The New Kahoot App – You’ve been Challenged!

It’s here!  The Kahoot mobile app is now available to everyone and it is THE BOMB!

Just download the new app (just like any other app) and start challenging your students to your Kahoots for homework, during class or any time of day. They can even challenge each other and find other content games to play.

I want to go on the record of saying that I LOVE the app  for English Learners. I had to do NOTHING extra. You guys know that I am all about practical.  What is more practical than doing nothing extra? You just have the kiddos download the app and you select “Challenge” and the Kahoot you would use in class is now able to be played by your students on their own.  On the go!


To try it out, just download the app yourself and then go to your Kahoot dashboard. Select “Challege” when you would normally launch a game. You’ll select the timeframe for it to be completed and then you’ll get a PIN to give to students. I would suggest that you pretend you are a student and plug it into your new app.  That’s it. You’ll see that your Kahoot has been chunked into 3 question challenges.  It’s shockingly easy to use.

Here is the link so you can read more about this on Kahoot’s site.   In typical Kahoot awesomeness, they have created a Kahoot to learn more about the app.  That would be fun to play with your faculty and you’ll walk away a hero!

I have lots of other Kahoot resources if you teach ELLs.  I’m reprinting some of that information below.   But there is a reason that this platform is used in almost every country in the world. It’s great for all learners.

Thanks for playing!

Happy Kahoot’ing!!



Why did I include two pages of Kahoot in my Boosting Achievement book?  Read on.  I should have included more! I have had so many more experiences with the platform!

I have had many roles in my career as an educator but I can honestly say that being a Kahoot Ambassador, is a true highlight.

Kahoot is engaging. There is no doubt about that.  Last year, there were only 6 countries in the world that did not play a Kahoot.  If it is that popular, we owe it to our learners to capitalize on student engagement.  Here are just a few of the uses and benefits I have discovered. You’ll find examples of all of these in different blogposts on this site:

  • Accelerates Academic Language Acquisition with Visuals and Opportunities to Spiral Vocabulary
  • Accelerates Basic Second Language Acquisition with Opportunities to Practice and Internalize Language Structures
  • Supports Authentic Language Production about Content
  • Promotes Higher Order Thinking by Allowing Students to Create Content Assessments
  • Provides Templates/Scaffolds so That ANY Student is Able to Create Assessments
  • Helps us Easily Break Down Classroom Walls to Play Connected Kahoots with Others
  • Facilitates Global Collaboration Among Students in Creating Quizzes
  • Facilitates Global Collaboration Among Educators
  • Provides a Practical Way for Educators to be Culturally Responsive in our Teaching.
  • and so much more!

I have many blog posts with examples of the above if you search in the menu tabs, but where can you start? I start on the first day of school with a Teacher #SelfieKahoot.

After that, I pass out the planning templates that are provided by Kahoot. Each student tells one thing about themselves and the positive classroom culture begins to take shape.

But don’t stop there, once your students create assessments about themselves, they are ready to make assessments about your content.

We used the planning templates to outline a research project, to have students create reviews for state assessments, to quiz other classes.. the content and language possibilities are endless.  When students create assessments, they are working at the highest cognitive levels. And with Kahoot, they want to!

My area of specialization is Non-English Speakers with Minimal Education.  With the help of Kahoot, I am able to capitalize on engagement and help students propel their language and learning. But what I am doing works for ALL kids. Check out this blog post on how to use Kahoot for ESL/Non-English speakers. It comes with a 30 min video you could use for PD. You’ll see that the teaching strategies would be helpful to most learners as we all need visuals and opportunities to practice the academic language.

You might also be interested in this blog post on how to create a Holidays Traditions Kahoot (any time of year) that will easily break down the walls of your classroom and facilitate global thinking.

By exploring the menu tab,  you’ll find many more posts on how the tool is helping me propel the learning of ESL and non-ESL students alike.  And it can help teachers learn as well!  We want awesome learning too!  My strong recommendation is that administrators and specialists use Kahoot in faculty meetings and during PD sessions.  You are modeling a classroom tool and your participants will be engaged!

Do you know about JUMBLE? It is a great Kahoot offering that will have your students ordering/sequencing things like words, events, dates.  This post from my talk at SXSW  has better explanation and a link to a practice Jumble I made. So many content areas can use this feature and it is great for ESL!

AND THE BIG NEWS right now is that Kahoot is about to launched a mobile app this month!  Teachers at ISTE were thrilled to see the demo because it will allow us to easily push challenges out to our students for homework or at any time.

So please do look around the site for more examples. Or reach out to me at or on Twitter at @MsSalvaC. I am happy to shoot you a link with examples of the uses I’ve mentioned aboove.

Lastly, I would refer you to the Kahoot Blog.  You’ll find three articles there that I have written about how to  use the platform with ESL students in different, high-impact ways.  Those articles can be found here.

If you have not used Kahoot, just start quizzing with it.  Then you’ll see how easy it is! All these ideas will start making a lot more sense and you can reach out to me or the Kahoot K!rew for support.  They have never failed me.

Hope this is helpful.

Happy Kahooting!


Community & Hope: Teaching Refugees and Immigrants after Hurricane Harvey

I’m writing this blog on the floor of an empty house in Northwest Houston. Hurricane Harvey has finally moved off to the east. (satellite image from

I’ve had days of being on high alert, with rising waters, constant tornado warnings, helicopters and boats rescuing people around us.  Waters are still rising at my house but we are relocated now. My nerves were shot for a few days and we are now about to start the long process of dealing with the aftermath of the storm.  But right now, before dawn, I want to reflect and plan how I will help my students process all of this when we return to school next week.

I have an interesting group of students for a situation like this. I am a newcomer teacher so I teach students who have recently relocated to our city.  My NELD classes (Newcomer English Language Development) are students who were attending U.S. schools for only a few days when this hurricane struck. Many are coming from places of war, where they were displaced from their homes and had finally found a place to feel safe and out of harm’s way.  The irony.  Others have moved to Houston for a better life from Latin American countries and still, others have relocated here with family because my school is located in an Oil and Gas corridor.

So what will I do for my class?

I’m still deciding on all the particulars of the lessons but I know what my overarching theme will be for this first unit. Community and Hope.


My principal, Chad Crowson, just sent a heartfelt email to the staff to let us know that we are supported by him and the district.

2017-18 is about community.  It’s about a group of people coming together to support one another in a time of great need.  Stratford is not just a school.  Stratford is people – administrators, teachers, counselors, staff members, students, families, and community members – working together.  Stratford High School will not be defeated by a hurricane.  We’re too strong for that.  We’ll be better because of this.”

I’m so grateful for his leadership. If I carry this message into my classroom and make sure the students hear it loud and clear, I’ve done what all teachers want to do. I have opened my heart to my students so they might lower their walls of anxiety and uncertainty. Our classes must always be a place of refuge.  No matter what is happening in that child’s life, they need to feel safe with us.

So I will start by telling them that I am so grateful. My situation is one of inconvenience only. Our home has not taken on any water yet but as of today, it is still inching toward the door.  This could still change but we are gone from that house and safe.  My mother’s home was not so lucky. She is safe and staying with us.  But I will show them these pictures of her home from Sunday.

We will review the facts that Houston, the 4th largest city in the United States, was brought to its knees after days and days of torrential downpours. Catastrophic flooding took so much from our neighbors and friends. I will allow any student to share what they might have lost or how they count themselves lucky.  No forced sharing and native language is fine. My home is located near them. It is right by the school.  We lost power, and the school is located dangerously close to Addicks and Barker reservoirs, which are at their limits and flooding neighborhoods around them today. (Reservoirs are outlined in green on in this image.)   By the time we are back in school, we will have more information about that situation to discuss.  It is worth showing the students how and why the reservoirs were established and how Hurricane Harvey affected this system.

When we go back to school I may still be staying in this empty house.  Going on the 2nd day of no power, and the threat of the dams near us, we left our home yesterday to take refuge in our old house about 10 miles away. We are in the process of selling this house so we can stay here for 2 weeks. It is empty but it has running water, electricity and wonderful friends who brought us bedding, chairs, a folding table and other necessities.  Again, our situation is a very comfortable one compared to many.  My husband and son are separated from us because the airports are shut down but I’m confident they will be back with us by next week and I can share that while we were very scared, we kept hope that we would be reunited soon.

Our district provided us with this link that includes lessons and resources for our families. I will definitely share these with the students and inquire about their own needs for shelter, food, and assistance.  Houston is responding in a strong way to each other.  Our mayor promised to personally defend undocumented immigrants who may be hesitant to seek assistance.   What a wonderful thing for all of our students to hear. They should know how their leadership feels about every resident of the city.


Once everyone has had a chance to share, and I feel that it is a safe time to do so, I want to draw on a feeling and mindset that many of us shared through this disaster: the feeling of hope. In that, we can discuss the feeling when you think that there is no hope. I want to honor their real situations and feelings. But most importantly, I want to bring it around to the real effects when you do have hope. I want to impart the strong power of hope to all of them.

Over the past few days, I was continually struck by the lift in spirit we would get when family or friends reached out to us. Many offered help for which I am so grateful. But even just messages of concern had a strong effect.

I feel as if our city was just taken through a huge, horrific empathy project for other displaced people in the world. There is so much we can learn if we draw parallels to what is happening to refugees and others. I think it will be good for my students to know that you can make a difference for refugees in many ways.

The UNCHR reports that 65.3 million people are currently displaced from their homes due to conflict or persecution. 

What Can We Do?

I can’t help but make this connection and discuss it with my own children at home.  We see these heart breaking images of families in Houston being rescued by boats and losing everything they have.  But we have to take some comfort in the fact that if they survived this storm, they are being rescued.  Even while some in our city waited on rooftops for the boats to come, they had at least the hope that a boat WAS coming.

That is not the case for so many people in the world right now.  I have students who spent so many years without running water or electricity.  I have a student who was in a Burundi refugee camp without these things for 11 years.  Others that escaped war, persecution, and denial of education to finally come here. How will their perspective add to the collective knowledge and understanding of our class?

And what about the feelings of despair that my students have for family and others that are still in camps or seeking a place of refuge?  We will discuss ways that we can authentically contribute to the problem.  Last year, my students drew pictures and wrote letters of encouragement to children in refugee camps.  This may seem simple but sending out some type of support message is something we can all do tomorrow.  A friend delivered some of our letters said that the messages made such an impact on the people there.  The children in the camp were in awe that children on the other side of the world were pulling for them.  Matthew Garder, a friend, recently recounted a story to me by the actress Arta Dobroshi who was a refugee in a camp in Kosovo. She tells the story of when Richard Gere came there. She couldn’t get to him but just knowing he was there gave her so much hope. And of course, now, she uses her influence to help others as a Goodwill Ambassador. Hope.

Letting refugees know that we stand with them is an opportunity I will give my students again this year because I am keenly aware of the tremendous impact it can have. These messages and gestures of concern can affect the life of the person in need of help…and they also bring hope to the sender.

I will also let them brainstorm other ways we can help.  One of my classes recorded videos of their learning.

The videos show the students learning quickly, some going from non-literate to reading and writing in English and point out teaching strategies and reflections from the students. Those are shared publically in hopes that UN teachers and students in makeshift camp schools can benefit.

We will also look at what others are doing for refugees.  I am so fortunate to know about Techfugees and I will be introducing it to my students next week.   Moved by the plight of refugees in Europe, a number of technology industry people have formed a voluntary team  (which includes Matthew mentioned above) to create the series of non-profit “Techfugees” conferences, hackathons, and work with a global network of collaborators. The U.S. efforts are headed up by Andlib Shah who I had the good fortune to meet and thank at SXSW last year. (See photo)  

I’m grateful to Techfugees because they may not realize the reach of their efforts. Just knowing about this effort gave my immigrant students SO MUCH HOPE over the past two years.  A 24 hour live event by Techfugees founder Mike Butcher, Editor-at-large of TechCrunch and next to me in the photo, was the catalyst for using technology in my classroom. That shift in pedagogy has had a profound impact on the lives of my students and their families.  And they will be happy to know that Mike and the rest of the Techfugee team are pulling for us.

Techfugees helps us see that there is hope. There is always hope.

Back to Us Locally & Our Classrooms

I think it is important to go over community and hope in a global sense because that is what will make all of this more than just lip service to our  newcomer students.  If you are not in Houston, you can still use the events to help your students do the lesson ideas in this post.  Many of my students are not refugees but these conversations are growing all of our students as global learners. Point out Empathy, Grit, Resilience and Growth Mindset. These are character traits all students can use if we want them to be successful in life.

Here in Houston, we have so much community and so much hope.  My students are likely affected by this disaster.  I am grateful to be in a city where we are rising up to help anyone that is in need. People are leaving their homes right now, at 5:30 in the morning to volunteer at shelters, donate clothes and food and help our families rebuild.  We also have the assistance of people from around the world with many funds coming in from kind hearted people far and wide and our residents are ready to make good use of it.  We are so very fortunate.

At some point we will list all the acts of kindness we see in our city right now like Free Ice from H Mart, the Korean grocer.

Or the Mexican bakers who were trapped for days at El Bollio Bakery and used their time to bake bread for victims of the flood. We have so many everyday heroes around us. We have so much hope. All of this can be captured in shared writing with Language Experience Approach so my newcomers can be reading and writing and speaking in English that same day with content that is compelling, culturally responsive and relevant to them.

My wish for next week is that my students feel a strong sense of community in my classroom, in our school and in their new city.  I also want to drive home the fact that no matter what the situation, what people need most, is hope. If a person has hope, they will keep moving forward.  And moving forward is what we all need to be doing.


What Tech is in Your Pocket?


This week I was invited to do a remote professional development on “Easy Tech for Language Learners” for Westboro Academy in Ontario Canada.  We used YouTube Live & it was AWESOME!

One of the “easy tech” ideas I would suggest is the tech you have in your pocket or your purse.  Do you by chance own a phone that takes video?

Here is an example of a 2 min video I made when I was recently in Austin, Texas.

I used to show these in class.  I still do but now I am asking students to check the class Facebook page to see if I’ve made any videos for them to think about.

This opens the class with a lot of questions! Many of the students have been thinking critically about topics before they come to class.

One more example of a video I made for my ESL students when I was in Galveston recently.

I work with language learners so an added benefit here is that some of the students have begun making their own “pocket videos” and sharing them with the class.  Here is Sonbul who was making a video DURING class.  I wasn’t upset because his video was for another student at a different school who had sent a video to us for inspiration.

The digital communication has been fun!  Recording video messages seems to work better for my ESL students than live video chats.  They are much less nervous and lots of payoff from the practice.

There are, of course, many other things you can do with the record feature on an ipad or phone.  Authentic messages of communication for ESL students are just one that is working for us.

Hope that is useful!

Happy Teaching!

Desk Olympics

Need students in different desk arrangements for different types of activities?  You can train them to change the room arrangement in the least amount of time possible to preserve instructional minutes.  Watch this 3 minute video to see my students on their first day of practicing different room arrangements.

Room arrangement is a challenge for me this year because I am one of those teachers that does not have her own room.  I am very grateful to the other teachers who allow me to hold my classes in their rooms during their off periods.  But I am not comfortable asking them to change their preferred seating arrangement to suit me.  What’s more, I often want to change the seating for different types of activities.

My boss, John Seidlitz, suggested that I look into “Desk Olympics.”  I am so glad I did.  I was skeptical until I came across this video of Mr. Dimitrov’s 5th graders modeling their ability to transition to many different room arrangements.  I was convinced!

Now, my high schoolers protested that there was not enough room and that it might take a while to do it each day.  But once they saw the 5th graders on that video, that was all it took! (LOL!)  If elementary kiddos can do this, it would be no problem for us.  And it wasn’t.

I made sure to play the video of the first few attempts for the class on the active board.  We discussed what went wrong and they enjoyed trying to get faster.  Now we know just how quickly we can do this, so that is our standard… under 30 seconds.  Talk about preserving instructional minutes!

I have other configurations to introduce but we will be good for a while with these three that allow us to get into cooperative groups and also set up for station-rotation.

An added benefit to this was the team building aspect.  Both of these classes had students who arrived THAT DAY.  And it was obvious to them.. and to all of us…that they had landed in a class that knows how to work together.

I’m excited to see what more we are able to do now!

Thanks for dropping by!



Kahoot! Seriously… Kahoot!

nil-kahootI recently became an Ambassador for Kahoot. (  So perhaps this post will sound biased.  But friends, really, I can’t find anything more engaging and useful for my classroom right now.   Students walk into class asking for Kahoot.  If that is the level of interest, I owe it to them to figure out the best ways to use this free platform.

Most teachers use it to review material.  That makes sense as it is super easy to make a quick online, multiple choice quiz.  I support that as long as you are including this type of review in a balanced program where students have plenty of opportunities to answer open-ended questions and other ways of elevating their thinking skills.  I absolutely use it for quizzes but I also capitalize on deeper uses (ie: Students creating Kahoots!) because I don’t want to only give them multiple choice assessments.  That is not stretching them as learners.

So for my students, producing English, comprehending English and acquiring academic/social language is our main priority.  I teach NELD which stands for Newcomer English Language Development.

Basically, We used 3 stories from  (fantastic resource for increasing reading for ELLs)  As recommended by the site, newcomers were to start on level 1 (audio if needed) and then move to level 2 and 3.  I gave some class time for this and also let them know that they could practice at home for Friday’s Kahoot.

To make the Kahoot, I took screen shots of the news stories at the highest level and made those images my question image.  (easy drag & drop when you make a Kahoot).  If you’d like to play the kahoot, it is here:

Because my class is English language development, my focus for the questions were a mix of content but also structures of language.  I took the opportunity to point out proper use of verbs and idioms as well.  Once those questions are played, the image is there to discuss why it is “kicking” vs. “kicked.”



For my BRAND new kiddos, I worked with them in a small group with the above images. I want them to practice saying the correct phrases aloud and News in Levels also has an audio feature so they can listen to the story and track the print for reading.

Remember that you can get a free Kahoot account at and your kiddos don’t need to make accounts to play.  There other uses of Kahoot that will have them thinking more deeply about content.  Kiddos making kahoots…. now THAT is high on Bloom’s!  That is another post.

This is our first day to have multiple volunteers in our room.  That is the next post!

Happy English Speaking friends!!



What a stroke of luck that I was on Twitter when Mike Butcher, Editor in Chief of TechCrunch was organizing a Techfugees Live event in early January!

IMG_0504 IMG_0505 IMG_0506 IMG_0507

Techfugees has been incredibly inspiring to my refugee students and we are proud to be a part of the effort by showing just how quickly refugee students learn a new language, content and technology.  In the photos above we are watching the Techfugees Live event on February 13, 2016.

We were so inspired that we started coding with the “Hour of Code” before my students had all the literacy skills that are recommended for it.

We created this video to help inspire other refugees or any students who are working hard to close their literacy gaps:  Newcomers Coding

About Techfugees:

Moved by the plight of refugees in Europe, a number of technology industry people have formed a voluntary team to create the series of non-profit “Techfugees” conferences, hackathons, and work with a global network of collaborators.

In it’s first 48 hours our Facebook Group and Twitter account exploded. Today there are now over 2,000 members of Techfugees, demonstrating a huge desire amongst the tech community to get involved with this issue.

Their events are entirely non-profit, designed to bring together tech engineers, entrepreneurs and startups together with NGOs and other agencies in order to address the crisis in ways where the technology world can bring its considerable firepower.

Many many thanks to Mike Butcher, Mathew Gardiner and everyone at Techfugees who are using Tech for Good and who believe in our learners.