Puzzle it out

May 16, 2012

I’ve been experimenting this week with Jigsaw planet – a whizzy free web application that creates an online jigsaw in a matter of seconds out of any image you have uploaded.  You can make the puzzle as easy or hard as you like by choosing anything between 4 and 300 pieces, by varying the shape from a simple square to a normal “jigsaw” like piece or even something more complex, and by choosing to rotate the pieces or not.  There are a number of features of this tool which are particularly useful when it comes to your students completing them:

  • You can click to see a pop up smaller version of the completed image
  • A “ghost” image of the completed puzzle can be shown behind the pieces
  • There is an audible “click” each time a piece is joined to another one correctly
  • Once pieces have been joined together they can be moved “as one piece
  • It’s perfect for using with an interactive whiteboard, so great for motivating pupils and promoting pupil engagement
  • The time taken to complete a puzzle is recorded so it makes for fun team games

I first tried it with my lunch time Chinese club – a 24 piece puzzle with 4 characters on it, each with a different coloured background.  I’ve got some keen little year 7 boys who often turn up ahead of the main group so it’s useful to have something they can be getting on with whilst we wait for the others to arrive.  Once they had completed the puzzle they had to say which character was the odd one out and why (focus on radicals).  I did a similar activity with year 13s;  their puzzle was of 4 items of clothing, the odd one out being the item which takes a different measure word.

I’ve been thinking of other uses for this application and so far I have thought of:

  • Puzzle made of objectives for lesson – pupils predict and work out what these are
  • Puzzle made up of a Wordle, which in turn represents a text – pupils predict what the text is about.  Here’s an example I’ve made from the Auβenseiter song
  • Puzzle is of a series of images – pupils use the language of speculation (I think, it could be, maybe it’s….) whilst completing the puzzle and the completed image is the stimulus for a Group talk activity.
  • The puzzle is an image, which  is a stimulus to developing intercultural understanding or for discussing something culturally specific to the target language country with pupils
  • The puzzle image is a text which makes completing it a reading task

Brookfield conference 27.01.12

January 27, 2012

Just returned from the languages conference at Brookfield school in Hampshire – it was a pleasure to meet with so many of you today.  As promised, I’ve uploaded the slides from my keynote address about motivation.

In the workshop sessions I talked about using the Olympic values and authentic resources;  I’ve also produced a document with links to useful sites to do with the Olympics.

If you are interested in using the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics song J’imagine just be aware that this Youtube video has some spelling mistakes in the French;  however, the images that accompany it are quite striking.   If you do a Google search for the song + paroles or lyrics there may also be some mistakes!!  The French lyrics on this video are more or less correct (although I did spot at least one typo) and it also has the English translation (albeit with one or two mistranslations!).  Of course you could always challenge the learners to spot the mistakes……

The living graph exercise we looked at was based on the life of Rick Hansen, a Canadian paralympian;  this site is in both French and English.  His biography also features on Wikipedia in both English and German.  A Living graph or Fortune line is one of a number of thinking skills strategies, along with Collective memory, which are described in more detail in the National strategies publication Leading in Learning.

The bits of text about Omega watches  in the “triggered” slide came from Wikipedia; if you are looking for text in another language, just look at the “other languages” section on the left hand side…

The Senegalese athlete, Amadou Dia Bâ,  talking about his experience of the Olympics came from the Parole citoyenne website; if you put “olympique” into the “recherche” box there are some more interesting articles on this website.  As I mentioned in the workshop the problems facing African athletes, such as the Congolese swimmers, can be an interesting starting point when thinking about equality (of opportunity) and determination, two of the Olympic values.

We also talked about using Wordles and how to use Audacity to slow down an audio file.


Strategies for motivation

November 30, 2011

Just back from a “flying” visit to the CIEP (actually travelled by Eurostar!) where I was a speaker and workshop facilitator yesterday at Forlang.  It was an impressive venue  as the CIEP occupies an imposing eighteenth century building (it formerly housed the Royal Sèvres porcelain factory).

It was a pleasure meeting and working with teacher trainers from across Europe.  Thank you for letting me work you so hard, especially after our two hour lunch break!  I think we had a very profitable session with a good exchange of ideas and views.

As promised, the various resources I shared and used yesterday are here:

Presentation slides

Forlang seminar Motivation workshop

The Forlang card sort activity_teacher strategies – card sort and photos

Authentic resources – Authentic resources_newspaper headlines activity

The Thinking skills strategies slides – The resources for the “mystery” thinking skills activity Ben and Sophie go on holiday can be found on this website (under Year 9).  A “mystery” is one of many thinking skills strategies that are described in this PDF from the Northern Ireland curriculum website.  This website is also listed in my own personal bibliography  for the seminar.

Here are the links to the two short videos I showed:

Fun stairs

French oral exam

…and finally here are the photos I took of the Forlang flipcharts


WWW or the wonderful world of Wordle

April 30, 2010

 

The image above is a Wordle of the importance statement of the MFL  programme of study.  It is a word cloud created by a free online application at www.wordle.net/  which randomizes text and displays the words according to the frequency of the words used (the more frequent the word, the bigger the word).  It has tremendous potential for use in the classroom in terms of developing language learning and thinking skills:

  1. As a starter – to introduce new vocabulary or topic.    At a simple level pupils can be given a wordle of vocabulary or text  from a new topic area and they can work individually/ in pairs/groups to identify which words they know, which ones they can guess (cognates) and which ones they need to use dictionary skills to work out.  At advanced level learners can be give a wordle of a text which they use as a starting point for a discussion trying  to predict the context.
  2. To apply their knowledge about  language to categorise the words in the wordle.  e.g. nouns/verbs/adjectives or to classify nouns by gender.
  3. As a plenary/tool for AfL – e.g. a wordle created of TL and English words which pupils have to match up or a wordle in the TL in which they demonstrate their knowledge about language  or phonics or their ability to use language creatively.
  4. To demonstrate understanding of phonics by classifying words by their phonemes/letter strings.
  5. As a revision aid – a summary of a particular topic or context or as an aide-memoire.
  6. To help pupils develop presentation and spontaneous speaking skills.
  7. To show the results of a class survey or poll or as a display.
  8. To promote creativity – pupils are challenged to create sentences/stories etc from words on a wordle.
  9. As a tool in a listening exercise – pupils cross out the words they can identify in a spoken text.
  10. To encourage self reflection (PLTS – reflective learners) and to  improve written work – the frequency count in a wordle will highlight words that can get over used e.g. “intéressant” or “lustig”.  A  wordle can also make it easier for pupils to spot their own mistakes (e.g. in the incorrect use of accents) as it breaks up the normal order of words, thus making it less likely that they will simply gloss over their mistakes.

These are just some of the few ways in which a wordle can be used and they are dead simple to create as you can see here:

View more presentations from lizfotheringham.