Monthly archives: November, 2016

Emoji for class discussion

Emoji can be a great way to get students to express things they may not immediately have the words for. For example, you could ask students to read a news article in German on the Syrian refugee situation and summarize their reaction. When their response is this 😞 😢 ✌️, you would then ask them to explain out loud or to a partner why they chose these symbols – for example, I’m frustrated by the situation; I am sad/heartbroken for the refugees; I want peace. Or, as an introduction to a vocabulary lesson on adjectives, you could show students an image of a couple sitting in a cafe and ask them to pick two emoji to represent how each person feels, then draw these emoji on the board. Using student emoji you can present vocabulary like “sad,” “in love,” “angry,” “tired,” etc.
Students can find emoji in their phone’s note taking app, email program, or text messaging app. Or if you’d prefer students not use their phones, you can pick and project a small list of emoji from websites like or

How to locate FREE educational resources

OER Commons ( is an easy way to find all kinds of FREE educational resources. In addition to complete grammar, vocabulary, and culture units that you can use to supplement (or even replace) your textbook materials, OER Commons lists numerous individual resources. Maybe you’re looking for a verb conjugation reference for your Arabic students? OER Commons has that. Or maybe you want to find a few German folk songs to teach your student? OER Commons has that, too. A quiz on the French Revolution? An Italian reading comprehension exercise? A video tutorial on Russian folk dance? All of these and much, much more can be found on OER Commons!

Collaborative visual documents with Google Drawings

Google Drawings ( is an often-overlooked tool in the Google Apps suite. This tool allows for the creation of all kinds of visual documents… collaboratively! You could have your students use Drawings to create a diagram depicting the narrative line of a novel they’re reading. Or students could brainstorm anf create a web of vocabolary for presentation or essay. Alternatively, you could have students create a poster or informational flyer for a city or monument they’re learbubg about. Drawings can also be a great tool for annotating simple images– for example, labeling vocabulary words in a market scence. Best of all, all of this can be done in groups without requiring students to organize face-to face meetingsoutside of class!

Check for plagiarism and understand how your students write

Draftback ( is a Chrome extension that lets you watch the creation of a Google Doc letter by letter. Once you install the extension, a “Draftback” button will appear when you open any doc. As long as you have permission to edit this document, clicking that button will create a video that shows you every change, no matter how small, that’s been made in the document. Using this on your students’ work created in Docs can help you better understand how they write – do they outline or write down main points first? are they writing in English and then translating? are they reorganizing their ideas as they write? Additionally, since students don’t know if you’re using Draftback, this can also be a great tool for catching copy-paste plagiarism and translation.