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. 



20 June 2014

Curricular and Authentic Resource Curation for French teachers

AATF curricular content and authentic resources 
for French teachers
The wealth of online authentic resources (#authres), also known as realia, easily replaces quickly outdated textbook auxiliary materials. However, for many educators, the time required to research and organize these materials can be an issue. One time-saving solution is to crowd-source the curation (collection/classification) with local colleagues. Another is to look to an online Professional Learning Network (PLN) that has already begun the process. The idea that educators "steal" lessons or tools needs to give way to the collaborative model. Cite the origins of a lesson or tool when appropriate whether it was from a local conference or a Pinterest board. Educators appreciate when their curating or curricular work is acknowledged and shared with others. It is through this process that a PLN grows and develops new ideas and approaches. 

Based on my interactions with World Language teachers on Twitter and Facebook, I see that many French teachers are considering giving up their textbooks in favor of creating thematic units based on curated tools and curricular materials. To assist them in this transition and to save them time, the AATF Commission on Technology has set up several content resource curating tools. Each tool has its advantages, thus it is up to the user to decide which one best serves his or her needs. 

In building these resources, I have tried to classify the resources based on thematic units, learner levels, and topics. The AATF follows other resource curators (not always French teachers) - consider choosing a few to follow so that you have a wide variety of views and tools. If you find something you like, please share it and acknowledge the producer. If you have a suggestion to improve on the AATF resources, please contact Catherine Ousselin (catherineku72@gmail.com).   

Bonne chance et bonne recolte!

AATF Facebook 
Posts on news, culture, technology tools for World Language teachers and learners, AP Exam resources, and thematic unit ideas

Resources for French classrooms, AP exam topics, infographics, cultural resources, and vocabulary

Delicious Over 300 categorized links to resources for reading, writing, listening, AP Exam topics, history, culture, and music

Curated resources organized by topic

Nearly 40 playlists organized by topic: Music, history, language, Francophone realia, television, and movies  

Tweets on Francophone news, culture, curricular resources, and AATF events 

19 January 2014

National French Week Video, Poster, and Animation Contest Winners - 2013

Félicitations à tous les participants! 

This is the second year of the National French Week Video, Poster, and Animation contest and the judges were highly impressed with the 48 submissions! We were excited by the variety and uniqueness of every entry. Please take some time and look over the top 5 winners, the honorable mentions, and the other participants' projects and start planning for next year's contest! The playlist for all of the video submissions can be found below. 

Bravo et bonne continuation! 
Première place: Geneva Community High School - Geneva, Illinois 
Vidéo: French the language of the 21st Century 
Professeur:  Martha  Behlow 
Sierra B.
Kyle B.
Hannah B.
Alan C.
Kathleen C.
Stephanie C.
Cameron G.
Shelby P.
Lauren G.
Jakob E.
Samantha K.
Caroline N.
Alexa O.

Deuxième place: Geneva Community High School
Vidéo: French the language of the 21st Century 
Professeur:  Martha  Behlow 
Élève: Haley H. 

Troisième place: Linganore High School - Frederick, MD
Vidéo: French for New Markets 
Professeur:  Dragana Blonder 
Tyler G.
Bridget D.
Jessica L.
Jack G.
Rhiannon W.

Quatrième place: Geneva Community High School
Vidéo: French is Timeless 
Professeur:  Martha  Behlow 
Olivia S. 
Alison K. 
Vera K. 
Serena W. 
Olivia Z. 
Anna G.

Cinquième place: Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School - Plainview, NY
Vidéo: L'Amour
Professeur: Madame Salzman
Carly S.
Amanda G.

Mention Honorable: Wyoming High School -
Wyoming, OH
Vidéo: Français dans notre vie
Professeur: Cecile Laine
Nat P.
Sam W.
Alex K.
Tommy B.

Mention Honorable: Shore Regional High School - 
West Long Branch, NJ
Vidéo500+ Miles for French
Professeur: Madame Alice Ennis Simonson
Bailey W.
Carlyn P.
Dan S.

Mention Honorable: Chapel Hill High School - 
Chapel Hill, NC
VidéoLes Transports En Commun
Professeur: Christen Campbell
Antoine S.
Thomas E.

Mention Honorable: Adlai E Stevenson HS - 
Licolnshire, IL
VidéoI Speak French
Professeur: Justin Frieman
Johnathan L.
Yana G. 
Braden M.

Mention Honorable: Geneva Community High School
VidéoLa Langue du 21e Siècle
Professeur: Pam Cabeen
Izabella B.
Madeleine B. 
Madeline P.

View all of the videos submitted to the National French Week Video/Poster/Animation Contest!

Students also submitted their entries using PowToons, Animoto, Glogster, and GoAnimate. Please click on the links to view their entries.

Glogster: Clearsprings High 
Jesse D. 

Glogster: Hopewell High
Brooke M. 
Kelsey S. 

Glogster: Hopewell High
Keondre B. 

GoAnimate : Deer Path Middle School 
Jacqui P. 
Charlotte M. 

GoAnimate  : Deer Path Middle School 
Grace A.
Kimie H.
Erin S.
Ben R.

Powtoon : Southold Jr/Sr High School
Dante T. 

Animoto:  Union Catholic 
Erin S.
Christina B.

AnimotoTriton Regional High School   
Mari O.

Animoto Paxon Hollow Middle School 
Jennifer J.

AnimotoClear Springs High 
Anthony N.  
AnimotoClear Springs High 
Meghan H.  

AnimotoClear Springs High 
Naazneen I.  

AnimotoClear Springs High 
Janie A.