Tuesday 20 March 2012

#ILILC2 Cheap and Cheerful Songwriting by Stuart Gorse


By far one of my favourite sessions at ILILC, Stuart asked us ‘Why use songs?’
The answer is primarily for a change of focus for students and for a change of atmosphere.Nowadays it is very easy to make exercises such as gap fills and reordering using software such as Taskmagic. Stuart adds that you need to go with the instincts of the students and teacher.
The end result can then be uploaded to YouTube Stuart uses www.dicodesrimes.com for rhyming words and suggests that we and/or the pupils make up lyrics, even if ridiculous, to a familiar tune in English.
Others are now catching on to the popularity of this idea with Arsenal, for example, running their Double Club competition in advance of the Olympics. As Stuart pointed out, it is a catchy tune with an attractive prize and very topical - a winning combination!
Other ideas included taking a short story by Guy de Maupassant and then make up a song to Hotel California; The Ramones and El Pueblo Song about their town; using the Muppet Show theme tune to answer the question "¿Qué tal?" with ‘Fenomenal do do de do da’; Mamma Mia for the topic of Daily Routine; and Green Day Good Riddance for “My personal favourite.. of all time” video on Youtube channel

This was a hilarious yet insightful glimpse into the world of songwriting with Modern Languages as well as a taster of just how enjoyable it must be to be a pupil in Mr Gorse's classroom. I'll leave you with this gem..

Thursday 8 March 2012


It was brilliant to see Lisa after her fairly recent departure to Switzerland, although it must be said that we were too busy playing with the iPads to make many notes! Lisa gave us a quick tour of the iPad and offered just a selection of the many uses that language learners can make of it with guidance from the teacher. We had a chance to play with the iPads as well as check the Posterous blog Joe Dale is creating, http://ipad366.posterous.com/ There is more information on Lisa' website http://lisibo.com as well as documents to download.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

#ILILC2 Stepping away from the textbook Sara Vaughan

Sara talked about crosscurricular work, links and resources and the benefits of a content-free curriculum at KS3. Our challenge is to design a curriculum to address the needs of learners as individuals, to prepare them better for KS4. With cross-curricular learning giving learning a wider context, Sara pointed out that this suits languages better than most. There is a possibility of accommodating ‘local’ learning eg by designing SOWs for local interest eg the ferry company that provides employment for most people in the area. It is also important to embrace skills and processes by teaching them what language is about rather than lists of words, something which is close to our own department's heart.
So how do we throw out the textbooks? Sara pointed out that planning is key to ensure academic rigour and enjoyment. In her school, they had done a unit called "Le Chateau Mystère" with Year 8, involving a break-in. Pupils could choose if they wanted to work in groups or as individuals etc although all had to produce a murder book. A key advantage of the unit was pupil motivation as they found it a compelling context, which improved their language learning skills, developed their use of tenses and offered more creative outcomes. These outcomes included a police file, with clear assessment criteria and a checklist of minimum content. This content included:
 Plan
 Description and area
 Plan of crime scene, before and after
 Chronology of events –past tense
 Listening tasks completed
 Witness statements
 Lineup with descriptions
Other resources included a news reports, with short news bites. Pupils picked out vocabulary and made up a word wall. There was a body outline in corridor. Teachers found that pupils were using question words, opinions and suppositions. Whilst there is a recognition that there is a lot of vocabulary they will never learn again, the point is to build confidence in using and manipulating language.
Other possibilities include:
• Roleplay eg phoning the emergency services, record someone doing a witness statement for listening task
• Interview each other like police interview
• Suspect line-ups inc Hugh Grant
Sara pointed out that there are many potential cross-curricular links:
 Science – fingerprinting
 PSHE Crime and punishment
 DT for house construction
 Drama for crime reconstruction

Another option was a unit called Bon appétit whereby pupils created a cookbook. Pupils could print and sell, or blog a recipe a day. Grammar includes adjectival endings, imperatives and at the café for transactional language. For cookery skills, Sara and the other teachers took them to the HE dept.
A suggestion was made to consider a unit at the Grand Prix with possibilities including countries, nationalities, tenses, colours and forms, time, transport, simple future for who would win the race, places in the town, commentaries and roleplays for the lost tourist who can’t find the hotel.
"The Great Dinner debate"
• Which 5 people would you invite to dinner and why? Pupils would prepare physical and character descriptions to justify their decision,with a table plan. Pupils could then debate in class who should be invited and why.
Relocation, relocation
Create a dossier for a French family relocating to England.
• Tied in to PSHE of economic wellbeing on buying a house
• Facilities, chosen a house, get an estate agent to judge the best dossier
Fantasy football portfolio/WAGs
• write a biography, where you are located, etc
A day in the life of ..
• Teach daily routine and pastimes, then write a longer piece of work.
• Outcome A3 poster, get them to present wearing the mask of that person
My dream holiday
• Give them a budget, book tickets, accommodation
• Make them stick to real life re departure times etc
Compare and contrast TL countries eg a child in Burkina Faso
• Healthy living manual
• mangerbouger.fr French gov website loads of stuff that is accessible
Protecting our Planet campaign
Sporting Event dossier: Tour de France, World Cup, Olympics

Where to begin:
• Identity the required content first
• Design the ‘theme’ around it
• Keep ‘themes’ generic so you don’t alienate the pupils
• Have clear learning outcomes
• Plan for progression within a unit
• Plan for progression across a Key Stage

Sunday 4 March 2012

#ILILC2 KEYNOTE Joe Dale "Turn on, tune in, Dropbox out"

Joe Dale kicked off proceedings on the Saturday morning with a great keynote which belied his poor health of the week leading up to the ICT Links into Languages conference. Joe Dale set up the Twitter list of MFL teachers affectionately known as the MFL Twitterati which has gone from strength to strength, and Joe addressed the power of collaboration in this keynote.
Joe talked about the shift in governmental thinking, round to technology in education including a call by Michael Gove for a Wiki curriculum in the Guardian to better enable a collaborative approach as well as his call at the BETT Show 2012 for teachers to be trained to best use the technology available.
Joe talked about the #pencilchat Twitter phenomenon which had us laughing out loud as well as nodding our heads in agreement to the Twitter thread which had focused on attitudes to technology:

He then talked about our pupils as 'prosumers', producing as well as consuming social media and being saturated by it. Social media is the #1 pastime for teenagers and we need to use that in our teaching.
As a facet of this, the fabulous Deputy Mitchell was encouraging all to blog on 29th February. Deputy Mitchell's Twitter blurb reads "Quadblogging/ Feb29th.net founder, keynote speaker on mission to get kids everywhere blogging to a GLOBAL audience" His aim is to get pupils to think about the power of an audience,something which is a no brainer for linguists who are constantly aiming to show pupils the relevance of our subjects. The idea behind quadblogging for those who are unfamiliar with the concept is that four schools from around the globe get together and blog about a like-minded theme. Joe talked about further ways to show pupils the relevance of languages such as his experiences on the European Day of Languages,at the Ashcombe School, where he did a live 1 hour broadcast.
Moving on, he then talked about his current blog ipad366.posterous.com where Joe produces a 2-3 minute podcast giving a tip a day about using iPads.
Mentioning the site education.skype.com Joe encouraged all language teachers to find a class to share educational goals with you. This tied in nicely with Suzi Bewell's TES article Modern foreign languages – Skype makes sense
Alex Bellars got a shoutout with the excellent tools that he had talked about at the Show and Tell in Newcastle namely Class Dojo, Triptico, and Lingro And finally in this section, with another article SecEd ICT in MFL Suzi Bewell talks about using Vocaroo as a way of spicing up language learning outside the classroom by doing a speaking homework. Joe tied all of the practical examples into his talk by saying this is what Ofsted is looking for according to their guidelines.
The final section of Joe's talk was called 'Dropbox out!' The aforementioned #MFL Twitterati is now at maximum capacity with 500 on the list. All conference attendees were invited to ‘join the conversation’ All would agree that support is the biggest and most important aspect of Twitter for the #mfltwitterati.We have set up a generic Dropbox for Modern Languages, as well as separate ones for French, German and Spanish. Get in touch with any of the MFL Twitterati if you are interested in joining.
Other areas of support include aPLaNet which is European funded,and which has a huge number of resources to help ML teachers with resources, mentoring and to help those who don’t normally use social media. Joe talked about the MFL Show and Tells that have taken place around the UK, as well as digital sharing of support and ideas via paper.li/mfltimes which you can receive free by email, full of the best tweets, links and ideas each day. MFL Digital Stories got a mention as well as the wonderful MFL Storybirds
The final mention went to QR codes in education. Ideas for include sticking the QR code into the pupils' exercise books once kids have had their work marked as well as
Kelda Richards' amazing work with QR codes and Aurasma. See Kelda's blogpost Le Mur Parlant The note I typed when Joe mentioned this was "DO THIS!!"
Joe drew his keynote to a close saying that one in three is overwhelmed by technology whilst promting the study of languages with Barack Obama's quote "If you have a foreign language that is a powerful tool to get a job… you are so much more employable, you can be part of international business" Joe had tweeted in the weeks leading up to #ILILC2, asking us to tweet our pupils' favourite method of learning, using the hashtag #groovymfl. Ironically, most responses favoured a more low tech approach. The lesson we must learn as language teachers and tech lovers is that a blended approach works best, rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater.