Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Creating a Learning Community

I feel very strongly that the aim of all educational organisations should be to model lifelong learning. This has the advantage of teaching students by example that learning is an enjoyable process that really is on-going. However, to create teaching and learning communities, proof must be made that the professional and personal development of each member of the group is taken very seriously indeed.

Nothing will happen if the only way of sharing is through monitoring. Sharing has to happen in all directions and this can be tricky as some of the group members’ skills will be more visible than others. Every contribution that has the potential to move Learning and Teaching forward by making us consider a different way to do things should be valued. This should be considered regardless of experience or status within the organisation.

Within our Faculty, I have considered different ways of “growing together as a learning community”:

· Providing opportunities to share ideas and resources through my bulletin and Faculty meetings -by asking for contributions and allocating meeting slots for sharing-“Bring and Brag”-example of a powerpoint by a colleague who wanted to reflect through educational reading on how students’ concentration and listening skills could be developed ;

· Identifying niches of expertise that have a potential for positive impact in the classroom: cross-curricular, extra-curricular, pastoral, ICT integration… ;

· Constantly evaluating our practice as a group and providing opportunities for self-assessment. The evaluation needs to be honest and respected by the other members of the group if it is shared. The discussions started by the self-audit will also help support the more formal development plans linked with performance management;

· Providing resources and opportunities to find out more about a particular area of interest through our Faculty bulletin and its links to My Languages and Diigo / . This would equate to developing our students' independent learning skills-provide scaffolding and opportunities for extension work!

Locally, ideas can be cross-fertilised through subject meetings and StrategicLearning Networks consisting of a number of local schools with very different profile.

Nationally, lists like Linguanet and mfl resources are also invaluable to refresh and exchange ideas, but participation will often depend on ICT skills and access at home. The same goes with the international professional connections now possible through networking sites like Twitter or Diigo .

To some extent, a number of Wikis have also been set up with that aim and I hear that Second Life is likely to be the next developmental tool, with an International Language Conference being scheduled for 23rd/ 24th May 2008…

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

My Studiyo: First Attempt and More Ideas for Quizzes

After trying to design quizzes with Studiyo, I found out from a colleague today at our Faculty Bring and Brag that the Smartboard gallery of Notebook 10 includes very similar templates, without having to put up with the unreliability of a live download.

However, Studiyo would still be very good for home studies and class blogs-something to think about...

My Visite a Paris Quiz can be found on

Saturday, 3 May 2008

The IWB Challenge: Week 4

I can’t believe this is the end of my challenge and also my 100th post on this blog. In some way, this is only the beginning…

On Monday, I used some simple Notebook drag and drop exercises with my Year 5 to get them to practise talking about time in Spanish. I also learnt how to use shapes as text boxes, fill them, group and lock them –while allowing move. I feel there is quite a lot of potential with the colour fill and the shapes as a way to highlight grammatical patterns from an early stage.

I have also been experimenting with the blind. My topic was clothes, so I set up a “What is in my wardrobe” activity. Students had to guess the item slowly revealed and we also played an alternative game where I flashed the whole content of the wardrobe to the students and they had to list as many as they could remember-in Spanish of course!. To make sure a team won, I made sure I was really strict with pronunciation and it was great to hear members of the different teams correct each other in order to win the game.

On Tuesday, I continued to exchange ideas and tips with my colleagues and this lead to Notebook 10 being installed onto our school network server. After enquiring about Notebook 10 new features on my Twitter network, I was referred to the magic pen feature presented by Danny Nicholson on his whiteboard blog and the Smartboard lesson podcast by Ben Hazzard. Some other features highlighted by Danny were object animation, page themes, magic pen, tables (and the cell shade), page animation and the new fill effects. I am still working on some of those, but it was a great start.

On Thursday, I also went ahead with idea of using powerpoint to structure the whole of my lesson and import links to bring in more interactive Notebook activities. Unfortunately, I was not able to upload those documents here as Scribd and docstoc do not recognise the Smartboard Notebook format.

My real find has been various shortcuts to import various parts of a Powerpoint presentation to make it possible for it to be manipulated on the board by students. For instance, I copied and pasted in Notebook the text from a slide and dragged part of it out of the text box, which duplicated it. I also found out that all the different labels or parts of a phrase could be locked simultaneously by using the control key, which saved me considerable time.

I then used the original box with the complete sentence/ paragraph to put in order and hid it using the white marker with the idea that I could start reveal the sentence to be put back together-by erasing the white marker ink- if students were starting to get stuck at a particular point.

As my board decided to freeze at that point, I changed my activity to get students to link the different parts of the sentences using the board markers. I also got somebody to time the students to add a little competitive element as the timer I had imported from the gallery had also frozen on that occasion… At the end of the lesson, the board revived and I was able to do a similar activity directly on the board. The erase and revealed effect worked well but next time, I will put the answer to be revealed in a shape to avoid searching for it with the eraser!!!

After reading about Helena Butterfield’s amazing second week, I am determined to try out Studiyo and Animoto.

The challenge is definitely still on…