On April 29th, COERLL hosted a webinar where three teachers shared activities they have used for their remote language classes. You can view the video, linked below, but we’ll summarize some of their ideas here.
Olivia Grugan (Arabic/German/Spanish Teacher, World of Learning Institute at Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8) first asked us to ponder: what does good teaching look like, and what one aspect of good teaching is most important to you to preserve in your remote class?
For Olivia, routines are an important way of grounding an online course. Routines provide repetition for students, build confidence, and make it easier to stay in the target language. For example, by using the annotation tool in Zoom, students can collaboratively add to a Google Slide that lists the date or the class objectives for the day.
Catherine Ousselin (French Teacher, Mount Vernon High School) decided that doing activities in the interpretive mode is more accessible for students learning from home. They had just completed the food unit when remote teaching began, and eating is an activity everyone is doing in common at this time. Hence, interpretive tasks based on food!
Catherine showed some Google slides listing steps students could take to build on their knowledge, with each step linking to a different interpretive task. For example, beginner students would answer some short questions, look at a vocabulary list, use Quizlet to practice vocabulary, categorize foods in Seesaw, and finish by watching videos.
Daniel Verdugo (Spanish Teacher, Ann Arbor Public Schools) regularly writes and publishes Ñ magazine in Google slides with his students, and continued this when his classes went remote, with some tweaks.
Usually his students would write articles based on their interests. In the remote classroom, he asked them to write film reviews, since they were already watching media at home in quarantine. Students write their reviews in a shared Google Doc so they can read each other’s work, providing for a collaborative learning experience and enhancing their digital skills. All of this will be added to their digital magazine, which is published and distributed at school and in the community in Ann Arbor.
To summarize, here are some questions to ask yourself when planning your remote classes:
- What is good teaching? what one element of that do you want to focus on?
- What mode of communication will your students be able to work on with the tools they have?
- How can you build on what students are already doing at home?
- What linguistic tasks and technology activities do your students already feel comfortable with that you can expand on?
Each of these teachers has met their students where they are by giving them activities they know their students are capable of completing, both linguistically and technologically. While the exercises they shared look polished, they are using basic tools like Google Slides and video-conferencing that most teachers can access. For teachers and students who can’t access these tools, the panelists provided suggestions for other ways to engage the students, which we’ve listed in the webinar notes on the event page.
- See the event page for a recording of the webinar, more details about the presenters’ work and ideas for adjusting their activities to different levels, and information shared in the Q&A.
Thank you to Olivia, Catherine, and Daniel for sharing their ideas, and thank you to every teacher who is pushing to reach their students in these out-of-the-ordinary circumstances! Stay safe, everyone.