Friday, 12 October 2007

Blogging to support Personal and Faculty Development

2006-2007 has been a very busy year in the world of language teaching. In fact, we all know it has been busy in general, with the new National Curriculum, GCSEs, A Levels and Diplomas looming ahead.

In Languages, with The Dearing Report published in March 2007, it was acknowledged for the first time that something had to be done to promote languages at national level. In parallel, the “English is not enough” campaign was launched to highlight languages and cultural awareness as the key to developing healthy international political and business relationships. As a result of the Report, a number of suggestions were made with lots of exciting new ideas to make our subject more attractive to the whole ability range.

How do you keep up with all this? Last April, as I was still on maternity leave, I started putting together a blog called “My Languages”. I used it mostly as an aide-memoire to enable me to keep up to date with all these developments.

Why a blog? Well, I thought, if it is useful to me, it might be to others too, and we might be able to share some ideas and information.

Since then, I have used in many different ways:

*to make a note a good resources for languages and other educational topics (see tags on the right-hand side, just click on key word to get an updated list of related links). The advantage of this rather than the links I used to provide in our Faculty bulletin is that the list is regularly updated and can be filtered by key words.

*as a training resource (links to training videos/ mfl videos to be found at the bottom)

*to keep the Faculty up to date with national developments, facts and figures (posts and links to articles)

*to help with display and creating resources (see graphics and software tags and posts about useful tools)

*to keep up-to-date with ICT/MFL good practice (links to resources, various networks and teachers' blogs)

*to exchange ideas with other people (there is also a "box" facility to upload resources)

*to provide links to enable mfl teachers to keep up to date with what is happening in French and Spanish-speaking countries and practise their languages.

I would also like to use it in the future to showcase what we do in the Faculty (from a teaching point of view).

I have also just set up a student site, that I would like to use for the following:

*to provide revision and extension materials accessible from home for KS4 students especially

*to get our parents to support what we do in school/be aware of this resource as extension homework

*to get students involved in reviewing languages sites to assess what online activities they enjoy the most

*to gather more systematic evidence for student/ parental voice (online surveys)

*to showcase students' work/ extracurricular activities

*to enable peer assessment through moderated comments

*to develop podcasting in mfl

*to further our links with foreign schools

*to be a resource to be developed as part of a lunchtime languages club

Since I have been involved in this project, I have had the opportunity to find out about the good practice happening in lots of different schools across the country and beyond. I have also been asked a lot of questions about what we are doing to promote languages, all of which was shared in an informal way through various networks and lists. This has been, without doubt, one of the best INSET I have ever been on.

This is official, Social Networking is the Future!