As a language teacher, I am always looking for new ideas or tools for my students to try in our classroom that enables them to create something more authentic and personalized. Providing my students with different choices for creating with the language will not only help them build their language skills and foster creativity, but also with the development of technology and digital citizenship skills, as they post online and share their work.
It has been a challenging year with transitions between virtual, hybrid, and in-person environments, but it has also presented an opportunity to take some risks and try new ideas.
Every year in the spring, I find myself seeking ways to boost engagement and promote more collaboration and communication while also helping students develop essential social-emotional learning (SEL) skills.
Read more: Teaching SEL skills in online education
In each level of Spanish and the STEAM course that I teach, I often provide multiple digital options for students to explore so they can find something that sparks curiosity for learning. I always look forward to seeing what they choose and the work and projects that they create.
I've also been offering some tools in my Spanish classes that are for Augmented and Virtual Reality. As we see more of these emerging technologies in our everyday lives, it makes sense to provide students with opportunities to explore and create with some AR/VR tools.
Spring into creativity with these 5 digital tools!
Here are five tools that promote creativity and can be used for many purposes with students — and teachers as well. It's also a good opportunity for us now as we enter the spring and may be looking for ideas to boost student engagement and keep pushing through strong to the end of the year.
Each of these tools will work well for learning, whether entirely virtual, hybrid, or in-person. They will also provide fun learning experiences for students and teachers, and even families!
For anyone that hasn't used Buncee, it's a multi-purpose content creation tool that is great for any grade level or content area. To get started, explore the Ideas Lab or choose from one of the thousands of ready-to-go templates available. My students have used Buncee to create a timeline, a news report, or a show with their video recording to design a digital business card for narrating about a childhood experience or other event. You can even create with Augmented Reality with Buncee, another fun new feature for iOS. There are many possibilities for creating with Buncee and for students and teachers to find exactly what they are looking for.
Devar is a fun app full of colorful characters and can be a good option for creating quickly in AR or creative storytelling. For educators and students interested in learning more about Augmented Reality and how to use it for storytelling, start by selecting a Devar character and finding a good location for the background. I made some with music in the background and added narrations. Students can create with Devar to tell about a story they read, create their own story, or just have fun creating!
StoryboardThat was introduced to me by one of my students years ago, and we recently started to use it again in Spanish 1 and my STEAM course. It can be used to tell a story that is created in the style of a comic strip. Students enjoy choosing from the different backgrounds, characters, props, scenes, speech bubbles, and being able to change the facial expressions and colors of items and more. Students can truly personalize the characters, which creates a more authentic and meaningful representation of the story they are creating or the material or class content they are trying to visualize.
We started to use StoryJumper this year and found that it was really easy to get started with. Students can select their characters and choose the appearance, types of clothing, and more to create the background for their story. It was one of my own learning experiences to create with StoryJumper and then became an option for my Spanish 3 students to write their own book. You can add collaborators to your book, making it an excellent option for learning at school or home and making it fun for students to create and collaborate. Teachers can select from the writing lesson plans or story starter ideas available. Teachers can even create books for students to introduce them to the class or teach a lesson, and when finished, download or print books that have been created. How fun it would be to see student storybooks in our classrooms!
Zigazoo has become a favorite for students over the past few months especially. It is a free video-sharing app for students to create a short video to respond to daily prompts. Zigazoo has a similar look and experience to social media platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok, which is why students like using it. There are many possible prompts that we can provide for our students, or we can choose from the educator channels with daily prompts to encourage them to respond and be creative in learning!
These are just a few of the many tools out there that promote creativity in students, which can be used in any learning environment. As we embrace the challenges that may continue to come throughout the rest of this school year and prepare for the next, we must stay flexible and be willing to take more risks with new ideas and digital tools in our classrooms.
When we offer more choices, we provide more hands-on, meaningful, and student-driven learning. With new ideas, we can boost student engagement and creativity, help to spark curiosity for learning, and student needs can be better met. By bringing in new technologies and opportunities, we better prepare students with the skills that they will need moving forward.