The ABCs of Providing CI Through Remote Learning: R is for Reading Activities

When I first transitioned to teaching with comprehensible input (CI), the blog post I found the most helpful was Keith Toda‘s Todally Comprehensible Latin. He has one page on his blog that is an absolute gold mine. This page lists over EIGHTY ACTIVITIES that teachers can do in class to accompany reading.

Keith divides the list into Prereading, During Reading, and Postreading activities (The Postreading section is especially extensive). Some of the activities on Keith’s list are not conducive to distance learning, because they are games or activities that require students to work in groups. But many of the activities on the list can successfully be adapted to the online environment (The last four activities under Postreading are posts added after school building closed. They are great to help teachers navigate some of the technologies we may want to use while teaching remotely). As you work to keep think interesting while teaching online, make a point to bookmark this post.

Another blogger whom I consulted regularly when I was starting to experiment with CI strategies was Martina Bex‘s website The Comprehensible Classroom. It was on this website that I first learned about Smash Doodles (For more information about using Smash Doodles in a physical classroom and to see some examples, visit this post). Smash Doodles are a great activity to use to get students to engage with readings and creatively summarize what they have read.

Once most schools switched to distance learning, Immediate Immersion posted a template that students could use during distance learning to create Smash Doodles. My students used this template to summarize the book Brandon Brown Veut un Chien, which they have read using a Fluency Matters e-course. Once they finished the e-course, students created pages for the individual chapters. Below are two examples:

Once we’re officially back in school, I will create a book out of Smash Doodles to share with my students.

What are some of your go-to reading activities that you’ve had success with during remote learning? Please describe them in the comments!

The ABCs of Providing CI Through Remote Learning: Q is for Quizlet, Quizizz, and Quizalize

I have studied and/or used five different quizzing platforms these past few months while teaching remotely, (and while you may think five different platforms is overkill, I thought it was important to have a nice variety of online quiz structures so my students didn’t get bored). In this series, I have already written about two online quizzing platforms, Gimkit and Kahoot. You can see what I said about them in this post and this post. Today I’m going to talk about three other gaming platforms, Quizlet, Quizizz, and Quizalize. All five platforms can be used as assessments and to provide additional comprehensible input (CI) to students.

Disclosure: I have no affiliations with Quizlet, Quizizz, or Quizalize. I just like sharing tools that help World Language teachers provide more CI to their students. 

What is Quizlet?

Quizlet is an online learning platform that allows users to create “study sets,” which is basically a set of online flashcards. Besides interacting with a study set the same way they might interact with physical flashcards, students can also play online learning games like matching or take a practice quiz with terms in the study set. Teacher can also use study sets to create a class game called Quizlet Live.

Have I used Quizlet during normal classroom instruction? If so, how? If not, how would I use it?

Yes, I have used Quizlet many times in my classes. I use Quizlet to create study sets of essential vocabulary. My students can review the essential vocabulary on their own either in class or at home. In addition, the class has used study sets together to play Quizlet Live.

When I first started teaching with CI, I did not provide lists of vocabulary to my students, because my assumption was that they would just acquire new words naturally due to extensive classroom use. What I realized, however, is that my anxious and/or competitive students liked having a place where they could review essential vocabulary just to be sure they weren’t missing anything (Unfortunately, many students have been conditioned over the years so that they believe that all “good” teachers will explicitly present material to them and tell them which words and expressions they need to study for assessments. This is not what I do as a CI teacher, but having study sets on Quizlet makes them feel as if I’m doing that). Having a Quizlet set also came in handy as a quick bellringer activity and as a resource for students who had been absent.

Have I used Quizlet now that I’m teaching remotely? If so, how? If not, how would I use it?

Yes, I have used Quizlet for remote instrudction. As I described in this post, I use Quizlet to introduce students to new structures that they need in order to understand and complete one or more follow-up activites. For example, I recently assigned the Señor Wooly video “Qué Asco” to my fifth graders. Before they watched the video in Spanish, I asked them to review essential words in order to make the video more comprehensible. Then after watching the video, students had the option to review the Quizlet again before they completed a follow-up activity (During normal times I would still make the Quizlet set available to my students, but I would most likely present those new structures to my students interactively, like through a story or personalized questions and answers).

Do teachers need to pay for Quizlet?

Quizlet has a free version and a premium version. The free version includes advertising but it allows teachers to make as many study sets as they want. The premium version allows more options for formatting study sets. For example, that version lets teachers upload images and audio and gives teachers the ability to emphasize texts by making them bold, underlined, highlighted, or italicized. The premium version also tracks usage so teachers can monitor student progress and ensure that their students are actually interacting with the study sets.

What is Quizizz?

Quizizz is a platform that allows teachers to create online quizzes similar to those you might see on Kahoot. Unlike Kahoot, however, students can complete the quiz on Quizizz at their own pace and can take it multiple times to achieve a higher score. By default, Quizizz posts memes between each quiz question, which most students seem to like (although I did have one parent who said the memes were a waste of time, but what she didn’t realize is that all my memes were in the target language (TL), thus supplying a little sneaky CI). In addition, Quizizz gives students the chance to earn “power ups” (special privileges) for a series of correct answers. It also allows students to review before taking the quiz by giving them the chance to complete a practice round. Quizizz also keeps track of student scores that teachers can access once students have finished the quiz.

Have I used Quizizz during normal classroom instruction? If so, how? If not, how would I use it?

I have not yet used Quizizz during normal classroom instruction, but I have already thought of ways to implement it once we are back to our regular teaching model. Since Quizizz is a quick and easy way to check for understanding, it will be good to use it after we have read and reviewed a story. Since it is student-driven, students will be able to take the quiz at his/her own pace. In theory, this should cut down on cheating, since there’s no guarantee that two students sitting near each other will be on the same question.

Have I used Quizizz now that I’m teaching remotely? If so, how? If not, how would I use it?

Yes, I have used Quizizz while teaching remotely. Quizizz has a feature that allows teachers to assign a quiz as homework. I usually give one of these after my students have read a story. Students still have the option to review with a practice round before they take the actual quiz. I tell students that they must score at least 80% to earn credit for the assignment.

Do teachers need to pay for Quizizz?

No. It is completely free all the time.

What is Quizalize?

Quizalize is yet another online gaming platform that gamifies a formative assessment. It is very similar to both Quizlet and Quizizz in that it is student-paced, but two features make it a unique tool. First, it provides extensive data based on quiz outcomes for teachers to examine. Second, teachers can link content standards to quiz questions in order to determine how well students are meeting those standards, which is very convenient for standards-based grading.

Teachers have the option of either creating their own quiz or adapting someone else’s quiz for their own use. They create their classes right in Quizalize and assign classes a quiz that students access with a code. After students finish a quiz, they can see their score and the time it took them to answer each question, a list of all questions, how they answered each question, and the correct answer. After students finish the quiz, teachers have the option to program Quizalize to assign an appropriate follow-up activity based on student quiz scores (review activities for weak students, enrichment activities for strong students).

Teachers see the same individual data that students see as well as data for the whole class, which includes a list of all student scores that is color-coded based on how well students perform. They can also see data based on each question, which can help them identify areas that need reteaching and review.

Below is an example of the data that teachers can see after students take a quiz on Quizalize from the blog A Lever and a Place to Stand. The first image is part of the whole-class report and the following two images are from an individual student’s report.

Teachers who use Quizalize regularly eventually have a pretty good amount of data stored on the platform that they can use to track student progress over time.

Have I used Quizalize during normal classroom instruction? If so, how? If not, how would I use it?

No, I did not use Quizalize during normal classroom instruction, but I plan to use it in a manner similar to how I would use Quizizz during normal classroom instruction for assessments. Since Quizizz is free all the time, I would probably use it more frequently and I would save Quizalize for the assessments whose data I really want to study, like my mid-year and final assessments.

Have I used Quizalize now that I’m teaching remotely? If so, how? If not, how would I use it?

Next week is my last week of remote learning. I’ve designed a final assessment for students based on stories they have read during remote learning. As I mentioned in this post, my school is not grading traditionally for the fourth quarter, so I plan to use the data from the quiz to see how my students progressed while they were at home.

Do teachers need to pay for Quizalize?

Quizalize rivals Gimkit for the most disappointing free version. Like Gimkit, the free version of Quizalize is very limiting. Teachers can only set up three classes and five quizzes with a free account. Teachers who are interested in using Quizalize to track student performace and aligning quizzes to content standards would have to purchase a premium account.

My Final Thoughts:

Teachers are very lucky right now to have such a variety of options to spice up remote instruction. For those of use whose school year is coming to an end, now would be a good time to become familiar with these platforms in preparation for whatever the fall may bring when the new school year is supposed to begin.

The ABCs of Providing CI Through Remote Learning: P is for Pear Deck

Pear Deck is a super cool tech tool that I just learned about recently. It is a Chrome Extension that allows you to create interactive slide presentations. Teachers can create new presentations directly on Pear Deck or can import presentations from PowerPoint or Google Slides. Then they can make those presentations interactive by embedding activities directly in the Pear Deck slides that students need to stop and complete during the presentation.

Disclosure: I have no affiliations with Pear Deck. I just like sharing tools that help World Language teachers provide more CI to their students. 

At first, I was skeptical about using Pear Deck in a comprehensible input (CI) class, because when I searched for examples of how language teachers use Pear Deck, the videos I saw were of teachers doing explicit grammar instruction or output activities (I had a similar reaction when I first learned about Flipgrid, which you can read about here and here). As I have said many times before, explicit grammar instruction, forced output, and heavy correction of errors are not components of a CI language classroom, so I initially decided that Pear Deck was not for me.

Then I watched the amazing Elicia Cárdenas present about Pear Deck in a Fluency Fast webinar, in which she demonstrated some of the interactive, input-based activities she used when presenting with Pear Deck. Based on what Elicia shared and what I’ve seen in video tutorials, I’ve compiled a list of some of the ways world language teachers can provide CI using Pear deck:

1. Drag and Drop: Post descriptions of characters in the TL from a well-known class reading and have students drag the name of each character to the correct description. Alternatively, you can use the drag and drop function to take sentences from a well-known story and ask students to put the sentences in chronological order.

2. Draw: Post sentences in the TL and have students use Pear Deck to draw pictures to illustrate them.

3. Fill in the blank: Write an incomplete sentence from a well-known reading and have students fill in the blank using the text feature to complete the sentence.

4. Write a response: Show a picture and talk about it in the TL. Then ask the students questions about the picture in the TL for them to answer.

Alternatively, you can request details during storyasking and have students type in their suggestions.

5. Multiple Choice: Post a question in the TL about something you’ve been talking or reading about and have students choose a correct answer.

6. Listen and write/draw: The premium version of Pear Deck lets you add audio to your slides, which students can listen to and then respond by writing or drawing.

I always notice that when I give presentations in class, there are certain students who disengage, even if they know that they are going to have to complete an assessment afterwards about information from the presentation. That’s just the nature of middle school students. Pear Deck obligates them to engage and interact throughout the presentation, which I hope will help them retain information and further their proficiency in the TL.

So far I have only talked about using Pear Deck in physical classes, but many of the features I have spoken about will transfer to a synchronous, virtual class taught via video conferencing software like Zoom or Google Hangouts. I am not conducting synchronous classes, but I can still use Pear Deck in student mode, which allows students to interact with a presentation independently at their own pace.

If you are interested in learning more about Pear Deck, you’ll find more information on their blog and a TON of video tutorials on the Pear Deck YouTube channel. Pear Deck does have a free version, but unfortunately many of the features I’ve spoken about here are only available in the paid version. But if school districts continue distance learning in the fall, it may be work the expense.