Saturday, 8 October 2011

A level Environment topic - a song to use

What's the weather outlook for humankind? Ask GCM - Grand Corps Malade,  His "Bulletin Météo" was enjoyed by my Year 13s recently as a change from the more solid approaches of text book or articles from the Web. I love his style and way with words, so it's win/win.

For what it's worth, here is how I used the song.
  • Lead in to the idea of using a weather forecast as a metaphor for the future prospects of something - French equivalent of "outlook bleak", or " clear periods with storms on the horizon"
  • Play the song Bulletin Meteo to class and ask them simply to try to note down any weather related words they hear. They can find 10 or so by the second time through, I found. 
  • Next, they should try to note down the rhyming words at the ends of sentences. Challenging but fun. Very interesting to see the kids comparing their findings and misheard attempts - they learned a lot from this about the sound/spelling link like claire et nette NOT clarinette!
  • Next, let them see the text - I found it easily on the web. They highlight the weather words, look for cognates and we worked on the text to see if we felt GCM was positive or negative about the future for mankind, from the language he used. 
  • Next for fun we read through it all with GCM trying to match his speed! What a good exercise for trying to improve your mouth muscles in French! 
  • We worked through the meaning of the text in groups of lines with a lot of help from me. I left it there with a final hearing of the song but wonder if I could be brave enough to get a talented class like this to write a forecast next.
It's not an easy text and as usual I wrestle also with exact meaning in places as a non native, but I think it's worth helping pupils to see that real songs will not always be fully understandable, certainly on the first meeting with the material, but that with effort you can get a lot from it. 
By the way GCM is positive about a future for humankind IF we change our ways - Hmmmm. On va voir.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Why I like Twitter

I sometimes feel the need to apologise for looking as if I am a complete nerd - " You like Twitter??" - include the tone of incredulity for full effect, along with the raised eyebrows. Well, yes, I have found it to be the single most important thing I have learned to use over the last couple of years.
1. It allows you to follow other like-minded people or more talented people than yourself
2. it allows you to ask loads of questions of an intelligent audience
3. you keep up to date in a wide range of fields more easily
4. you get amazing links for teaching and educational developments.
5. it breaks down the isolation of the classroom
6. you make new friends - I have met a lot of Twitterati in "real" life too and you actually do know them a bit better!
7. If you ask the right group of people, you get superb advice/ideas back again.
8. Instant support - sorry you're ill, I've had a hard day too, tricky kids, demands getting too much etc - we all need a listening ear for our mental health and Twitter actually fulfils that role.
9. You can create your own source of Prof development or PLN - personal learning network. I certainly learn from the people I know and hope that I manage to contribute back sometimes.
I loved Phil Beadle's remark that following the conversation of bright Twitterers was like a shot of mental expresso - he's so right.
Join up and go to the Twitter account of one of the MFL Twitterati, then start to follow a good number of twitterers - choose people who give a proper account of themselves - anonymity is not recommended etiquette for educators. Start to follow conversation and pluck up the courage to join in.
Bonne chance - @froggyval

Monday, 2 May 2011

The Southampton ICT conference - worth a weekend?

February 2011 Southampton - Linksintolanguages MFL ICT conference - Well, absolutely. For many reasons.

1. Although it was a weekend conference and took away from my home time, as the indefatigable Isabelle Jones says, it was "professional ME time".
2. I met loads of other MFL Twitterers who are a terrific bunch.There is a new phenomenon around when meeting people. First you introduce yourself and then you give your Twitter name and suddenly an extra lightbulb flashes on - "Ohhhh! You're so and so!!!" - it really does add an extra dimension to friendships.
3. Fabulous plenaries, excellent seminars, very good speakers, generous exhibitors and great surroundings. Oh and good food.
4. Plenty of DIFFERENTIATED CPD for all. All seminars were graded for IT skills required - very good to see and I wish more CPD providers would do this.
5. It was serious, thought-provoking, challenging and also fun.
6. Highly motivated teachers are great to learn from and encourage the rest of us not to be shy.

All seminars and Plenary keynote sessions are covered here on Joe Dale's site. Have a look and follow up some leads - they are tremendous and I will certainly try to go again next year and a big thank you to all who organised such a good event.

Monday, 24 January 2011

MYLO for Merlin John

Here is the link to my article for Merlin John mid January. I was delighted to be able to talk about MYLO for his super website

- we are using MYLO with all of our KS3 classes as best we can and giving it a real go. I like it a lot - it's modern, trendy, the pupils can get going on it fairly intuitively apart from a couple of spots where teacher knowledge really helps
1. TELL them to join the class group you have set up for them - there is no prompt
2. Remind them to scroll down to see stuff! It is amazing how often they don't look!

They LOVE the competition and we are trying to catch up with Norton Hill School at the moment - this local Language College is storming ahead. The Ballard School too is one where I know the teacher and it makes a difference if I say we have to beat so and so! Our pupils are learning well with it - they like the style, the avatars and they visit lots of the challenges at one sitting. The next step is to get them producing the final projects - we have set the work to do at home for a number of classes,who seem to be delighted to have an IT homework to do for languages.

If you haven't yet experimented with MYLO I would highly recommend visiting the site and having a go. It's free, well designed and ready to run for classes in KS3 and some KS4. Here's the official plug!

Free online language learning website (internet connection required) aimed at pupils studying modern foreign languages at key stages three and four. It contains interactive challenges and support material in French, Spanish, German and Mandarin.
MYLO, has been developed by Lightbox Education, in partnership with the Department for Education, Cambridge University, CILT, ALL and the University of Salford.
MYLO website
Email contact
Technical support line: 08453 077 834

Monday, 10 January 2011

London Language Show Oct 2010

I had a great time at London Language Show - first time I've made it and it was great to meet many of the teachers I have got to know virtually. Marie France and I ran the gauntlet of the exhibitors' stands looking for good ideas,inspiration, freebies - of which there were fewer - and excellent seminars.

Just a shame about the sound deficiencies - how can they think that running seminars in open-topped tents inside a main exhibition hall is a good idea? Speakers really struggled but all had come prepared. Joe Dale, Russell Stannard and Rachel Hawkes had all learned the hard way last year and had talks already on their blogs or websites - Russell had even recorded a version of his in advance!!

Here are the links to the various sites for these seminars. Joe as ever is full of excellent ideas for using Web 2 technologies in class and he piles on the information so that no-one feels short-changed. If you don't know Joe's website - visit it quick joedale.typepad Joe has a handle on all things ICT for MFL

Rachel Hawkes has so much energy that her seminars are packed full of expectant teachers who know that she'll give fantastic value for money - she didn't disappoint. I really enjoyed both of her seminars and have shared both in school as best I could. Links here for her tremendous material - all at her new website

Here's the link for another presentation that Rachel did on ideas to take to the classroom tomorrow - it's full of great ideas that this generous lady is happy to share. I have been promoting it with my department since the London Show.
I'll do a separate post on Russell later - so much to relate!