And so it's official! Joe Dale's just unveiled plans for this year's exciting Isle of Wight conference, to be held on Saturday 13th October. I say exciting for 2 reasons- 1) the line-up looks fascinating and 2) cos I'm going to be part of it! The fascinating part of 1) refers, however, to the fact that in many ways I wish I could go and see all the other sessions!!!
I'll be running 2 sessions, the first under the title, "A blogger's life, a year in the life of a Web 2.0 beginner", detailing my learning curve since the conference last year, including learning how to use tools such as blogs, podcasts, wikis and digital video. The second will be a hands-on blogging session, learning about more potential uses for using a blog in the classroom setting, before getting down to playing around with experimenting on a blog for yourself.
Last year I decided to go to the conference because a) it sounded interesting but probably more importantly b) I could pop in and visit my sister in Southampton, who I hardly ever see given that I'm in Devon. I am so, so glad that I did, because my teaching's pretty much transformed since. I'm not a techno-geek, hey, I only learnt the basics of how to use PowerPoint 3 years ago, so... But what's more important in many ways is that it's fun being able to experiment in what is still a very new educational field, try out new things, and, crucially, watch the looks of enjoyment, and feel the developed sense of learning which constantly comes from my pupils.
Anyway... the other speakers will be;
Rachel Hawkes – Director of Languages, Comberton Village College and SSAT languages lead practitioner. I've never seen her talk, but her and Leigh's session at ALL London in January seemed to go down really well, and have heard some HUGELY positive feedback from it.
Lesley Welsh – AST in MFL, English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College and SSAT languages lead practitioner coordinator. I've seen Lesley talk a few times, and she's great! Full of useful ideas to go straight off to put into your teaching.
Oscar Stringer - animator and filmmaker South Street Productions- prepare yourself for one of the most fun sessions you'll ever have.
Lisa Stevens - Spanish teacher, Whitehouse Common Primary School, and constantly full of great ideas from what I can gather from the NING talkabout Primary MFL group.
Joe Dale - leader of French, Nodehill Middle School, SSAT languages lead practitioner. Don't really think I need to say anything, but simply inspirational!!
So there we go. Please don't be put off by the simple fact that the conference is on an island, yes it might involve a wee bit of travelling, but it really really will be worth it- your main problem will be not being able to get to a computer quick enough after the session to get experimenting!!!
I've just been playing around with a great website on my mobile which has huge amounts of potential for language learners outside of the classroom. By connecting to www.mobilephrasebooks.com you will be offered the chance to download phrasebooks in a huge range of languages. Now the great thing about this service is that when you click on the phrase in English it will show you the Spanish equivalent (or appropriate language), AND a native speaker will say the phrase out loud for you to hear. With sections on Essentials, Travel, Accomodation, Food & drink, Socialising, Shopping, Medical, Dates& time, Numbers and Emergencies, the options are enormous.
In my eyes the potential for this is huge. Imagine preparing a role-play at home, or even such a radical idea as a translation? Recording sections would be facilitated as pupils now have a model pronunciation.
However, alas, I do have one major issue. In Spanish (I haven't checked out all the versions), there are 1 or 2 linguistic errors, in particular one of my bugbears with the 2 versions of to be, ser and estar. But nonetheless, I'm really looking forward to trying it out!!
Yesterday I was lucky enough to be in the Dartmouth area, and to have time to pop in to say hi to Jo Rhys-Jones. Jo, the recent founder of the Ning group Talkabout Primary MFL, teaches in the Kingswear primary school, teaching a KS2 class- all of whom, it must be said, had huge smiles on their face, especially when Jo put on a French session for them. Which I hugely enjoyed!!
In my eyes, Jo is the perfect example of what our efforts are all about. Jo's class obviously love beeing taught by her, yet she's gone out and conquered her admitted technological fears in order to further the learning of the group. And what made me over the moon was her willingness to learn from her pupils- one particular boy, who had just been introduced to Audacity, was rapidly learning more than Jo could hope to pick up straight away. For me this has been the case in so many technological areas, yet so many people still seem scared of admitting that their pupils can learn more about things than they do! From my point of view, seeing one of my most reluctant year 9 learners take over the class to teach about Movie Maker 2 weeks ago, followed by creating an outstanding video guide to the school, gave me huge satisfaction!
Anyway, as is always the case, it was lovely to be able to have the face to face contact- something that electronic relations will never be able to match!
I've tried playing around with sites such as You Tube and Teachers Tube a fair bit recently, but always got frustrated with the difficulties of using the materials in the classroom. I don't have an internet connection in my room (grrrrrrrrr, one of my hates), so I've been using Keepvid to save videos to my computer, and then playing them on the dedicated FLV player. However, the issue with that is that...
a) the FLV player is ridiculously stubborn and sometimes refuses to work properly
b) the player always comes up immensely small, leading to craned neck syndrome- never positive!!
So I was delighted when I was told about Zamzar recently at a course held by the fascinating Francisco Villatoro. It's not only perfect for things like videos, allowing you to copy in any URL to save the file from it, but is also capable of converting pretty much any type of file into anything else- and all completely free.
The service simply e-mails you a link from where you can download the converted file- very very easy and quick, even on my irritatingly slow laptop.
So hurrah, now I just have a huge file packed with .avis which I can use whenever I want, yippee!!