Monday, 25 February 2008

What worked - Week 4

It’s been a hectic few weeks but it often seems that at times the simplest things are the most effective. This is the story of a Year 7 French class – we were learning the numbers from 1-20.

Lucky enough to have a projector in the classroom I have been able to use projected images as part of the fly swatter game, used occasionally by language teachers. The fly swatter game is something similar to the card game snap. In pairs students are required to snap up the relevant card (usually a vocab item) before the other person. Sudden inspiration (the kind that finds me whilst running around the neighbourhood) had me using pictures of various national football (soccer) teams, the kind where they’re all lined up and smiling before the game. Football players conveniently have their numbers on the front of their shirts as well as the back, so we projected these images on the screen, called out a number in the target language (French in this case) and it was on… The winner in each case was able to stay up at the board to face their new challenger and, after it was all over, confectionery was passed on to those who had been able to stay up at the board the longest. To keep them on their toes the picture was changed to a different team, just as they got used to it.

Projecting the image onto the board minimised any damage that could have happened to the flashcards – as a result of over-enthusiastic language students (all boys). It enabled those not involved and not so confident to take it all in before they had a go and at the end of it all, some who knew very few of the numbers were able to identify them. Reasonably happy with this one.

Image by robert_a_dickinson

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Using Sketchcast to teach scripts

Sketchcast is a great little tool for drawing pictures; also with the ability to add sound or narration. There is a simple registration process to join up and once you have done this and created your artwork, the sketch is loaded onto the website - it doesn't seem to have the ability to keep your creations private. It is also helpful if you have a tablet laptop as it is a little hard drawing with the mouse.

As soon as I discovered sketchcast I saw it as a way to capture some of the things I have been drawing on the board for years. When teaching the Japanese scripts (and this also applies to Chinese characters or any language with its own alphabet / script) I have always tried to get the students to make connections with the sound, to enable them to remember how each character is pronounced. Most Japanese teachers here in NSW will be familiar with the "Hiragana in 48 minutes" (Hiroko Quackenbush et al) flashcards, which create pictures out of the hiragana to facilitate memory and learning. Sketchcast enables us and, more importantly the students, to do this in our own special way!

Here's my attempt. My Year 8s have been given the challenge to improve on my creations. That shouldn't be too hard.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Where exactly am I ...

This world out here is truly amazing. Talk about flat!

Driving home this afternoon through the Sydney downpour - the one that seems intent on sticking around for the rest of this week - I was half listening to an interview with UB40 on the afternoon drive show. Mid-way through this interview the announcer began talking to a caller who, and you'll have to forgive the lack of detail, was talking about a YouTube video he had posted that was suddenly getting a lot of hits and was now up to 10,000 or so. Having only started to listen in half-way and more intent on seeing my way through the rain, I pieced together that he had put up a song about his teenage son. A mental note was made to try and find it later. Not much later and the mental note had washed away with the rain.
Until ...

Just been reading Cool Cat Teacher's proclamation that Monday should be "Funday Monday" on your blog, and there it was! Writing from the other side of the world she had inadvertently pointed me exactly where, earlier in the day, my curiosity had wanted to take me. So here it is again - Sort Of Dunno Nothin'

And to add to the funday feel, here's my contribution. This one came out of a search inspired by the fact that it is UNESCO's International Year of Language. I had been looking for some things to help along the discussion of why we learn language. Here's one reason ...

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Comiqs for story telling

Having read about comiqs on the Integrating ICT into the MFL classroom blog, I decide to check it out; comparing it in my mind to other comic generators like stick generator & ToonDoo. I spent 20 minutes registering and creating a very simple little cartoon using pictures uploaded from my desktop. There is also the option to get photos from the web but I'm yet to check that part out.

For the moment, it seems to be an easy and convenient way to create comics. The ability to upload and use your own photos appealed to me, especially as our recent school trip to Japan harvested many relevant photos for the Japanese classroom. Perhaps we can create a comic story similar to the one by Argoed High School about their trip to Paris. If I can produce the one below in 20 minutes (if that), imagine what our creative students could come up with using the target language and a pile of photos we took in Japan!