A couple of months ago, when we started thinking how we could use iPads in the Spanish room, we spent many hours looking for “the best Spanish app ever”. Soon we realized, that most of the Spanish apps for young students, were designed for very specific tasks, instead of inspiring creativity. Our Technology Coordinator, Jenni Voorhees, suggested using Book Creator and Drawing Box. Students were learning about “Animales del Oceano”, and we asked them to draw their favorite sea animals using Drawing Box, and use their pictures to create a book. After just four classes through the school year, MAGIC happened! The students started writing their own ideas in a second language! Foreign language teachers have often struggled to get their students to use the target language, especially in beginning stages; however, students were so engaged with the iPads, that they forgot they were writing in a second language! They wanted to express their ideas to make their own books! Not only did the iPads help them make “the jump” from learning words to expressing themselves in Spanish, but they also promoted “teamwork” as students taught, collaborated and helped each other.
Weeks later, while learning about "Animales de la Granja" or farm animals, students worked with partners and described similarities and differences between two animals. This time, they used Sock Puppets, an app that allows you to choose two or three puppets, add a background, some extra-elements to set the stage, and record a conversation. Students take turns and switch the puppets while recording. Once the recording is finished, students can watch a video and listen to their recording with puppets’ voices. Sock Puppets is a great app to motivate your students to speak a second language while having a great time.
Another project that students enjoyed was La Ropa (clothing). Third graders had been learning clothing vocabulary for some time, but they were not using the vocabulary in conversations. During the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit, I had the pleasure to meet Beth Holland and asked her what her favorite open-ended app for a foreign language class was. She mentioned Fotobabble, which allows you to take pictures, embellish them (which students love!), and record audio. Students worked with a partner, decided what they were going to wear, added stickers and frames to their pictures, and recorded conversations describing what they were wearing. Again, magic happened, and we had very engaged third graders speaking Spanish without even thinking!
What I’ve learned: Foster creativity and collaboration, give clear guidelines, encourage using different tools (including the iPads), and get ready to see MAGIC in your Foreign Language classroom. Your students will teach you amazing things in a second language!