The results are in

le sport

I wouldn’t even have considered trying the computational thinking approach to my Year 10 topic of Talking about Sport unless I was fairly certain it would succeed or , at least, sustain a level of competence in myself and my class which was credible. These are Year 10s going into Year 11. Calculated risk and intelligent trials are worth the effort and will improve performance and outcomes. Flying blind with no sight of the ground is not an option. As you can see from the last post I restructured the topic to ensure it met with the computational thinking elements. I am refreshing my own coding skills so I was more than acutely aware that every tiny bit matters and that it is not a sin to be working in the dark. I was also aware that when you take yourself up to higher level learning you have to copy. You have to look to who can do it and learn from them by leaning on them and their knowledge. Soon, your brain patterns the information and you can start doing things for yourself. The end part of my Sport topic was an assessment of a dialogue where one student was wildly enthusiastic about sport and the other one was very reluctant and negative. We built it up from vocabulary, to expressions, to specific sentence patterns for positives and negatives. We reinforced it all with online training. We listened to French people talking about sport and listened for what we could recognise. We did small exercises to practice one thing and put them on our blogs. We did tiny orals to get used to saying things. They then had to emulate a dialogue we could hear and see online. They changed it a bit and we listened to the original dialogue and then they had to do their version and record it. We then came to their having to do an authentic dialogue of their own. I had marked a dialogue of theirs at the beginning of term. They weren’t bad but they were a bit awkward and I could hear the students were not comfortable at this level of French even though they could understand it. I am now really glad I decided to go about the Talking about Sport dialogue in a computational thinking way. It has made a considerable difference. I was marking the sport dialogues yesterday. They had all handed them in. They sounded confident and competent. They sounded like they were relaxed and having fun. The dialogues were far more natural and their pronunciation was so much better. Working though a topic or lesson from a small thing to a bigger thing is not foreign to me because I have been using gaming principles for a couple of years now. The computational thinking approach has refined that further and is a logical next step to that methodology.

Which images are the best?

images Simple enough scenario. At one point in my year 9 lesson I had shown 3 little videos and one really image rich slide presentation on Paris. I was setting up the iMovie project for next term. Once we had seen them all I wrote some questions on the board and asked them to go onto Twiducate to record their responses. It then became a very curious lesson, the likes of which you can live for as a teacher because it is startling how students behave sometimes. This is a class of 32 bright and very capable students. There is a really good mix of talents and interests and they pick up on things quickly. They are also very genuine in their willingness to learn. What happened though was baffling and has given me plenty to think about. Our first issue was the wifi was being flaky for reasons best know to itself. Happens sometimes but not often. I got myself back on the Net and showed the class how I had done that and about half of them got back on the Net too. I then said if they couldn’t get on the Net to just write up their responses and then put them in Twiducate later. Some of them got out their books and a pen and started writing. One complained loudly they had no pen and paper. Okay, here you are. Not that hard to find a piece of paper and a pen. But why? They have MacBook Pros. They have hundreds of dollars worth of software. Not one had thought to go onto Word or some other text software to write up their responses so they could cut and paste later. So I said , “Why don’t you open up Word? You can cut and paste later.” They looked at me like I had gone mad. They were supposed to be writing in Twiducate. They were supposed to be on the Net. After 5 minutes of implementation block we rose above it and settled into the responses. Then came the questions. “What do you mean by question 2?” I found it odd they just didn’t use the words in the question or the words they didn’t understand. So I looked at question 2. “Which did you think were the best images?” Was it something I said? Was it the way I said it? Was it images? I should have asked. I was baffled. Okay, we have just looked at 3 little videos and a slide presentation. They have been full of images. Which ones did you think were the best to look at? I was asked that question several times. On Monday I have to ask them what it was about the question that stumped them. You couldn’t plan or foresee a moment like that. Teaching can provide some unique experiences and with the addition of technology they become even more unique. In the responses I can see at the moment they think high definition, colourful images are the best…and so we make progress.

Josefine Grimm-Blenk

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