How your brain learns

This is a great video to show anyone who wants to know how their brain works. It is also a good video to show students because it is clear and explains things very well. It is also a good example of how you can teach complex information in a digestible form so that anyone can understand it. The combination of hand drawn information, animation, clip art and then a voice over really does encourage understanding. The Learning Pod has other videos on a variety of topics to help people understand various things particularly in the area of Maths. There have been no new videos for a while. I wonder why? It would be of benefit to keep these sorts of videos funded and resourced.


Master penman Jake Weidmann is an amazing teacher and student. His capacity to learn and apply his knowledge becomes self-evident. He is one of twelve master penmen in the world and he is 20 years younger than the others. He gives what he is doing his heart and soul and then puts in all the hours of application to be the shining light he is. He epitomises the art of learning, the art of knowing and now the art of teaching. This video can show us how someone can be encouraged to learn and know. The bottom line is commitment.

Old technology meets the new generation

This is funny but it is interesting in so many ways. The old gadgets are so familiar to me but so is the new way of doing things. I have mastered the old skills and the new ones. These children are looking to do that too but you can hear how in charge of the new technology they are. They seem to be modest, balanced, interested and full of good humour. These children have a good way of engaging with learning. Not just good. It’s impressive. In the typewriter scene you hear about how the  young boy creating his own story, The Lost Island. His ideas are complex and well thought out. In the mean time you watch the young girl become totally entranced with the typewriter and she is watching it all very closely. Ellen engages the children by talking to them, asking some natural questions and then using humour. We then watch a generational exchange of ideas and had the video gone on for longer some real learning and creativity would have occurred. It was connecting everyone’s knowledge and it was about collaborating. This video also demonstrates clearly that being on familiar ground makes you feel confident. The young boy exclaims how complicated an answering machine is but now he is ready to learn something new and the potential of it. Finding ways of generating curiosity and teaching content at the same time has been mastered well in this video. Everyone is learning and everyone is teaching. That’s how it works!

Learning and unlearning

board workMy year 9s are fierce learners. I can learn and unlearn with them all the time and we have it down to an art form now. We’ll learn something and get good at it then I’ll change the goal posts and expectations and we’ll relearn. In the process we are all learning. 31 students and I have partnered to make a learning conglomerate of impressive proportions. I have taught them about presentations as well as French. We like a challenge. They have taught me to go back out to the front of my class and play to an audience of willing learners who are not at all passive. They want to engage and interact all the time. I have taught them the importance and value of listening and taking it all in. The last assignments I have constructed for them are to test their capacity to be strong, independent, learners . We have created a complex text to introduce ourselves. It is one of the most important things you have to learn in a language. You have to be good at introducing yourself. The text we constructed was based on all we had learnt this year. They have loaded it onto the LMS so I can mark it and they have been invited to read it out to me so I can hear them and help them. I now want them so make a video.

“So we just video ourselves saying the text?
“We make a character or use Puppet Pals and record our voices over the animation?
“What then?”
” I want a video where you showcase presenting yourself and your French in your best light. People won’t know you. Make a video that lets people know you.”
“Can we use a Teddy Bear?”
“Can you? Is it your video or my video?”
“Tell us what you want.”
” I want a video where you speak French and present yourself and introduce yourself in a grand way to the world.”

There was a lot of silence and they fiddled on their iPads. “Can we put pictures in it?”
“Do you want to put pictures in it?”

More silence and some drifted off into the online language learning programme we have and showed me how well they were doing.

The next lesson I came in and suggested we do a group brainstorm about what would make a great video if we were going to present ourselves to the world in French. What they came up with in 10 minutes demonstrated how in touch they are with the online video world. Having a “mad intro” and then a “mad outro” was something which immediately set their imaginations on fire. They were trawling through all the videos they’d seen with cool beginnings and endings. The fact they used mad and then invented the word outro to match intro was interesting and fun. Their language. It was now their work. They suggested jokes and memes but also very valuable things like clear voices and syncing text and images. Now they all got it. They had unlearned worrying about what the teacher wanted and learned they could create a unique, original video with the text we had constructed.

questionsOur language work this week was on questions. French questions are more complex and more varied than in English. We had to unlearn our English to take the French  into our heads and mouths. I spent 2 lessons looking at different ways of asking a question but we had started with the questioning words and built up from that. Today was the third lesson. My starter sample question is at the top and in 10 minutes they had 9 other variations on that question which just came out of their mouths. We had unlearnt worrying about if we made a mistake and learned to have a go. We learned that when we got stuck someone finished it off for us. We learned we were pretty clever really and unlearned we were only year 9s.

Teaching backwards

learning backwards Image: Free Ppt Templates
When I want to lift up the learning and achievement in my students I teach backwards. With technology and blogging that has become a lot easier because I can get exactly what I need at each step along the way , I can get feedback in class and then look at the learning on their blogs. When you look at student blogs you can see each student is quite different as they process information in their own individual way. It really makes you appreciate the value of differentiation. I blogged about how my year 9s had wanted to see what I meant when I asked them to make up a planet. I took that lesson on board from them and now, when I want my year 10s to advertise Adelaide in French , I thought, well, the best thing I can do is show them French people advertising Australia to their own people. I found two vloggers who were approaching it differently. One uses his iPhone and creates very popular videos of his road trips which are quite spontaneous and funny. The other one has a polished approach and sets up videos and interviews and has roadtripped himself around the world this way and it is now his job. That in itself opened the eyes of my Year 10s. They found it interesting to think French people did this. I could then show the Xavier by bike blog – Don’t dream your life, just live your dreams. Xavier did a bike road trip from Lille to Dubai and blogged about his adventure, with videos in French and English. They could understand bits and pieces of the videos but could see how French people advertise Australia to their own people. We then fed in some vocabulary, expressions and ideas for presentations. As they sorted out their own thoughts on that, I constructed my own brochure on the board as they looked around for what they thought they needed. It isn’t really about connecting the dots. Students are in the internet age. They have a lot of packets of information and ideas in their heads. It’s more an atomic approach to learning where you get the electrons and neutrons to fly around the nucleus of the core learning to create something structured and meaningful. I want my year 10s to produce an advertising text for Adelaide and then a one minute video in French to advertise Adelaide. As we go along I can feed in more vocabulary and expressions, we can look at the videos again and they will be able to see they are achieving something valuable. We have started with shop recommendations. In both of the videos they looked at what our shops were  like and we have done plenty of shopping vocabulary and practice so it’s a good place to start. educereEducation comes from the latin educere. I am a firm believer in leading them out and up.

Josefine Grimm-Blenk

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