#nurture1415 – Looking back and forward

There is a symbol widely seen in Ghanaian culture – that of the Sankofa bird. It is a long-necked bird that is reaching backwards and taking told of an egg in its beak.

sankofa

I have a bird like this one sat on my desk at school.

The message is simple. Learn from the past by taking only the good things and using them to help you shape the future.

There have been many highights this year for me, notably the opportunities to meet MFL colleagues at events like #ililc4 in Southampton in February and then at Languages Show Live in London in October. We all need chances like these to meet with others, share our enthusiasm as educators and re-energise for our time in the classroom. The sharing of ideas is vital, but the chance to make connections with others in the same position as myself is just as vital in my opinion.

School is an ever-changing landscape. Staff move on and in our case we are undergoing change on a big scale as our principal leaves and his replacement arrives in April. I am currently Head of Languages and Head of Faculty, which means much plate-spinning, but makes me all the more grateful for the supportive staff that I have around me.

2015 offers many opportunities:
February – a visit to Ghana to meet up with our partner school, new head teacher there and re-invigorate our partnership with fresh projects.
February / March – #ililc5 in Southampton (much to look forward to there!)
September / October – Spanish exchange

In all of these (and others) I hope to expand my own (and therein also) my student’s horizons. There are opportunities out there to learn every day and I intend to be seeking them out.

All the best for the New Year! 2015? Bring it on!

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Forget ‘Grand Designs’ – I’m an Ikea Market Hall kind of teacher

As Robert Duvall so famously said in ‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘I love the smell of flat-pack furniture in the morning.
Or something like that.

kilgoreapocalypse

When I go to Ikea, (the world-famous, spiritual home of the flat-pack) it is usually a visit of two contrasting halves. And so it proved this week.
The first half is one that provokes only feelings of inadequacy and dread within me as a DIY-phobe. This is the part of the store where you meander (according to an all too carefully designed route) past showroom examples of how various rooms in your house could look, if you should choose to outlay many hundreds of pounds on your very own ‘grand design’. This is the time where I hold my breath, wondering if my (far better) other half will fall irreversibly for one of these designs and hoping against hope that she doesn’t. I’m not one for big projects and huge change, you see.
My manner changes considerably when we enter the second half of the visit, the Market Hall. This is where all the cheap (and incredibly useful) little knick-knacks are to be found. This area appeals to me. In no time, you have a big yellow Ikea bag full to bursting with toilet brushes, doormats, plastic kitchen utensils and red serviettes. They will not make a huge change to your domestic arrangements, but (each in their own small way) will bring something slightly different or new, or make one small element of your life a little easier. Not only this, but these articles are almost always ready for immediate use. They require no assembly and therefore come with no manuals containing hieroglyphs. Marvellous! Our new doormat is now a colourful welcomer to our home. It went straight from the car boot to the front doorstep and is an instant hit.

I have this attitude in the classroom. There are times, when big overhauls and ‘grand designs’ are required. A scheme of work needs to be written or a major new whole-school policy needs to be rolled out. Agreed.
However, (particularly in the classroom) I am in favour of the Ikea Market Hall approach.
Nowadays there are so many simple, straight-out-of-the-box resources which can add colour, creativity and interest to a lesson. They come from web sites, shared ideas (on Twitter, of course), TeachMeets and many other sources. All of them are ready-to-go and can bring that key element of variety to our lessons: music, competitions, games, learning activities of all types.

Those arriving at our house in the coming days will notice no major change on the outside, but the welcome awaiting them on the inside will be slightly more colourful now. What are the ready-made and easy-to-make changes that we can make to our lessons that can bring a similar dash of colour?

Languages Show Live – Where Languages Live

Well, if Radio 5 Live is where football lives, then following Saturday’s trip to Olympia, I am pleased to report the passion for languages is most certainly alive and kicking at the Languages Show Live.
I enjoyed meandering around the different stalls for an hour or so, stopping at Flashsticks for a quick chat with VeeJay and the team. Early on there were freebies from the EU stand (Europe maps, door hangers etc). I particularly liked the ‘Passports to the European Union’ and especially the ‘Languages Take You Further’ publications.
I called in at Better Chinese to check out resources for our upcoming G&T Mandarin lessons. I also spent time with Tony at Pro-Verbs as I am always fascinated by how different languages view the same proverbial situation with a different turn of phrase.
Went to the AQA seminar to hear about the iGCSE qualification and was impressed by what I heard, particularly bearing in mind how much classroom time is currently lost in CA preparation. Grades achieved seemed to be higher on the whole. Worth considering. Any thoughts?
Who can resist stickers? Well, not many of us language nuts, judging by how many of us were crowding the SuperStickers stand like bees around a honeypot!

I went to 2 seminars and the MFL Show and Tell:
1) Wendy Adeniji (@wendyadeniji)- How can your teaching be consistently good or outstanding?
This was an exhausting, but quite exhilarating ride. I tried to tweet and keep up, but it was hard to do effectively as there were so many excellent points made and practical examples given.
The main points for me were:
1) Knowing your class: Where they are, what they can do, what their targets are, where to seat them, what interventions they need.
2) Assessment and response: Feedback is VITAL. Showing students how to progress over time. Giving them the signposts but then ensuring that they respond to the guidance provided. I particularly liked the empty highlighted box drawn in the exercise book, which then has to be filled by the student (during DIRT – Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time) in response to the feedback given by the teacher. Any boxes (whether empty or completed) immediately have attention drawn to them and they act as clear evidence of student engagement and response (or lack of them). Time was given over to the use of transition matrices and flightpaths to visually represent progress.
Verbal feedback can also be recorded. Staff at Wendy’s school have a stamp for this now ‘Verbal Feedback given’ which can be put into the student’s book on delivery of verbal feedback. The student then has to write about what this feedback entailed and any future implications this might have for their learning.
3) Questioning: This must be effective, probing and differentiated according to the pre-established knowledge of the group. Invite students to respond to another student’s response. Do they agree? Can they extend or improve the answer already given? Promote active listening in the classroom. Students should be engaged in the discussion going on in the classroom and ready to participate. Classroom routines for use of target language (as part of this) should be embedded. Classes need to be trained in their understanding of target language so that it is not just brought out for lesson observations to quizzical looks between students and the embarrassment of the teacher.
4) Classroom activities: There were too many ideas here to go through each in detail. However, Kagan activities were mentioned as well as ‘Fan ‘N’ Pick’ and ‘Quiz Quiz Trade’. The key element of each was high-challenge engagement. The use of mini-whiteboards was touched on (remember to pick up on those whose answers are incorrect) as an effective classroom tool. I liked the idea of ‘Talking Counters’ where students are given (say) 3 tiddlywinks each and when they say a sentence as part of a group discussion, they place one of their counters in the middle of the table. This shows at a glance who has been speaking, who has not and also stops the chatterboxes in their tracks at the end of 3 contributions! Differentiation in these activities can be shown through interaction with students and does not necessarily have to involve the creation of a raft of different worksheets.

2) Rachel Hawkes (@RachelHawkes60) Making creative use of authentic resources at KS3
The presentation in full can be found here
Again, there were so many ideas here and (as someone outside said, in an unintentionally overheard conversation) they all make you go ‘Well, why didn’t I think of that?’ True, but often we need a bit of inspiration and Rachel provided it.
The introduction looked at the NC documentation and that ‘authentic’ only occurs once in the whole thing and it is mentioned regarding MFL. For us, we should be providing opportunities for our students to learn about the cultures and traditions of the country / countries where the language that they are studying is / are spoken. Authentic resources (in all their varying forms) provide ‘a window into this new culture’ as Rachel indicated, with many already in use at KS2.
These resources, whether paintings, poems, songs or adverts, can all provide opportunities for a response, either with an opinion or creatively. They show the language and culture of the country for what they are and they are not ‘airbrushed’ to remove any tricky language. They are the original and genuine article.
Poems provide ample opportunities for gap-fills, but will rely on students falling back on their knowledge of phonics to work out the answers. To appreciate the poem itself however, requires a transfer of skills from English lessons. It is from this base that a creative response in the target language (with assistance provided as required) can arise. From here on, the possibilities are endless.
Never underestimate the power of committing a poem to memory. It can stay with you for a lifetime, as Gabriella O’Neill (@yogaone1) later testified to with Chanson d’automne More mundanely, they can assist with the reinforcement of grammar rules (Rachel referred to the use of articles in Spanish).
Songs can live long in the memory too and be the source of much classroom enjoyment and mirth. Add gestures and the reinforcement can go to another level.
Adverts (of all types) can open up more opportunities. Give the transcription and students have to work out what the product being advertised could be.
Authentic materials can help students to engage with many of the big ideas of the world (global hunger, the environment) in a way that page 67 of the text book may not.

3) MFL Show and Tell (apologies – I did not get all the names and activities mentioned)
This was compered and curated wonderfully by the ever-enthusiastic Helen Myers (@HelenMyers) with Joe Dale (@joedale) more than ably assisting with all things tech.
Joe pointed us towards a directory of authentic resorces
Sandrine Pac-Kenny(@sandrinepk) pointed us towards Kahoot and then gave us a demonstration. It got a bit competitive.
Then we were treated to the Foux Du Fafa Song and the Italian Hand Gestures Rap
The wonderful Prim (@chapeluser) extolled the professional virtues of Twitter to all MFL teachers and particularly recommended the worldwide MFL family which is the #mfltwitterati, before suggesting the bringing of teddy bears to class can promote the use of the 3rd person singular in questions and answers.
I think it was the team from Ashcombe that brought us the Post-it activity. 2 teams, 2 sets of different-coloured post-its (each team member has a different number on their post-it) and 2 boards to go to. The teacher calls a number and that member of each group runs to their board and has to write a nominated sentence with the other team members shouting assistance. Sounds like a recipe for equal amounts of fun and mayhem to me!
Zondle was recommended as a source of much student addiction as they complete MFL games in attempts to gain ‘zollars’ to trade in for prizes.
My recommendation was the ‘Finished? Try these’ activity stations around the room, originally designed by Kerry Tait (@misstait_85) and adapted for use in the MFL classroom for those early finishers. Students are trained to go to a different station when they have finished their written work and complete an activity which helps them to reflect on their learning from that lesson (compose a Tweet / text / crossword clue etc) The MFL templates can be obtained from me (@trekkiep) via a DM with your email. I will look to upload it for easier access too and let you know where I put it!
So, come 6 o’clock it was time to retire to the local hostelry for a chance to mix and mingle with many MFL colleagues over a glass of our favourite tipple and a language-based pub quiz. A great day, made all the greater thanks to sharing it with (amongst others) @lauraannesimons, @FatimaDuerden, @SylvieBRawlings, @sghani, @HelenMyers, @joedale, @chapeluser and @dawson_serena

Until the next time.

And remember (as Rachel Hawkes shared so wonderfully):
Let’s not make 58 resources and share none. Let’s make a different one each and share it 58 times.
Share, save time and make friends.

You know it makes sense.

Mixing it up: Competition and random groupings in the classroom

I’ve been a fan of Triptico for a while.

For the uninitiated, Triptico is a one-stop shop for games and classroom tools which can be used in every subject classroom. It has timers, scoreboards, selectors and presentation tools. It comes in a free version, although if you pay £15 you can access other programmes and more advanced versions of the free ones.

I particularly like the selectors. You can place students in random groups quite easily and also select students to answer questions. (Oh, how lovely it is to hear the computer get blamed for selecting student X, rather than take the flak myself.)

I now have developed a strategy which I use in all classes ranging from Year 8 to 11 where Triptico is the single, central non-MFL-based resource.

 

Step One: Groupings

Students are placed in random groupings using the ‘Group Selector’. This can take several attempts so as to ensure that groups are of roughly equal ability and are in combinations that will work and (sometimes more importantly) behave well together. Although occasionally we will revert to a ‘normal’ seating plan, students have expressed a liking for working in these different groups. It really does mix things up and provides an air of mystery and unpredictability as students discover (from the board as they enter the room) who they will be working with.

 

Step Two: Competition

I provide opportunities for students to work together in these newly-formed teams.

  • They complete a task together (ideally which has a specific set of answers) but they ALL have to have the answers in their books, as the Triptico group selector software has a setting where one member of each group is selected at random. This ‘chosen student’ is then the one who has to pass their book to the next table for marking, thereby making each student responsible for making their answers as complete and correct as possible, so that the team does not lose out on points.
  • At other times, I will do ‘first-hand-up’ questions for a speedy response to keep classes on their toes.
  • Then there are direct specific questions at individual students which can be differentiated appropriately.
  • Other activities can be ‘against the clock’ with the first team to run to the front with the correct answers scoring more points.
  • For a more creative slant (when creative role play or sentence design are called for), teams score bonus points for including certain categories of words or phrases e.g. different tenses, certain expressions or for other reasons e.g. making me laugh

 

Step Three: Scoring / Rewards

I use the Sliding Scores section of Triptico to keep a tab on the current team scores and can flip to this screen at any time to ensure teams are clear about which position they are in. Clearly, they all need to be aware of the rewards on offer for winning (be it merits, sweets etc) Even those who are unsuccessful (and perhaps feel that they were in a poorly-performing team) know that all will be different in the next lesson.

Step Four: Reflection

  • The competition element is good (particularly for boys) and because they do not know who will be selected, they are all encouraged to complete the work for the sake of the team
  • Groupings are never perfectly equal, so some groups do turn out stronger than others. However, with teacher practice, it is possible to allow all students to shine using this system.

 

I have never been one for changing my classroom routines but when I moved to tables of four, I wanted a way in which students would be able to work together effectively in teams.

For me, at the moment, this is it.

I’ve been using this system for 6 months now and the signs are that my classes don’t want me to stop using it just yet.

 

To be absent, or not to be absent? That is the teacher’s dilemma

My day (up until now) has gone something like this:
6.45: Arrive in front of computer. Plan lessons, respond to and write emails, enter data, file reports, resolve network access issue with network manager etc etc
9.00: My watch, with a single, short bleep, announces that it is 9am.

So, nothing surprising there then. I am a teacher. I arrive at school early. I get lots of work done early in the day before classes start.

The only difference is that today, I am not actually in school. I am ill.

So don’t come too close.

To put everything in place for my absence though, I had to spend time doing the list of tasks above. Meeting report deadlines and setting cover work wait for no-one.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not on a crusade to bring to your attention the poor lot of the teacher. However, I feel it’s not as cut-and-dry as sometimes you might think.
When you stand in front of the cover board in the staff room and you discover that a colleague is absent, it is fairly stark.

Teacher X is not in.

However, that does not quite capture the dilemma that we all often face. Do we go in or not?
Sometimes, this dilemma is removed from us. In 2008, I was forced to take 12 weeks off school due to an attack of reactive arthritis. The consultant waxed lyrically about the amount of fluid she was able to drain from my ankles. I was a medical phenomenon. In this case, there was no question. I was off.

The dilemma arises when something more non-debilitating and short-term occurs. The cold, sore throat and general ‘under-the-weatherness’ that comes from spending a large proportion of your working week surrounded by hundreds of young, active germ-carriers (students).

More often than not, staying off can result in more workload. Not just the doubly frustrating ‘setting-work-for-the-classes-that-you’d-already-prepared-lessons-for’, but knowing that those exercise books / tests are stacked up in your room all longingly waiting for someone to mark them. What about the parent / colleague you are supposed to be meeting, never mind the poor soul who has to spend period 5 with 9Z French*?

With this in mind, we struggle in, hardly able to make it the short distance from car park to staff room without head swimming and the onset of exhaustion. To be met with adulation?
Hardly.
More like, ‘What are you doing here? You look like death.’
Thanks.
At least the students will take it easy on me in my current fragile state.
Er, no.

It really is a no-win situation.
And if Mr Kirby’s ‘perfect election promise’ comes to fruition, we will be facing this dilemma for 6 more weeks a year.

Pass the Strepsils, someone.

* I would like it put on record that I teach NO classes that would fall into this category and that I used this example for literary effect only.

GCSE Roving Reading – a new way to approach a past paper

For the Roving Reading Recipe, you will need:

1) Copies of 2 Spanish GCSE Reading papers (one Foundation paper and one Higher)
2) Dictionaries
3) Lined paper (one sheet per pair in your group)
4) Mark scheme: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/spanish/gcse/spanish-4695/past-papers-and-mark-schemes
We use AQA. Mark schemes from 2010 are available at the link above. For ones prior to this you need to access e-AQA

Instructions:
1) Separate the exam papers out into individual sheets and place them on a total of different tables which is equal to the number of pairs of students you have in your class. Some tables may have more than one sheet on. Ideally, one sheet from a Foundation paper and one from a Higher paper on each.

2) Divide students into pairs and give each group a sheet of lined (but not grease-proof) paper between them.

3) Move students around the room (in a pre-determined order) so that each group stops at each table for 5 minutes. Use a (kitchen) timer to ensure the 5 minutes is precise (we don’t want them to overheat!) Students must mould as a team to answer all the questions from the sheets on that table. No dictionaries!
Students must number their answers carefully as they may be answering the questions out of sequence.

4) When the 5 minutes is up, the timer rings and they move round to the next table. This happens until all groups have visited all tables and written down their answers. The teacher then reads out the answers (add some reasoning to taste), students swap sheets and mark.

5) Testing / Tasting?:
Students pass the exam paper sheets amongst themselves, this time, studying where they went wrong (if at all) and what the key items of vocabulary were.
The aim is to come up with a list of (at least) 20 new key words from the papers that they have translated into English (probably after looking some up in the dictionaries)
They then (as a team) have 10 minutes to learn these words before they go head-to-head with another team, swap vocabulary lists and test each other to see who can remember the most key words of vocabulary.

All grades should rise nicely as a result!
Enjoy!

The Voice – Using it (and losing it) in the MFL classroom

Only when you lose it do you realise how often you use it.

That is certainly true of your voice. I sit here with that most common of teacher ailments, the sore throat. I turned to thinking about just how versatile and powerful a tool the voice is for teachers in general, and MFL teachers specifically.

In behaviour management, the use of the voice is well-documented. Full-on shouting is not an advisable strategy (who is the adult in the room, after all?) not merely for the effect on your vocal chords but also on your relationship with the class in question. The voice should be used in moderation as a tool of finesse for guiding, not as a would-be weapon of mass destruction, seeking to send students cowering behind their pencil cases for fear of where the next vocal salvo could land.

Only yesterday, I saw two PGCE students use their voices well to control a class. A sudden rise (not too high!) in teacher volume brings a class to attention, followed quickly by a drop in volume to quiet will have students straining to hear and ‘shushing’ each other to ensure that they can follow. There will be times though, when the next key string to the bow may be required.

Silence.

(Insert appropriate picture of tumbleweed cartwheeling in the desert breeze with the solitary bell of the frontier town church tolling regularly and mournfully from the middle distance)

We’ve all done it. The eternal wait for a class to be silent. Have you got the nerves of steel required?

If so, most of the time, it will pay off. If not, sanctions kick in.

I also tend to use the ‘counting down from five’ chestnut, in whichever language is appropriate (and occasionally one that is not). As soon as zero is reached (and my shared expectation is that it will not be) I will start to count up again. Whichever number I reach before silence is achieved equates to minutes at break time, most often served by the persistent offenders as opposed to the whole class.

Pausing mid-sentence is another well-used strategy, as students …………. wait to hear how you are going to finish it off.

In MFL, the voice really comes into its own. Songs are always a hit, even with the older year groups. The Alphabet Chant, Head, Shoulders etc, Quelle est la date  de ton anniversaire, San Fermin  are all tried and tested for me. I am looking forward to picking up some more at ILILC4.
High voice and low voice to distinguish between masculine and feminine, particularly with adjectives (such as nationalities), gives Year 7 specifically the challenge to go as low as me for the masculine (and me to go and squeak as high as them for the feminine)

No doubt, there are many others as well. In fact, some we develop as we go along in teaching to such a point, that we hardly know we are using them. They are second nature.

My main aim now though is to go and search for the voice that I have lost. I need it back now please.
Pass the Strepsils.

Multi-faith, multi-cultural – an assembly idea

multicultural

I did this assembly this week with years 7 to 10 and it seemed to work equally well with all of them. My context is a small-town mixed comprehensive in Somerset. Bear this in mind please!

Firstly, ask the form captains to come out to the front and stand behind you. Tell them that they are going to represent their tutor groups in a true or false ‘culture quiz’. If they believe the statement to be correct, they move to your right and if they believe it to be false, they move to your left.

When these statements are read, there is often some influence exerted by the audience. This should be encouraged!

1. In Saudi Arabia it is impolite to refuse a cup of coffee. True

2. In Spain a woman named Helena Lopez who married a man named Hector Portillo would be known as Helena Lopez de Portillo. True

3. In China the most junior person generally enters the meeting room first. False

4. In Ukraine all businesses are closed between 11:00 a.m. and noon for staff shopping escapades. False

5. When you visit someone’s house in Poland you may be asked to take your shoes off. True

6. You may feel free to cross your legs in the Middle East. True

7. When someone gives you a present in Japan, you should open it immediately. False

8. The numbers 6, 8 and 9 are considered lucky in China. Therefore, these three digits are firm favourites when choosing phone numbers, car registration numbers and room numbers. True

9. In the Arab world people stand closer than in Europe: one metre or nearer. True

Use as many or as few of these questions as you have time for. Ideally you will arrive at a point when there is a winner. Congratulate them on their cultural awareness. Award a prize as you see fit!

I then talked about diversity in school. I asked the students to guess how many miles from our school you would need to travel to find a school that spoke 21 languages and came from 15 different ethnic backgrounds. After taking some answers from students (which ranged up to 1000 miles), the answer came back as zero, as it was details about our own school that I had requested from SIMS. The idea is for students to reflect on the cultural diversity within their own institution.

Then, describe a multi-cultural experience where you have felt very isolated / alone / out of place. Say how you felt. I described being the only white man as far as the eye could see in a town in Ghana. Ask students to imagine how an ‘outsider’ would feel coming into our school.

Ask them to reflect on how difficult it would be to come from another culture, speaking a different language and trying to settle into a new school.

End with the thought that we are all different. Life would be exceedingly dull if we were all the same and these differences should be welcomed and celebrated.

Let me know how you get on!

Using team competitions in MFL – a new approach

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We all know the scenario.

Ask a group of students to look up some words in a dictionary and they instantly appear as tired as if they have just emerged from a two-year-long hibernation. However, mention that it is a race, and that there are points at stake which will lead to a tangible reward and that same (seemingly) mundane task is catapulted to a whole new level of seriousness.

With classes in Years 8 to 11, I have recently started to use the Triptico software (the free version of Triptico Plus) which is installed (very easily) on my classroom desktop in two new ways:

1) I use the group selector option to split the class into (up to) 8 groups. This is totally at random. Sometimes it can take a few attempts before the software distributes the more  disruptive elements of the class evenly around the room 🙂 I try to ensure that the groups are of equal ability levels too, where possible. The first thing students now do on entering the room is check the whiteboard to see which group they are in before going to the appropriate table. It’s part of their routine. Feedback tells me that most of them enjoy the ‘surprise’ element of this and like not knowing who they are going to be working with from one lesson to the next.

2) I use the score board element in Triptico to award points for answers. I mostly award these in three different ways:

a) Quick-fire first-hand-up questions. Clearly, the brighter students could tend to dominate, so I use the individual student selector within the group selector to choose a student at random from each group. This student is then (temporarily) captain and has to answer for the team. Discussion amongst the team can be allowed but this can cost vital seconds!

b) Teams work together to produce a sketch / conversation / role play / creative paragraph, which I award points to depending on set criteria (accuracy / pronunciation / does it make me laugh etc etc)

c) Teams work individually on a listening / reading exercise for example. Then they discuss together what they think the answers are. Afterwards (using the individual student selector in Triptico) I choose one student from each group whose book is then passed to another group for marking. Points are awarded. In this case, all students must make sure their answers / sentences are ‘up-to-scratch’ as they never know whose book will be chosen to represent their team.

Points accrued currently lead to merits for the winning teams. I tend to err on the generous side, so award merits for the top 2 or 3 teams, particularly if the scores are tight.

I felt initially that I would try this out for a couple of lessons. However, I have been running this system on and off since October and there is no opposition to it continuing from any of my classes (as yet). In fact, staff who have supported have remarked on how engaged (particularly the usually less-focused) students are.

I certainly do not advocate this as a ‘magic wand’ solution to solve all student engagement issues in MFL, but I believe that the impact has been positive in a whole range of classes for a sustained period, so I’ll take that for now, thank you very much!

Porridge, Ghana and that Friday feeling: Twitter breaks out in the classroom

It all started innocuously enough. Friday afternoon. 5 minutes silent reading before the true start of the final lesson of the day.
It’s hard to remember where the first comment came from or what it was about.
It may have been about the picture of a Ghana beach. Or the one of the exploding porridge in the microwave. Or my recent leaning towards posting Friday feeling type photos on my timeline.
Whatever, it was clear that my Twitter profile is now officially ‘out there’ in the public, student-populated domain. It had always been in my plan to try to collaborate with a limited group of students on Twitter. It’s just that I hadn’t planned it to be just yet.
However, the time had arrived. So, we went for it.
We took the first 25 minutes of the lesson to discuss how many students in this year 9 class had Twitter (three quarters, it would appear) and it was clear that there was an audience for our work outside the classroom. We then spent time talking about what was appropriate and what was not appropriate to  post on this forum. We then turned our attention to the possibilities, which included the sharing of good language-learning sites, weekly challenges and on-line creative and collaborative language work. At the same time, I wanted to reassure the non-Twitter users that they would not be missing out on the fundamental language-learning experience. That would still take place lesson by lesson in the classroom. I  am planning to inform the parents of the students in this class about our plans to work together in this way, just to ensure everyone knows of our plans.
This may be a first for our school.
As with most on-line initiatives, it is hard to know where this might end. I am hopeful that it will be a project that students will treat with respect and that will engage and enthuse them. This is certainly a time to boldly go ….
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