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Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Isle of Wight Conference

This is the moment I have been waiting for: booking has started for the Isle of Wight Conference, the MFL/ICT conference organised by Joe Dale and taking place this half-term. For any reading this who are linguists, do have a look and consider treating yourself to a few days on the island this October. Not only will you be able to visit Dinosaur Isle, enjoy invigorating strolls along the beach and maybe even paint your own piece of commemorative pottery (and I'm not scoffing, I love all those things), you can also immerse yourself in cutting-edge technology, explained and tutored by some of the best language teachers in the country. I've already signed up for sessions on podcasting, e-Twinning and using avatars in MFL teaching, to name but a few. At £100 for a two day dose of inspiration I challenge anyone to find better value and you will still have money left to feast on Alvin's Waffles (Old Shanklin - you have to go) before you leave.

So if you only ever follow one link from this site, follow this:
(apologies for not linking more neatly blogger is playing up on me tonight)

Friday, 19 September 2008

How to talk to students so they will listen to you

I came across a book recently of virtually the same name about talking to young children in a way they understand and remember. We also need to find ways of getting our students to tune in to us and one another. Vokis are amongst my favourite applications for doing this, and the next batch I have planned are to be prepared by my year 9s to post on our shared blog with a class in France as a way of introducing themselves to their new friends.

Last week Nik Peachey posted on using Virsonas with EAL students in a similar way (as far as I can see they are a super-deluxe version of a voki, using Artifical Intelligence technology and with far greater potential). I immediately mailed the company to enquire if they would be bringing out versions that can cope with languages other than English, and to my delight received the reply they were already working on it and hope to make a French version available in January 09. Definitely a date in my diary.

To read more about vokis you can check out today's Times Ed. magazine, in the dubiously-named "Geek Speak" section, where I've shared a few ideas on using speaking avatars, and text to speech technology generally.

Did I slip that in smoothly enough? Just nipping out now to buy copies for all my friends and relatives....

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Woldingham School ICT Day

On Thursday 4th September staff had a great day at Woldingham, discovering more about the potential of ICT in students' lives. To kick off our Head of ICT, Joanna Winstanley, gave a presentation on basic skills covered by all our students in years 7-9. It is a great help to see what students' skills already are when we use ICT in our subject teaching, and also to see how we can reinforce the ICT Department's messages about how to use core programs.

We then welcomed Ellen Coen from Childnet International, an internet safety charity, who led a session on internet safety. She covered the main new technologies students may be using out of school hours, as well as showing us a a really effective video to use with students on cyberbullying. Childnet's approach involves informing of the potential dangers of the net environment, whilst encouraging us to model good usage of it by using these technologies with our students.

In the afternoon we spilt into workshop groups to spend some time "hands on". Music, Maths and Science worked on their own software, whilst other staff looked at blogging, podcasting, intranet and IWB. For Woldingham staff, you can take a look at what John and Kelly produced using Promethean interactive whiteboard software on our T drive in the IWB Training folder. Look for the files entitled Sutton Hoo and Skeleton, and click on the N at the top of the page for an explanation of how to use them. I'm just waiting for more links to the baby blogs created on the day to add them to the blogroll - but you can already check out the French and Japanese Departments' offerings. Let's hope there will be plenty more activity on these fronts over the next few months. Hopefully taking a group of staff to the TES and BETT shows will give us added impetus.