Saturday, April 11, 2020

Resources for giving feedback on pronunciation online

During the COVID-19 closure, I'm still doing weekly questions to make sure students are getting a little practice speaking. I could use FlipGrid for this, but one thing I've learned in teaching with technology is that simpler is better than more complex, and every time we introduce a new tech tool into the classroom, it adds a layer of complexity. When I was on a tech committee, one of the tech people at my university reminded us that even if we're only asking students to learn 2-3 new tools, if every teacher is asking students to learn 2-3 new tools that are different, that adds a lot of extra work to their load. Since we're already using Google Classroom and Google Classroom allows students to upload video files, I've just been using that for the weekly question. The upside is that they're already used to submitting assignments via Google Classroom, so there's little to no learning curve. The downside is that Google Classroom doesn't currently have an efficient way to leave audio or video feedback. (You could make a video and post a link in a comment, but multiply that by 100 and you can kiss doing anything else goodbye.)

I can give feedback on comprehensibility, sentence structure, and vocabulary choice using the comment feature, but giving feedback on pronunciation without using audio or video files is harder (and this is where FlipGrid may yet convince me to use it, since this feature is already integrated). But for now, when I notice a pronunciation issue, I put Google Translate and Word Reference to good use. Both websites include the option to play audio of whatever word you put in. So I send a link for the word or words that students are having trouble with, and then they can listen to the Google Translate or Word Reference pronunciation. I prefer Word Reference because it appears to be a real human voice rather than a robot voice, and it also has options for a few different dialects of Spanish. But either one will give students the main idea of how a word is pronounced.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Customizing Google Slides masters to save time

A little while ago I read this post by Amy Lenord and realized that I wasn't using Google Slides to their fullest potential.

When I was making slides for my son's homework assignments, I realized that I could save time by customizing a master slide to fit my needs so that I could just click the slide type I wanted with the text already on it instead of retyping or copying and pasting.

I made custom master slides for words, sentences, and nonsense words for my son's homework so that I could just click the "add" button and my slide had everything except the homework word.

I use Google Slides to make my vocabulary lists for my Spanish classes, and then students go on gallery walks with a notes page to get their vocabulary for our unit (in normal times; not right now when we're not in school). I put the images in sheet protectors so I can re-use them, and put little sticky labels indicating whether they're for Spanish 1, 2, 3, or 4 since I frequently do our vocab days on the same day for all classes. I thought that was pretty clever, but then I realized that I could eliminate that step and save time by customizing my slide master.

I added a custom master slide layout with Spanish 1/Spanish 2/Spanish 3/Spanish 4 on the side.

My master slide layout menu.
The nice thing is that once you've used the slide layout, when you click the add button to add a new slide, Google Slides keeps using the last one you used until you tell it to use a layout. So I don't have to copy and paste to get the layout I want; I just click the add slide button and it gives me the layout I want.