Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Learning to speak dog.

A few years ago I set up a few Google Alerts to keep myself up to date with new ideas, fashions, fads and articles in education and language learning.

Every day I receive a few links in my inbox, most of which I glance at and delete.

Sometimes, one will catch my eye and I will be intrigued.

Today I read "learning to speak canine" a fascinating article from petside by dog trainer, Victoria Schade, in which she tells us that understanding a dog's body language can help to translate its behaviour.

As a dog owner I already knew some of this stuff. But can I really tell how my dogs are feeling?

It got me thinking about my reactions to the behaviour and reactions of the children I teach and asking myself similar questions to those posed by Victoria:

Do I know my students well? Do I know them at all?

Is the yawning student bored? Is it me or the curriculum?

How can I keep the interest of my year 7 students into year 8?

Why do I expect year 12 students to be mature and sensible when they're still 16 years old?

Body language is definitely something I'd like to learn more about.

Although, I've no idea what I'm going to do with the kid with the wet nose who is always scratching himself.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Unbelievable Truth

The Unbelievable Truth is a comedy panel show on BBC Radio 4 presented by comedian David Mitchell.

The object of the game is for the participants to give a lecture on a subject by telling lies and including only 3 true facts. The other panellists have to try to guess which of the pieces of information are true. If they are correct they win points. If they are wrong they lose points.

It really is much better than my explanation.

So my idea is this:

Give the students a text which contains 3 or more errors.

The students have to find the errors.

It's as simple as that.

You needn't create anything new. Just add the lies to any pre-existing text.

If the students are completing reading comprehension, this could be the ideal way to get students to read a text properly and fully before attempting to answer any questions.

It would be ideal for most year groups and definitely for the cultural topics at A level. For example: a summary of a chapter in a book or a scene in a film.

The students could have to explain the errors, highlight them or correct them.

There are lots of possibilities.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Fun with Powerpoint

Many of my colleagues are obsessed with students making powerpoint presentations whenever they go to the ICT rooms.

It's something all staff and students can do and it needs minimal supervision.

There is nothing wrong with this of course, but the problem is what to do with them once they are finished. 

You could put them on the class wiki/blog but you'd need to download each one separately to view them.

I decided therefore that it would be a jolly good wheeze to make Powerpoint presentations and make them into little cartoon strip style movies.

How do we do this?

Step one: Make a powerpoint

Step two: Instead of saving it as a powerpoint presentation save it as a series of jpeg files.

Step three: Go to a gif making website e.g. although other sites are available

Step four: Upload your jpegs and create an animated gif

Step five: Download the finished gif and put it on your wiki or blog

It can take fewer than 20 minutes to create something fairly good.

Like this:


As Clare Seccombe also pointed out, this can also be used as a stop/start animation tool.

I've done something like this in the past with my beginner German students.

It works like this: I give them a powerpoint. They fill in the blanks in German. Then they make it into a gif. Finally they use the ppt as a basic template to create their own.

This is the template made in to a gif:

Monday, 3 December 2012

Headteacher bans mobile phones and improves standards.

If you live in the UK you may have seen this story in the newspapers or on television or radio on Friday.

The headline in the Daily Telegraph was: Headmaster who banned mobile phones makes the right call.

Please read the article and make up your own mind.

From having read the article, it seems to me that this school should not have banned mobile phones, on the contrary, it should have taught its students how to use a mobile phone responsibly.

It claims that since banning mobile phones the attainment of students has "soared".

It could just as easily have been claimed that making the students wear blazers (a rule which came in at the same time) has contributed to the improving academic standards of the school.

Ironically, the school which banned mobile phones is a Media Arts College.

Some people just don't have a clue...

image courtesy of