French is moderately fast, the images support the language. In an earlier form that I created (La nourriture et la santé en vidéos), I chose 30 second to 2 minute videos for low/mid-novices in French II. Also, since I was concentrating on the comprehension of this particular video, the longer length encouraged students to watch it multiple times. 

I created the form by asking students to enter their French name and regular last name as well as their class period. In my next form, I will make these two separate boxes to facilitate sorting. I will also add a box for their email. (More on that later.)

The video is at the top of the form with different question types below. For this activity, I chose: Checkboxes and paragraphs. I could have chosen Multiple Choice questions, but my questions had multiple answers and I was assessing that students saw/understood the different items. 

This is the form in its "editing" view. Click on it for a larger view. 

French III students went to the computer lab to complete the form. This could have been done on Chromebooks, iPads or even iPods in the classroom, but the lab was open (for once!). Students had about 40-50 minutes to complete the form. Some were so engaged by watching the video too many times trying to understand every word that they did not complete the Google Maps portion of the form.  In the future, I will separate the two tasks so they do not have to submit an unfinished form. It is also important to remind them that they will not understand every word, but should concentrate on the essential ideas posed in the questions. 

When the students completed the forms, their results appeared in a Google spreadsheet. While this is convenient and paperless, reading student responses in this format is not pleasurable. My wish was to organize the answers onto a document that could be read coherently. I could have copy/pasted the answers into documents, but why should I have to do more work after making this beautiful form? There had to be an easier solution.  

Thanks to the #edtech hashtag and the professionals I follow on Twitter, I heard about a script (micro-program) for Google Forms and Spreadsheets called Autocrat created by Andrew Stillman. Stillman is responsible for other scripts that will be explored later.  Autocrat merges Google Spreadsheet answers into individual Google documents or PDFs. 

I read a few blog posts: Synergyze and, of course, Alice Keeler. Alice is a consistently powerful blogger on everything Google. Her posts range from the absolute basics to more complex uses.  Those posts lead me to YouTube tutorials - one of the main ways I learn tech tricks and educational uses of them. These two videos guided me step-by-step on how to install and use Autocrat. The first video by Amy Mayer is slightly out of date (the script has been updated), but her use of it connected more to my idea. The second video by Tim Cargan and Jay Atwood provided more information on the current program. 

After the form was created, I opened the "Responses" spreadsheet that was automatically generated for the form. From there, I chose, "Add-ons" and searched for and installed Autocrat. Before launching a merge task, I created the template document where the answers would be compiled and organized.  The essential new task for me was to learn how to use the <<name>> tags to help organize the results.  Your template may be stylized in any way you choose, but you will need to "tag" the parameters you want compiled. Template example. 

After creating the template, you will launch Autocrat and go through the set-up process. The above videos will help you through this!

Launch a new merge task: 

When Autocrat has run through the responses, it will create a document for EACH student's work. I chose to have the files named with their names. In the next form I create, I will add an email box to the form. Not only will Autocrat create a personalized document, it will send it to the student if you add their email to the Autocrat parameters in the initial set-up! Autocrat files 

Student example: 

There are other scripts that will help teachers manage Google Form answers. Flubaroo allows users to automatically grade a form if multiple choice questions are used. Watch a tutorial

Doctopus and Goobric are powerful tools that assign activities, push them to the students' Google Drives, and evaluate them as students work.  Goobric creates an interactive rubric to assess electronically submitted work. Doctopus is demonstrated in this videoBoth tools are described on this post by the EdTech Pirates.  This video shows the two tools together. 

As a self-motivated and driven learner, I use video tutorials and educational blogs to learn about the digital tools that are available. However, if you are a World Language teacher and need any additional help or guidance (Google Hangout, Skype, Email), please contact me on Twitter @catherineku72 or through my Google+ account.  

30 November 2014

Using Google Drawing and Thinglink to create an interactive calendar

Creating an interactive, thematic calendar for language learners using Thinglink and Google Drawings.  

My objective was to provide an interactive "Calendrier de l'Avent" experience for my students. Each day, a student will click on a box and we'll explore the resource together.   

I have previously written about using Thinglink with students, but I would like to share a new idea that involves a bit of "app-smashing." 

App-smashing is when you use multiple web or mobile tools to create a final product. In this case, I used Google Drawings (in Google Drive) to create the base image of a snowy background and the gift boxes with numbers.  I downloaded the image as a JPEG and uploaded to my Thinglink account.
I could have used an Advent calendar from Google images, but I chose to create my own template so I can use it for further ideas.  

From there, I added tags with links to various cultural Web sites, videos, and interactive games. Thinglink is a "free" tool, but I chose to upgrade to the Educator account for $35/year. With this account type, a user has access to more icon types and is able to upload personalized icons. Teachers can create student accounts and provide users with passwords. 

This type of activity does not involve too much technology know-how, but you should know:
1. How to search, save, and upload images with Google images (or)
2. How to search and insert images while in Google Drawing.
3. How to resize and position images.
4. How to create textboxes and change the font color and size. 
5. How to download an image created in Google Drawing. 
Go to "File" and "Download as" and choose JPEG or PNG. If you choose PDF, you will not be able to upload it in Thinglink. 
6. How to copy/paste URLs (Web addresses).

Thinglink is an intuitive tool. Click on a space in your image, choose the icon type you prefer, add your URL to a video, image, or Web site, and save the tag. You may resize and move the icon as needed. 

Many teachers use the calendar idea to provide extra support for students, ie. "flipping" the classroom. Please let me know if you have any questions on how to create an interactive experience for your students. 

Bonne continuation! 

02 November 2014

#lefrancaispartout Défi Twitter/Instagram: Novembre en images!

Novembre en images! 
Twitter / Instagram Challenge

November list created by Kate Tidd - South Hadley High, MA

Interested in participating in a country (and world-) wide social media campaign to promote French language and communication? Invite your students to follow the hashtag (theme word) #lefrancaispartout on Instagram (pictures) and Twitter (pictures and text).

Each day of the month has a theme word. Students and their teachers post pictures that represent the word and add the hashtags so others can find the posts. 

For example: #horloge #lefrancaispartout is the image for 2 November. Take a picture of a clock and upload it to either Twitter or Instagram (or both!) with both hashtags. Some teachers are offering incentives to students who participate. Classes could work as a team to add the most images in a day. Pictures could be taken on campus during class or after school hours. 

Need more information about using Social Media with students in the World Language classroom? Read my article from the AATF National Bulletin: Using Social Media to Develop Communication Skills.

Requests for participants: 
1. Please ask your students to only use FRENCH in their posts. They may use Twitter or Instagram or both.

2. Remind students that this is an educational environment. Pictures and messages must be school appropriate. 

3. Be creative! Don't just Google a picture, create a scene!

4. Always check the hashtag feed before showing it in class. AATF cannot control who posts using this hashtag. It is possible that inappropriate images are included in the feed, but this can also be a good moment to discuss Digital Tattoos and Digital Citizenship.  

5. Know your audience! Discuss the challenge with your administration and/or parents if you feel that this activity would pose a concern. 

You may ask students to use their own accounts, but don't follow your students! 

You could create a class account with school devices. Students would all use the same account to post and you would have the option to delete any posts that do not meet your requirements.  

6. Set up ground rules with your students before they begin posting. You may with to create a class hashtag to help you keep track of your students who are posting. #mvhsfrancais is the hashtag my students use so I know who is participating. A student in my class would tag a picture: #mvhsfrancais #lefrancaispartout #horloge. 

7. To explore the posts from September through November, visit these sites:

#lefrancaispartout - Twitter search
Tagboard - Research ALL social media outlets for hashtags.

03 July 2014

Aligning iOS apps with Common Core and National Standards for Learning Languages (ACTFL)

    Alignment of the National Standards for Learning Languages with the Common Core Standards

Although not formally tested in the same manner as English Language Arts and Math, World Language study is an essential component of global competences (EdWeek article) or of World-Readiness as labelled by ACTFL (The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language). Not only does language learning support global competences, it enhances and supports literacy in Social Studies, English Language Arts, and Science through the well-known "5 Cs" of Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. 

To promote the links between foreign language study and world-readiness, ACTFL, the various AAT (American Association of Teachers of) language associations, and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills have created documents that detail the connections between the National Standards for Learning Languages and the Common Core English Language Arts Standards, also known as "The Crosswalk." For any language teacher who has had to justify the continuation of his or her program, these documents and research are of utmost importance. World Language classes should no longer be considered the "arts and crafts" elective for the drama and choir students. They are an indispensable component of a well-rounded college and career-ready, globally-minded curriculum.  

As many states shift to using the Common Core standards, materials labelled, "Aligned to Common Core," have appeared in textbook and teacher supply catalogs. Unfortunately, in the rush to provide "approved" materials, publishers and suppliers seem to have taken the core ideals of the standards a bit too literally by promoting their materials as a standardized curriculum (NPR report: The Common Core Curriculum Void). 

As it has been presented, there is no set curriculum for the CC standards. Teachers and districts are directed to use the standards to create units and lessons that will best meet the needs of their students and help prepare them for college and career experiences as global citizens.  

The same philosophy is true for technology tools. No app or Web-based tool has been "geared" to meet a specific Common Core standard. In exploring the Apple App store, one can find all sorts of apps labelled, "Common Core" but that do not explain how, why or in which way using the app will meet a standard or improve a student's performance. 

Symbaloo - View all of the apps on this blog post organized together on Symbaloo. There are three headings: Speaking/Listening, Reading, and Writing and are in subcategories based on the National and Common Core Standards. As a companion to the Symbaloo table, the apps have been similarly organized on this blog to offer a more in-depth investigation opportunity. Prices, tutorials, and further links provide teachers with a thorough description of the available tools.

Further blog posts over the next year will include apps for Reading, Writing, and Web-based tools. Please contribute any suggestions to this list in the comments, by Tweeting me @catherineku72 or by e-mail: catherineku72@gmail.com    

Speaking and Listening / Interpersonal (Speaking & Listening; Reading & Writing
ELA: Speaking and Listening - 
Standards for Learning Languages: Interpersonal 
(Speaking & Listening; Reading and Writing)


Prepare recorded presentations and tutorials for flipped (in-class or at-home) lessons that provide basic or extra information for students accessible anywhere at any time.  Presentations can also be used by substitute teachers or study groups. Beyond teacher-prepared presentations, students can share their collaborative efforts with the class or the teacher. 

As stated earlier, these app suggestions serve as ideas and options for teachers who wish to integrate technology in a thoughtful, meaningful manner. In choosing and aligning these apps, literacy in language at several was the objective.
As you can see, there are MANY apps available. My suggestion is to choose 1 or 2 from each category and experiment to find your preference. Each one has its positive aspects.

Free apps / 
Free with paid options


Use your iPad as an interactive
whiteboard to create publishable tutorials.

App (Free and paid version) 
Video app review

Add text, pictures, and videos to your presentation. 


App (Free) 
Video tutorial 

Use the basic toolbar to create recorded tutorials for publication.


App (Free and paid) 
Video tutorial 

Doceri offers multiples levels of collaboration and interaction. Control your laptop wirelessly through your iPad, record tutorials, and present live lessons. 


App (Free) 
Video tutorial

Invite students to collaborate in real time with your images, text, or PDF. This app does not allow you to pre-record a presentation, but you can organize the presentation before collaboration.

Paid apps under $5.00


Doodlecast Pro 
App ($4.99)  
Video overview  

Create, save, and publish presentations from your iPad. 

Annotate, animate, and import to create visually appealing tutorials and presentations for publication.

Digital Storytelling: Voice & Image (video) only

Encourage student engagement, production, and voice through original or retold stories. The following apps focus on oral recordings with images that can be shared by e-mail, social media, or exported to YouTube. Click on the provided link to learn more. 

Free apps / 
Free with paid options 


App (Free) 


App (Free w/paid options) 


Videolicious (New to me, but looks impressive!)
App (Free) 


Sockpuppets  (A student favorite!)
App (Free w/paid option) 

Toontastic Edu
App (Free w/$9.99 all access)


 App (Free) 

Paid apps under $5.00 


App ($0.99) 

PuppetPals 2 Edu  ($4.99) 

Digital Storytelling: Text, Pictures, Video & Voice

Beyond a simple story, these apps will inspire students to add text and voice to their presentations.  

 Free apps / 
Free with paid options 

App (free) 
Adobe Voice (New to me, but looks great!)
App (Free) 


Shadow Puppet (A student favorite!)
App (Free) 


App (Free and paid) 

Speaking and Listening / Interpersonal (Speaking & Listening; Reading & Writing

ELA: Speaking and Listening - 
Standards for Learning Languages: Interpersonal 
(Speaking & Listening; Reading and Writing)

Curation & Evaluation for Comprehension - "Students are knowledge curators -  let's help them use it" 
(Nicole Krueger - ISTE Connects blog) 

Free apps







App (This will be updated. The app does not appear in the App Store at the time of publication. 


In choosing to integrate technology tools, teachers should explore various tools, experiment with them, and choose a few that best connect with or support their objectives and learning targets. The SAMR model, as proposed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura (and described by Kathy Schrock) provides guidance for teachers who are new to technology integration.