Smile because it happened: Reflecting on my Cohort 21 experience

There’s only one week left to go until the final face-to-face meeting of Cohort 21 and I’m feeling a variety of emotions. On the one hand, I’m excited to see a bunch of people who have inspired me to push myself to try new things and leave my Luddite comfort zone. I’m really looking forward to seeing what others have done with the tools and options we’ve explored over the past six months or so. Similarly, I’m amped to share my successes and struggles in flipping my French classroom, along with some ideas for the future. I’m a little bummed that it’s coming to an end, but as the old adage goes: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

I’ve certainly got a lot to smile about. Through Cohort 21, I was put in touch with Ramesh, an entrepreneur who is starting up game-based online teaching and assessment software. I fell in love with his Memarden program at first site and when I tested it with my students, they loved it too. I haven’t had the chance to let them try it on their own but Ramesh just taught me how to input the students into the system so I’ll hopefully have them try it out before the first Cohort meeting. Since the business is just starting, there are a few kinks to be worked out but I’m very optimistic about the direction in which Memarden is going.

I’ve also had the privilege to participate in a couple of Google Hangouts, which are always a fun learning experience and often involve funny hats. From these, I’ve learned about special opportunities such as skyping other French classrooms and recording students oral presentations. They were also good for learning about how the Hangouts worked since I can see many uses for them beyond the classroom If you haven’t sat in on one of the Hangouts, check out this link to a help session to get an idea of what they’re like.

Last but not least are my efforts to flip my French class by recording vocab videos and assessing students with Google forms. You can see one of the videos along with the link to the ‘quiz‘ here:


At first, it was tough to get the students to work on these quizzes but over time, their parents have really bought into it and now I get requests for more videos. I’m trying to churn out one every two weeks and now I’ve got a youtube channel with over ten videos. Many thanks are owed to fellow Cohort 21 member Sara Spencer for her guidance and encouragement on that front. However, I recently learned that the AIM program (gesture-based french teaching) has entered the 21st century and will be introducing a Student Portal with videos, exercises and games of its own in September of 2014. I’m not sure what it will cost but I feel like it would cover all the stuff I’ve been trying to do over the past six months. Yet another avenue to investigate, I suppose!

That’s where I’m at right now. Enjoy the long weekend and I’ll see you on Friday!

4 thoughts on “Smile because it happened: Reflecting on my Cohort 21 experience

  1. Sandy, you’ve certainly summed up an exciting year of your own professional growth, and where you are on your journey. I loved the video, and wanted to point you to “Kahoots” – it will all you to input your videos into their software and have students ‘poll in’ (picture pub-trivia games). This would be a good addition to the actual classroom to help summarize student and assess ‘as’ they learn.

    It’s great that you’ve been able to hook up and provide meaningful feedback to Memarden as well – I am sure that your insights and practical usage is of great value. It’s also exciting to know that you’ve been experimenting with something that AIM is looking to provide. Do they know that you are already doing this? If not, let them know. You are probably one of the few teachers with practical experiences in this area!

    Thanks for this, and I look forward to chatting more about it on Friday!

  2. Oh my goodness, Sandy…I LOVED your video. Your students are so lucky to have you as their teacher: your passion (and ability to wear fantastic hats) are infectious. I wish I could learn French with you.

    I am so excited for others to get to learn from your Flipped Learning insights; you have really engaged with all the Cohort put out on the buffet table and it is inspiring to see how it is developing your practice!

    I shared your latest blog post with Lisa Picerno, as she was also looking at Flipped Classes. I think you two will have some great insights to share with each other on Friday!

  3. Your comments and feedback have really helped us make our product better – thank you!

    For videos, we should talk – we support video lessons too. The fun thing is that we link each video to a set of multiple choice questions you create. Then the same content is playable on games and activities, separate from the video itself.

  4. Did you have any luck with Memarden yet? I had a great conversation with Ramesh back in March, but have yet to really dive into the program. I’d love to know if it is working for you and any tips!

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