I have been thinking a lot over this holiday, as this year draws to a close, about just what shape teachers will take in the not so distant future. I am not talking about robot teachers or a revolutionary educational utopia. Although this revolution might still happen – some would say it should happen! – I am really only thinking about the next five to ten years.
So, in five years time, will teachers still use mainly textbooks, whiteboards and dry-wipe pens to introduce and develop topics? Will students in ten years time still use pens and notebooks (that’s jotters to you Scots) to take notes during lessons and do their homework? And will schools still encourage their students to acquire their knowledge solely from printed sources?
Sadly, I think the answer is yes, they will. Inertia is too strong a force.
Watch this video to learn how to enhance your Smart interactive whiteboard using object animations, a feature of Notebook Version 10, the latest version of Smart board’s proprietary interactive whiteboard software.
If you missed some of the whizzy effects or builds that you can add to PowerPoint or Keynote presentations, such as fading objects in or out, spinning or flying objects across the screen, then you should upgrade to Notebook’s latest version.
These are just five simple ideas used in a Modern Languages context (Spanish), but they could easily be adapted to be used in any subject area. Although there are other bits and bobs you can do as regards object animation, this video focuses on:
Most of the inspiration for these ideas has come from James Hollis’s blog Teachers Love Smart Boards, a fantastic resource for all teachers who are learning to use interactive whiteboards, so ensure you bookmark it for future reference.
As ever, I hope you find this simple introduction to object animation in Notebook useful and don’t forget to let me know what you think.
Last week I led a workshop on blogging and microblogging at CILT’s 14-19 Conference in Nottingham. I was very excited to be able to show the delegates who attended my workshop how easy it was to create and maintain your own classroom or subject blog.
I remain convinced that many teachers are put off from this sort of thing because they fear it’s too difficult or because they think it’s far too technical. By highlighting what a classroom or subject blog could be used for and by recording just how easy it is to start and maintain your own blog , I hope to motivate more teachers to give blogging a go and to show that it can be done with only minimal technical knowledge: If you can word-process, you can blog!
I am aware I do say “simply” and “you can also…” rather a lot in this video, but it just goes to show that there are lots of things you can do with a blog and that it is indeed very simple.Hope I am getting the point across!
Last Friday it was a pleasure to lead a workshop on Blogging and Microblogging at the CILT 14-19 Conference, held in Nottingham at the National College for School Leadership. The purpose of the session was to show fellow language teachers how easy it is to start and maintain a subject or classroom blog with only the minimum ICT skills, as well as to explore how other teachers and I have been using our blogs for the benefit of both teaching and learning. Below is a summary of my talk as well as a slideshow taken from the presention I prepared for the occasion.
The Dearing and King Languages Review highlighted young people’s familiarity with technology and proposed that technology creates a stimulus for creative and interactive work. From my own experience, I know that 100% of my students from Year 11 onwards (15-18 years old) go home and the first thing they do is switch on their computers to check their favourite social network – MySpace or Facebok generally. That’s 100% – no exceptions. As a consequence, I argue that we can better serve our students’ needs by entering this -their- territory and that we, as a profession, would be better off not fighting a battle we can’t possibly win, but rather joining in.
As well as making our subjects more accessible to them, therefore increasing the chance of their learning, Blogging and Microblogging also help languages become more engaging and relevant to our students. Although blogs are not a magic bullet, they can undoubtedly contribute towards more motivation and interaction with our students.
Below are the main bullet points from my presentation highlighting how other teachers and I have been using subject or classroom blogs. I am however in no way pretending that this is the best way to use a blog in education, but I can only talk from my own experience of blogging with and for my students. There are probably as many takes on blogging in education as there are teacher bloggers, you must therefore read on and make up your own mind as to whether the advice I am giving can be of any use to you:
Using your blog for…
Showcasing your pupils’ work – The mere fact their work is going to be published, possibly to a worldwide audience, is a powerful motivating factor. It also allows your students to feel ownership of their work and show it off proudly to friends and family.
Assessment for learning – The commenting functionality in blogs allows students to feedback on each other’s work and fosters self evaluation. Often this feedback students receive from their peers has a powerful influence on them and serves to reinforce that given by the teacher.
Engaging and motivating students – Web 2.0 offers a vast range of exciting and interactive learning possibilities that are designed to be shared on the internet. Blogs can take advantage of this as the outcome of these Web 2.0 creative tasks can generally be easily embedded into posts.
Showcasing students’ videos – Our students live in a world where videos are created and shared by ordinary people. They do it all the time with their digital cameras and mobile phones. We can channel some of this enthusiasm and creativity by asking our students to film their own videos, which we can then showcase in our blog.
Promoting target language use – By recording oral classroom activities such as dialogues or role-plays: if students know they are going to be recorded and the recording put on the subject blog, they then try harder and are more motivated to speak in the target language. This also gives parents and relatives an opportunity to see what their children get up to in class, thus helping bridge the home-school divide.
Sharing teacher resources – Why not share that PowerPoint or that .pdf document with your students or other teachers by making them accessible in your blog?
Sharing students’ resources – If one or more of your students create their own resources, such as vocabulary lists, study guides, grammar explanations, etc, you can also share these with the other students via the blog.
Hosting listening materials (including podcasts) – A blog is the perfect platform to deliver listening resources and podcasts, because the resources are hosted online and are therefore constantly and repeatedly available. You post it once but it can be listened to or downloaded an infinite number of times. If you are intrigued by or interested in creating your own podcast, then you ought to watch this video.
Linking to external resources – A blog can be a one-stop-shop for all your students’ language learning needs by linking to those resources which you have previously deemed suitable.
Media rich content – As hinted above, students lead a media-rich life – they share videos daily – A blog helps tap into this media-rich online lifestyle by directing them to those videos which you have sourced and you have decided are educationally sound, therefore promoting learning.
Promoting independent study – By linking to external resources such as videos or interesting websites or online newspaper articles, you are helping to develop your students’ intellectual curiosity, which in turn fosters learning autonomy.
Other advantages of using a blog
Blogs are easily created, updated and maintained - They have WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interfaces, which means that if you can word process, you can write a blog post.
RSS – Really Simple Syndication delivers updates to readers automatically without any further intervention from you. As long as your students have subscribed to your blog (you might want to make sure that your students have subscribed) they will automatically receive a notification when you update the blog.
Multiple users - A blog is a website that can be used by an individual or a group of users – it could be your pupils, your faculty or your department.
Add an extra dimension to your teaching - You will be labelled as an innovator and a good practitioner. Your efforts will be appreciated by both your students and your fellow teachers (including the Head Teacher!).
There are many other ways in which a blog can be used to aid teaching and learning. These are only the ones I could come up with.
What if my school already has a website or VLE (Virtual Learning Environment)? Well, a blog is not a static brochure like most school websites: it can be easily updated, modified and added to in a simple and intuitive way. It’s organic: it grows as you grow.
If your school has a VLE the chances are that it is quite austere and not enticing to your pupils. If you already have many resources hosted on your VLE, such as documents, presentations or interactive exercises and quizzes then your blog can serve as a gateway to all these resources.
The second part of my presentation, above, deals with the possible use of microblogging in education. You can read more about that in this earlier post.
The real questions every teacher considering starting their own blog wants to ask are: Will my students benefit?, What’s in it for me? and How can I use my blog? Hopefully I have made a good case above why you should at least consider creating your own subject or classroom blog. What do you think?
I am absolutely humbled to share the list of nominees with people whose blogs I have read and whose work I have admired since I started blogging. I am particularly pleased to be sharing the list with Tom Barrett, whom I am looking forward to meeting at this Saturday’s TweetMeet in Nottingham.
I am certain I haven’t got a cat’s chance in hell of winning this, but I am sure going to enjoy the taking part. Please pop over to the Edublogs Awards website and vote for your favourite blogs. Needless to say I would be very grateful and honoured if you would consider voting for Box of Tricks.
Do you know of a teaching and learning resource you would like to share?
Please do not hesitate to get in touch.