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How Using a Live Webcam in Your World Language Class Can be a Game Changer

OUTPUT IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE BY OUR STUDENTS- one of the holy grails for us language teachers, and more specifically, spontaneous, authentic output. I am always trying to foster this type of output with my elementary students, and this year I began using LIVE WEBCAMS in earnest in my 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade Spanish classes, which turned out to be one of the most successful things I did this year and engendered a ton of student output every lesson. Last year I had started using a live cam from the Acebuche Centro de Cría in Spain, a breeding center for Iberian Lynxes (thank you Emily F. for telling me about this cam!) and this year I added SEO BirdLife's live stork cam from Alcalá de Henares. (links below).

Live Webcams in World Language Classes to Foster Output

THE KEY to why these cams worked so well:  they provided NEW CONTENT each and every class, much like the news does, but with animals instead.  As spring wore on, we watched as lynx cubs were born, we counted how many eggs were in the stork nest as they were laid one by one, we watched both the cubs and the stork chicks grow and change. I had the cam up on my smart board as they entered, and kids craned their necks as they lined up at my door to see the screen. We started every class with the "news"- making observations about the animals, noting color, size, weather (in the case of the storks as they are outside), how many eggs in the nest, even just how cute they are.  In addition, I started sharing non fiction content about both species, which further added to the conversation and gave us opportunities to practice vocabulary in context. High frequency verbs were easily incorporated: es/son, tiene, come, hay, vive, hace (it is, has, eats, there is/are, lives, it is in relation to weather). Sometimes we talked for five minutes, sometimes 20 or even more, depending on what was happening and the class itself.  I also follow both organizations' social media sites, which I used to bring in authentic resources (tweets, Facebook posts) that provided more info on the two species. We were even able to vote on names for two lynx cubs via Facebook! In an age where kids have short attention spans and demand new content all the time (Señora we already did that!), the webcams provided that fresh, new feel even while focusing on the same thing each time, and gave us plenty to talk about in an authentic, meaningful way. Every class was a new discovery- truly magical in so many ways!

The two web cams I used were:

El lince ibérico- Lince Ex-situ

Las cigüeñas blancas de Alcalá de Henares, España (they have multiple web cams, not just this one.

I was able to video a few lessons using the webcams; the first is one of my third grade classes with the storks, and the second is a fourth grade class with the lynxes (both were on our Dress Like A Favorite Book Character Day at my school, I dressed as Platero):



A dramatic event during this spring with the storks was when a strip of plastic became entangled around one of the stork's neck; it came off a few days later but created quite a bit of angst. I wrote a mini book imagining our character, Javi, visiting the storks and rescuing the one from the plastic strip, and incorporated it into an activity pack-you can find it here in our shop!

The Storks of Spain Activity Pack in Spanish

I also used the Kansas City Zoo Penguin Cam with my Kindergartners as a backdrop- often I would just direct their attention to the penguins while I was transitioning to another activity- great classroom management lol! I am on the hunt for more live cams- if you know of any, please share in the comments!

https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMk0RMH8MFmOB_yJMuvVMH7xBx_qfLl8oqOQXbA

1 comment

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