Just over 5 years ago I was fortunate enough to stumble upon Buncee after I heard it mentioned at a Google Conference. At first I was hesitant to try it out because I wondered how I could put it to use in the World Language classroom. At first I began to use it with my World Cultures students as a presentation tool for their research projects on countries of the world: success! My next step was to introduce it to my 6th grade Exploratory French students so that they could create digital versions of the comic strips that they loved to design: more success! I then ventured into using it with my 8th grade Level 1 French students so that they could use it to present their summative assessments on the countries of the Francophone world: superb! Little by little, my students and I got more and more comfortable with the varied features of Buncee and continued thinking of ways we could use it to enhance World Language Learning. Before long, students were coming to class on a daily basis with suggestions as to what we should do next with Buncee!
When I applied to become a Buncee Ambassador I never even contemplated how that would help to change and evolve my teaching career. Becoming part of the infamous “BunceeFam” has opened up a global support network of amazing educators, many of whom I have never met, but who are always ready to offer support and assistance to one another at the drop of a hat. Two years ago I finally got to meet some of the Buncee team in person and we hit it off immediately! Marie and I proceeded to have an in depth discussion of how Buncee could be used as a valuable data collection tool in the classroom. She was interested in hearing about success stories and anecdotes from teachers. I returned to my classroom in Westerly, RI, feeling refreshed and invigorated and ready to implement new ideas. At that particular time I was focused on implementing a Personalized and Blended Learning Approach in my classroom, and Buncee had become my go-to tool for Hyperdoc creation. Surveys and feedback from my students helped me to understand that a more personalized approach to their learning helped them to feel more willing to take risks, ask more questions, and feel at ease in their language learning, because of their control over how and when they mastered the content I needed them to.
Last year ushered in a new school year and I was still thinking about new ways to use the features of the new and improved Buncee! The extended time with the video recording feature meant my students could make even longer videos of themselves recording skits or showing their reading comprehension through retelling of stories I had assigned to them. The Buncee team continued to be a huge support group for ideas and inspiration.
This spring I got a sneak peek at Buncee’s latest collaboration with Microsoft and their Immersive Reader tool...and boy was my mind blown! Immediately I started to think of the ways this would benefit my World Language students. With the start of the new school year I decided to utilize Immersive Reader to help support my teaching of commonly used phrases in my French classroom. 6th grade is our students first introduction to French, and with that always comes some timid students who are terrified to speak these strange sounds aloud in class, for fear of butchering the language! Enter the perfect combo of teacher instruction and Immersive Reader! I created a Buncee with some of my most commonly used expressions in class, and shared it with all my students. We spent time talking about what the expressions meant, looked for cognates, and repeatedly practiced saying the expressions aloud. Then came their freedom to listen to these expressions at home, during homeroom or independent team time, or even while driving in the car to sports practice. Needless to say, while I don’t have specific data evidence to prove the efficacy of Immersive Reader in Buncee, I have definitely noticed a class of more confident learners, willing to step out of their comfort zones, and try using the language as much as possible! Thank you Buncee for helping my kiddos take risks!
This summer as I continued to plan for the upcoming year, my mind trailed back to my conversation with Marie about using Buncee as a data collection tool and I realized that all this time Buncee had been lying in wait to become my means of tracking student proficiency! My 8th grade Level 1 students started their year by each creating a new Buncee where they record themselves responding to a prompt given to them. I will use our Department World Language Speaking Rubric to assess their proficiency. This same task will be done at a midpoint year and also at the end of the year. Each time they create a new recording they will simply add a new page to their Buncee, and upload the new recording to that page. This way at the end of the year I can collect all this data and analyze their growth over the course of the year. I am excited to inspect this data more closely later this year!
So, now you can see why I like to tell people that Buncee has become a “go-to in my teacher tool belt!” This is a tool that I have used in such a variety of ways in my World Language classroom in the last 5 years, and I look forward to continuing to add ideas to that tool belt!
Íde Koulbanis teaches World Languages (French & World Cultures) to amazing students at Westerly Middle School in Westerly, RI. Westerly has been her home for 18 years now, and she enjoys life with her husband, Jamie and two children, Erin and John. When not teaching, you will most likely find Íde hanging out and having fun with family and friends!
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