Saturday, 16 January 2010

SMS in the MFL classroom (or MfL in MFL)

I have written 2 posts recently about using mobile telephones in the classroom. One on this blog and one for José Picardo's box of tricks site.

In the boxoftricks post I outlined my plans for using mobiles in different ways this term.
This week I finally took the plunge and planned an activity to which my Year 11 students (16years old) could text their answers.

The lesson I chose to do this was also observed by the LA MFL inspector. So, no pressure there, then.

I planned a range of activities which the students could complete using their mobile phones.

Firstly, they wrote and practised dialogues in French, which they then filmed (although the more self-conscious students used their voice recorders instead. The cowards!)

Secondly, they sent their work to my laptop by bluetooth which we played back in order to do some peer assessment.

Thirdly, I created an exercise using to which the students sent their answers via SMS. When I was setting up the exercise I chose the option allowing students only one vote per telephone. Their answers then appeared in a graph on my interactive whiteboard.

You can see the results here:
Was it successful? I hear you cry.

Well, yes, of course it was. In some ways. (The correct answer was 1783, chosen by only 20% of the students. They were so keen to send off their texts, they didn't read the questions properly!)
The inspector was impressed by my use of technology: "Mobiles for Learning" he called it. Perhaps that is what MFL really stands for?

The students loved it and asked if they could do it every lesson.

I like smspoll it's good, but not perfect.

Obviously, the brains behind smspoll didn't intend for it to be an MFL classroom application but with a few tweaks it could be.

Firstly, you can only offer multiple choice questions.

Secondly, as far as I can make out, it will not allow you to use foreign language accents and characters. It was quite difficult for me to find answers for the task which didn't have "é" in them. It does let you enter them, but they appear as a blank space in the results.

Thirdly, the students are charged each time they send a text, unless (like all students in this particular class!) they have a contract which gives them unlimited texts.

Having said that, I shall definitely use it again.
And while I'm in a technological mood, I think I'll take a look at polleverywhere, too.
Watch this space.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Using technology in the MFL classroom

Recently, José Picardo invited some MFL teachers to write guest posts for his box of trickswebsite. The idea behind this was to focus on practice, promoting and encouraging the use of ICT in practical ways. Some amazing practitioners have already had their work published over the last couple of weeks and I was both surprised and flattered when I was asked to contribute.

So far José has published posts by:

Amanda Salt. Her post Looking back and moving forward is about the success of her PLN and how she has enhanced her teaching by using web applications.

Isabelle Jones. Her post was supporting assessment for learning. In it, Isabelle reviews some commercially available applications and assesses how they may be used to support AfL.

Simon Howells offering was using Google maps in the mfl classroom. I recently started to follow Simon on twitter and I have been impressed by his enthusiasm, his blog and his storybirds.

Helena Butterfield's post was based on the presentation she gave at TMNE09-2 and entitledtools to get pupils talking. In her post, Helena recommends some equipment and web applications which she has used with her students and which have improved their speaking skills.

My post was about using mobile phones in the classroom. I wrote about activities I have done with my students in which they used their mobile telephones and about my plans for the future of mobiles in my classroom.

Marie-France Perkin's post was fantastic. She wrote about her journey into the www and how technology has changed so much since she started her teaching career and helped her and her students to achieve much more.

In her post, using technology to enhance learning, self-confessed (or is that self-diagnosed?) "technochick" Lisa Stevens wrote about why she incorporates technology into her learning and how technology has enhanced learning in her classroom.

In Saira Ghani's post a word or two about wordle, she reflects on how her PLN has had a positive effect on her teaching and how it has inspired her to incorporate some of the tools she has discovered, focussing mainly on wordle, into her teaching repertoire.

Next comes Mary Cooch and her post German: OFF the curriculum but ON the VLE tells how by means of her school's VLE (which I believe she created) she managed to teach German GCSE successfully even though the school has taken that language off the curriculum. Fascinating and inspiring.

Finally, the most recent of the guest posts comes from Samantha Lunn. Her post simple but effective is a wonderful explanation of how she uses available technology simply and effectively in her daily teaching and in her preparation. Excellent advice for everyone.

So far, that is it. Each of the posts is interesting, educative and could be tried by almost anyone who is willing to put in the effort and step out of their comfort zone.

I'm sure that José will add more posts as he receives them and even without guest posts, his own work is worth reading on a regular basis, anyway. It is one of the best blogs you could possibly read.