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Friday, 19 June 2009

Moblogging in Zaragoza

Well, the Zaragoza blog this week has just had its 1000th hit! Angel Lopez, who runs our Spanish blog here at Woldingham, done made a fantastic job of uploading slideshows, audio interviews with the students and of course photos, resulting in a colourful and engaging blog. Back at school we have had some problems ensuring the students can access every aspect of the site, including being able to comment, but they have now been ironed out and we look forward to increasing our readership and more active participation next week when our students are in Bondues.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Moblogging again

Summer term and time for a couple of moblogs. We started moblog experiments last year with our Montpellier trip, and tried out some cross-curricular blogging with St. Petersburg in the Spring. Now we are branching out with two moblogs operating at once, one from Bondues one from Zaragoza, thanks to the Spanish Department's purchase of an additional camera phone.

Last year we used gabcast and podcast pickle together to publish some audio as well as photos from the phone. This year, thanks to Adam Taha's's very clear video featured on Joe Dale's blog recently, we are going for including audio via divshare and a tiny mp3 recorder.

Tomorrow I brief a group of students and accompanying staff on the basics of moblogging. Having set up blogs in blogger for both parties and linked their camera phone to the blog to post directly, once they are abroad our mobloggers just need to take pics, add an accompanying text, and click on "send to blog". In addition internet access in the evenings from host families/hotels gives an opportunity to add further photos from other devices or simply more cheaply. I'm hoping the students will also be able to make recordings of reports in the Target Language of their day's experiences, which can then be posted in a divshare player directly onto the blog.
I'm looking forward to seeing (and hearing) what they have been up to and hope we will have good interest and participation from parents and friends. Watch this space for an update on how they are getting on.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Revising for the orals with Photostory 3

It's a bit late for Year 11, I know. My Year 10s are preparing for end of year orals and have been using a multimedia approach to drum those conversation topics in.

The first stage was very conventional: write answers to questions on school, hand in, then type up the corrected version. Next, choose images from the net to reflect each of your answers. Drop these into Photostory 3 and add the questions as subtitles.

Now the more unusual bit: upload your answers to readthewords, choose one of the available French-speaking voices, and listen to your own answers. For students lacking in confidence this breaks the back of any pronunciation problems without the need for an unrealistic amount of time practising with the teacher. After a final rehearsal with me, the students then record their answers in Photostory, making a great resource to share with other students, mail home, or download onto a smartphone etc...

This took two 55 minutes lessons and two homeworks, and I'm looking forward to hearing the impact on their oral performances next week. The students certainly enjoyed making their short videos, and using speech simunlation as pronunciation support was excellent for boosting the independance of a bottom set.

Nice to feel new technologies can help us meet the old expectations of learning a certain amount of language by rote.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Come and work at Woldingham!

Due to a combination of unusual circumstances we are currently looking for a full-time teacher of French and/or German to start in September at Woldingham School in Surrey. Woldingham is an independent girls' school for ages 11-18 and a fantastic place to teach. There is the possibility of appointing a suitably experienced and qualified applicant as Head of German.

You'll be able to work with motivated students in beautiful surroundings, and (most importantly of all!) have ample opportunity to develop your IT skills by working with us on blogging, podcasting and other exciting innovations. Languages staff each have their own teaching room equipped with IWB, and we have easy access to large ICT suites. Please contact me through this blog, or Liz Gillies, the Head's PA, on 01883 654205 for more details.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

What it says on the can

I’ve just been hunting down examples for the generic blogging course I’m starting in the summer and thought I’d do a quick post on this. I used technorati, the international edubloggers directory and blogger (Google). My tips are as follows:

1) go straight to “advanced search” and make sure you are searching blog titles, not simply blog posts, otherwise you will end up with thousands of posts which happen to mention “geography”, rather than Geography blogs.
2) limit your search to those blogs which have been updated in the last couple of months, to avoid your search taking you to a blogs' graveyard
3) try searching for blogs with a word like “GCSE” or “revision” in the title to home in on school-run blogs
4) specify “English” to filter out foreign language blogs
5) read the first line of the post displayed before clicking on the link, and look at the blog address for clues as to the level of the blog (there are plenty of Science blogs run at University level for example)
6) once you have found a decent blog, check out their blog roll before moving on – there may be useful links

And finally, once you’ve found what you’re looking for, in future bear all this in mind when titling blogs and blog posts! Spending several hours on this task has made me determined to keep a balance between memorability, practicality and (occasionally) whimsy in future when I’m thinking up blog titles.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Virtual Exchange

Since September my Year 9 French class has been running a blog alongside a similar aged class in France. It's the first time I've done anything like this so we've kept it quite simple. Our aim was for both classes to complete and post a task on the blog each month, and then look at one another's work, comment and generally get to know and help one another. In September we decided each student would post a voki, introducing themselves in the Target Language. We had some great lessons recording ourselves, and then listening to partner students' introductions. In November we realised a task a month was a bit ambitious, and sent bears to one another for a Christmas exchange visit. Toffee (our Woldingham bear) and Francois and Jules (pictured left) enjoyed Christmas in their exchange country and posted slideshows (hosted by scribd and voicethread) to report on their experiences.

While we were using snail mail we also sent some handwritten letters to our partner class, which they then corrected, commented on and returned. In the meantime we have also posted individual photos, text, and the odd interactive game relating to work done in class.

We have had to overcome several challenges, such as restrictions using Blogger in school, and the reliability of equipment at times, but the students are having great fun, and I would definitely recommend it as a relatively simple (and really cheap!) way of getting your classes enthusiastic about the country and seeing a real purpose for the language.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

A New Year's Resolution

10 IWB Lesson Ideas Presentation

Have you made a resolution to start using that expensive gym membership you paid for, or to get going on the rowing machine you coughed up for but only use twice a year? No? Well in that case spare a thought for your poor IWB. Are you just using it as a projector for PowerPoints, or only using it on a Friday afternoon to go on a language-learning website? There are so many really quick and easy ways of creating your own flipcharts it needn't be too time-consuming (less so than going to the gym, definitely).

Have alook at the two documents here in scribd (you can search for my documents in scribd under the name Magpie41). The Word document gives an IWB lesson idea a week for ten weeks, and the PowerPoint shows you what your flipcharts might look like. I'd like to thank Lesley Welsh for her inspirational presentation on using IWBs at this year's Isle of Wight Conference, particularly for mix, match and memorize and 9 lives (my names but her ideas). You are free to download my PowerPoint and chunk it down into your own IWB software.

So resolve to give your creativity a work-out this Year! If you need a second resolution, incidentally, I'd recommend sharing with your department and dividing up the work so between you it is a manageable job to update your Schemes of Work by including original, bespoke whiteboard materials. Enjoy!

10 Lesson Ideas for IWB