Annotate images with speech bubbles

Phrase.it (http://phraseit.net/) is a very simple tool that allows users to add speech bubbles to images. This could be useful for having students label vocabularywrite an imaginary dialogue based on visual clues, or create a description of an image. Because it’s so quick and easy to use, it would also make a great tool for creating visuals for in-class use.

Images can be uploaded from your computer or Facebook, or you can opt for a random stock photo. Phrase.it creations can be either downloaded or shared via a link.  No account is required and your images can be saved as unlisted so they’re only available through a direct link, making it a safer choice for classroom use than Snapchat.


More Tech Successes!

We’re excited to share another Tech Success Story with you! Three German PhD students – Christina Mekonen, Julia Koxholt, and Zachary Fitzpatrick – share their success using Video Essays in German 217 (Introduction to German Cinema). This is a great project that the group recently presented at ACTFL 2017 in Nashville. Click here to learn more: http://lclc.uic.edu/stories-and-ideas/success-stories/german_grads/


Quickly and easily collect video responses

Recap (https://letsrecap.com/) is a free web- and mobile-based tool that allows teachers to easily collect video responses from students. With Recap, you simply ask a question (or several questions) via text or video, select a time limit for the response video (up to 2 minutes), and assign it to your class. Students join your class via a PIN and can sign in with Google. Students record their video directly in Recap (using a webcam or mobile device) and it’s automatically added to your class dashboard for your review. When you give feedback, students are notified automatically by email.

You can also add a self-assessment at the end of your Recap assignment for students to tell you how they think they did. This makes it a great tool for checking student pronunciation, vocabulary, and general speaking ability. Other possible instructional uses might include collecting student responses to course material like readings and videos, or having students explain new grammatical concepts (in English) in their own terms to demonstrate comprehension.

Because Recap focuses on speaking and not writing, it can be a great tool for helping students who may have trouble with spelling and written grammar feel more confident expressing themselves.


Teach your students to use the tech you expect them to work with!

While many of our students are “digital natives,” research shows that they often don’t know how to use the technology we work with in teachingThings like Blackboard, Voiceboard, Wikis, Discussion Boards, online tests, and other tools that we’ve learned to use and integrate into our courses, often pose a steep learning curve for students. Other aspects of everyday technologies also pose a challenge: both checking and composing emails is often something students seem to struggle with.

Student difficulty in using tech is frustrating, both for them and for us. Help alleviate this frustration by teaching them to work with the technology you expect them to use. Before your first tech assignment, create a low-stakes/no-stakes assignment using the same tools so they can work out all the kinks before it really matters:

  • Create a practice Voiceboard where students just say their name. Make them play it back and check that everything worked, then answer a one question quiz to verify they’ve done it.
  • Create a practice blog where students post the poster and IMDb link of their favorite film.
  • Create a practice test on a commonly-known or easy-to-Google topic (Chicago facts, the UIC campus, etc.) that uses all the question types you expect students to see.
  • Have students watch a short Sharestream video (like a TV commercial) and take a short quiz or write a brief summary.

To encourage students to complete these practice assignments, grade them for completeness or the attempt, count them as participation, or give bonus points.


Do introductions online!

When students feel comfortable with their classmates, they talk more and are generally more engaged in class. To help your students get to know one another better, think about having them do get-to-know-you presentations.

Class time is precious, so why not move these introductions online?

You could have students present themselves (in English or the target language depending on level) with activities like:

  • class wiki on Blackboard – Each student writes a page introducing themselves.
  • visual presentation using Thinglink – Students pick an image that represents them and then use tags to explain more about who they are, where they’re from, what they’re studying, etc.
  • map using StoryMapsJS or a timeline with Sutori (formerly HSTRY) – Students add points related to things they’ve done or places they’ve been.
  • Voiceboard – Students introduce themselves orally.
  • mini-webpage using the new Google Sites.
  • A short video using a simple video tool like Wideo on Animatron.
  • slideshow using Google Slides.
  • cartoon using PowtoonStoryboard That, or ToonyTool.
  • mind map or flowchart presenting themselves using WiseMapping – Students add and group bubbles to describe themselves.

Students can share their projects on Blackboard via a blog, wiki, or discussion board.

For all of these, you can assign certain questions or topics for students to cover to keep the project from growing out of control.

Have an idea for an online presentation but aren’t sure how to make it work? Email us at lclc@uic.edu and we’ll help you figure it out!


Jeopardy-style review games made easy!

FlipQuiz (https://flipquiz.me/) is a sleek, fast way to make Jeopardy! style review games for in class use. You simply add your categories, type or copy your questions and answers into the form, and add links to any images you’d like to include, and your game is instantly created. All you have to do is pull it up in class and play.

You have to keep score manually with the free version, but everything else is automatically done for you. You can also customize your background and color-scheme to keep things entertaining.

As an added bonus, you can embed your game into Blackboard and other websites, and also share it with students as a “review sheet” that shows them the questions and answers in an easy-to-read and -study format.


the FlipQuiz review sheet

a FlipQuiz question

the FlipQuiz board

The many uses of infographics

Infographics can have many uses in the classroom. Instructors can make syllabi less textual and more visual or they can present material in a new, appealling way. On the other hand, students can use inforgraphics to show understanding of a text or concept. You could ask them to create an infographic that explains the relationship between characters or how a grammatical concept like adjective agreement works in the language you teach. They’re also a great way to have students create mini-presentations on a cultural topic or something they’ve researched.

There are several tools for creating online infographics, but the LCLC reccommends

Each site is free and offers a library of templates or the ability to design your own using the built-in library of icons, pictures, and backgrounds.

Samples of projects students could create.
 Click an image to enlarge it.

Type foreign characters anywhere!

TypeIt (http://www.typeit.org/) is an easy-to-use website that allows you to easily add accents and diacritics when typing in Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. With TypeIt, you simply type your text as normal and use the clickable on-screen keyboard to add special characters. Alternatively, you can use special, simple shortcut keys unique to the site for quicker typing. Once you’ve typed your text into TypeIt, copy/pasting it into any website or program is a breeze.

This is a great tool for students working on Chromebooks (who can’t make use of Word’s shortcut keys) and those who are writing in languages with wholly different alphabets and can’t or aren’t able to change their keyboard to their target language – like those working in a computer lab or on a borrowed device.


Extra reading practice with ReadLang

Readlang (http://readlang.com/) is a useful site for students who want to read more in the language they’re studying but need a little help understanding. It offers a curated library of authentic text and video content that students can browse by language, level, and type (non-fiction, fiction, dialog, etc.). As students engage with the content, they have the ability to receive a limited number of translations of words and phrases they don’t know just by clicking on them. These words then become part of the students’ personalized vocabulary list and flashcard set.

Students can also upload their own content to explore in the Readlang environment or use Readlang’s Chrome extension to read websites and other web content that’s not part of the Readlang library.

While Readlang may not be appropriate for all students at all levels, it has the potential to be useful for students struggling to take that next step in reading comprehension.


Screenshots and screen-capture video using Chrome

Nimbus (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/nimbus-screenshot-and-scr/bpconcjcammlapcogcnnelfmaeghhagj) is a fantastic add-on for Google’s Chrome browser. It allows you to easily take screenshots and screen-capture video of all or parts of your computer screen without having to download a program. Once you’ve captured your video, you can download it to your computer in a YouTube-compatible format in just one click. For images, you save your image directly to your computer or edit it with Nimbus’s easy-to-use online image editor. All in all, Nimbus is a great, quick alternative to programs like Jing and Screenpresso.