Twitter in my classroom!
Last term the Head came in to my classroom and asked me to speak to the counties other headteachers and senior leaders at the @goprojectglos event about the ‘Power of Twitter’ for the modern teacher, senior leader and head. I was terrified yet felt pleased that I had the opportunity to share the ‘awesomeness’ that is Twitter with others. It was a great experience and one that my Head asked me to repeat at an Adfecto training event about ‘how to use Twitter as a middle leader’ and then again at our first teachmeet, #QLCTMGlos.
I set to task on how to communicate my enthusiasm and love for this incredibly user-friendly, free and fantastic tool. I thought about my short time using Twitter and how my confidence in to the Twitter-sphere had developed; first with baby steps, dipping in and out, secondly as a shameless re-tweeter of other people’s fantastic words of wisdom, blogs that I was moved by and of course comedy photos and thirdly as a collector of some amazing resources and ideas.
In this day and age we have to be responsible for our own CPD, cuts to school budgets have been such that going out to rather expensive day courses in some of our great cities are infrequent and are not perhaps as useful as they once were. Twitter facilitates CPD 24/7 and as lead leaders who are striving to keep learning and lessons ‘ringing’ for our students we have to be abreast of new innovations across the curriculum in learning and teaching and harness these gems personalising and differentiating them for the range of individuals in our classes, and Twitter will help you achieve this.
I didn’t realise until I had set up my account just over a year ago how many teachers were using Twitter to share, ask questions and seek answers as well as create entertaining blogs of classroom antics and school life. Frankly I was stunned.
So what impact has Twitter had on my classroom? Well I have become a huge magpie, a ‘mega-magpie’ even and my wonderful team of MFL teachers, past and present, will attest to having been frequently badgered in to ‘getting on Twitter’ so I don’t have to thrust paper copies at them and overload inbox’s with email attachments of amazing new tried and tested resources, ideas and strategies to employ in their own classrooms to make lessons ‘ring’.
I feel like I am teaching more varied and exciting lessons, which after 15 years isn’t such a bad thing, I am employing new and improved strategies and activities to see what works or how I can make the learning experience more engaging, more memorable and fun so they are learning accidentally and without realising it. My classroom is buzzing whether its period 1 or period 5, sunny Tuesday or rainy Friday. In a recent observation the class were so involved and excited I was delighted when one student squealed excitingly ‘Oh yes, I love this!’ The class involvement made the member of SLT jump and the atmosphere in the room was electric. Needless to say I was overjoyed.
The MFL team have joined Twitter in a professional capacity and are loving it, the sharing, the caring and almost certainly the magpie-ing!
Some of my favourite ‘magpie’ collection are:
1) Sharing Good Practice Wall
Despite sharing Good and Outstanding practice at departmental meetings I had seen an iPhone screen display wall as a sharing practice display and I wanted to create a wall in our MFL office where we could all trial ideas and share them without necessarily having to wait for a departmental meeting. Plus I wanted the team to remember to trial these ideas so with funky paper bags, and speech cards, the wall was created.
Each member of the team are encouraged to write on speech cards good practice ideas that they have tried and tested and share it with the rest of us. As a team, we dip in and see what ideas there are to try, we can have a peruse whilst making a cup of tea! It only takes a minute or two but can make a huge difference.2) Revision T-shirts
I saw this at #TMBristol. Students using sharpies & a t-shirt to revise in maths. The NQT in the team ‘favourited’ this idea and so began the search for t-shirts. We thought long and hard about how we can use this with KS4 students to help them avoid exam pitfalls so we decided to focus on key vocabulary focusing on red herrings, false friends and negatives. @MichelleCairns has produced some amazing exam language wordles which students had struggled to understand highlighted in recent Examiners reports. These are truly excellent!
So the ‘100 word listening’ wordles were given to students alongside the 100 most commonly used words in French or Spanish to not only extend their vocabulary but to raise awareness of these key words and potential issues. T-shirts were issued alongside the vocabulary wordle and lists, the classroom atmosphere was electric, the excitement of rainbow coloured sharpies was almost too much for some! No directions were given on how to use these other than to ‘learn the words that you don’t already know’ and off they went. Y11 were silent, creating their revision t-shirts, wordles on hand extending their vocabulary range as they went! Brilliant! The level of creativity and attention to detail is absolutely superb. We decided to build this over several weeks leading up to the Listening and Reading exams. Alongside other revision strategies and activities students are enjoying it.
If you have not yet managed to see this amazing free online tool, it is incredible. It makes the list of words that you input in to amazing starter activities, assists in vocabulary building, helps and enthuses all students in all classes. It is superb to encourage creativity, competition, improve accuracy and just to have fun. Learning new vocabulary and using it creatively can be fun and colourful!4) Tagxedo
If you love Wordle, you are going to love Tagxedo! @ICTEvangelist saw my fledgling posts extolling the use of Wordle and suggested I try it out. It is very similar to Wordle but you can group the words in to shapes. It is superb and another interesting, creative and colourful way to pass on key vocabulary or key information.
5) 9 Questions
In MFL, students love to speak in the Target Language in Y7 and Y8 but when puberty hits, not so much, but as a key language skill we have to ensure they can do this with ‘increasing fluency, improving intonation and accuracy’. @MissKMcD posted a fantastic #postitcompetition image where the task was for students to answer 7 of the projected questions on post it notes in 7 minutes.‘Magpieing’ this fantastic idea I set about creating 12 questions for each topic for all of the classes I was currently teaching to use this superb activity in groups to mix the class up a bit, increase competition, test their knowledge and understanding and to get them thinking and doing. With our students this evolved in two ways; one to improve quality and accuracy of the written answer by introducing level or GCSE assessment criteria, then allow students to improve their written responses using DIRT but also to get them speaking more by using their initial answer to develop a minimum 30 second spoken response to the question. This takes time but the collaborative engagement was high, across all year groups and in all classes across the department that have used this, quality of student response improved and students are increasingly aware of key aspects of assessment criteria. Students really enjoyed this and who doesn’t love a post it?
This free and easy app is available from the App store and for Android devices. This is a fantastic app to give a selection of your chosen images and ‘collage’ or ‘stitch’ them together using a range of frames. The editing aspect of this is very easy to use and there are a number of icons to get have fun with but this can be saved to your camera roll easily or shared across social media.
Students love to see an arrange of images presented in this way for starter and plenary activities such as ‘odd one out’ or to encourage thinking skills to ‘find the link’ as well as to develop the story or indeed to create clues with students in class to the next activity and I really love it.
All of these ideas I have discovered, ‘magpied’, shared and developed as a result of Twitter, and I am truly grateful to the colleagues that have shared them so freely. Thank you.Images thanks to: Gaping Void, Independent Thinking Press, @crownhousepublishing, @MissKMcD, http://www.wordle.net, www.tagxedo.com, @MichelleCairns, @MrDanPort, my wonderful Y11 French students and their revision tshirts, Y7 French students and #QLCTMGlos