Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Appy Times in World Languages!

Good evening!

Now that summer's in full swing, I have had some time to reflect on my experiences with one-to-one iPads in the world language classroom. The initiative began in April of 2012 with the faculty rollout. We participated in several Apple-sponsored professional development days, beginning in May and ending in August. This allowed us to spend the summer discovering apps and preparing for this new adventure. The rollout for all high school students occurred in August, just before school resumed.  What a year of trial and error for everyone involved! 

In this post, the focus will be on the types of apps that were and will be used in the world language classroom. Although these apps were tested for and used in the French classroom, they can be beneficial in other world language classes and possibly even other content areas.

Year One in Review

Frequently Used Apps

-Dropbox (Free) - This one allowed me to organize documents within each unit and class and then share them with students. For the first couple of months, students submitted tasks to my account, but it was an organizational nightmare for me, so I switched to folders in G-mail.  I will continue to use Dropbox in order to share documents, rubrics, and so on.
-Fotobabble (Free) - Take photos, record audio in the target language, and share.  Great for speaking practice on content-related topics! Currently, there is only an iPhone app for it, so we just enlarge the iPhone version on the tablets. 
-iMovie ($4.99) - Create videos in the target language, edit, and publish.  The movie trailer feature would be nice, but we didn't really use it because it appears to only allow users to add music.
-LaRousse Dictionary ($4.99) - This was the required dictionary app last year. It has some great features, like the verb conjugation charts for many tenses and the audio pronunciation of vocabulary, but there are often too many choices for novice learners to effectively choose the word they need. Students will be asked to install the WordReference iPhone app this year (See below for details.)
-Keeper (Free) - Store passwords in this app that requires users to only memorize one password to gain access. Pay $9.99 to upgrade to access in the cloud and backup protection.
-Keynote ($9.99) - Create presentations (Apple version of PowerPoint.)  My students often create presentations made up of images and/or graphs with or without text which they use as a visual for presentational speaking tasks.
-Pages ($9.99) - Type essays (Apple version of Word.)  Upper level students used this app more than the lower levels because they typically wrote persuasive essays for a major assessment research task.

Less Frequently Used Apps

-Blogger (Free) - We started the year out with blogs and planned to comment on other French students' blogs in another state, but it didn't work out in the end because I tried to bite more than I could chew during the first year of 1:1 iPads...  This is a rather user-friendly blogging platform, but initial setup was a bit of a struggle for some students because the set-up steps aren't cut and dry from what I remember.
-Book Creator ($4.99) - This tool allows students to make several books. It includes an audio feature and the finished product can be opened in a variety of places. My second year students used the storytelling tool of their choice for a book writing
-BuddyPoke (Free) - Make talking avatar videos in the target language and share.  Last year, we used the app one time in French 1 in order to create a French-speaking avatar. Learners might make an avatar at the beginning of the year and add to their online portfolio this year. 
-Concept Mapping Tools (Free) - Make a visual representation of one's learning. Great springboard for critical thinking and presentations. I won't name any of the free apps here, but every single one we tried had major bugs to fix, so we were never able to use them.  See below for the tool I may use this year.
-Feedly (Free) - Upper level students used this tool to access all of the blogs they wanted to use for research in the target language.
-Pic Collage (Free) - Make posters with photos or try their design features.  Similar to Glogster.
-Poetry Magnets (Free) - Create poems with this tool that allows users to change the language and include accents! Just drag a tile up onto the wall and double-tap on it to bring up the editing box.  When finished writing the poem, click save and then it can be located in the photo stream.
StoryBuddy 2 - The lite version allows users to make one book at a time and allows users to save the story as a PDF and gives more options than the previous tool I mentioned. The upgrade costs $4.99 and allows users to create 5 stories, add audio, and offers more ways to share. My second year students used the storytelling tool of their choice for a book writing task.

Year Two: Planning Ahead

-Instagram (Free) - Take photos, like them, and leave comments.
-Interview Assistant (Free) - Prepare interview questions and then record answers.
-iThoughts ($9.99) - Visualize the thought process! I've used a free (buggy) one in the past with upper level students who documented their learning over the course of a unit and presented with it serving as the visual. Students do not buy a textbook for my courses (with the exception of AP), but I do require them to purchase a few apps. If administration does not want to purchase it for all iPads, I might include it in my required app list at the start of the year.
-PhotoCard (Bill Atkinson) (Free) - Write post cards in the target language and e-mail them to recipients. Users can use their own photos or the app choices.
-QuickVoice2 Text Email (PRO Recorder) ($2.99) - Record from just seconds to hours in the target language! We tried the free version last year, but students could only record about 2 minutes if they wanted to share their work. Upper level students needed more time so we are upgrading to the pro version this year.  There is also the voice to text feature that will convert 30 seconds of recorded speech.  I only tested it in English, so I don't know if students can use it in French.
-Share Board (Free) - Collaborate with one classmate at a time with the free version.  Before school resumes, I will test this app out with a colleague to determine if it would be a good fit for my classroom.
-Socrative (Free) - Do quick comprehension checks with short quizzes.  I may or may not use this app much since it requires a lot of prep on the teacher side. 
-Tellagami (Free) - Create talking avatars with pre-chosen backgrounds or user photos.
-VoiceThread ($79 for 50 student accounts) - Post a photo, video, or other visual and invite students to voice comment around it.  My school might fund it if I want to use this tool, so I might use it, but I still have to conduct a cost benefit analysis.
-Web to PDF (Free) - This tool will be for my use only since users must be 17+ to install it.  It looks like a great tool for capturing web pages for the class website or presentations.
-Weebly (Free) - Use as a class website where students can access links, documents, and so on. I just created a class site and it looks beautiful in Safari on the iPad. I have not actually used the app to build much yet, so I will be checking it out soon. I might have students use this tool to create their online portfolios this year, as well.
-WordReference (Free iPhone app only) - This is a great dictionary for the world language classroom. Some features include the verb conjugations in multiple tenses, lists of expressions, and the forums.

Voilà, voilà! I divided the apps from last year into the two categories of frequent and not-so-frequent use in order to show you that my students didn't really use a great number of them in the first year. I have found that it can be so overwhelming when we get our hands on new technology for the classroom, especially since there are many tools that can enhance the learning. The key is to choose tools that can be used for a variety of tasks and also help students reach their proficiency goals over the course of the year.  Sometimes less is definitely more!

Is there an app that you would add to this list?

If you use any of these apps already, what are some ways you use them to enhance the learning experience?

Please take a moment to share your 'appy thoughts' in the comment section below.

1 comment:

  1. Great list, Cristy! Here is Google Spreadsheet of apps organized by skill (tabs on the bottom): http://goo.gl/MpnH6