Balancing Paper and Technology Use in Spanish Class

As my blog name might imply, I love using digital tools in my classroom. However, I have never taught (and would never choose to teach) Spanish 100% digitally. Even during our year of remote teaching, I found a way to assign handwritten work! As fantastic as technology is, I believe one can strike a thoughtful balance between use of both technology and paper to best serve our students’ language learning needs.

Benefits of Using Paper

  • simpler for all to access/use
  • fewer glitches (no reliance on wifi functioning properly)
  • can better aid students in learning (check out this study!)
  • less temptation to cheat via online translators

Benefits of Using Technology

  • engaging for students
  • more access to visual authentic resources (ie. images, videos, etc.)
  • auto-grade options = timely feedback for you and students
  • save on paper!

I believe to best support our students’ language-learning journey while also fostering their 21st century technology skills, we can provide a balance of digital and paper resources/activities in our classroom. I personally learn/retain new information much better when I write it down on paper and I think encouraging that of our students is important too. Plus, everyone needs a tech break now and again!

Balancing Paper & Technology Use

A lot of the resources I create provide both digital and printable options (or a blend of the two) to best fit your needs and teaching style. Here’s a look at when I tend to use each in my classroom:

When I Use Paper

  • note taking
  • written practice (via mini whiteboards, worksheets, etc.)
  • prompt-based writing assignments (ie. escritura rápida)
  • recording information from partner interviews
  • drafting ideas for a unit project (this helps prevent online translator use)
  • writing-based assessments

When I Use Technology

  • my own lesson plans and instructional slides – instructions, speaking prompts, , etc. (this makes it so easy to “rinse and repeat” next year!)
  • grammar lesson slides (that I can easily share with absent students)
  • review games (Kahoot, Quizlet Live, Gimkit, etc.!)
  • review before an assessment (Google Forms are GREAT for providing instant feedback to students as they prepare for an exam)
  • sharing cultural resources (videos, infographics, etc.) via a webquest or Edpuzzle homework assignment
  • producing the end result of a unit project (easy to publish/share with classmates)

I find this balance of paper and technology helps to add variety to my lessons and my students’ experience of learning Spanish. As we all learn differently, it is my hope that the blending of these two methods helps to support the variety of learners in my classroom as well.

See an example of this balance in action with a breakdown of how I structure my grammar lessons in class!

Let me know below – what is your preferred format? Do you tend toward one or the other?

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