Wednesday, January 16, 2019


Earlier this week, a number of Spanish teachers at my school shared with my department about Storyjumper, a digital storytelling web application. Essentially, Storyjumper allows for users to create digital storybooks with texts, illustrations, voice recordings, music, and sound effects. Below is a digital storybook which I created for a reading using Storyjumper. The story began as a dictatio of 8 sentences, but I was able to create a Tier 2 embedded reading of the story using Storyjumper:

  1. I like that having text, illustrations, and narration at the same time gives learners double, even triple input.
  2. I like this SO MUCH better than screencasting a PowerPoint, because it has more of a storytelling feel to it, since it is a digital book.
  3. It is a FREE web resource. However, if you wish to publish what you create, you can sell it on Storyjumper.
  4. Being able to add music and sound effects does make your book more compelling and interesting to listen to.
  5. I wish that StoryboardThat had a narration and sound function, since it already has a digital comic book feel to it.
  6. Drawbacks
    1. Compared to StoryboardThat, Storyjumper does have limitations with the amount of provided illustration choices and their capabilities. One can import pictures into Storyjumper. With StoryboardThat, there are a lot more illustration choices and what one can do with them (cropping, changing angles, poses, etc.)
    2. Although Storyjumper does provide music and sound effect choices, they are limited.
Here is a video tutorial of Storyjumper:

Although Storyjumper does have its drawbacks, this is a web resource which I will be using more in the future.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Top 5 of 2018

With it being final exam week at my school and with 2018 coming to a close, it is time to share my top 5 viewed blog posts of the year: 
  1. More Thoughts on Sheltering Vocabulary
  2. Brain Breaks
  3. Rejecting a Grammar Syllabus
  4. More Brain Breaks
  5. CI Latin Teacher Database
2018 has been quite a year professionally. After a hectic 2017 conference schedule, I took this year off from conferences and presenting in order to reboot. Over the summer, I led an adult tour of Latin teachers to Italy for the Vergilian Society where I led sessions on Comprehensible Input. I also started the first semester of my Ed.D. study in Instructional Technology after a 1 1/2 year break from graduate school. It was a bit of an adjustment, but I really enjoyed my studies and ended up getting A's in both of my classes!

As I begin a 2-week hiatus from blogging for the winter vacation, I want to thank all of you who read this blog. I am deeply appreciative that you think that I have something of value to say on Comprehensible Input. I am grateful to all of you who post a link to blog posts of mine on your Facebook pages/groups - especially Martina Bex!

I look forward to what 2019 has to offer!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Coloring Book Pages for Final Exams

Final exams are next week for my students, and I am getting everything prepared: creating the exam, printing up answer sheets (I use Zipgrade), and printing up coloring book pages. What? Coloring book pages? Yep, if you are like me, when students finish their final exams, I HATE it if they just sit there with nothing to do, because that gives them a reason to talk or "get into some shenannigans" while others are still taking the exam. I have taken up their phones before the exam, and they cannot retrieve them until the last exam is turned in. As a result, I give students coloring book pages to color when they are done. This is something which I learned from my colleague Ashley Allgood at my last school, and it absolutely works. Keep in mind that these are high school students, who most of the time are too jaded to do anything!

It is very simple to do - simply print free coloring books pages from various websites, and put out the pages with crayons, colored pencils, and markers for students to use after they finish their exam. Below are some sites which I use to print coloring book pages:

Crayola - a treasure trove of pages, including Disney
Hello Kitty
Coloring Pages - LOTS of different categories
Care Bears

  1. This really does keep students quiet after they finish their exams, because it gives them something to do.
  2. The first time I did this, I thought for sure only a handful of students would do it, but I found that most students wanted to color!
  3. I usually print up 3-4 copies of the same pages so that students have access to the pages. The first time i did this, I only printed one of each page, and students were mad that there was only ONE picture of Belle and that it had been taken already.
  4. Students rarely have the chance in school to just color, so this is something which they enjoy doing. I have found that the guys really get into coloring!
  5. After students finish coloring their pages, they can put their "work of art" on my board for all to see.
I have already been asked a number of times this week by students if I will have coloring pages available after they finish their exams - they are ready!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Cellphone Ritual

For those of you wanting to know how I deal with cellphones in my classroom, the following is what I do. I learned this from my colleague Bob Patrick, and I have found this to be every effective.

After I take roll, I say the following every day while holding my phone out for them to see:

Salvete! Incipiamus. Ubi sunt telephona? In.....sacculis (students say "sacculis" with me). Telephona non sunt in manibus, non in gremio, non in sinibus, non sub natibus, non sub sellis. Telephona sunt in sacculis. Ponam meum telephonum in meo sacculo. I will give you phone time at the end of class.

Hello. Let's us begin. Where are your telephones? In your bookbags. Telephones are not in your hands, not in your lap, not in your pockets, not under your butts, not under your chairs. Telephones are in your bookbags. I will place my telephone in my bookbag. I will give you phone time at the end of class.

  1. I use gestures when saying this (displaying hands, pointing to lap, putting hands in my pockets, patting my butt, and pointing under the chairs). Students get mad at me if I say this without the gestures. 
  2. Because I establish this ritual from Day 1, students know my expectation regarding cellphones during class. Even though this ritual is behaviorist in nature, the way in which this is done is very positive, and students actually do put their cellphones away.
  3. Students appreciate that I as the teacher too put my cellphone in my bookbag with them.
  4. If students do pull out their cellphones during class, I simply say, "(Student's name), ubi sunt telephona?" and usually the student knows right away to put it away. I have found that many times students themselves will monitor each other and call out students who have their phones out during class by saying "Ubi sunt telephona? Telephona non in manibus!"
  5. Last week, i was observed by two different non-world language teachers, and each of them said to me, "I was so surprised that your students knew to put their phones away when you told them to (in Latin) and that they actually did it!"
  6. By the 2nd or 3rd week of school, because I say this every day, many students say this along with me. Again, my observers last week found it very interesting that students would actually want to recite that with me when it was not required.
  7. I make it a point to tell students each day that at the end of class, I will give them phone time. "Give me time in class, and I will give you time at the end."
It is a very simple daily "ritual," which I have found to be very effective!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Semper Maximas Gratias Vobis

Last week my blog passed over 400,000 page views. Granted I will chalk up the majority of those page views to spambots, but after five years, I still cannot believe that there are folks out there who read this blog on a regular basis or even check it out. Two years ago, I wrote a post similar to this when I reached over 150,000 page views. I was blown away by that! I thought for sure by now people would tire out with what i had to say and move on. 

Honestly, I really do not think that I have much to say about CI. Nor am I putting on false humility when I write that. There are so many others out there who know CI theory much better than I do, can discuss it better than I can, and actually like getting into long academic pedagogical discussions about it - that is not me at all. Look at those blogs which are listed on the sidebar - THOSE folks are the ones who understand Comprehensible Input and can talk about it with a degree of confidence. THOSE are the ones whose blogs you should be consulting. THOSE are the ones whose presentations I attend to learn about CI. But yet, I will continue to blog. 

I do not blog with the intent that tons of folks will ever read what I have to say. I blog, because it gives me a place to put down and to share what I am learning about CI in the Latin classroom. I am always amazed when I meet people at conferences (especially non-Latin teachers) who say that they read my blog and use many of the ideas about which I have written, because in my mind, I still think only about five people are reading my blog. But yet, what I write here in this blog appears to resonate with CI-users and CI-seekers. I am not interested in writing about CI theory only per se (occasionally I will muse on some aspect of CI theory) but my interest rather is about how to apply it practically in the classroom (because quite honestly, I am a practical kind of guy. I do not think that anyone ever would call me an academic!).

I am excited about the CI movement in the Latin community. When I first began blogging back in 2013, there were only about 3-4 blogs out there dedicated to CI in the Latin classroom. Now five years later, there are SO MANY more out there. More importantly, the CI community at large is seeing Latin as a viable language for CI implementation. I love that there are Latin teachers presenting non-specific Latin presentations at CI conferences and that non-Latin teachers are learning from them!

So as we enter this Thanksgiving week, I just want to say maximas gratias vobis - thanks to you all very much. Thanks for thinking that I have something of value to say in this blog and for taking it to heart. Thanks to all of you who have contributed to my CI journey. I am so thankful for those of who are joining me as a result of this blog.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Movie Talk - Joy and Heron

Here is a Movie Talk which I presented this week in my Latin 2 classes. I was looking for a short animated movie short for which I could introduce the words boat, board a ship, river, and fishing. Unfortunately, the National Movie Talk database did not have anything related to these words, but after a Google search, I came across this movie short (I have now added it to the database). I really like this Movie Talk, because it is a cute story involving a dog, its master, a big bird, and a can of worms with LOTS of repetitions and a very nice ending.

Movie Talk script - Latin

Movie Talk script - English

Consider using this!

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Kahoot vs. Quizizz vs. Quizlet Live vs.GimKit

Allow me an excursus here to put on my ITEC hat and to address four popular digital review/assessment tools which teachers are using in class: Kahoot, Quizizz, Quizlet Live, and GimKit.

  • Delivery: Synchronous. The entire class participates in answering a set of questions simultaneously against a countdown clock. The timer and teacher determine when the next question is asked. Students receive points for correct answers. The more quickly students answer correctly, the more points which they will receive. After each round, a leaderboard is updated.
  • Student feedback: After each individual question, the teacher can review as a class communally what the correct answer is and why students may have missed that question.
  • Teacher feedback: After each question, teachers can see how students "performed" and also receive a report at the end.
  • Price: Free.
  • Pros
    • Very engaging for students.
    • You can use the Name Generator setting so that students cannot create "naughty nicknames." As a teacher, this saves so much time - no more having to remove student names from the game!
    • Ghost round - students can play a 2nd game against "themselves" from a previous round.
    • Jumble - this activity asks students to put answers in an order (such as chronology, spelling, etc.)
    • You can randomize questions and answers.
    • You got to love the Kahoot soundtrack! 
  • Cons
    • Because this is a game of speed, Kahoot tends to appeal to the fast processors. Slower processors can get very frustrated, because although they may answer questions correctly, their point value will never be as high as the faster processors.
    • Very competitive students tend to stop playing after they get a questions wrong, because they feel like they cannot win the game on account of missing a question.
  • Delivery: Asynchronous. Students answer questions at their own pace but are still competing against a countdown clock for points. Students receive points for correct answers. The more quickly students answer correctly, the more points which they will receive. Students can view their point totals on a leaderboard.
  • Student feedback: Students receive immediate feedback if they answer incorrectly, but the feedback is limited to "correct" and "incorrect" and the correct answer.
  • Teacher feedback: Because students are answering asynchronously, you can view live which questions students are answering correctly and incorrectly. You can also receive a data report at the end.
  • Price: Free.
  • Pros
    • Because the game is asynchronous and students can proceed at their own pace, slower processors do not feel frustrated like they do in Kahoot.
    • You can add memes which students see after answering a question telling them if they answered correctly.
  • Cons
    • Because students receive more points for quicker correct answers, there still is a a slight edge for faster processors.
    • There is no communal review of correct/incorrect answers except at the very end of the game, so students do not receive immediate feedback as to why they answered incorrectly.
    • You have to deal with the possibility of "naughty nicknames" unless you pre-enter student names.

  • Delivery: Asynchronous. Students are in groups and answer questions at their own pace. In teams, every device will have a different list of possible answers, but only one device has the correct answer. Teams move forward in a race course with each correct answer. The more quickly students answer correctly, the more quickly they will move forward. Students can view their progress on a leaderboard.
  • Student feedback: Students receive immediate feedback if they answer incorrectly, but the feedback is limited to "correct" and "incorrect," with the correct answer given afterwards. 
  • Teacher feedback: Teacher can receive a data report at the end.
  • Price: Free.
  • Pros
    • This game is collaborative in nature as students need to discuss with each other whose device has the correct answer.
    • Because the game is asynchronous and students can proceed at their own pace, slower processors do not feel frustrated like they do in Kahoot.
    • At the end of the game, the teacher can review all of the questions and answers with the class. Although this is a communal review, it only happens once the game is over.
  • Cons
    • When teams answer incorrectly, their score goes back to zero. This can frustrate the more competitive students.
    • You have to deal with the possibility of "naughty nicknames." 

  • Delivery: Asynchronous. Students answer questions at their own pace. Students earn "money" for correctly answering questions. Amount of money is not based on amount of time needed to answer question. Teacher determines amount of time/money earned as the countdown, so students will answer questions more than once.
  • Student feedback: Students receive immediate feedback if they answer incorrectly, but the feedback is limited to "correct" and "incorrect," with the correct answer given afterwards.
  • Teacher feedback: Teachers can also receive a data report at the end.
  • Price: It is a pay site, but a free version does exist with limited access.
  • Pros:
    • The game is SO engaging for students once they understand how upgrades and powerups work. This is what makes students want to continue playing the game.
    • Because questions are on a continuous loop, this allows for lots of repetitions.
    • You can easily import questions from an already existing Quizlet Live set or from a CSV form. 
  • Cons
    • You can enter in student names ahead of time to prevent "naught nicknames"
    • Because the game length is based on time or the class combined-totals,and because the questions are on a continuous loop, if you do not have enough questions, it can get boring for students. I have found that 75-100 questions for 10 minutes is a good amount.
Each of these four digital tools have their benefits and drawbacks. I love the collaborative nature of Quizlet Live, while I like the immediate feedback benefits in Kahoot of reviewing questions and answers communally as a class after each question, instead of delayed at the end of the game. Quizizz and GimKit allow for the slower processor to answer at their own pace and not be penalized for it. Both Kahoot and GimKit are very engaging for students, although Kahoot appeals to the more competitive students. GimKit allows for questions to repeat on a random loop, allowing for more repetitions. Kahoot, Quizizz, and Quizlet Live are free, while GimKit is a pay service (with a very limited free version).

My recommendation: GimKit