Sunday, 28 February 2010

Wordle #savewordle

Wordle is one of my favourite web 2.0 resources.

Wordle is one of my students' favourite resources.

They love it. It helps them learn, it motivates, and it lets them be creative. From the least able beginners in languages to the experts in my 6th form class, all of them have used it with a degree of success.

You can find some of their work on this blog and if you were to visit my classroom you would see one wall dedicated to students' Wordles comprising vocab lists, notes for presentations, grammar points, irregular verbs...I could go on all day.

And it is free to use.

And it isn't just my students who love it. It is students from all over the world in all subjects.

If you google "wordle" you'll find hundreds of thousands of pages singing the praises of the application, its uses in education, and its creator Jonathan Feinberg.

So imagine my sadness when I checked my tweets this morning to find that the site is no longer live and that when I went to check, I found this message left by Jonathan Feinberg: is Down Until Further Notice

I am seeking pro bono legal advice, to evaluate
a trademark claim against my use of the word "Wordle" for this
web site. If you're an intellectual property lawyer, with expertise
in trademark law, and you wish to offer professional
advice on this matter, please contact me.

So if you know such a lawyer, or are one yourself, please get in touch with Mr Feinberg at your earliest convenience.

Oh, and one final thought, if the educators on twitter spent as much time trying to help Mr Feinberg as they did trying to find another, similar (but obviously not quite as good) tool they can use for free with their students, the problem would be solved in no time at all.

I really hope that it is.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Options Evening - or - What's your subject worth?

This Wednesday is Options Evening.
Options Evening is the time of year when non-compulsory subjects in school compete with each other to try to get the Year 9 (14 year old) students (and their parents) to choose to study their subject for the next two years. This also has massive implications on departmental budgets and, quite possibly, staffing levels.

Over the last few years attracting students has become harder for the Languages Department due to the way options groups are set up and the increasing popularity of non-exam subjects which, it is claimed, are "worth" 2 or even 4 GCSEs.

So, what is a qualification in a modern foreign language worth?

Well, imagine you are a 14 year old boy.....(Horrible, isn't it?)

You can choose to study French, for which you will have to learn vocabulary and grammar, do homework regularly, revise and then sit exams and at the end of the course, if you have worked hard over 2 years, you will get a good GCSE grade.


You can choose to study a subject for which you must produce a portfolio of work and at the end of the course you get the equivalent of 4 GCSEs. If you haven't achieved the required grade you can go away do it again and keep resubmitting until you achieve your target.

Which would you choose? (If you say "French" you are not 14, you are lying, or you are French.)

When will schools and parents realise that it isn't the number of qualifications but the quality of education the students receive which matters?