Thursday, 6 November 2014

Using VOKI in lesson... without a computer!

This week I was observed in my new school for the first time. I wanted to use some new technology in the lesson, despite the lack of iPads available in the department, as it has always been the thing that people ask me most questions about with my teaching, particularly since I made the switch from a very Apple centred school to where I am now. The problem, however, was thinking of a way to incorporate the technology into the lesson without actually having devices for each of the pupils to use.

With my year 9 mixed ability German class (pre-option group as KS3 is years 7, 8 & 9 here), we have just begun the topic of School. Having revised school subjects and basic opinions in the previous lesson, this lesson was focussing on use of varied adjectives to justify opinions and to revisit comparison structures. At the beginning of the lesson, pupils matched some new adjectives and practised these before going over the formation of a comparison structure.

I decided I wanted to do a listening activity to enable the pupils to do some self assessment (and hopefully show to my observers that progress had been made in the lesson: tick!) so I quickly created a VOKI, incorporating the structures from the lesson that we wanted to practise, so comparisons and complex 'weil' clauses. You can see the VOKI avatar here:

We completed a simple listening comprehension worksheet where the pupils had to select the correct option from three given choices for 8 questions. Once we had been through this and marked it, it was time for the pupils to move on to producing a text of their own. I gave the pupils a transcript of the listening and we came up with a checklist for their own text - things they wanted to include to make theirs better than mine. Now it was time for the tech without the tech bit!

I gave pupils mini whiteboards and a 1 minute timer. They had to draw an avatar on their whiteboard before the time ran out. Once the time was up, I played the theme tune to countdown, whilst they played 'pass the parcel' with their mini whiteboards. As soon as the music had ended, whichever whiteboard they had ended up with became their avatar. Pupils then listened to one another's texts in pairs whilst holding their avatar up in front of their faces. This was just for fun but also within this mixed ability group I think it served a real purpose - we took the emphasis away from the awkwardness of speaking a foreign language in front of our peers and moved it towards enjoying the moment of being silly. Every pupil in the room spoke their text out loud and I'm convinced that we had longer responses from some pupils than perhaps I had had before. I really enjoyed the lesson and it seemed that the pupils were motivated and engaged too - fingers crossed my company enjoyed it as much as we did!

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