Saturday, July 13, 2013

Google Presentations in the Language Classroom

Last quarter, I taught a Pronunciation and Fluency course in a traditional classroom. It was fun. We played games, sang songs, and did a lot of your standard, traditional classroom activities. 

THIS quarter, I have the same class again, but with a twist. This quarter's class is in a Smart Lab (operating on the Sony Virtuoso Software) - which ends up being a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because the computer system is SO COOL. There are so many fun things to do, and so many great ways to use it for helping the students. The curse is that now that everyone is in front of a computer, none of my activities really seem to work the same way.

For this reason, I have been experimenting with ways to actually use the computers...and one of my first successes has been using the Google Presentation tool for a collaborative presentation. 

Here's what I did:

First, we had a lesson on voiced and voiceless consonants, practiced hearing the difference, and practiced saying them differently. As the expansion activity, I projected this slide on to the board:

Why Wal*Mart? Because they have everything!

I've used this activity before in a traditional setting, and the students made a list on paper together. This time, however, the students (randomly partnered up with the Virtuoso computer software, and communicating on their headphones and microphones), clicked a link and were transported to a new, open Google Presentation. They collaborated to find pictures on Google of the things that they wanted to bring, and put them on the slide for their group. The beauty of this was that each student could work on his or her own computer on the same slide at the same time. The collaboration aspect of the Google Office Suite tools is incredible. 

So, the groups worked together to get what they needed. At the end of the first 15 minutes, their slides looked something like this:

My favorite slide: They said they were bringing "Rambo" and "Terminator,"
and that they were going to put everything inside the tanks.
So, at this point I changed the background on all of the slides, and the students had to arrange their pictures by the voicing of the first sound (voiced on the left, voiceless on the right). Later, we changed it so that they arranged the pictures by the last sound. 

I thought that the horse was a clever solution to the "No Wheels" issue
(which most of the other groups ignored!)

At the end, I projected the slides on the screen, and the groups came up one at a time to describe who was holding what (since being able to carry it was a requirement), and they had to pronounce the word correctly (as far a voiced/voiceless initial and final consonants). 

The students had a blast, and it was really fun listening to them talk to each other while trying to pay attention to how they pronounce the consonant sounds.

Has anyone else found a fun way to use Google Presentations in the classroom? I'd love to hear about it!