Saturday, 20 November 2010

Links Manchester Conference

Last Saturday morning I found myself in the north west of England again. It's becoming a habit.
This time I attended a Links into Languages / i-languages conference at the Chancellors Hotel in Manchester. The speakers were Juliet Park and Wendy Adeniji.
Unfortunately I didn't get to hear Juliet speak as I had signed up for the sessions "Thinking through MFL" and "Free ICT Tools for MFL" both of which were led by Wendy.

The main aims of the sessions were to get teachers:
  • to motivate and encourage learners
  • to develop linguistic progression
  • to develop language skills
  • to use innovative ideas in their work
To improve our students' speaking and listening skills we were advised to use authentic songs (rather than the ones which come with the textbook) and shown where we might find them.
Here's one:

We were also shown an examples of Vokis and a speaking frame to improve students participation.

To improve pupils' speaking skills we were encouraged to think more about context. What do pupils want to talk about? What do they want to read about? Would a French person really ask them what is in their pencil case? To raise pupils' interest, Wendy suggested that we should take a look at MYLO, too.

Another idea was that we compare and contrast aspects of life over the years to increase Cultural Understanding. The example we were shown was two clips of fashion shows, one from 1960 and one from 2010.

Next, we were shown some ideas to improve memorisation skills of our students. We were pointed in the direction of ilanguages website and its free resources section.

The next part of the course was "Thinking through MFL". This included the purpose of thinking skill strategies, the shape of a thinking skills lesson, and some ideas for thinking skills activities. These include: odd one out exercises, categorisation, living graphs, mysteries, diamond nine (an example of which you can find here on, reading images(some good pictures here), and memory maps. All the information on thinking skills can be found here at Clare Seccombe's MFLSunderland website.

Then came the break. Coffee, biscuits and networking. Which is code for chatting about shopping with people you know while Dom sits in the sunshine, relaxing. A tip I've learned from my dogs. I managed to persuade a lady called Ros to sign up to twitter. At least, I thought I had, she hasn't signed up yet. D'oh.

The second session was my favourite - Free ICT Tools for MFL.

In this session we learned all about avatars. We can create these using voki and xtranormal. There is an example of a voki I created just on the right of this page. Wendy also showed us how to save them to publisher so that they can be put onto a VLE or school website.

Wordclouds came next. We were shown how to use wordle and tagxedo. Paticularly good with song lyrics. (I shall try this.)

We were shown how to use Audacity to record students work and how to edit and add effects to the recordings. We were also directed to places where we could buy inexpensive recording equipment: CPC and Easispeak are 2 examples. To record and send files online, we were shown vocaroo and mailvu (which I haven't yet had a chance to look at).

To develop students' writing we were shown glogster and storybird. For some terrific examples of MFL storybirds you really should go to Fiona Joyce's excellent storybird wiki.

The final thing we were shown zamzar is a usueful tool for any educator. It is mainly used by teachers to download and save youtube videos for use in schools where youtube is blocked. I've since found out that zamzar can be used to convert other types of files, too.

I think I've covered everything that I learned and I hope you can find a use for some of the resources mentioned. It was a very well prepared and delivered course and if you get a chance to here either Juliet or Wendy speak, I recommend that you go and listen and learn.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

MFLSAT3 - Everything you need to know.

Saturday was the 3rd Modern Languages Show and Tell.

This time it was extra extra special as it was in my hometown, Oldham. That didn't stop me getting lost on the way there, though. My passengers really enjoyed the guided tour of Chadderton and they saw the blue plaque marking Terry Hall's birthplace three times. (Terry Hall the ventriloquist, not Terry Hall, the lead singer of the Specials)

The day was organised by the wonderful Isabelle Jones ably assisted by her department at Radclyffe School and was sponsored by Mary Glasgow Publications, Links into Languages and ALL.

The day was amazing and I learned a huge amount, not just from the speakers. The atmosphere was great and apart from being too short, the day could not have been better.

For those of you who missed it I shall give you a brief resumé of what happened:
(Wherever possible I've linked to the presenters' own blogs where you can see first hand what they have done)

First up was Marie-France Perkins.
She had some amazing ideas on how to find authentic resources on the internet.

Then came Marie O'Sullivan.
Marie had some great ideas including Rally Robin, Stand Up Hands Up Pair Up, and she introduced me to "The Hat". She has blogged about it here.

The third speaker, Chris Harte presented via skype. He showed us how to Understand Grammar using SOLO Taxonomy. A fascinating presentation which I now understand. His blog has more details.

Next we heard from Mary Cooch. She told us about her "No frontiers" moodle project with her school in Preston and a school in Spain. She blogs here and is an inspiration.

The next presenter was Esther Mercier who told us all about songsmith and gave us a practical demonstration by creating a song in minutes right before our eyes. She is also the brains behind atantot a fabulous website for language learners. (Fiona was so inspired by songsmith she went home and created her own alphabet rap)

After Esther came Kath Holton one of the most knowledgeable and modest practitioners I have had the pleasure to meet. She showed us how she uses her VLE to motivate her students to succeed by using tools such as edmodo, quizlet, voki, and zondle.

Next we heard all about Storybird from Fiona Joyce. We learned how to create class accounts to share storybirds with our students. Fiona is really passionate about Storybird and has compiled a wonderful wiki of them in different languages made by many fantastic teachers from around the world which is well worth a look.

Vanessa Parker, a languages teacher at the Radclyffe School then showed us some amazing ways to use powerpoint to motivate our students and to make lessons interesting, competitive and fun for them. she had some great ideas including a spotlight function. (The spotlight feature is explained here by Mark Purves, who was also at MFLSAT but sadly didn't present this time.)

The last presentation before lunch came from Helena Butterfield. She talked to us about the advantages of etwinning. There is a presentation on her blog all about etwinning type things.

First up after a very nice lunch was me. I presented on all things random. I showed how by writing students names on lolly sticks and picking them from the mug of misery we can keep students engaged, I showed the powerpoint download from fresherschools which can be adapted to become a random question picker and I used dice and virtual dice to show how to make students think more. (At least that's what I intended to do.)

Next came Joe Dale. He told us about how he had used and we could use wikis and widgets to work together. He told us about wallwisher, voicethread and coverit live to enhance learning and motivation in our classes. Joe's blog is amazing and I always find something new there each time I visit. It really is a gold mine of information.

After Joe we were treated to the shield and slippers of the amazing Alex Bellars. He showed us his duplo blocks to help with German word order, his voice recorder alarm clock Slabang from Ikea, and last, but not least, the grammar hammer. His blog can be found here.

Next was Clare Seccombe. Clare, internationally famous for her MFL Sunderland site showed us how she has taken the concept of the mini book one step further and used them in whole range of ways to motivate her primary pupils and get them to be creative with the language they are learning. She has already blogged about this here and you can find lots of things her pupils have done here.

The penultimate presentation was from Isabelle Jones. She gave us her top 7 iphone apps for MFL. Her presentation along with some other excellent posts and advice can be found on her blog here.

The final presentation was from Suzi Bewell. Suzi is an expert on all things to do with cultural understanding. Her presentation on global understanding with all the links she used can be found at her blog, here.

The day was absolutely amazing. I learned something new from each of the presenters. I would like to thank everyone who attended for making it so special and especially Isabelle and her team who put in so much hard work to make it happen.