A time for games

I have been spending lessons playing games with some of my classes over the last couple of weeks. It feels a bit wrong but they’re learning games! Now that it’s the end of the year and there’s only a week or so left it doesn’t seem so wasteful to have an entire lesson of games. But I realised today that I want to spend more entire lessons doing  just that next year! The students find it highly enjoyable and the games involve everyone and cover a whole bunch of skills. Here’s what I’ve been doing:

– Pronunciation game > Vocab items come up one by one on the screen and students compete to see who can pronounce the most words correctly. I have found this game interests even the most reluctant of learners, especially if a prize is up for grabs.

– Spinning game > I read about this on Danielle Horne’s blog  and I’ve used it a few times with different students – they all love it! They play in pairs, linking arms. Someone calls out a word in the language then two pairs race each other to write it on the board. The only catch is one person faces the board and writes one letter, then they spin and the other person writes the next letter and so on. This could make you very dizzy!

– Fly swat game > I heard about this from Veronice Radich at our recent NAFT conference. A random selection of the targetted vocabulary is written all over the board. Two students race to ‘swat’ the correct word that is called out. Props are great!

– Sentence building game > This one requires a bit more preparation as you need to make cards with words and verbs stems and endings beforehand. Basically decide what the focus is for the game – verbs work well. Create about 5 sentences then print them out in a large font size and cut them up. Except the verbs. Only create them in the infinitive and have the endings as separate cards. In class, students are in groups and race each other to form the correct sentence called out by the teacher. This forces them to talk about verbs and make sure that the ending matches the subject. I’ve found this especially successful with Latin grammar.

So, a goal for 2012 – more games for learning!

Jing – Creating a Screencast

I’ve just created two screencasts using Jing to capture me reading through a powerpoint with all the Year 9 speaking questions. I’m going to try and use this more often to start building a repository of content that I can use for a Flipped Classroom model (hopefully starting this soon.)

Last year I had my Year 10 students create Storybird books and then use Jing to capture them reading the story aloud. This worked well although the recording hardware was problematic. Fun though!

Here are the two screencasts I’ve just made. What do you think?
Part 1

Part 2

FLIP Lessons

Wow! Another fast and furious TeachMeet took place last night at Shore nestled in the heart of North Sydney. It is unbelievable how fast a 7-minute pechakucha flies through. See below for my presentation on FLIP lessons in the languages classroom.

If you have the opportunity to attend or contribute to a TeachMeet, do it because it’s a night of fun, ideas, inspiration, conversation and support from an amazing bunch of educators.


Et puis la terre

Here is a powerpoint I did with my Year 12 ab initio (IB) class on the environment theme. The YouTube video was embedded into the powerpoint so it hasn’t worked here but it is easily found on the site. The song has some good themes but the music is a bit cheesy. The images worked well for discussion and helped the students practise their oral communication in preparation for the Individual Oral exam.


On continue

Just a quick post tonight after the excitement of my first proper TeachMeet today. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet new people, meet Twitter folk face to face and also to catch up with former colleagues. What a diverse bunch of people!

I put myself out there for a 2 minute presentation just because I could. That’s what so fantastic about the TeachMeet / Show and Tell format. Getting up in front of strangers and giving a mini presentation isn’t so bad in such a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. I hope to attend and contribute to many more of these. I’d especially like to encourage members of staff at St Paul’s to attend and present. It’s worth it for the professional learning and network-building and of course for all the ideas!

So, as the title suggests, we continue this week with all those other exciting school events that make the life of a teacher never the same on two days. Tomorrow I will have a French breakfast with Year 12 ab initio, give an HSC French assessment, continue to teach Year 9 about the perfect tense; hopefully with a game of Battleships and after all that, speak lucidly with Year 7 parents until 8pm. In amongst it all I will be finalising marks with complicated Excel spreadsheets and formulae along with writing my last lot of report comments for Year 10.

But after all, this is what I signed up for and events like today’s just stoke up the passion to keep going.

Creating Shortcut Keys for French Accents

Here’s a tutorial I’ve given to various year groups over the last two years on how to make inserting accented letters quick and easy when typing in Word. Unfortunately when using OneNote, it doesn’t work. Still, I think it’s a useful skill to learn and help to encourage students to use the accents instead of just ignoring their existence! Alternatively you can change the proofing language to French. This will pick up most missing accents and spelling errors but not all.


Feeling Good About French

Meet Moshi, he’s my newest addition in Year 8 French. As you can see, he’s got an interesting face that some might call cute. This little squishy, furry and cute toy has recently helped me to make some important connections in my teaching.

I don’t think the idea is very new: someone asks a question in French and then throws a toy or ball to the person they want to answer. Only the person with the toy can speak. I have been using this questioning technique with my Year 8 class with success. They have a series of (or just one) questions relating to the current topic, this time it’s morning routines, and instead of the teacher asking all the questions, the students are taking on that role. This is one way the Moshi is being a welcome addition to the class.

What I didn’t realise was how the students would react to the toy. This has been the best bit. In a middle ability, co-ed class both the boys and girls love him and here is where I’ve made the connection. When they catch the toy and have to do something challenging and out of their normal comfort zone – speak French – they have an interesting reaction. They smile. I think catching the toy, liking it and having a ‘feel good’ moment and then doing the hard bit of speaking French is a great positive reinforcement. Wow!

I’ve decided to talk about this and other things at the Sydney TeachMeet in a micro 2-minute presentation. Looking forward to it! Here is my presentation slide.


Yay – success!

I managed to follow my plan to have Year 9 French write and create their own animations using Domo. See one here.

Despite some initial hiccups in actually getting the site unblocked (during the lesson) by the IT crowd, they worked quickly to produce the animations. I continue to be amazed at how these guys can be shown minimal instructions on using the tool and then have it up and running within minutes. This was a really engaging task that encouraged collaboration and creativity. It was also based on traditional methods in learning the vocab and structures and then applying them in written French. I am adding each of the animations to a wiki I’ve set up so that each student can view and comment on the work done by their peers.

Now, what’s next for this week? Year 8 are learning all about daily routines and reflexive verbs – they are going to create a ToonDoo. More to come on that…