Tuesday, 25 February 2014

'Crowdsourcing' for MFL - QR codes, translate, Google forms and Miley Cyrus

I realised last half term that in between trying to get my year 11s up to scratch for their final controlled assessments and 'flipping' the learning quite so enthusiastically with my Spanish classes that somewhere along the line I had lost the spark with my year 8 dual language class. I have started to get a little more creative with them of late, (one lesson was centred around a local ice cream parlour that had opened up which I must share at a later date) so Monday morning, first lesson back after half term it was time to invite Miley Cyrus into our classroom...

This is an exceptionally bright class who learn 2 languages in 5 hours a fortnight. I have them for 3 hours, cramming in as much as possible to stretch them yet still keep them enthused in the hope they might opt next year. Our current unit of work is Austausch (Exchange) which leads nicely up to our annual German exchange trip on 30th March of which a number of pupils in the class are attending. The pupils had already covered the basics of introducing yourself to your partner and their family so this lesson centred around making polite requests. The starter was a simple picture hook:

The QR code was a link to a one-question Google form. Pupils had to compose a question / request they might have at their exchange partner's house in English, ready for us to have a go at translating later once we had mastered the question forming skill. I then quickly copied all the responses and put the words into a Wordle so that pupils could see the language they would need for the lesson. I had told them to make sure they include 'May I...?' as their sentence starter, so this was our most frequent and therefore largest word in the Wordle. We elicited as a class that we needed to figure out how to ask the question so I presented the key questions from the scheme of work on the board with some cleverly placed colour coding. Pupils had to discuss briefly what they thought each question meant in English and see if they could see any patterns:

We then revealed the rule hiding under the stars referring to what an infinitive is and reminding ourselves that when we have two verbs in a statement the second one is kicked to the end. It was then time to refer back to the Wordle to translate some of the questions. Pupils had to pick 5 English questions, with 3 being silly and 2 being sensible. We had a wide variety of creative questions being suggested and in the same way, using another QR code, pupils typed in their German translations and I watched their responses come in on the Google form. This was great as a quick feedback tool as I could say to pupils when they had missed a spelling or if their word order was wrong and they could resend their question. Our plenary consisted of using a random name picker to select students to translate back to English some of the questions that they had generated. "Darf ich deine Abrissbirne reiten?" was a common question - asking Miley if they may ride her wrecking ball as she famously did in the video for the song of the same name! I love that the Germans call it a 'wrecking pear' as opposed to a 'wrecking ball' (or at least that's what we found in the dictionary!).

I have been thinking a lot about the SAMR model here when planning lessons - and upon explaining the lesson plan to a colleague who wanted to do something similar but who was feeling less confident with the technology, it dawned on me that this perhaps wasn't use of new technology for redefinition of a task. I could just as easily have used post-it notes to gather a range of responses quickly therefore I feel the starter and development of the lesson is probably in the augmentation stage - using new technology to change the way in which we do things in the classroom we have already been doing. However using Wordle to visually show key vocab by frequency is completely new for the classroom and I couldn't have done this without the internet or my laptop - besides copying out all the words countless times. My aim was to do something fun and silly but also creative and that would allow the pupils to develop their question forming skill and I feel using the technology in this way was an efficient way of doing this not to mention motivating as they saw their answers pop up on screen in 'real' time.

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