Wednesday 16 February 2011

High tech, low tech, let's get them talking

Further to my earlier post about encouraging speaking, there has been a lot of talk on Twitter about @dominic_mcg's Mug of Misery to pull pupils' names out in order to answer a question on the board. Despite my prowess as a near-professional shopper, I failed to find a mug that I liked. However I did stumble upon the following: LA MALETA MANDONA (The Bossy Suitcase)

The plastic pots contain lollypop sticks with the names of pupils in the various classes I teach. I intend to use them in conjunction with the fruit machine from generating oral questions or with images in a powerpoint. Let's see how the Maleta Mandona is welcomed to Grosvenor.


Our SMT rightly believes that the some of best training comes from within, and so today we had another staff day where peers talked to groups about what is going on inside their classrooms. Why am I blogging about it? Well, the notetaking session from our Psychology teacher tied in so perfectly with all that had been said at #ililc at Southampton in terms of independent learning, teaching and honing the skills so that the content falls into place. Stephen talked about building risk-taking and creativity in KS3 so that it happens more naturally on up the school. He gave us a series of useful frameworks and handouts, but the thing that stuck with me most was his statement that pupils are most creative when they are emotionally engaged. To do this, we need to enthuse the pupils, act as Devil's advocate at times, and push them to want to learn more.
Time to bring these ideas into the classroom...

Tuesday 15 February 2011

#ililc Inspiration in a hashtag

The ability to bottle the ambience from the weekend's ICT Links into Languages conference in Southampton could have made someone a large amount of money. To say that delegates were left enthused and inspired is an understatement.

It was such a pleasure to meet some of the MFL Twitterati for the first time, and it felt like meeting old friends for many of the others. It is the curse of the Northern Irish to constantly feel inadequate, but who could fail to be humbled in the presence of the demi-gods that are Joe Dale and Rachel Hawkes? Their keynote speeches were the perfect bookends to an excellent conference.

There were several noteworthy things about the weekend. Firstly, all the delegates seemed to be singing from the same hymnsheet. Aside from Joe and Rachel, Wendy Adeniji had so many excellent ideas on how to turn language teaching and topics on their head, Clare Seccombe made me want to pass her the contents of my netbook, as well as giving us loads of excellent sites to check out, Dale Hardy's G&T talk was truely thought-provoking and from Chris Harte came the superb 'Languages:Reboot' (yes, I know this post is all superlatives, but what can you do?!) which left us ready to throw out the textbooks and the SOWs, and embrace all that is postive about spontaneous language and pupil independence. Oh, and then there was the Show and Tell, the socialising and all the injokes that have left other non-attending Twitterati a little bemused.

On a personal note, I owe Joe Dale a debt of gratitude, for without his coaxing, reassuring and general cheerleading, I would not have presented, and would have missed out on the opportunity. Yes, despite the stress and the lack of sleep worrying, it was worth it. Though note to self, 'footery' is a Norn Irish word that has no meaning for anyone not from the wee isle, and no matter how slowly I think I am speaking, there will still be those who will fail to understand me.

Returning home from such a weekend can bring you down to earth with a bump, but the power of Twitter is such that #ililc must surely still be trending. People have been tweeting lessons they have taught using ideas from the conference, as well as tweeting and teasing online acquaintances who are now considered friends.

Stealing @charte's idea from his blogpost, a whole lotta MFL Twitterati love to the following: @bootleian @chrisfullerisms @charte @bellaale @blagona @lwelsh @lisibo @icpjones @suzibewell @joedale @froggyval @reesiepie @smaguire777 @sghani @wendadeniji @mariefrance @JulietDPark @purer_ethics @kath52 @mrshampson @estherhardman and those I have missed. I only wish I wasn't a plane ride away...