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David Wilson

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Everything posted by David Wilson

  1. Holger: Have you done an online search with MFL and Moodle as search terms? I've just done one and several schools and courses were flagged up: http://learning.thedustonschool.northants....egory.php?id=16 http://www.rsc-london.ac.uk/cms/865/ http://www.ag-consulting.co.uk/mflelearning/tools.htm http://moodle.fallibroome.cheshire.sch.uk/...egory.php?id=12 When I've researched the use of ICT in MFL, I've always started with the problem - the teaching point within MFL I wanted to impart - before proceeding to the solution, which may or may not involve ICT. Choosing the solution before defin
  2. The teaching dream I used to have regularly was one about the A-level German Literature exam. I would go into the exam room to have a look at the paper, only to find that it had no questions about any of the set books I had taught my students. I had taught them the wrong set books, those prescribed either for the previous year's exam session or the following year's. I could barely look my students in the eye and they glared accusingly back at me from their desks. This never happened to me in real life, but I still occasionally dream the same nightmare even though I last taught A-level back in
  3. On the TES Forum, a poster drew my attention to an interesting statistical analysis of the relative difficulty of school subjects when they are examined at GCSE level: http://www.cemcentre.org/Documents/News/su...tiesbyrasch.pdf This topic seems timely as the annual debate goes on about what constitutes a "hard" and a "soft" subject. The traditional universities seem to favour the former, while even brighter school students are increasingly choosing to play safe with the latter at KS4 option time. I'm particularly concerned about the way this trend is impinging on continuation rates for MFL.
  4. I'm glad I moved from MFL into Special Educational Needs in the mid-1990s. When my school was 11-18, it used to be a worry getting enough "bums on seats" to run a one-class (Upper and Lower Sixth together) A-level German course. Now the problem is affecting KS4 MFL. Surely the government must have seen this coming when they decided to make MFL study voluntary after key stage 3. The oft-vaunted rejoinder that primary MFL will compensate for the drop in pupil numbers doesn't give me any satisfaction. I lived through the first, Nuffield, primary MFL initiative back in the late 1960s and early 19
  5. I agree with Graham. I check into the forum regularly, always clicking the "View New Posts" button, and I'm always disappointed when the JFK thread is the only one to be active. These days, I spend most of my "online forum time" with the TES Forum, which has very active modern languages and special needs sections, the two areas that interest me professionally. The TES Forum has the advantage of a "critical mass" of primary and secondary school teachers who are prepared to read messages and respond with advice and opinion. The forum has an excellent resource bank to which I have contributed - s
  6. David, This is an interesting viewpoint and very logical. However, it leaves one very vital step out of the equation. New tools and technologies are not created by teachers and are not developed with teachers as their core audience. Flash, for example, was put together to assist web designers in their work. Therefore, it is up to teachers to spot the potential in these applications and exploit them for their own ends. In the grand scheme of things, Flash is new and we are just starting to unlock its potential. It will only be when usage among teachers increases that we can say with exactly
  7. My main concern is that starting with a computer program - Flash - instead of a particular teaching point/activity/lesson, which any teacher would recognise - is putting the cart before the horse. There will always be a technological divide among teachers so long as the ICT-adept talk about a "new way of thinking" without anchoring it to at least a few curriculum-based examples which would be familiar to all teachers. There has to be a strong, compelling reason to make initiative-weary teachers change their practice and adopt a new teaching tool. In the 1990s, my brother encouraged me to set
  8. Well, you might begin by getting acquainted with the authoritative comparative education textbooks, e.g.: George Bereday, "Comparative method in education" (Holt, Rinehart and Winston) I. L. Kandel, "The new era in education: a comparative study" (Harrap) Edmund J. King, "Other schools and ours" (Holt, Rinehart and Winston) Victor Mallinson, "An introduction to the study of comparative education" (Heineman) Be aware, though that the above may be considered a little outdated: they were recommended in the 1970s and 1980s and I dare say other luminaries may have superseded them. I've just d
  9. Sohair: I know a little about comparative education, having submitted an MEd research thesis on the teaching of English and French in the schools of the German Democratic Republic back in the mid-1980s. I made a point then of studying the authorities on comparative education, including Marc-Antoine Jullien de Paris who founded the discipline, and such luminaries as Kandel and Mallinson. One of the best introductions to the subject of comparative education is Bereday's "Comparative Method in Education", which explains, with examples, how to analyse and evaluate an element of education in one,
  10. My only experience of "Flash" is when websites ask me to download software to run it when I access them. I'm afraid my reaction is simply to exit the site concerned. I commend you on beginning with "how TEACHERS can use Flash" rather than "How to use Flash". I wonder, however, whether that goes back far enough down the problem-solving path. My "take" on problem-solving is that we teachers have to begin with a proper definition of a teaching and learning problem before we start looking round for solutions, some of which might involve information technology. There are so many ICT solutions arou
  11. Last weekend, on another forum, a contributor complained about the plethora of unexpanded abbreviations and acronyms used in educational inclusion in general and special educational needs in particular. I enjoy problem-solving and did some research on existing abbreviations lists, compiled by national government, local authorities and support organisations. No list seemed definitive, or regularly kept up to date, so I decided to compile my own. It's already been welcomed by two online forums dedicated to SEN, so I thought I'd draw colleagues' attention to its existence here. I am sure there ar
  12. Chinese, alongside Arabic and Farsi, is also the American choice of future school foreign language on "national security" grounds, according to a recent American Educational Research Association article entitled "Foreign Language Instruction: Implementing the Best Teaching Methods" at http://www.aera.net/uploadedFiles/Journals...RP_Spring06.pdf It makes interesting reading as it illustrates how much we and the States have in common when it comes to the teaching of MFL in schools. As for the point of teaching MFL in schools, one could argue that most countries will sell things to us in Engli
  13. There's a new MFL-specific "Ask an Expert" session running throughout May on the BECTa Schools website, entitled "ICT activities, resources and approaches for inclusive MFL teaching", at: http://schools.becta.org.uk/index.php?sect...022007631de7c77 I'm delighted to say that Graham Davies' excellent ICT4LT website has finally got a mention on the BECTa site! It's listed among the resources and in one of the answers to questions. Do come and ask a question if you have an interest in the use of ICT with "included" foreign language learners, e.g. those with special educational needs, the gifted
  14. I agree with Graham. During my surgery last year, I was eager to maintain as much control over my life as possible while I was in hospital. Every day I purchase a copy of the Daily Mail, whose anti-state-education stance I abhor, but whose puzzles, cartoons and "answers to questions" I enjoy each morning before school begins. I looked forward in hospital to the man coming round and selling newspapers so that I could do my daily soduku. It kept my daily routine going, something I value very much as a single person. Like lots of people of my baby-boom generation, I grew up listening to the "wir
  15. Having been brought up on the grammar-translation method, I found audio-lingualism a nightmare. During the school year 1968-1969, when I worked as an English Language Assistant in a lycée in central France, I decided to attend a course of lectures for foreigners at the local university. Language laboratory courses were on offer at intermediate and advanced level. With the arrogance of youth, I decided on the advanced course. Hubris soon had its consequences. In the first lesson, over my headphones, I heard 30-word sentences in the present tense which I had to repeat with each verb converted to
  16. In my message I speculated that coursework might enhance girls' academic achievement because conventional wisdom says that they respond better to continuous assessment while boys tend to perform better in end-of-course exams. Does anybody have any hard, or even anecdotal, evidence to support or refute this hypothesis?
  17. I found the coursework element in MFL a mixed blessing to teach. It's very difficult to judge how much help to give without penalising the student in the process by spoonfeeding them. If coursework is abolished, it would be interesting to see what effect this would have not only on GCSE results but also on the relatively better performance of girls in public examinations. Didn't boys outshine girls at one time because end of course assessment suited them better? They preferred leaving their revision to the last minute, while girls are more prepared to submit work regularly for continuous asses
  18. No, your son is not being "included", he is just being "mainstreamed" by his school without appropriate support. All I can say is that "full inclusion" doesn't exist anywhere, schools are just at different stages in their progress towards inclusion. Where they are now must be compared with where they began 25 years ago, when children with special educational needs were barely receiving training, let alone an education, in special schools which were then little more than day centres. I know it is no excuse, but things do move very slowly in the world of education. The SEN training given to te
  19. The February 2006 issue of the Becta ICT in Secondary Magazine is now available online on the ICT Advice website. The Focus on MFL section can be accessed using the following link: http://schools.becta.org.uk/index.php?sect...ubsectionid=115 The following items are in this month's edition: Made in Scotland The new Modern Foreign Languages Environment for Scottish languages teachers. The VerbCast An innovative form of verbal delivery. Recommended resources for MFL teaching and learning Create comic strips, contrast life in the UK and Germany, and take to the football field. Days to r
  20. He has resigned the party leadership... http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4590688.stm David Wilson http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/
  21. Happy New Year - Bonne Année - Prosit Neujahr - Feliz Ano Nuevo! There's a word search with renderings of the greeting into other languages at: http://www.puzzle-club.com/happy-new-year-word-search.html I wonder when fireworks first became part of New Year celebrations here in the UK? One more example of globalisation, no doubt. We used to be content with a glass of sherry, some bits of shortbread, a piece of coal for first-footing and Jimmy Shand and his Band playing in the background... David Wilson http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/
  22. This is the usual, but definitely not the sensible way to introduce new technology, where the funding all goes on hardware and there's no money or time allocated to technical, let alone pedagogical, training on its use. It's placing the solution ahead of the problem, which isn't even properly defined. School storage spaces are cluttered with dusty examples of unused educational technology because of this short-sighted policy. What does an "integrationist" do, Raymond? Is it to do with the adoption of new technology, or as the name implies, to do with the inclusion of students with special edu
  23. Every classroom in my school is equipped with a data projector and a screen and we are encouraged to use this resource. As for an interactive whiteboard, I do believe we have one or two somewhere in the school, but I don't know anybody who uses one. The conclusion I draw from my own institution is that access is a key feature of technology adoption. Personally, I don't see the point of planning a lesson around a piece of hardware if it is one of its kind and therefore may be unavailable when I most need it. Furthermore, in my own 22 years' experience with information technology, I've found th
  24. I think too that there aren't enough teachers on this forum wanting their classroom problems to be shared and solved. I trawl a lot of online forums and when I find an issue that I can respond to, I am always eager to post a reply. My website is devoted to modern languages, special needs and information technology issues. I have lots of teaching resources on my computer, but not on my website. When somebody on a forum asks for help, say, with a lesson on telling the time in German, I rush to upload my own resources on the topic to my website. That way my resources are genuinely problem-solving
  25. This newspaper story has attracted many comments: http://www.thisisexeter.co.uk/displayNode....&folderPk=79877 I'm hoping for a few comments here as well... The article has all the usual features of a local special educational needs/special educational provision mismatch with the local education authority emerging as the evil ogre. I wonder, though, whether there are lessons to be learnt beyond the knee-jerk "if funds were released, everything would be fine" response? After all, would the public at large be prepared to pay the higher taxes required to fund an educational service where
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