Let the Quizzes begin!

Quizlet.com is amazing! By far the best free website for practising and learning vocabulary that I’ve found so far. I am a big believer in the power of games to transform the way students learn and this is the best website that I have seen for a few reasons:

  1. It’s free
  2. It uses VAK very successfully – you see the word, at the same time listen to it (website automatically adds audio) and then you have to type what you hear. Genius.
  3. Teachers get 8 classes free and you can add students to each class.
  4. It has all the accents on a button below the text box so you just need to click the one you want to add them, no fiddling with the keyboard.
  5. Teacher can see which and how many games students have played, as well as their scores.
  6. Students can see top 3 scorers on a score board
  7. You can print off vocab lists and a variety of tests of the vocab you have made
  8. There are thousands of sets already created – especially useful for exam board specific vocabulary!
  9. It’s easy to import the data from a word document
  10. It makes you repeat the vocabulary you get wrong and corrects you if you make a mistake.
  11. There is also a free ipad app
  12. The games include timed, typing games and match up

Here’s a French one I made earlier http://quizlet.com/14506068/french-essentials-flash-cards/

I am waiting for another website to get started which promises similar functions to Quizlet except it actually monitors your progress as you learn your words. Eg. it makes you repeat the ones you get wrong so you can’t finish the game until you get them right! Watch this space on that one.. or have a practice with the example games to practise Spanish animals

http://brainrush.com/lesson.php?lessonid=4

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Augmenting your classroom

Aurasma – better than a QR code!

I know I’m a bit of an ICT geek when I get excited about the potentials of augmented reality in the classroom!!

I had seen this before last year when people first began tweeting about it but was disappointed to find that it could only be used by iphone4 or android 2.2 or above, and I had neither so the idea went to the bottom of the pile. However now I’ve finally upgraded my phone and I have looked at it again this week and can officially say it’s brilliant! Even better than a QR code for those who know about those too.

The best way to explain this, is if you have one of these phones and can download the Aurasma Lite app, scan the bird on the back of a £10 note and you’ll see what it’s all about! But in a nutshell, you hover over still unique images with your phone and it links the image (rather like scanning a code) to a preloaded video. Normally this will fit in with the image you are scanning – hence the bird on the back of the £10 note comes alive and flies away!

In the classroom you could use this with displays, or posted images on your blog/VLE. I’m planning how I can make a display from them, similar to Kelda’s Le Mur Parlant (speaking wall) but equally there is lots of scope for games, treasure hunts, interactive homework and MFL Aurasma hotspots around the school! 

Now I must say that I haven’t quite got my head around how it works but that’s not really necessary to creating your own! A huge thank you to Kelda for her advice and writing her blog which has step by step instructions on how to create your own in the classroom. It is a bit tricky at first but easier in practice and I think they will be worth the effort as they literally bring 2D work to life. I really like the idea of this for language learning in particular although I can see the potential in most subjects really.

 Watch this space!

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Make your own website!

Top 8 tips to making your own student website:

One of my favourite and probably most useful resources I’ve made so far is my own student ‘website’. I know there’s the VLE and that has it has its place but this is something that I’ve made just for the students I teach. It has a different feel, it’s not school work it’s fun. It’s a place where they can revise what we’ve done in class, leave messages, make suggestions and learn in their own way.

The one I’ve made is actually a blog format that I’ve made to look like a website. Each group/year has their own page as well as a page for my form and links to my Youtube channel. I can post videos, PowerPoint’s from lessons, word documents, links and revision notes. It might look like a lot of work to create but once you set it up you just add things as you go along. My year 7 classes use it the most and seem to find it really useful for revision. I love getting all the comments, they really make me smile & it’s great to know the impact you can have when the class is over!

Top 8 tips:

  1. Keep updating regularly; I update about once a month at the moment depending on what’s going on.
  2. Make QR codes that link to their page and stick it in their organisers.
  3. Reply to their comments
  4. Show some of their work on the blog
  5. Use www.slideshare.com to upload powerpoints and word documents then embed into the page (sometimes you need to switch to HTML for pasting)
  6. Maybe start off with one group first then build up depending on interest from students
  7. Everything I didn’t know I asked my Twitter colleagues, Googled or Youtubed
  8. Go to https://en.wordpress.com/signup/ to start your blog!

Here’s one I made earlier…

misscairns.wordpress.com

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The Most Effective CPD…at your fingertips

Using Twitter as an MFL teacher

Imagine a professional environment where the people you connect with want to share. They share the best of what they know already and new information they find out. Imagine you were to ask as specific language question to current teachers, live time such as… any ideas for teaching KS4 French, conditional tense and within minutes you are receiving ideas, resources and a discussion has started on how best to teach it. This is the world of Twitter.

Admittedly before I had any idea this community existed, Twitter was merely another social network for people who were interested in what celebrities were eating for breakfast. Although that side does exist, it is almost like a CPD secret with a goldmine of resources and connections. At the time of writing I currently follow over 1000 educators/ICT and education specialists, at least half of which are language specialists mainly from the UK but also from around the globe. I am also part of the fantastic community of the MFL Twitterai who tweet daily an abundance of quality information.

Why I’m a fan of using Twitter for my Personal Learning Network

  1. It’s free
  2. It’s on the edge, real time, not just tweeting about what’s happening now but what’s going to happen, new ways of learning that are being formed through communities of like-minded people
  3. Everyone is there to connect and share ideas about common goals
  4. Using the # hashtag means you can follow specific events eg #LW2012 (Language World) or specific chat groups like #langchat or #edtech
  5. Developing professional links with local and worldwide teachers – ‘flash meetings’ are held to discuss current topics such as GCSE controlled assessments
  6. Everyone is very generous
  7. Not just language skills but ICT, leadership, whatever topics you want

Where else could you find all this on your fingertips??

I have learned so much from my fellow tweeters during my NQT year, my ICT knowledge and implementation in the classroom has rocketed! I am using QR codes in class, I have learned how to make my own student blog, upload revision videos, and so much more. The resources that people share really are limitless and it’s great to be using technology in an effective way that the students can relate to.

There is a word of warning though, the stream of ideas, articles to read, resources to download, people to connect with, is endless and there at any time of day or night! I use Tweetdeck to manage who and what I follow but generally I just dip in and out of it to see what’s going on. If you evaluate the content you come across from the perspective of ‘will this improve the students learning’ then it’s easier to spot the quality resources from the fancy gimmicks.

Top twitter tips to building your Personal Learning Network and maximising your time on twitter.

  1. Protect your tweets so you decide who follows you
  2. Create a professional bio so people can see you are an educator
  3. Download Tweetdeck – so much easier to manage your tweets if you are following a lot of people
  4. Use and follow hashtags to avoid conversation
  5. Become part of the network – share your own links and thank people by retweeting their links
  6. Create lists ‘best of’ Twitterers so you don’t miss out on the quality resources

follow me @michellecairns

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Cue the prompter

Improving students presentations (& memory!) with a cue prompter

Cueprompter.com is such a great idea, there are so many presenting possibilities! For now though my mind is on our current speaking controlled assessments. I thought it would be a fun way for the students to practice their speaking, in their own time or presenting to the class. It’s so easy to use and free, all you have to do is paste in your text (up to 2000 words) and hey presto you have your cue prompter.

The only thing I would have liked from it would be to save it some how but one solution was to record it with a screencasting software (which I wrote in my last post) However on the plus side this had the added bonus of being able to record speaking it at the same time. Great for controlled assessments from you or the students. Here is an example:

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The NEW way to mark homework!!

Homework via Jing

This fantastic (and free) tool called Jing allows you to capture images from your screen which I have found so useful for making worksheets/powerpoints and especially for making images to upload to my student blog. If you regularly create resources for your classes then I think it’s worth downloading.

In addition there is a another feature which not only captures a still image of your screen but records that image for a maximum of 5 minutes. I know, it sounded a bit strange for me too when I first came across it. The only way I had seen it being used was for ‘how to videos’ to show how to upload videos to your blog or how to improve powerpoint skills. I thought it was great to be able to talk through instructions while being able to see which buttons to press on the screen. The only education use I had read about was to record what students have to do for setting cover work which I liked the idea of but the use still seemed limited.

It was only when my students sent me their work in word document form that I realised the potential being able to record talking through corrections while I was correcting. I thought it was brilliant that students  could see the different options on screen, for example they might have written Je préféré and I could record the ‘right click’ and remind them when to use this spelling and when to use the ‘préfère’ version.

I think this software lends itself very well to MFL marking as students don’t often understand why you have corrected a mistake and for me this is so much easier to explain rather than writing copious notes all over the page. Excellent for A level students and super keen KS4 who are genuinely interested in understanding their learning- ok I know there aren’t many of those but you get the idea!

Basically it’s much easier to watch the 2 min video below to understand what it’s all about.

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Drop it in which box?!

Dropbox: a file sharing tool

if you don’t have it already then I highly recommend this free service. It is excellent for sharing large and numerous files, which is really useful for your own teaching as well as within departments. It also means if you forget your USB stick all your work is in the ‘cloud’ and can be accessed anywhere you have the internet. This means avoiding viruses from sharing USB sticks with lots of computers. They have recently changed the space they offer so now you start with 2 GB free but if you invite people then you earn an extra 500MB up to a maximum of 16GB.

This is one of the most useful things I have found on the internet that I use nearly everyday. 

There is also an option called dropitto.me which is equally useful and is like a virtual pigeon hole – for collecting electronic homework from students. It is password protected and there are only 2 screens the students see, one for a password login that you set and the other to upload. It is incredibly easy for them to use (so easy you might have to warn them!) and the documents they upload are instantly synced to your dropbox account. No email addresses involved or communication, they just drop it into your virtual folder.

Install Dropbox by clicking here

Here is my 5 min video presentation I did on Dropbox for TeachMeet Cardiff #addcym click HERE

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