At Featherstone we are currently on curriculum week (which actually lasts two weeks) in which students go in trips and attend various themed workshops. Last Friday Year 8 took part in One World day, a day where pupils took part in various activities that promoted the values of global unity and exposure to other cultures. The reason for my blog is to talk about the languages session that I ran, which was a linguistic treasure hunt. More specifically I’m going to focus on the use of Weebly and Google Forms.
On laptops, pupils logged on to a prepared Weebly website which had instructions for an activity to be completed. Each activity was language based; verb sudoku, a word search and jig saw puzzle, to give a few examples. Each activity then had some form of question linked to it (the words in the word search formed a question e.g. What is the German word for India?) and each answer was inserted into a purpose made web link template that lead onto the next web page (mrclark[insertanswer].weebly.com). Pupils thus completed that activities almost entirely independently (they had three life lines for support) for around 40 minutes. This could be used in the classroom to foster independent learning, allow for extensions or personalised activities for the pupils as well as reducing teacher talk. You could also differentiate by resource as some pupils could work from the Weebly pages whilst the teacher works with another group.
The second resource which was effective was the Google Form used by the pupils to answer the data. Google Forma can be created for free (with a Google account) via Google Drive. You can choose between a range of types of questions (text answer, multiple choice and range (1-5) to give a few examples). You can also choose which you’d like to be ‘required’ questions, that must be answered so that the form can be submitted. Then once the forms are submitted, the answers are collated into a spreadsheet which can be made into graphs and charts so that the data may be analysed. This has a wide range of potential in the class room; they could be used for plenaries, formative and summative assessment and to generate information from your pupils pastorally or for any other use. All that you need to do is create the form, save it and share the link with pupils, who don’t need a Google account to complete it, who complete it and submit it and the results are saved automatically. I used it so that pupils could answer questions on a the cultural information written into each activity and it was really easy to use and I’ll certainly be using it next year for classroom and homework tasks.
Controlled assessment can often take up a lot of administration time, if you don’t have the correct equipment. None of us went into teacher to do admin; it’s the part of the job we accept needs doing, so anything to make that process more time efficient is a bonus! In our department we use to use Audacity, which by all accounts is a useful (free) recording tool, there’s nothing particularly wrong with it, however, if you have access to an iPad in your department, we’ve found the free App Voice Record Pro to be very efficient and easy to use, for the following reasons.
1. The sound quality is very good, if you’re using a mic on an old laptop or perhaps even iPhone, then this app (although, perhaps the quality may indeed come from the iPad itself).
2. You can convert your file as soon as it has been created to MP3, which means no more having to go through each file and covert them from wav. Again, I’m aware you can save as an MP3 in audacity, but this process seems to be neater as you can convert it before you upload you file to whichever cloud account you use (my next point) thus only saving one file.
3. The biggest selling point, you can upload the MP3 file directly to your cloud account (mine being google drive) at the touch of a button rather than dropping and dragging. You can also rename the file before it is uploaded so that you get the exact version of the file you require ready for you, when you open google drive.
4. You can edit and trim easily with to eradicate things like coughing. You could also use the software for pupils to cream faux radio shows, role plays, speeches and thus, away from controlled assessment, you can use the software so that pupils can develop their speaking and listening skills, which other pupils could easily peer assess.
5. You can directly email the track using the email setup on your iPad, again at the touch of a button rather than having to attach to an email.
These may seem like piecemeal differences between software used on a laptop, such as audacity, and Voice Record Pro, but I have certainly found the latter to be a lot more user friendly and time efficient. I also find the fact that it is on the iPad means that it is a lot more portable, rather than having to drag around a laptop, wait for it to load etc, I find grabbing the iPad and going a lot easier in all aspects of recording students and anything that means there less admin in our work is surely a good thing.