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I Need Help With My Spanish Homework Sheets

Assigning homework is essential to keep the ball rollingafter class.

Many educators primarily rely on their textbooks for homework—but if you ask students for feedback on these tasks, they’ll let you know just how tired they get of the same old, same old, night after night.

They may dislike traditional textbook homework assignments because they feel mechanical or unrealistic.

And if they’re being really honest, they’ll tell you that they’d much rather be on their smartphones and tablets.

Don’t get me wrong, Spanish-learning textbooks surely have value, but the verdict is in: We can do much better in the homework department!

This leaves us Spanish educators with the ultimate challenge: Getting students excited about doing their Spanish homework.

After all, we know that classroom learning in itself isn’t enough to learn a language. Students need to keep putting it into practice on their own time. It sounds like a tall order, but there’s actually a simple way to approach this.

Why not put them to work with Spanish on platforms that they already spend a major chunk of their time on?

How to Approach Spanish Homework

When assigning homework we can go by six general tips:

  • Aim for creativity and fun while also ensuring learning
  • Challenge students, but not too much
  • Make sure students are engaging actively with the material, not mindlessly copying or repeating things
  • Continually vary up their assignments; adopt a creatively spontaneous and unpredictable attitude to keep students on their feet
  • Give students homework options when possible so they feel a sense of agency in how they spend their time out of class
  • Lastly and most importantly, make sure the assignments resonate and feel relevant to them

9 Social Spanish Homework Ideas Using Favorite Technology

Here I challenge you, fellow Spanish educator-pioneers, to embrace the strong pull of social media and mobile technology in our era by encouraging students to learn, study and complete assignments on apps, sites and platforms that they already spend a majority of their time on.

Keep in mind that there’s always a number of students, depending on their parental preferences and economic classes, who won’t have access to the following apps, sites and platforms, or even smartphones. Use your own “teacher’s discretion” to decide which are and aren’t appropriate for the unique blend of pupils in your classroom!

¡Ojo! Don’t lose sight of internet safety with these assignments. I’ll provide a few pointers along the way, but don’t forget it’s your job to ensure cyber-safety and minimize cyber-bullying.

1. Practice Pronunciation in a Snap on Snapchat

In 2013, Facebook offered to buy Snapchat for $3 billion. Snapchat’s 30 employees opted to reject the offer. While Snapchat was extensively popular, it was initially heavily criticized for not taking Facebook’s offer. Nonetheless, it continued to blossom into the powerhouse it is now.

Many tech pundits say that it’s the future of the world.

Have you ever seen a 6-year-old Snap? Children ages 5 to 9 are gradually becoming the most adroit Snapchat users. Snapping is so addictive that Snapchat users reportedly spend 20-30 minutes daily on the app, and many of our students are already on board.

So, here’s what I propose:

a. Instruct students to find five words in Spanish they particularly struggle to pronounce. Preferably these are words germane to the current topics, grammar lessons and tenses you’ve been reviewing with them recently.

b. Have them Snap their attempts to pronounce the words, explain what they did in an attempt to pronounce it and translate the word’s meaning to at least five classmates. Since Snaps get deleted automatically, there should be little embarrassment associated with this task.

Be aware that this assignment requires the “honor system” as students won’t be able to “save” their homework. The best you can do is have students keep logs in their notebooks of who they exchanges Snaps with.

However, I also encourage you to call on students randomly in class afterward to discuss the words they chose, their experiences, what they learned and if they’ve made any progress.

2. Create an Instagram-inspired Video “Post” Practicing the Preterite Tense

Instagram is undoubtedly another technology powerhouse basking in popularity among this generation’s youngest members. Lucky for Facebook, they were able to snatch it up a few years ago. It turned out to be one of their best investments yet.

Young people especially love scrolling through a primarily picture-based News Feed as opposed to the “word-vomit” that often clutters Facebook posts, and it has proved to be quite useful for educational purposes. Here’s what I propose:

a. Students briefly capture three moments of their day in several photos. For the Instagram users in the class, have them actually publish these on their profiles. Students could also opt to create fake Instagram posts with Fotor. Still other options are to print these photos out for a personal collage or create PowerPoint presentations with them.

b. Students add captions to their three moments in Instagram style, describing what they did in the preterite tense. Instagram gives you 140 characters for each photo caption, and hopefully they write to the limit!

c. They then create a 15-second video (standard Instagram length) summarizing their three-moment day all in the preterite tense.

d. Similar to the Snapchat activity above, don’t forget to have an in-class discussion about their experiences using Instagram for educational purposes the day the assignment is due. Perhaps more importantly, have them share what they learned or had to learn about the preterite tense in order to carry out this assignment.

Your teaching style will dictate your parameters for the assignment. For example, more advanced students can be challenged to only use irregular preterite verbs in their captions, i.e. from the dirty dozen, such as hacer (to do or make) or venir (to come).

When it comes to grading, what I’ve found useful is to not only review their work for correctness, but to make sure students are actually taking the assignment seriously and, most importantly, having fun with it!

For safety, remind students to only post what they’re comfortable with anyone seeing—or to make their posts “private” in the privacy settings so only the teacher and classmates can see them.

3. Practice Conditional Tense in Photo Captions on Instagram

Yes, there’s more we can do with Instagram!

Since many students spend their free time browsing their News Feeds on Instagram based on their social network, why not activate their Spanish brains during this scroll-fest? Here’s what I propose:

a. Each student comments on five News Feeds of friends and fellow students, describing what they would do if they were there with that friend.

b. Then, each student creates their very own “wish you were here!” Instagram post where they tell their friends what they’d do if they were together.

Again, Instagram caps each comment to 140 words. A possible issue with this assignment may be that students feel awkward doing homework on their friends’ Instagram pages. If this is the case, they can take a screenshot of their comment and then automatically delete it, or they can draw up a mock version of the Instagram post by hand.

Again, use your discretion based on your class’s skill level regarding whether or not to only require students use irregular verbs in the conditional tense, such as poner (to put) or salir (to go out). You might even want to pass out a list of handy words for the conditional.

4. Join a Spanish-speaking Group or Page on Facebook and Become Active

What are students most interested in? Whatever it is, there will likely be a Facebook group dedicated to it. Now students just have to find it in Spanish! Once they do, here’s what I propose:

a. Students start by tuning in to what most members are posting and peruse the comments.

b. They can then begin to comment on them in Spanish. I recommend a one-sentence minimum.

c. Lastly, they author at least two public posts. They can post a video, an article or just a comment, but it has to contain their opinion, be written in present tense, preferably be meaningful to them and, of course, be written in legible Spanish!

d. A few randomly selected students can show their groups and posts to the class.

Don’t forget the most important part: Have a class dialogue about their experiences and what they learned!

Also remind them to clarify who they want their audience to be in the post’s privacy settings.

5. Follow 10 Spanish-speaking Artists on Twitter and Opine in the Subjunctive

Twitter can also be used educationally! There’s a myriad of active accounts updated daily that cover anything and everything. Students love music, so why not focus on artists? Here’s what I propose:

a. Students follow 10 Twitter accounts of Spanish-speaking artists.

b. They peruse their posts and take note of similarities and differences in the posting style of the artists.

c. They lastly formulate their own Tweet in the subjunctive based on the questions How do the artists’ Tweets compare and contrast? How do they reflect their music or art?

d. In case students ask, you can provide them with some common ways to use the subjunctive, such as:

Me gusta que el artista comente acerca… (I like that the comments on…)

Me alegra que el artista hable de… (It’s makes me happy that the artist talks about…)

As with any good homework assignment, allow a dialogue about their experiences and what they learned afterward.

6. YouTube a Prominent Spanish-speaking Person and Practice Future Tense

YouTube is the ultimate video powerhouse. People between the ages 13-24 watch approximately 11.3 hours of online video weekly. It becomes super-addictive as the interface quickly learns viewers’ preferences and continues to recommend more and more videos it knows each student will also be interested in based on algorithms, clicking patterns and history.

Here’s what I propose:

a. Students find clips describing the person’s life and work, like segments from interviews and talk shows.

b. They then form immediate conclusions about what that person’s life will be like in the future.

c. Lastly, they describe their hypothetical future in-class, using at least five verbs conjugated in the future tense.

Again, use your discretion based on your class’s skill level regarding whether or not to only require students use irregular future tense verbs, such as tener (to have) or caber (to fit).

7. Teach the Class Your Expertise on Your Favorite Wikipedia Topic with Informal Commands

Where do you go when you want quick basic information about a topic? Yup, even though it can use some improvements, it’s getting better and better, and is rapidly becoming the ultimate warehouse of information.

Here’s what I propose:

a. Students search their favorite topics on Wikipedia.

b. They use it as an outline to create a basic “how to” guide related to the topic.

c. Their guide must create at least five commands in chronological “how to” order, such as despiértate temprano para caminar por ahí (wake up early to hike around there).

Direct your student to use either regular or irregular future tense verbs, such as venir (to come)—which becomes the irregular ven (come)—or decir (to say or tell) which becomes to di (say, tell).

8. Have Students Present Their Favorite FluentU Video

FluentU is slowly rising to behemoth status as a language learning program and classroom management platform. It’s unparalleled in context-based video learning. Students love to interact with its smart and highly customizable platform. Here’s what I propose:

a.Start a free trial on FluentU as a teacher.

b. Add on your students to it and encourage them to experiment on it each night for 30 minutes to an hour.

c. A week later, to ensure they’ve had enough practice with it, have students choose their favorite video, or the one from which they feel they learned the most.

d. Have them reflect on why they enjoyed that video so much. For example, is it the annotations? Explanations? Pictures?

e. Lastly, have students clarify what they learned and how it’s relevant to the current in-class topics, grammar nuances, vocab or tenses.

9. Find Your Favorite Spanish-learning Worksheets on Pinterest

Yes, everyone is on Pinterest these days and it, like the rest of the social media giants, has many educational uses. Here’s what I propose:

a. Each student finds five Spanish-learning worksheets they found useful.

b. Students then print these worksheets and fill them out to practice.

c. Lastly, students share what they learned and explain the worksheet’s relevance to class topics.

d. Swap! Have students print out a second copy of one chosen worksheet and pass their sheets around the group. Each students should end up with one new worksheet, and they’ll then need to fill that out.

 

I hope these assignments are useful in encouraging your students to learn more outside of class, and most importantly, to enjoy what they’ve learned.

Technology is changing the word faster than we as educators can take note of. It’s vital we catch up and hop on the tech-boat, unless we want to end up stuck on the pier!


Jason Linder, MA, is a doctoral student and intensely passionate Spanish tutor and blog writer. In his free time, he enjoys telenovelas, traveling around Latin America, meditation, yoga, exercise, reading and writing. Learn more about his free Spanish learning resources and tutoring.

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach Spanish with real-world videos.

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In the field of educational technology, some apps might be getting too smart.

More and more apps are delivering on-demand homework help to students, who can easily re-purpose the learning tools to obtain not just assistance, but also answers. Whether or not that’s cheating—and how to stop it—is one of the concerns surrounding a new app that can solve math equations with the snap of a camera. While the software has inspired teachers to create real-world homework problems that can’t be automatically solved, that strategy doesn’t hold up to other apps that tap into real-life brains for solutions.

Here’s a look at 7 apps that can do your homework for you, and what they have to say about cheating:

PhotoMath

Price: Free
Availability: iOS, Android app coming in early 2015

The new, seemingly magic app allows users to take pictures of typed equations, and then outputs a step-by-step solution. As of Wednesday, the app is the number one free app on the App Store. But the biggest issue, one teacher argues, isn’t if students will use the app to cheat, because many will. Rather, it’s about how teachers will adapt. A PhotoMath spokeswoman said educators have welcomed the app with positive reviews, but the software remains “quite controversial.”

“We didn’t develop PhotoMath as a cheating tool. We really wanted kids to learn,” said Tijana Zganec, a sales and marketing associate at tech company MicroBlink, which created PhotoMath. “If you want to cheat, you will find a way to cheat. But if you want to learn, you can use PhotoMath for that.”

iHomework

Whether you’re a high schooler with eight periods of classes or a college student tackling dozens of credits, there’s one thing you’ve got for sure: a mess of assignments. iHomework can help you keep track of all your work, slicing and dicing it in a variety of ways. Sorting it by due date, week, month, or by course, the app is more organized than a Trapper Keeper. And in integrating data from Questia, you can link your reading material to your assignments so you don’t have to dig through a pile of papers to find the right information.

A scheduling feature can help you keep track of those random bi-weekly Thursday labs, and you can even mark the location of your courses on a map so you don’t end up on the wrong side of campus. And finally, with iCloud syncing, you can access all this information on whatever Apple-compatible device you’re using at the moment — no need to dig for your iPad.

Google Apps for Education

Taking the search giant’s suite of free browser-based apps and sandboxing them so they are safe for school use, Google Apps for Education is an excellent alternative to the mainstream installable productivity software, but this one has a perk that almost school board will love—it’s free. Packaging together favorites like Gmail, Hangouts, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Drive with Classroom, a digital hub for organizing assignments and sending feedback, the goal of this collection is to make learning a more collaborative process.

Though Google Apps for Education is cloud-hosted, the programs can be used offline, ideal for when your student needs to escape the internet and work distraction-free. And since it works on any device, it also helps students avoid buying overly expensive hardware. That means more money for extracurricular activities.

HwPic

Price: Free, but some homework services require payment
Availability: iOS and Android

HwPic is a tutoring service that allows students to take send pictures of their homework to tutors, who will then respond within minutes to your questions with a step-by-step solution. There’s even an option to expedite the answers if a student is in a hurry. HwPic Co-Founder Tiklat Issa said that the app was initially rejected by Apple’s App Store, which believed it would promote cheating, but he successfully argued that just because someone uses the app in a way that it’s not meant to be used doesn’t mean the app should be punished.

Issa added that HwPic prohibits cheating in its terms and conditions. Tutors don’t solve homework that has words like “Quiz” or “Exam,” and they often know if a student is sending a photo during a test if they’ve paid for expedited answers, and if the photo is dim, blurry and taken under a desk. “We’ve minimized cheating,” said Issa. “We haven’t eliminated it. That’s kind of unrealistic.”

Wolfram Alpha

Price: $2.99
Availability: iOS and Android

Wolfram Alpha is similar to PhotoMath, only that it targets older students studying high levels of math and doesn’t support photos. The service also outputs step-by-step solutions to topics as advanced as vector calculus and differential equations, making it a popular tool for college students.

“It’s cheating not doing computer-based math, because we’re cheating students out of real conceptual understanding and an ability to drive much further forward in the math they can do, to cover much more conceptual ground. And in turn, that’s cheating our economies,” said Conrad Wolfram, Wolfram Research’s Director of Strategic Development, in a TEDx Talk. “People talk about the knowledge economy. I think we’re moving forward to what we’re calling the computational knowledge economy.”

Homework Helper

Price: Free
Availability: iOS and Android

Chinese Internet search company Baidu launched an app called Homework Helper this year with which students can crowdsource help or answers to homework. Users post a picture or type their homework questions onto online forums, and those who answer the questions can win e-coins that can be used to buy electronics like iPhones and laptops.

The app has logged 5 million downloads, much to the dismay of many some parents who argue that the students spend less time thinking about challenging problems. A Homework Helper staffer admitted to Quartz, “I think this is a kind of cheating.”

Slader

Price: Free, but some homework services require payment
Availability:
iOS

Slader is a crowdsourcing app for high school and college students to post and answer questions in math and science. While students can post original homework for help, many questions in popular textbooks have already been answered on the app, according to Fast Company. An Illinois high school said earlier this year that it suspected students were using the service to cheat on their math homework.

Slader argues that it’s “challenging traditional ideas about math and education,” and said that the ideas behind its app “aren’t a write-off to teachers,” according to its blog. Slader told San Francisco media outlet KQED that it shouldn’t be dismissed as a cheating tool, but rather considered a way for students to access real-time help.

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