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Success Stories

Online Teaching Success Stories

How are LCSL instructors making online teaching work?

Scroll down the page and read about teaching tools and strategies that have worked for other instructors making the jump to virtual classes!

Share Your Story!

Exam Review with Kahoot Heading link

Screenshot of a Kahoot question

I have been using Kahoot to create review games for each exam. It seems to really help students loosen up and laugh! Plus, the fact that it’s a “competition” helps the students stay focused and think on their feet. For me as an instructor, it is really helpful to see the immediate feedback from each question. It allows me to see what my students are able to think through quickly, what takes a little more time, and what my students need more guidance on. On top of that, it’s such an easy tool to use both for me and the students (a lot of students know this tool from high school!), and I couldn’t recommend it more to other instructors.

Kelsi  |  German

Support through presence Heading link

Maria Iusco, Italian lecturer holding an Italian espresso maker and smiling behind it. She is in some public space outside and there are many people behind her.

From the time we started with emergency remote teaching/learning till now Spring 2021, one thing I always did in my Italian Courses was to make myself available for students at all hours of the day. I repeatedly told them I was just an email away and we could talk about anything they wanted to. I met with many students that were worried about their families being sick, about online language learning, and just about everything. We all helped each other in these unprecedented times. I constantly send my students recipes, Italian songs, Italian facts, and videos to listen to constantly so they feel like our Department is truly their Italian Family. Many have reached out and done likewise or have sent notes of appreciation. I believe these small moments of my constant presence reassured them we would get through these unique moments together.

Maria Iusco  |  Lecturer, Italian Basic Language Program

Be flexible! Heading link

a drawing of two hands, title on the top BE FLEXIBLE and between the hands words: listen, modify, adjust, for a better online, class environment

I kept in constant touch with students, not only about academic work and related matters but about their physical and mental well-being; from time to time I devoted part of the class to breakout groups where students (in English) could share their experiences during the pandemic, share strategies to cope, offer support to each other; and share also strategies to stay connected, motivated, focused, and manage time effectively. I changed the format of oral exams: instead of carrying out a conversation in Italian with me on the topics covered during the semester, students were asked to write a dialogue in Italian of the same topics. I also made due dates for assignments more flexible and graded holistically (which I do regularly but even more so under these circumstances). I revised the classroom materials (I don’t use a traditional textbook but create my own course material) to better fit the modified schedule and mode of delivery via Collaborate.

Prof. Emanuela Zanotti Carney  |  Senior Lecturer & Assistant Director of the Italian Basic Language Program

Communication is key! Heading link

Evan with a tutee on Blackboard Collaborate

Students appreciated the frequent communication and posting of materials (PowerPoints, worksheets, review guides answer keys, etc.). They also mentioned that they liked how much time was spent in breakout groups; many commented that they benefited from practicing with classmates this way.

Dr. Carrie Pichan  |  Visiting Lecturer, Italian Basic Language Program

Discussion Boards Heading link

a picture of a discussion forum

I used discussion boards periodically to encourage more in-depth participation from students who might have been shy or have connectivity issues on Collaborate.

Dr. Jennifer Solheim  |  Visiting Lecturer, French literature & film

Google forms, Google docs Heading link

a big letter G for Google and underneath bullet points with Google Forms and Google Docs

Instead of using the Collaborate polls, which are limited and time consuming, I prepared Google forms. I could then share my screen, show results and trends, make comparisons, etc. I also set up a Google folder “workbook” and created a separate doc for each student. For activities that ask students to fill out a table or reflect on a question before talking openly in class, I copied the questions into the doc and asked each student to access their document and complete the activity. This I think helped to keep students on track and generate a sense of “presence.”

Lisa James  |  Teaching Assistant, Spanish BLP

Group Reading Heading link

Paper and pencil with overhead text saying

The breaking into groups option worked very well. I also assigned individual paragraphs to specific students ahead of class, and then showed the paragraphs on the screen via the share function while the students analyzed them.

Prof. Yann Robert  |  Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, French Literature & Culture

Student Chat Heading link

hands typing on a laptop keyboard

In some cases, students participated more in class discussion (using the chat function) than in on-campus classes.

Prof. Elizabeth Loentz  |  Associate Professor in Germanic Studies and Associate Director of the School of LCSL

Breakout Groups Heading link

a picture of Blackboard collaborate session with a picture of swimming jelly fish and chat on the right side, title above the graphic reads

From time to time, I devoted part of the class to breakout groups where students (in English) could share their experiences during the pandemic, share strategies to cope, offer support to each other, and also share strategies to stay connected and motivated.

Prof. Emanuela Zanotti Carney  |  Senior Lecturer and Assistant Director of the Italian Basic Language Program

Recording class sessions (just in case) Heading link


Students appreciated the use of breakout groups during collaborate sessions. They also appreciated that class sessions were recorded in case they had internet issues at the time of class that prevented them from attending synchronously.

Angela Betancourt  |  Visiting Lecturer and Senior Coordinator of the Spanish Heritage Language Program

After-class discussion Heading link

Classroom with students and teacher above which text reads

I created longer sessions and stayed in class a while after the class ended, to allow students to casually ask questions/chat. I created short slides, sometimes even 1 page, that I could easily upload in break out rooms. We also tried to discuss life in general, to make sure that students felt supported all the way.

Prof. Chiara Fabbian  |  Clinical Professor, Director of the Italian Program, and Director of Undergraduate Studies (Italian)

Whiteboard and music in a synchronous class Heading link

success stories graphic

I used a whiteboard and taught my language classes on zoom with all students having their microphones and videos open so that we were all communicating synchronously while I wrote on the whiteboard and students were taking notes, asking questions, and practicing the language just as when we were face to face in class. Students loved it, we had no internet problems, and they learned well!
While lecturing Modern Greek Culture on BB, I played recordings of poetry, literature, and music on my iPad and held the iPad in front of the screen so that students could see and hear what it was playing. It worked very well because students commented very positively afterward by responding meaningfully to my questions.

Prof. Anita Skarpathiotis  |  Modern Greek

Audio activities Heading link

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Doing audio input exercises on their own and then coming back to class and putting a thumbs up in the chat when they had finished the audio activity (as opposed to trying to stream the audio through BB to them) so I knew when they were ready to move on.

Dr. Beth Maldonado  |  Spanish Professor

Signs with grammar points Heading link

success stories graphic

I used signs that I would make with grammar points or vocab in place of the white board in the actual classroom and I was available for all students at any time beyond office hours as long as they would send me a message via email and they discussed topics such as their family issues and hardships or a song or an Italian movie idea or just about anything they wanted to discuss.

Maria Iusco  |  Italian Lecturer

Quizzes as learning tools Heading link

success stories graphic

1) I created weekly and daily modules on BB so that the students knew exactly what they needed to do.  2) I created many quizzes in BB. I set them up so that after submitting answers the students saw correct/incorrect feedback and were allowed multiple attempts. I wanted to use the quizzes not for assessments but as learning tools. I think I can say that it was successful.  3) I created many VoiceThread Listening/speaking activities. I think the students who actually worked on enjoyed them.

Prof. Mika Obana Changet  |  Japanese Professor

VoiceThread, Quizzes, and Group Work Heading link

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Pair/group work. VoiceThread for listening and speaking.
The quizzes that were made by the main instructor. They were very organized and easy to follow for students.

Noriko Day  |  Japanese Lecturer

Kahoot, Chat, and Breakout Rooms Heading link

success stories graphic

I used breakout rooms a lot to allow students to communicate in the target language, with follow-up reporting on their part in order to keep them on task. The polling tool and having students write on the Power Point were useful to keep them engaged and insure they were following along. The chat option, of course, was the primary tool for this. Kahoot worked excellently with Collaborate and was a great tool to review unit content.
While I did not share Power Points prior to class, I did send pdf files with activities for breakout groups, transcripts for listening exercises, etcetera, so they could have them on hand to facilitate student comprehension and participation.

Stephanie Munoz-Navarro  |  Spanish

Kahoot and Drawing and Writing Tools Heading link

success stories graphic

Drawing and writing tools on Collaborate to annotate directly on PowerPoint; Polls in Collaborate; assigning each breakout group a task/question/answer to prepare and share with the full class (they stayed more on task this way); having students reply to my questions using the chat function (most felt comfortable chiming in this way); Kahoot for exam review games

Carrie Pichan  |  Italian

Making Students Feel at Ease Heading link

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In the beginning of the class talk informally (and often in English) about our day, chat about series and films that we were watching, so they can feel at ease in our class. Remind them at the end of the class the hw that they were supposed to submit for next day, email them before important assignments

Amaia Agraso  |  Teaching Assistant, Spanish BLP

Presentations and Feedback in VoiceThread Heading link

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Carefully selected real-world materials which the students were asked to explore independently after a videotaped orientation; spoken presentation of their work and feedback from peers via VoiceThread’s threaded voice comments.

Phill Cabeen  |  German

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