5 tech things to try tomorrow

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Ok… we have Ipads. Every student at a school run by the Trust receives an Ipad on joining in Year 7. This arose out of the pandemic and students from disadvantaged backgrounds not having devices on which to learn. I have a love/hate relationship with Ipads. Sometimes I love them and sometimes I do not. Here are the things I do love.

If you do not have Ipads then all of the following work on a set of laptops or equally in an IT room.

Socrative

This is a great little app for making quizzes to check concepts have been acquired and retained. It offers 3 types of question: True/False, Short answer, multiple choice and they are really quick to make. You have a room number and students sign into the room. You set a quiz to go live and they answer. It gives you real-time data on questions they found difficult so allows you to quickly reteach or revisit things. If everybody is getting a particular question wrong then either it’s an issue with the question you wrote, or it’s something you need to revisit. It is great for dealing with misconceptions very quickly.

Picture from Socrative.com

We have used it for gap fills, grammar tests, vocabulary and self-assessment/reflection on progress. Setting up a “short answer” quiz with no questions also allows you to use them like mini-whiteboards (useful when you are awaiting a delivery of pens). You just tell the pupils what sentence you want from them and they submit it. There is a more advanced website called Go Formative, which has greater functionality including the ability to turn worksheets into self-marking sheets. It’s not the same company but I haven’t mastered it yet. When I do, a blog will likely follow. In the meantime, Socrative is a great way of checking for understanding.

For Socrative, you need an account, your pupils do not. They just need the room number. You are given a number of free quizzes (I think somewhere in the region of 40). You can subscribe and have unlimited ones. My main pieces of advice would be firstly to name your quizzes really effectively so you can find them easily the following year. Secondly, insist on real names. Thirdly, have something ready for those who finish quickly.

Blooket

Picture from the Blooket website

Called “Booklet” by a number of students, this app is great. Free to sign up. You load a quiz and then give students the link. They play, you watch the chaos commence.

The website has quizzes loaded in and quite often you can find something that matches your scheme of work. Alternatively, you can upload your own. We have done this with importing vocabulary from knowledge organisers.

Here are my favourite Blooket activities. There are others and I’m still trying them out.

Gold Rush – Students answer a question after which they can pick from three treasure chests. These chests may increase or decrease their score. They may let them swap points or steal points from others. It’s a great leveller because even the kid who finds languages difficult can still do well with a few correct answers. The students enjoy the constant changing nature of it and it has captivated every class I have used it with.

Battle Royale – This pairs random students against each other poses a question and rewards whoever gets it right and gets it right first. All students start with 5 lives so no-one is out until they have lost 5 lives. Gradually you are reduced to the final two. Students seem to really enjoy this and it also rewards those who really know the material. So often the winner is your quietest student (post on introverts and MFL currently in production).

Racing – I’m almost certain that the person who developed this game was a fan of Mario Kart. Students answer questions and move forward/backward depending on whether their answer is correct and occasionally may get to have some effect on their peers. Everyone plays and can see themselves moving on the screen.

Picture from language gym website

Language Gym

Who hasn’t heard of Language Gym by now? Whilst not an app, it’s an extremely good website from EPI gurus Gianfranco Conti and Dylan Viñales. Your school will need a subscription but log-ins are really easy to set up and we have really enjoyed using it this year. Here are some of my favourite things to do with it….

Verb Trainer – This is ideal once you have introduced a concept such as the present tense. Students type their answers and it goes green/red if it is right or wrong. The cheat sheet is useful so students can refresh their memory. Every now and again, a verb you want to practise is not in the list but that’s a minor issue and I assume it is being updated all the time. You can practice regular verbs, irregular verbs, different tenses, different persons.

Boxing Game – A great little game where pupils pick from 4 options based on 4 punchbags (hence boxing). There is also a listening version where they have to hear the phrase and punch it.

Rock-climbing – My first advice is you are using computers or Ipads with working audio is turn the volume down. Seriously, make sure they all do. You’ll thank me for this piece of advice.

Live Games – On language gym you can set an assignment (best option for homework) or a live game (best option in class). The live game option allows students to compete against each other. 7y1 get very competitive when one of these is going. My only slight criticism of this activity is that some pupils are able to access the activity slightly ahead of others, whereas with Blooket they all start at the same time.

Workouts – These are some of the most in-depth activities I have seen on a language learning website. They get progressively more demanding, revisit content really well and also are fun to complete. Less able learners will complete these quite happily and there is sufficient support and challenge. For example, the matching activity gets easier the more the students do as the correct answers disappear.

Languages Online

I mentioned this in a blog back in 2015 about what to do in the computer room. I’ve always liked this website. Whilst not “new” or particularly advanced compared with Language Gym, Blooket or Socrative, it is quite simple to use and to differentiate. Often I will set two sets of activities. One for students who are finding the content difficult and another set for those who feel they need some challenge. You can find content that links to most schemes of work in the “Caminos” and “Grammar sections” although some of the sections are a little outdated. It is Ipad friendly. I would also add that it has A-level material.

Lyrics Training

Lyrics Training is a great site and great fun. Lyrics are removed from songs and students have to put them back in acquiring points for working out the missing words. They can re-listen to the lyrics as many times as needed. That being said, for us in schools, it comes with a couple of warnings.

  1. If pupils are using the site independently, make sure pupils use only the songs you want them to use.
  2. If using a song with a whole class, Make sure you have watched the video and it is age appropriate.
  3. Pick really clear songs. Alvaro Soler, Keven y Karla and Marc Anthony are all good with Key Stage 3 classes

If your school filters Youtube then there is only one way to use this site. Project the song on to the board and give every student a mini-whiteboard. They write the missing words and show it on a board.

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