Saturday, April 28, 2012

Puppet Shows & the iPad

 Have you ever had your students write and perform puppet shows in your world language class?  I've done it frequently over the years, and it's an activity that I highly recommend if you haven't ever tried it.  I can't believe how excited high school students get over playing with puppets.  We did this in first year French this week, and my students came skipping with joy into the classroom during these days.  I even heard one of them say, "This is the best class ever!"  There was a lot of giggling and laughing going on, but students were also actively engaged in writing and speaking French.  Here are a few photos:

I have a rather large collection of interesting puppets and also a puppet stage, but I bet students would have had just as much fun with a humble sock puppet.  Students began by writing scripts in groups of 2.  They had to choose from a list of topics I'd provided and write a conversation between the puppets based on that topic.  I checked over the scripts and returned them.  The next day, students recorded themselves saying the conversation on their iPads using an app called Audio Memos.  This is basically a voice recording app which also allows the file to be shared easily through email.  Students emailed their audio memos to me once they were done. 

Finally, students performed their puppet shows for the class while I played their recorded conversations from my laptop through large speakers mounted on the wall.  Here's an example of one of the performances:

This was truly a success!  Using Audio Memos instead of having students read their lines while performing accomplished the following:

  1. Improved pronunciation  Students were able to focus better on their pronunciation while recording themselves on their iPads than they would have if they'd been trying to read their lines from paper while also working their puppets.  Many of them listened to the recording and then re-recorded in order to fix mistakes they'd heard.
  2. Everyone was able to hear better because the conversation was projected throughout the classroom over the speakers.
  3. Shy students felt less intimidated about speaking French because they only had to worry about working their puppets in front of the class when all eyes were focused on them.

Puppet shows are a wonderful way to review material students have already learned, and they are also a great motivator, especially at this time of year when everyone is getting weary.  I felt encouraged and energized myself!  Why not give it a try?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Listening Activity with iPad!

I'm so lucky to be in a high school that has launched a 1:1 iPad program!  If you've been reading this blog, you already know that I've been writing posts about different iPad activities that I've tried.  Today I used the iPad for a listening activity that I used to do on paper.  I was reviewing vocabulary about the house, incorporating other words students have learned in the past such as prepositions, colors and daily objects.  Last year, I gave students a drawing of a house on paper, and told them to draw different objects in different rooms.  Today, I had students take a photo of a dollhouse that I keep in my classroom for this unit.  They used their iPads to take the photo.  Then they imported the photo into an app called ArtStudio Lite.  Basically, this is a drawing app that allows students to use different colors, line styles and photo effects.  Students can also draw on photos they've imported.  So, I asked students to draw different objects in the different rooms of the dollhouse photo in this app. (in French, of course!)  Students were asked to email the finished product to me for a grade.  Here are some examples from today's class:

Students were asked to draw a black dog in the bathtub, a green toothbrush on the bathroom sink and an orange cat on the toilet.  In the kitchen, they drew 4 red apples on the four plates that are on the table.  You get the idea.

This was my favorite one.  Her email said, "Please ignore the yeti, ivy and fire."  Ahh, yes...there is NEVER a dull moment when one is a high school teacher :).
I was able to quickly look at the photos in email, then reply to the emails with the grade I'd given to each student.  I noticed that the whole activity seemed more colorful and interesting to participate in because it was being done on the iPad rather than on paper.  A color photograph is always better than a black and white drawing, in my opinion!  Students were engaged and enjoying themselves during this activity, and I felt like it was a success!  Hooray!


Monday, April 2, 2012

Celebrate Mardi Gras!

One way to keep your students interested and excited about learning a language is to celebrate various holidays important to that culture in your classroom.  Not only that, but students do learn important cultural information as a result of doing this.   I typically celebrate different holidays in different levels of French in order to spread it out and to give students something to look forward to in each level.  I usually celebrate Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) in French II.  This year I explained a little bit of the history behind the holiday, showed a video of some of the parades in New Orleans, had students complete a Mardi Gras Maze and gave away beads to the winner, decorated the classroom, and made a traditional King Cake.  Here are some photos.

The King Cake takes a while to make and is not a simple process, but any doubt about whether or not it was worth the effort was removed when I saw this:

Translation for non-French speakers:  I love you Madame.  Thanks.
What teacher doesn't want to hear that?  :)


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