Sunday, 24 January 2010

MFL Flashmeeting Monday 25 January 8.30-10.30pm GMT

The MFL Flasmeeting is taking place tomorrow. This is the place to exchange ideas about teaching and learning languages!
To go to the meeting click here. The MFL teachers who have registered their interest are:

1.Adam Sutcliffe @adamsutcliffe
2.Simon Howells @simonhowells ICT Co-ordinator for MFL at Cheadle Hulme School, Manchester
3.Isabelle Jones, Head of Languages at The Radclyffe School, Oldham, My Languages Blog.
4.Lynne Horn, Tobermory High School
5.Mary Cooch OLCHS Preston
6.Rosemary Hicks, Head of Languages at Northfield School(MHA) Billingham, Musikalisch
7.Dominic McGladdery @dominic_mcg Head of MFL, Roseberry Sports college, Chester le Street.
8.Frank Stonehouse , EFL teacher & Cambridge TKT Course Facilitator, Mexico English Teachers' Alliance (META)
9.Samantha Lunn. Head of MFL, Arnold School, Blackpool.
10.Joe Dale CILT language teaching adviser Integrating ICT into the MFL Classroom
11.Amanda Salt Head of Spanish, Grosvenor Grammar School, Belfast Languages and Learning
12.Lisa Stevens @lisibo Primary Language teacher and consultant ¡VĂ¡monos!
13.Marie-France Perkins Head of Modern Languages at Oldfield School Bath Sans Problemes
14.Vicky Prior Plain ol' French and German teacher, Heston Community School, London Miss Understood
15.Fiona Joyce, @wizenedcrone, MFL teacher Ian Ramsey CofE Languages College, Stockton-on-Tees
16.Valerie McIntyre Head of MFL, Blue School, Wells
17.Saira Ghani Head of French, Chiltern Edge School nr Reading Chiltern Edge MFL
18.Dave Winter Programme director regional ict initiative New Zealand
19.Helena Butterfield International Schools Co-ordinator at Ian Ramsey School, Stockton-on-Tees The Langwitch Chronicles
20.Suzi Bewell All Saints Languages Blog
21.Clare SeccombeMFL SunderlandChanging Phase blog
22.Catriona Oates Scottish CiLT
23.Florence Lyons, TIC French Matamata College, New Zealand, @froggieflo
24.Belinda Flint, Head of Languages and German teacher at Bendigo South East College, Australia @belindaflint
25.Andrew Jeppesen, Japanese teacher, Knox Grammar School, Sydney, Australia
26.Jo Cossey Head of MFL, The Royal High, Bath

Waiting List

1.Drew McAllister , Tech Integration Specialist, Parkway School District, St. Louis, Missouri (@drewmca )


1.Did Santa / Father Xmas bring you any interesting tech you plan to use in your classroom and have you made any New Year Resolutions for using ICT to enhance your language lessons?

2.Would someone like to explain the idea behind the #mfltips Twitter experiment?

3.Please share some great ideas to help worried Y11's prepare for Speaking Tests

4.Anyone interested in collaborative MFL projects eg podcast sharing.(my pupils teach yours ie kids as experts) or using wallwisher (responses to another class's question).

5.VOICETHREAD - How do you use it?

6.Gaming Technology (DS/Wii etc) Does it have a place? (How) Can it be harnessed appropriately? Views and experiences.

See you there!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Language Learning: Tips & Tricks

Thanks to Andrew Jeppesen for this lovely presentation. I particularly like the emphasis on effort-Nothing of value can ever be achieved without it...

Launch your own SlideRocket presentation!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Tidying Up Twitter: #mfltips

The educational Twitter community is so vibrant it often also feels desperately untidy. Hashtags are a way to track relevant tweet #edchat #mfltips #movemeon etc... The idea is to then do a Twitter search to be able to get a list of all relevant tweets.

Easy? In principle it is, but somehow when I started my #mfltips experiment I came across a few obstacles.

First, despite using the correct tag the contributions from some of my Twitter friends did not get added-and nobody seemed to know why.
Second, some of my #mfltips tweets disappeared from my seismic reader and from the Twitter websites after few days, which means that collating all the tweets had to be done quickly or some valuable contributions might have been lost.

How long do you give for the project to be finished? Is it better if it is ongoing anyway?
The same collating process could be done through a Twibe set-up for a specific project and shared on twitter, but would that disappear too after a while?

Then I found Twapperkeeper via @dejbelshaw. I found it very good for collating all the tweets from the same hashtag, but it could only be exported as a .tar file, which was not very user-friendly.

What did I learn from the exercise?
If your project is of the brain-storming type, use twapperkeeper and share the link.

If you want to publish your project, you are better off “favouriting” the relevant tweets and making a tweet book of your favourites in pdf format using something like tweetbook. The advantage is that the pdf can be converted into other formats that can be edited.

The pdf can also be uploaded to Yudu for publishing as a link or an embedded document

Enlarge this document in a new window

Publishing Software from Yudu

Another way is to embed the original Twapperkeeper file as a website.

Any other ideas?

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Creative Twitter Hashtag Collaboration

Reading Doug Belshaw’s blog and following him and others on Twitter , I have discovered ways in which Twitter can be used for collaboration. Doug’s most impressive project was #movemeon, inviting educators on Twitter to share their pearls of wisdom and tips for developing quality teaching and learning and tag their “Tweets” with #movemeon so that they are easy to search for and collect.

The Result is an impressive free e-book that can be downloaded from here

Doug’s new “Hashtag project” is called #blogsilike and is described in Doug’s blog as follows

Consider the blogs you’ve come across in 2009 that you like.
Write about why you like them on your blog.
Tag your blog post blogsilike and publish it.
Link to your blog post on Twitter using the hashtag #blogsilike

My contribution 1:
I have really moved on from just reading Foreign Language-related blog to include a lot of good EFL blogs from people like Shelly Terrell , Karenne Sylvester, Nick Peachey (and other blogs of his linked to this one) and Burcu Akyol.

I have also found NING groups a great way to find out about new languages or tech-related blogs. My favourite sources include EFL Classroom 2.0 , Talkabout Primary MFL , The Educator’s PLN , Belt Free (private ning set up by Karenne Sylvester) and The Educators’ Royal Treatment.

Why do I like these blogs?
Because they make me look at my own practice from different perspectives, they inspire me to try new things and network with people from different educational backgrounds. They make me see The Big (WorldWide) Educational Picture a bit better...

My contribution 2:
· I would love to set up a similar projects for language teachers, liguists and other people with a general interest in languages. Could be called something like #mfltips
My preferred name would be “sharing world languages” but this is a bit... shorter!

The following could be included:
· Comments on why languages are important
· Words of the day, funny mistakes, examples of mistranslations
· Quotes
· Examples of situation when languages helped you
· Interesting visuals
· An idea/ a comment about something you are working on
· Anything else that you think would be useful/ interesting and that would fit into 140 characters! (remember though this is about sharing rather than asking questions)

Any takers?

Friday, 1 January 2010

Building Learning Power In The Classroom

I started reading about Building Learning Power some time ago, but although I could see how this may be applicable in a Primary school concept, I wondered how the principles of Building Learning Power might be applied in my Language classroom. As a result, I attended a BLP course run on 26th November 2009 by Steve Watson, Deputy Headteacher at Alderbrook School and consultant for TLO.

What is BLP?
According to its official website, Building Learning Power is about:

Developing young people’s ability to become better learners
Developing their “portable” learning power –as a personal skill
Preparing young people for a lifelong learning
To reach these aims, Building Learning Power:

Provides a clearer version of the Big Picture-What does a good learner look like/do?
Is a good language learner someone with a good memory, someone who can deduct meaning and re-apply it, someone who can communicate effectively, someone who is always confident speaking, someone who can use reference documents ... ?

Builds on previous learning-to-learn ideas and takes them further
How can you use what you know to understand new things? Patterns, suffixes, prefixes etc...

Develops the appetite and ability to learn in different ways
Languages ARE real-life materials-you can learn in many different ways, using a textbook does not make it more effective for the learner.

Works at a deep level on classroom culture and schools’ climate for learning

Shifts responsibility for learning to learn from the teacher to the learner
Students will plateau quickly if they are not actively involved in their language learning. They will also have to deal with identity and emotional issues that are not linked with any other subjects. (That is why I found the mapping out of BLP/ Thinking Skills (PLTS) on Coventry Learning Gateway so relevant to what we are trying to do)

Engages teachers and students creatively as researchers in learning-teachers no longer to be seen as “the fount of all knowledge”

Effects witnessed in some BLP schools are:
raised achievement
improved behaviour
increased motivation
supple learning minds
increased enjoyment in learning
established habits of lifelong learning

What is effective learning?
Although Reading skills appear to be better now than before, the habit of reading is not as developed as it used to be. It often also appears that students are more independent learners at KS2 than they are at KS3-KS4. The difference between good students and good learners is most obvious at KS4 and some good students appear later to be fragile learners that struggle to cope at College or University. Although the exam and assessment system is partly to blame, teachers do have a duty to develop skills like “knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do” (Piaget)

“But I can’t do it”
BLP answers to this challenge are :

· Setting the appropriate level of challenge and avoiding spoon-feeding (you can’t teach somebody how to persevere on materials that are too easy)
· Developing curiosity-get them to ask the questions
· Making links
· Collaborating: students need to be trained to work together in a collaborative rather than just cooperative way, where they need to talk to and interact with each other in order to achieve their aims.
Examples of activity to push students to the edge of their comfort zone:

Viewframe Activity:
Ask students to concentrate on the details of a picture through a small viewframe made out of card. Start from the concrete to the abstract. Show me a ladder, a bird, a tree... to Show me cold, warm, hope... The idea is that this technique helps fixate the elements of the picture and enable students to answer later much more precise questions about the picture. This task is as a high challenge/ low stress task as there is not always one definite right answer.
Compare and Contrast Activity:
How is a car like a bike?
How is a car different from a bike?

Project 0-Visible Thinking Routine (inspired from David Perkins’ work )

From a black and white picture that could be a crime scene: I see/ I think/ I wonder
What do you notice about this picture?
What would you like to ask the character in this picture?
What colours can you see? (use your imagination to visualise picture in colour)
What sounds can you hear?
Jump into the picture. How do you feel? Who do you follow? Etc...

Collaborate to agree on the answers to these questions:
*What is the crime?
*Who did it?
*When did it happen?

Think/ Pair/ Share Technique
Stand up to discuss
Sit down when the group has agreed on the answers and ready to discuss their answers with the rest of the group (roles are allocated from the start e.g. scribe/ speaker/ listener-“summariser”

Open activities to develop collaboration can also be done using videos: with no picture or no sound. An element of risk taking must be there to encourage collaboration in the disscussion.

BLP encourages split-screen teaching through introducing Learning Objectives-they must state what students are going to learn AND how they are going to learn it. However, there must be a common language to discuss learning used throughout the school. Another way is to have the following questions on the board:

1) What do you think are my intended Learning Outcomes?
2) How are you going to meet your objectives?
Framing their minds for thinking:
As hooks, questions like “What do you notice?” are useful as they keep the answers more open.
The visual equivalent would be to discuss optical illusions pictures and describing them.
Pictures in general help framing students’ minds e.g. Write a poem as if you are the painting/ a character in the painting

Use a stanza from a Poem-What is it about?
Put the poem in the correct order (great work on phonics)

Although I was told at the end of the training that some of these techniques might not be transferable to languages, I have to disagree and I do believe that with appropriate support, it can be done. After all, languages are not just a subject, languages are a medium. It is just up to us to ensure the level of verbal challenge is appropriate...