Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Using Google Wave in the Foreign Language Classroom

I'm not the one who thought to use Wave. That was a student's idea. 

I just came up with the task: for the kids to write their own epic poem in Latin. Google Wave for writing Latin Epics? Of course... I should've thought of that to begin with! 

It's actually a no brainer. (Or that's what I discovered over two days watching the kids work with it in class.)

Basically, creating the poem is a four step process: 
1) Collaborating on the writing of the poem in English. 
2) Editing the English version into a cohesive whole. 
3) Rendering the English into Latin. 
4) Making adjustments to fit the Latin version into epic meter.
We began by chunking up parts of the narrative -- beginning, rising action, climax, etc -- between the students. We were all sitting around a big table with our laptops, so it was easy both to chat between one another f2f and at the same time follow what was happening on the Wave (which I projected on the wall).

I find that this is often the key: hybridizing f2f and online experiences.

The students developed a humorous story about Greek heroes on a quest to save the last ice cream cone. (Okay, so it's no Homer... but it's a start!)

As students wrote their chunks, I flipped through the Wave commenting on each student's work -- it being a Wave, of course, I am able to comment as they are working rather than waiting for them to turn something in. This is a great way both to gauge formative learning as well as nipping problems in the bud before they blossom into full-blown misconceptions -- it's so often those ingrained misconceptions that we spend so much time trying to help kids unlearn.

Once the English versions were rendered and edited into five-line chunks, students began the process of morphing their poem into Latin. We started with the verbs.

As students suggested verbs and verb-forms, I was able to check through quickly and again figure out who needed extra help and who was ready for greater challenges (and as I've found over and over, it's not always the kids at one end of the 'grades' spectrum or the other that needs more of the former or more of the latter). Wave actually lets me gauge each student individually in real-time and cater my teaching to each individual student. 

I'm coming to think of Wave as a 'differentiation and formative assessment' device.

Tomorrow, we'll start on the process of rendering the rest of the Latin and fitting everything into the confines of the old ancient meter. I'll be sure to post my thoughts on the conclusion of the project and hopefully will have a nice bit of Latin Epic to offer you all -- courtesy of the kids -- in two days' time.


  1. YES!

    I'm so glad to see this. A colleague and I (my colleague gets the vast, vast majority of the credit; I've been slow to adopt, though I'm on the wagon now) have been doing something similar involving translation and google wave at the college level. There's another project going on involving epic composition. I love to see others arriving at the same good idea, it makes me feel less crazy.

    I've been following your blog for a few weeks now, btw, and loving it. :)

  2. @Karen

    It's comments like yours that make me feel less crazy as well.

    - Shelly

  3. would love to try this with classwork. We've been using Google Docs, but I want to try the wave now. Thanks for sharing

  4. Hi,everyone.I think I am the first PhD candidate doing my dissertation on dynamic assessment using Google Wave and the most interesting feature of wave is the visibility of typing which reflects the process of development ,after all the process is our product.

  5. Fantastic! I would like to use this in my school. We lost professional development time this year and need a way to collaborate more effectively and efficiently. I hope access to Google Wave opens up soon!

  6. What did you all do to get Wave..I have requested like 5 times...

  7. Did you publish the wave as a bloggy yet so others can see the wave as it developed?

  8. Evidently, Wave is open to everyone now, no invitation needed. Saw that a moment ago when I googled it. (Google also links to this post in its explanation of Wave's potential uses.)

  9. Hi! Very good article.
    If you like google wave. Try rizzoma.com
    Alternative solution for google wave.


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