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Showing posts from April, 2014

Sharing and collaborating is not that bad – honest!

It seems that there are still teachers out there who equate sharing and collaborating with previous, bad experiences. Sharing and collaborating for them means opening their classroom doors to others and that in turn must mean the dreaded inspection and lesson observation both of which are necessarily bad.  Even sharing their fabulous documents in a shared area is seen as a way to check up on them. However, thankfully, times have changed and there are a growing number of teachers out there who are trusting of such open approaches.  Sharing and collaborating is, in its simplest form, a way to avoid re-inventing the wheel.  At its very best it is a way to enhance what is happening in the classroom, in our departments, across departments and in our schools as a whole.  The moment I joined Twitter on Friday 14th June 2013 I became aware of the power of collaboration and I realised how much good work was going on not just within schools but across schools all over the world.Take one good …

What tools for speaking?

In a recent post about student anxiety in the languages' classroom I scribed that "anxiety is thus disappearing".  I was being positive about the technological tools that are available to enable pupils to speak more freely and perhaps lose some of their inhibitions.  I did not mean to be in any way rash and dismissive of what remains a difficult situation for many in the classroom. However, it is clear that an avatar is just one of the many ways that we, as teachers, can encourage our pupils to speak free of anxiety and negative evaluation anxiety; nothing worse than feeling as if someone might laugh at your efforts to communicate in a foreign language. This post will thus look at apps and tools that focus exclusively on speaking.  The following selection is just my choice and there are, of course, many others that are equally as good.  
I think one of my favourites is Tellagami "animate your life". Simply, you create a gami that you can adapt as you wish (emo…

What apps and tools for reading practice?

It is not always easy to split all the skills into separate entities and practise them individually but you can build up a catalogue of tools and apps that you regularly turn to for specific tools.  In my recent blog post I summed up a few useful tools for listening and I would also turn to these for reading practice.  
Now, with a more direct focus on the skill of reading and comprehension here's a summary of some of the tools and apps that I might turn to.  Quizlet would be my first port of call if I want to start building up a foundation of vocabulary knowledge.  Quizlet is available as a web-based tool and as an app and can be embedded into a VLE such as Wikispaces. The flexibility of this site is such that you can include pictures, use lists created by others or create your own lists.  For instance, it is quite easy to find long lists of examination vocabulary at every level and every exam board and these can be accessed by anyone (try this link for I/GCSE vocabulary) Obviou…

What apps and tools for listening practice?

With so many apps and technological tools out there it can be difficult to know where to start.  With my MFL hat on I thought it would be good to take a moment and list a few useful apps and tools that I like to use.
For listening you would do well to start with Edmodo.  Sound files or video clips can be easily uploaded and quizzes and tasks assigned through the online classroom.  The added benefit of course is the immediate feedback that the students will get.  Such benefit is well documented and is essential if it is to impact positively on student learning.  
This is Language will offer similar instant feedback which is all too the good but in this instance the sound files are provided for you and are in the form of short video clips.  Local people answer typical GCSE questions in French, German, Spanish and Arabic and these are already categorised into the classic topic areas of My Area, Education & Work, Holidays & Travel and so on.  There are varying degrees of question l…

Anxiety is dead ... long live the avatar!

When I was a pupil in the MFL classroom many moons ago I did have issues of self-worth and my sense of self-efficacy was not strong at all.   Not only that my self-perception was probably low.  My need for self-acceptance was high and I undoubtedly then needed some kind of self-protecting excuse to ensure that I could provide some good reason as to why I did not like to contribute orally in the classroom and produce good work on paper.  "Self-perception can destroy one's motivation"  (Dörnyei 1998) Indeed, all of these issues (the self-worth, self-acceptance, self-efficacy) impacted negatively on my motivation and certainly influenced my performance.  I was lucky that I had a teacher who somehow was able to motivate me extrinsically through his approach to teaching and made classes more inspiring.  He provided me with the incentive I needed to overcome my anxiety so that my motivation was not purely about grades but about getting to know the target language culture.  My…

Who's going SOLO and with what?

It really is interesting the conversations that you can have on the twittersphere.  I recently posted a blog about Going Solo using SOLO taxonomy in my teaching and applying it to my own learning and work for my MA. I then posted a blog about technology tools and how they can be used for formative assessment and learning-oriented assessment.   Then a question was put to me that really got me thinking. 
"What technology tools are available that would incorporate the principles of SOLO taxonomy into them, in particular when assessing pupils' work?" If an answer exists it certainly did not come to me.   Does such a technological tool exist?  Is there an app that could do this?  I immediately thought of how tools such as Nearpod,  Edmodo or ProProfs could provide fantastic opportunities for students to complete work at the extended abstract level that could be assessed by a teacher.  Engaging web-based applications such as  GetKahoot can be used at a very simple level and a…