Teaching from home during this pandemic has been a strange experience, but I believe it has impacted teachers’ creativity in a positive way. We’ve had to quickly innovate and develop lessons and resources that can be delivered effectively online while keeping our students interested in the material. As a school that has already demonstrated innovation in teaching through blended learning, I believe Sandringham has had a head start in providing lessons and resources that were accessible to all students in the virtual learning curriculum.

The inspiration to create a virtual library developed from my wish to make resources outside the normal lesson materials more accessible. I had seen ‘Bitmoji’ classrooms and how some of them were interactive – with links to various learning websites, such as Quizlet and BBC Bitesize, that students could access directly from the Google Slides. A couple of those included a French bakery, a Spanish restaurant or simply a classroom:

I felt that it was important to create something like this where chosen resources were in one, easily accessible location. Because our students already know a number of different apps and websites they can use to access our material, I wanted to consolidate resources in a way that also provided them with materials that were not as easily accessible.

Additionally, I thought that since they couldn’t access a physical library, it would behoove students to be able to read resources chosen for them at their level of comprehension in languages. It is a challenge to provide each student with copies of the same books in the language they are learning – so the virtual library would resolve this issue, allowing students to all access these books at the same time. I realised that I had been downloading free books in PDF format for years now, and this would be a simple way to provide students with free resources that they didn’t have to go searching for and were collected specifically for them.

In order to begin this project, I learned how to create an interactive classroom on Google Slides first. I then used the MFL Super Curriculum and free PDF downloads of books, and created a folder of resources in my Google Drive. I changed the sharing settings on these resources so that anyone with the link could view the file. I then began putting together the library. If you’re interested in creating a similar resource, here’s how I did it.

 

Instructions to build a virtual library or an interactive Google Slide:

1.Open a new Google Slide and delete the text boxes from the slide.

2.Change the background by going to Background, then choose the option ‘Google Image Search.’ I usually search ‘Wall floor background’ so that some of the options are a blank wall with a floor, giving the slide a 3D feel.

3.Search images to fill the room, such as a desk or bookshelves if you are creating a library. You can either do this on Google Images or in the Google Slide by going to Insert > Image > Search the web. There are fewer options this way, but it’s more convenient! It’s important that you add the word ‘transparent’ to your search in order to find images with a transparent background. You can often search ‘PNG’ to find images with a transparent background, as well.

4.Once you’ve added your objects or bookshelves, you then gather your resources to put onto the slide. These may include:

– Links to websites such as Quizlet, Quizizz, Padlet, BBC Bitesize or whatever you use with your students.

– PDF documents uploaded to your Google Drive, and made shareable so that anyone with the link can view.

– Links to relevant YouTube videos, etc.

5.You should insert images on the slide to represent the resources you want to use. This can be book covers, a TV or computer monitor, a logo, or anything else that represents the resource. You will then link the images to the resources you’ve collected by inserting a “hyperlink.” To do this, all you need to do is:

– Copy the link to one of the resources.

– Choose the image you’d like the students to click on to access that resource.

– Either right click the image and choose link, or choose the icon that looks like <->

 

– Insert the link to your resource and choose apply. That’s it!

6.Continue to add links until all of your resources are linked on the slide. You can check if this works by choosing Present and clicking on the images. Each image should now go to the link that you’ve chosen.

7.Now you just need to share it – creating a link that anyone can view but not edit. Students will access the resources by clicking Present and then clicking on the images.

I’ve found that this resource can be great for the Super Curriculum. So far, I’ve also used the library as an extension task. Students have been asked to choose a resource from the library and spend at least ten minutes on it. They then have to write a few sentences about what they understood from the resource and a short list of words that they’ve looked up using an online dictionary, encouraging literacy as well as dictionary skills. I’m also planning on using it for more directed tasks – asking specific classes to go to a chosen resource and then answer questions about that resource or respond to it, giving an opinion and reason in the target language. There are endless possibilities!

I hope this post has been helpful – and if you haven’t tried to make an interactive classroom yet and have been wanting to, that you now feel more confident to do so. If you’d like to check out the virtual library for yourself, you can find it at the following link: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1MvPeZ9LAfJlhVZcP7dgv7q_VYUmCp3uixwTzjAvbg9Q/edit?usp=sharing