Monday, 1 November 2010
The feedback was very positive, but equally I feel that I got a lot out of the day. Firstly, upon delivering my talk, I was able to reflect on how much of the web 2.0 stuff is now second nature to me, although there were many tools that I haven't used for a while, and this has inspired me to revisit them. Also, the enthusiasm the students displayed in the hands-on session really was very pleasing; I hope that they get as much out of the websites and tools as I do.
Secondly, both my talk and Julie's reaffirmed just how strong and forward-thinking our department is. And yes, Iam blowing our own trumpet a little here, but it is a joy to work in a department that is so willing to run with new ideas and embrace change.
Lastly, the Q&A session hopefully proved useful to the students.I well remember the feeling as my first teaching practice approached, and it wasn't always a good feeling. The dread, nervous anticipation and excitement all jostled for supremacy. It is always a good thing to stop and take stock as a teacher, and today was a day that I value for allowing me to do just that.
Sunday, 31 October 2010
- Put the pupils into groups, each with a mini-whiteboard, then say a sentence in English. The first group to all write it out correctly gets the point. It will amaze you how long it takes them to all have the same thing written on their whiteboards
- Do the same activity on an individual basis - possibly better for A level pupils
- Practise verb conjugations, adjectival agreement, whatever grammar point you wish to reinforce
- For vocabulary practice, say the word in the TL and the pupils need to draw something which represents the word
- To practise numbers, call out a sum and the pupils write down the answer
- Use the mini-whiteboards in carousel activities for Hangman or Pictionary
- If you can afford it, invest in class sets of magnetic letters, and use them with magnetic mini-whiteboards - most of the games above can be played with the magnetic letters
In terms of practicalities, I would do the following:
- ensure that you have enough mini-whiteboards for at least one between two
- invest in a class set of whiteboard markers
- Get board erasers. A cheaper version is to cut up sponges or dishcloths.
- set ground rules, such as no writing messages to each other, or silly answers. Be firm the first few times, and they will soon learn that one moment's attention from the class is not worth doing exercises from a text book for the rest of the activity
- Have a box to store the boards in, and get pupils in the habit of collecting and returning them quickly and without fuss
Playing with magnetic letters, my classes and I have evolved a set of rules which work well for us:
- letters cannot be set out in alphabetical order or in groups of the same letter
- they can be set out according to colour (apparently this helps the brain?)
- First 3 individuals/groups to get the answer, win the point (points equal stars for the star chart in my classes)
- If you win one go, you sit out the next (so winners don't discourage others)
Investing in mini-whiteboards and magnetic letters was one of the best decisions I ever made, and an investment which will stand me in good stead for years to come.
Wednesday, 6 October 2010
I am really interested in this, as our ML dept seems to vary greatly in their approach. I tend to get the pupils to copy chapter notes into the book plus any of their own insight in advance, then spend the double period discussing the chapter in terms of why we have picked things out. I have a workbook of exercises they then do. I also give them a set of mindmap sheets, each with a topic the exam board has listed to cover, and they keep these updated with info as we meet in in the course of the novel, using colours for different types of info eg quotes.
None of this is wildly exciting, but I do do some activities such as Random Name Generator (RNG) where they need to talk or write for a minute about whatever topic/character the RNG throws up. You can also do activities such as cutting up a sheet with a lost of events and then placing said events into chronological order, or where you read a statement and they need to write the character it refers to on a mini whiteboard. With Como Agua Para Chocolate, I get the pupils to take a character each and do a MySpace page in Spanish, writing the blog as if they were the character. You can also do group work where one lies on the floor and others draw a body outline round them, then they write all the pertinent information on the shape for that character, quotes in one colour, adjectives in another, facts/events in another. Finally, tools such as Goanimate and Toondoo are useful for showing storylines and character development
Thursday, 30 September 2010
Saturday, 25 September 2010
Sunday, 12 September 2010
This year, our results across the department were pleasing at the top end, but as usual, it is the pupils who failed to make the grade who stick with you on Results Day. Why, as teachers, do we take the blame, if only partially, when we don't then take the credit for the top grades too? Some pupils failed because they didn't work hard enough, but others worked hard, and still didn't pull it off. Time for some new strategies..
And this tied in nicely with two things. Firstly, our trip to Barcelona and Salou with 39 12-15 year olds in June, where the pupils had a ball but many showed a lack of confidence in speaking in Spanish (or Castilian, should I say) And secondly, a lively thread on the yahoo group forum for MFL Resources http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mflresources/ about the concept of Group Talk, with Greg Horton. People have really seized on Greg's strategies for motivating pupils to talk in the foreign language. There is a video on Teacher Tube at http://www.teachers.tv/videos/mfl-implementing-the-group-talk-initiative-and-other-strategies
I have been chatting on the forum as well as with the MFL Twitterati and have decided to give this a go. An intiative that encourages pupils to talk fluently and with confidence in the target language is something that we all surely aspire to; I will keep you posted...
Saturday, 3 April 2010
Another activity which proved very successful was a mix between Dragon's Den and The Apprentice. Pupils worked in the same group as for their workshops, and were given a box each and told to imagine it was any product. They needed to style the box, create a TV advert and a slogan. Pupils worked with enthusisam and creativity for over two hours on this project, and then used the FLIP cameras to record their ads before returning together to view the ads on the data projector.
All in all, the residential seemed to be very successful from a pupil point of view, and all the staff involved left on a real high. A personal moment of pride for me is that the 3 past pupils delivering two of the workshops are only in their second year at uni, and are a constant source of help and support to our department. I thoroughly recommend this immersion experience- once again, it has proved to be one of the highlights of our academic year.
Monday, 1 March 2010
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Pupils had previously been filling in a feedback sheet with all interviewees listed, but after a clever suggestion from one of my Upper Sixth on Monday, today pupils carried their own notebook around with them, and each person questioning them filled it in at the end of the round. They are given a tally of how many questions they were asked, as well as a comment and a score out of 10. I find the pupils are excellent at giving feedback, generous in their praise and constructive in their criticism. We discuss what we should look for: a low tally (as this shows excellent expansion) as well as tenses, opinions, fabby phrases and connectors. I always make time for a quick feedback session at the end of the lesson, where they shout out names for each of the questions I ask e.g. 'Who was good at giving opinions?' The value of the notebook is that pupils now have a record of peer evaluation, as well as hopefully seeing progress over the coming weeks and months.
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Events like those of the past week let me appreciate just how much I have come on since the summer of 2008. The A-Z presentation was fairly easy to produce, as most of it is software I have used either to teach the pupils, or for them to work creatively in Spanish. I was confortable presenting the ideas to the PGCE students, firstly because I use them regularly and secondly because I totally see their value in my own teaching and the pupils' learning. The same for the Box of Tricks blogpost, as Edmodo is a valuable tool in my day-to-day teaching.
I blog this not to blow my own trumpet, but to say that if I have progressed this far over the course of the past 18 months, then it is within the grasp of any enthusiatic teacher. There are so many advantages to harnessing the free technology that is out there, and it is easily accessed through the power of your PLN.
Sunday, 21 February 2010
I have uploaded the presentation to Slideshare http://www.slideshare.net/asalt518/a-z-of-ict-in-modern-languages
Sunday, 24 January 2010
A small yet hopefully hugely benficial example is the idea of using Audacity to record questions and then get pupils to record their answers and upload them to our wiki http://spanishingrosvenor.wikispaces.com I read about this on the forum of the MFL Resources yahoo group, and also on Joe Dale's blog This should prove especially beneficial to KS4 pupils studying for their GCSE, but is equally applicable both down and up the school. I particularly like the impact it should have on pronunciation, which should help with the new GCSE.
A final thought on this area is to also bring our new digital voice recorders into the classroom if we can't make it to a computer room. I am going to trial using the fruit machine from classtools.net to bring up a random series of questions which pupils will then answer in one minute on the DVRs. This will be a long-term plan, and I am interested to see what rewards we reap.
Another idea I picked up from one of my Twitter friends is to condense your life down to 50 words, either orally or as in this tweet, written.