Using the "Teacher Tools" to generate random prompts for front of class interaction

The "Teacher Tools" pop-up can be found to the bottom right of every SentenceBuilder on

This pop-up offers all sorts of options for exploiting the SentenceBuilder for front-of-class interactions.

Random L1 prompt

If you select the "Random L1 prompt" (in this case English) option, a random sentence -- selected from the potentially thousands of available sentences -- appears below the SentenceBuilder.

You can then click on the L2 (in this case French) items in the SentenceBuilder to build the correct translation of the sentence. You can get students to come up and do this, or you can do it in response to suggestions from students. Only correct clicks are accepted, and the L2 sentence is filled in in the space below.

Keep clicking on the "refresh" button (the circular arrow) to generate a new random L1 sentence.

With or without translation

In the image above, the translations are visible in the SentenceBuilder, but you can also hide the translations, as in the example below.

So now, the student can't simply scan the SentenceBuilder looking for the English. They now need to remember what the French options mean so as to be able to build the sentence.

Transform the L2 in the SentenceBuilder

In the example above, students can read out the French from the SentenceBuilder for the teacher to click and complete, but how about making that a little bit more challenging?

Choose the "Transform L2" option from the teacher tools to transform the content in one of several ways:

  1. No vowels. e.g. Pour Noël >> P□□r N□□l
  2. No consonants. e.g. Pour Noël >> □ou□ □oë□
  3. 50:50 = half of letters removed, so Pour Noël >> e.g. □□u□ Noë□
  4. Initials. e.g. Pour Noël >> P□□□ N□□□
  5. Word shapes. e.g. Pour Noël >> □□□□ □□□□
  6. No clue. e.g. Pour Noël >> ???

Here's the SB transformed using the "Initials" option, with translations:

So here, students have the L1 to refer to, so it's easy for them to find the correct bit of French. Dead easy if they're clicking themselves. But trickier if they have to read / say the French so that the teacher can complete the sentence in front of the class.

And without the translations...

Here, not only do students need to know more or less what the French items mean so that they can tell the teacher how to build the sentence, they also have to know how to say / spell them too, depending on whether this is a purely oral activity or a written activity (using mini whiteboards, for example).

Random L2 prompt

You want to use the teacher tools to generate a random French sentence? No problem. Choose the "Random L2 prompt" instead.

The difference here is that there is no "click-to-rebuild-the-sentence" option, as we're dealing with rebuilding the English. But all the same variations apply as above.

When your random prompt is in the L2, you can even play it as audio (provided you have enabled TTS for your resource).

You can ask students to translate it into English, with reference to the SentenceBuilder.

A bit too easy, since they simply have to do a quick look-up? Well, make it a bit more challenging by transforming the French in the SentenceBuilder, such as in the example below, which uses initials.

Or how about making it even more challenging, by removing the French from the SentenceBuilder?

In the image above, students don't have reference to the French in the SentenceBuilder to help them with the meaning. Instead, they can use the English in the SentenceBuilder to help them work out what the possible options are. And I'm sure there is a spatial memory component to this sort of activity too.

Is that it?

Well, that's all this blog post is covering: specifically, how to use the "Teacher Tools" along with the SentenceBuilder to generate random sentences in the L1 or L2 for use for various front-of-class interactions.

But that is by no means "it".

You can also use the "Build from SB table" option in the teacher tools to experiment with building meaningful sentences.

You (or students) click into the SentenceBuilder to build a sentence that is "correct" according to the rules as defined in that particular resource. (It will only accept correct combinations...)

If you do this without translations showing, as in the above image, students can come up to the front and build the sentence of their choice, and then you can ask them to tell you what it means.

You can also use any of the 100+ interactive activities in front of the class. Just as one example (because I don't want to add tons more images to this post!!), here's the bad translation activity:

So you can ask students to decide whether or not the French sentence is a correct translation of the English (sometimes it is!!), and if not, what needs to be changed.

OK, one more! Bad dictation:

Same as the previous example, but based on an audio prompt. Students listen to the sentence (which can be repeated) and decide if what they heard is the same as what they can see. If not, they can be asked to correct it!

Note that in both of the above activities, the sentences proposed are always correct sentences. The question is whether or not they are a correct translation / transcription.

So many more I could mention: spot the intruder, gap fill, 2-step gap-fill, break the flow / separate the words, jumbled words, jumbled chunks, translate to L2 with initials / word shapes provided, etc, etc.

As I said, there are over 100 different formats, and all of them can easily be used front-of-class for oral or written interactions.

But that'll do for now :o)