Help from home

help from homeHelp from home is a site you will want to visit if you like to help organisations and charities in different ways. Projects are listed under helpful headings and you can have a look at what’s on offer and consider whether you want to participate. Once you get the hang of the site you can use their tools to set up micro projects of your own which would help others. Great initiative and a good way of helping yourself help others. It is a site which has been globally recognised with awards for a number of years. It has had the sense to create an approach whereby you can develop your own skills and see that as you are helping others.  You can find them on Twitter @helpfromhome or on Facebook.

Another reason to blog

authentic relationships Image: The Hedgehog’s Dilemma

I found out last night you can build very genuine relationships with students and their parents if you blog in class. All my year 10s, 11s and 12s have blogs. At parent evening last night I shared these blogs with the parents and immediately the conversations changed. Yes, we had talked about the student’s results and what they could do to overcome the weak spots and gain in performance strength, but when we were looking at the blogs the conversations became very animated , natural and spontaneous. The parents were very positive , helpful and were automatically linking what we had been doing in class to what they knew and what they were going to do or could do. We talked about their trips to France, their experience in shops, what it was like in the snow. All sorts of things on the blogs were sparking conversations and connections and the students themselves were talking very naturally about what we had been doing , the bits that had been hard or fun. We had been talking about performance but the conversations went on to a real discussion about learning so we were all connected in sharing our ideas about how this would work better. It was really good to have my laptop there, to be able to display a blog and then see that was engaging everyone in positive ideas about authentic learning. The ideas coming up were making us so positive and now I know that is something I now ought to build into my blogging – a connection with parents. The students could see that too. They could see their parents were impressed with their blogs and were really enjoying seeing what they had done. It was making me think we need to have an electronic space where we share examples of work so that students and parents can see what is happening but also so that students can see what a good electronic version of a piece of work looks like. Judging by the conversations I had last night it would then create a growth mindset so all those task ideas would grow into something bigger and better…and very genuine.

The great Year 10 Blogging Review

thinking-please-be-patient-thecuriousbrain.com_Image: Simple Life Strategies

My last post Why blog? was written live in class with my Year 10 students. This is the last week of Term 1 and we needed to review what we have been doing. I decided we’d do it as a blogpost fest with one post about why we blog and the other post about how we’d gone in French. Each post had 6 questions and an image and they were only allowed one sentence answers. I did the first post on my interactive whiteboard at the same time with them. One question at a time. I could show them how to do bold text. I  also wanted to show them how to backlink, make sure they ticked categories, tagged the post and then could change an image size and know how to acknowledge it properly. A number of them are really good at tagging and come up with some inventive and interesting tags. They are getting really good at picking interesting images too. I was doing my answers at the same time to take the strain off those who  were still finding blogging baffling.I did not want them going on holidays with bad feelings towards blogging. It took the pain away for them and they felt comfortable. All the class responses tell me they like and value blogging and can see worthwhile learning outcomes for themselves.

These are the questions I asked about their French for the second post:

1. What have you done this term in French that you are proud of?
2. Tu aimes le français? (Do you like French?)
3. Qu’est-ce que tu as planifié pour les vacances? (What have you planned for the holidays?)
4. Why do you need to be enthusiastic about learning languages in 2015?
5. We did Bretagne, comic characters, phone conversations and houses. Which one did you like the best and why?
6. What is one thing you can do next term to improve your French?

As for the responses to Why blog?

This is from one of the girls on her blog Pic Boisé :

Questions asked by my teacher:

1) What is the best thing about blogging?

I can voice the things I want to say online in an easy way. It is easy to write information that I gather and to show people what I know and what I do.

2) Why do you think blogging is so important in 2015?

Blogging is important in 2015 to share opinions and inform people. It is important to share ones knowledge with others in one way or another. The internet is used greatly so this is one of the best ways of informing people.

3) What is the best blog post you have written this year?

My two best blog posts are Les marchés d’Adélaïde or Bretagne! Brittany! I think the les marchés d’Adélaïde is good as it shows many things the Adelaide Markets has that is French. Bretagne! Brittany! is a good blog post as it informs people how to say common words in English, French and Breton.

4) What does blogging teach you?

Blogging has taught me just how simple it is to get your information and knowledge out to the world. Many people overseas have visited my blog which I was excited about. I didn’t think that this blog would be viewed internationally!

5) Are short blog posts or long blog posts more popular on your blog?

Long blog posts are more popular I have found as they have more information. As long as the blog post doesn’t drag on and get boring then long ones are more visited. They have more information from different sites with much relevance. Most of my blog posts are rather short but the longer ones are more viewed.

6) What is one of the things you can do better on your blog?

I think that I can improve my blog by adding more information on each topic.

This is a response from one of the boys on his blog Jbelf in France:

1. What is the best thing about blogging?

Sharing interesting info to the world and hearing feedback

2. Why do you think blogging is so important in 2015?

Most things are online or electronic now so if you want to connect with other internet blogging is great

3. Whats the best blog post you’ve written this year?

Montrer ma Maison because it was most viewed and I enjoyed having a really expensive house with a pool inside and living in the snow

4. What does blogging teach you?

On a couple of my posts about France and French life there have been comments that give me feedback but also teach me new things about France that I never knew

5. Are short blog or long more popular on your blog?

I find that short posts are more popular because they display the info without being too long that people will start getting bored

6. What’s one thing you can do better on your blog?

Post more frequently instead of once or twice a week and do post about things outside of the french classroom as well

The blog review has helped them to get a perspective on what we are doing and has underlined that all the hard work, fun and , at times, frustration have led to something they can now appreciate and value . They have also discovered the world cares about what they say and do. It has opened their eyes to the fact they can connect globally.They can even see their own way clear to the next step now. Reviewing blogging helps clarify the picture. At times, when you are new to it , it can be like working in the fog. High level learning is like that. Sunshine and blue skies in the learning arena now we have done our reviews and I have some valuable feedback to build on for next term.

Google Tour Builder

I have blogged before about Google Tour Builder because it is a powerful classroom tool which students like to use because it is real. I am using it again this year and am offering you a different video to watch. Both videos explain well how to use the Tour Builder. As a French teacher it helps me help students get some authentic learning and also have a good reason to use their French. QuickTime will record their screen as   Tour Builder plays so they can import it into iMovie or some other software to enhance the tour even further.

I have just been through an odd experience in that Chrome will not run the Tour Builder Google Earth extension. I downloaded it but Chrome, a Google browser ,doesn’t seem to want to support Tour Builder any more. I am now running it on Safari and it works really well.

Never underestimate the power of peer support

tick

Peer support is invaluable

Image: freepik

It took a little bit of time on my part to match students but I gave all my year 10 students a blogging buddy from year 11 or 12. When I handed the blog addresses out   in class this morning , the year 10s were very attentive, very much on their game and making very sure they got it right. I got them to link to the buddy blog and then to visit the blog and like a post and then comment on one. You could have heard a pin drop and when I got up to investigate why it was taking so long and there was so much silence my year 10s were looking very carefully at the buddy blog they had been given. You could feel the energy lift and how important this was to the students. The next class was my year 11 and 12 class and I told them they all now had a Year 10 buddy to coach but one who would encourage them in their blogging. I had hardly got it out before the students had their laptops lids up and they were on their blogs looking for the year 10 magic. Again, there was an energy lift . The year 11s and 12s thought this was a fantastic idea and their pride was obvious. Peer support and respect mean a lot to students. It is an essential part of their learning and now I have my year 10s up and running and have connected the year levels, I shall be able to see for myself just how powerful a tool peer support and encouragement are. I use my year 11s to coach and mentor my year 12s as they go into their exams and major assessments. The level of commitment from the year 11s has always been inspiring and the positive impact it has on my year 12s is always openly acknowledged by them. Students can make each other strong and they can help each other enjoy and value learning in a way nothing else can. I’ll be able to build this cyber support now and see where it takes us.

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