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ICT in a Secondary French Class

16 August 2009 No Comment

I am privileged to work with an incredibly motivated and creative teacher who is always exploring the best ways to engage her students.  She teaches French and was recently profiled in the New Zealand ICT PD Newsletter and I just wanted to cross-post the article here so as others who may not read the newsletter may be inspired by Florence as I have been!  Check out her blog here and Florence is also on twitter look for @froggieflo

Florence Lyons, a French teacher at Matamata College talks about her students’ experiences with ICTs as well as her own. Her passion for embracing new technologies is a positive role model to the students she teaches.

“As soon as I started teaching in New Zealand,  I was impressed by how many teachers had embraced technology. I consider myself very lucky to work in a school where the use of ICT within the class is promoted  – by easy access to computers, laptops and other gadgets that help make teaching easier. It has certainly helped with my own teaching, as using ICTs allows me to be more flexible and aides in lesson preparation as everything is one place and I don’t need to look everywhere for resources that I cannot find!

Since I have started using ICT on a more regular basis, I have noticed that the students are more engaged and the number of pupils willing to carry on French has increased dramatically. We live in a country where the learning of languages is not promoted or valued enough, therefore, it should be a priority for language teachers to help to engage more students in this area. Within my classroom, Powerpoint is one of the key tools used to engage students through choice-based and kynesthetic activities.  For video examples on how Powerpoint is used can be found on my blog.

FlorenceThis year my Year 9 class told me that they wanted to research a famous French person and present their findings to the class using technology. In this case, accessing the Internet allowed the students access to flexible learning contexts.  Because they felt that they were learning what they wanted to learn, they were very enthusiastic and I was impressed by their work ethic and motivation.  They were eager to conduct the research and present their findings to the class. During their presentations they were both passionate about relating their findings to the rest of the class and also interested in the presentations of others.  I believe it is very important to let students learn what they want as this increases their enthusiasm as was particularly evident in this instance. Their presentations were of an extremely high quality, containing many images and video clips.

This year I have started to use Twitter which allows me to connect with teachers from around the world.  This has led to the development of collaborative class projects with two teachers and their classes from the USA. Toni Theisen, a French teacher from Loveland, Colorado, and I found we were both studying the same French novel, Le Petit Prince.  So we have created a common Wikispace so that both classes could contribute – sharing ideas and discussing elements of the text. http://loveland-matamata.wikispaces.com/

Working across time-zones is a problem for us with real-time collaboration.  However, my students were happy to come early in the morning to participate to an online sharing activity using Etherpad with Cristy Vogel. From this activity came an exchange of emails between the students and the prospect of doing similar activities will be available once the summer vacation ends in the USA. The teachers and I felt that it was more important for our students to be communicating with other students learning French as a foreign language, rather than connecting with native French speakers, due to the level of language they have access to.

I have also just begun to use Edmodo which is like an educational version of Twitter with my students.  This allows me to communicate easily my students, by sending web addresses or other information to either the whole class or to individual students.

Twitter also introduced me to the concept Flashmeeting. This has enabled me to participate in conferences or meetings with teachers who are leaders in their fields regardless of where they live in the world.  These meetings have not only provided a wealth of ideas for my own classroom, but have also reassured me that although I teach at the bottom of the world, my teaching is in-line with that of teachers from England or the USA.

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