Connecting Classrooms

Connecting Classrooms - Europe

Since visiting Aachen near Dusseldorf in Germany (9 – 11 March 2012), on an e-Twinning contact seminar, school has been very busy! e-Twinning is about Connecting Classrooms, working collaboratively with schools in Europe on joint projects.  It is not just about languages!

On 3 October 2011, I wrote a post about Skyping in the Classroom – year 9 students speaking French/English, and this joint project was through e-Twinning.  After attending a weekend course finding out more about e-Twinning, I returned to school buzzing with lots of ideas.  I have now set up three joint projects with schools in Europe.

Project 1 : involves 3 Countries: England, France and Poland – using email with year 7’s to chat to French students, and Polish students.  They will introduce themselves and ask some very basic questions to their European partners.  English and French language being very limited, and Polish students communicating in English to French and English students.

Project 2 : involves 2 Countries: Belgium and England – using French and English with students ranging from year 9 ( 14 years ) to post 16 (up to 18 years), through written communication.

Project 3 : involves 2 Countries: France and England – using Skype for speaking and listening skills, with year 9 students (14-15 years), current ongoing project.

Perhaps my projects are more about language, although working with a Polish school is only using the English language.  Other successful projects created and developed by e-Twinners involve 3 Countries, Spain, Poland and Germany all working on a Science project studying the Earth’s Gravity and analysing the different results.  Another project involved students sending/receiving food parcels between countries.

Connecting Classrooms - Global

I personally think that more schools and subjects should work jointly on projects worldwide; thus creating a more engaging Curriculum and give students an opportunity to find out more about each other in different countries, and share their experiences. This opportunity is now so easy through the use of Technology and Social Networking.

How do you Spell IT? Literacy matters.

Literacy across the Curriculum is an important part of students’ learning, and for a lot of students these skills are poor.  They are not very good at capital letters when typing their own name and nouns.  Is this because they text most of the time?  Although research says otherwise. Student’s also need to proof read their work and should always be encouraged to use the built-in spell checker  before printing out.  I also try to encourage my ICT students to use the thesaurus to extend their vocabulary and learn some new words.

To help with literacy within our school, I introduced Spelling City and the English Faculty became very interested in using this within their department.  It is a program that we regularly use within our ICT Faculty.  Students’ have their own individual accounts and their progress can be tracked as they work through the exercises, tailored within each subject, for their needs.  SEN students can also practice their handwriting skills, using the printable handwriting sheets.  It is a program that is very popular particularly with year 7 and 8 students.

Another program I have just read about, thanks to @chickensaltash is Read, Write and Think.  There seems to be some very good resources available on this website to check out.

This week we are working with our English Faculty and year 7 and 8 students to partake in the Global online Spellathon, which is a spelling bee aiming to raise money for Mencap.  Why not check it out and perhaps enter the Competition too!

Which Mobile App is best?

Spoilt for choice.  There are so many Mobile App programs now available I don’t know which to use with my students!  Our College has recently been approached by a local Zoo to create a Mobile Phone App.  One of their requirements is that the App could be sold to visitors and is suitable for families.  In order to help me find a suitable App program, I have enlisted the help of our Student Counsel, and have provided them with a list of programs to trial.  These programs are available on my blog for you to have a look at and trial too.  I would appreciate your feedback and/or experience of them please, or others you may suggest 🙂

 

A New Look for room815

I don’t know about you who read my blog regularly, but I have been getting a bit fed up of looking at the same site layout, colours theme etc. so I’ve just updated it, and have produced “sticky posts” on the header of my blog which have been favourite posts by a lot of my readers, and to make viewing access easier. The three most popular blogs of 2011 have been PowerPoint Snakes & Ladders, Making Spreadsheets Fun, and Using PowerPoint to create a Mobile Phone Quiz; all  have been downloaded many, many times.  It would be great to receive comments on these resources, and find out what you’ve been using them for, and were they successful.

Learning Journeys

This week I have been trialling Learning Journeys with my year 7 and 8 classes, and loved the classroom discussions that they have generated.  What are they?  Well I discovered them from The Learning Spy, they could be starters (which I have been trialling) or used as plenaries (which I plan to trial).

At the start of the lesson I projected a single PowerPoint slide, titled “Our Learning Journey today …”, followed by 4 or 5 various images representing the lesson.  I exported the slide to Word with lines below and issued each student with the handout.  They then had to decode the images and write down their interpretation with regards to what they thought they would be learning in the lesson.  I then chose students to read out what they had written.  Some of their answers were very good and descriptive, and it generated lots of classroom discussion.  It worked especially well with less able students who were able to learn some keywords, and describe the pictures.

This week I plan to ask the students to find their own images to represent their learning journey, and then feed it back to the group, as a Plenary.  I suggest you give it a go, you will be pleasantly surprised how focussed the students are and what fun it is.  Try decoding the slides below and then check answers with learning objectives.

Get on your Soap Box!

Well, yes today I did gosoapbox.com and whilst being observed too – well it’s all about taking a risk, isn’t it!  Gosoapbox.com is currently in beta, but you soon get setup with an account.

Gosoapbox.com is a back channel web program, working in real-time, that engages students.  It allows them to ask questions, during or after your teaching and learning session.  It is very easy to setup.  Just sign up, login and setup a soapbox for a teaching group.  An events code is automatically generated which is assigned to the teaching group.  Give this event code to students; they login using the events code only and can start asking questions.  Silly comments can be deleted. You can also poll students.  Easy.

Today, during my observed year 9 lesson we obviously had the silly remarks as expected, but once they had got this out of their system, it worked really well, and impressed the two observers in my lesson!  Consequently, I used it again with my year 12 students and they loved it, asking/answering exam questions at the end of my session.  I think it is good for assessment, and encouraging students to work together and share ideas. I recommend you try it out!

Animoto and iMovie

I had forgotten just how good Animoto is.

Today, I have been planning a year 7 lesson – Where I Live.  A multimedia presentation year 7 students have to produce.  To capture their imagination and engage them, I decided to use Animoto to introduce the project.  The free version only allows a 30 second movie to be created, but by creating a variety of 30-second movies and using iMovie on my Mac, it allowed me to easily join the strips together.  Therefore, I have now created a movie lasting 90 seconds.  It includes a strip of text and images, a strip of text explaining the task, followed by a strip of images to hopefully inspire them, not forgetting sound throughout. I plan to use this to engage other year groups now.