I am utterly inspired my Monika Hardy’s Innovation Lab. Learn more about it here and here.
These students are following their passions and learning independently through global connections. This is kids really taking control of their learning and my attempts in the classroom seem to pale into insignificance…
Sam wants to learn Hebrew. He knows the alphabet, is working on the grammar and needed someone to help with pronunciation. A chance tweet from Monika was picked up by someone who follows my blog and knows I’m a Hebrew teacher. And here we are today…
Dean, Matthew and Jay in Melbourne, Australia, learners of Hebrew as a second language at a Jewish school, are sharing their knowledge with Sam in Colorado, a Christian who would like to be able to read the bible in its original language.
After the first session…
Sam: I liked it. I really liked it.
Matthew: I think it’s fantastic that we are getting the opportunity to teach, so others maybe can benefit from what we’ve learned ourselves.
Jay: It was great in the sense that we can share our learning all over the world and it’s not limited just to the classroom!
Monika: The boys literally looked like they were trying to peak into a window.
Ed: I have used the title of this post before and I’ve no doubt I’ll use it again and again. The boundary is shifting.
As a PYP school, our approach to learning is through inquiry. It’s often challenging to make second-language learning inquiry based, and we teachers are always experimenting with different options. (We’re inquirers too!)
Today’s task was simple. Instead of giving a new Hebrew vocabulary list, with English translations, I gave the words in Hebrew only. Each group received different words and they swapped with another group when they had figured out the meanings. I didn’t give any directions, just handed out dictionaries and asked them to work collaboratively to find out the meanings of as many words as possible.
How did they work out the meanings of the words?
- Someone in the group knew the meaning already and shared.
- They took turns to look words up in the dictionary.
- They changed the tense or form of some words in order to find them in the dictionary.
- They worked out the meanings by recognising the root letters.
- They made connections to other familiar words.
- They traded with another group!
The task was nothing special and I’m sure it was obvious to most. But, as always, the most interesting aspect was the students’ reflections. (They are Year 5 students)
- It helps us learn how to use a dictionary effectively.
- It was more challenging than just copying down the words.
- I felt like I achieved something.
- It was an efficient use of time (a student’s words, honestly!)
- It was a fun way to learn words, so we’ll be more likely to remember them.
- We found other words in the dictionary too, so we learned even more words.
- This is a great way to learn new words as it is challenging to find the right meaning.
Yesterday I blogged ‘I hate technology’. As predicted by the first comment on that post, today I love technology again!
We recently acquired a set of iPod Touch for classroom use. As a way to encourage innovation, the principal had offered a $5000 grant for each of 3 projects to enhance student learning. We put in a submission for a set of iPods and were successful!
They have just been set up and I decided to give them a try today. The Voice Memo app seemed like a great way to practise second language skills. For a few dollars each, we have bought tiny microphones like the one in the picture. The task was to interview a partner in Hebrew, based on the current topic of study, incorporating newly learned vocabulary. The kids were extremely excited, very little explanation was required and they went off to their corners to record.
Here’s what the students said:
- I never imagined the school would get ipods! (Jay)
- It was fun and a different way of learning. (Lele)
- It was a good way to learn the new words by actually using them, while having fun at the same time. (Tahni)
- When we played it back, we could hear our mistakes and correct them. (Allegra) (That one is my favourite. Ed)
- I love the iPods (and Apple in general, I assume) for sheer ease of use. None of the usual teething problems when trying something new. No delay for logging in as we have on the school computers. No time was wasted and the task was done really quickly!
- The kids were really engaged and self motivated and had lots of fun learning! I could have packed up and gone home and no-one would have been any the wiser.
- Why would we need to use Audacity for podcasting, unless we want to do something more complicated? This is just so simple. Even non-techy teachers will cope… well, they won’t have to, they can hand over to the students.
- Fiona used the Voice Memo app in the library for some book discussion today and was similarly successful. Kids from both classes were heard continuing to discuss their experiences in the playground at lunchtime. Always a good sign!
- I’m looking forward to using them for other things… So are the students!
- I predict that mobile devices will be used more and more at schools. This is technology the students are already comfortable with and extending its application to learning simply makes sense.
I read a post this week about the challenges of making the teaching of grammar less boring in foreign language lessons. While I know that it’s important to teach grammatical concepts and rules, it’s the application that makes the learning worthwhile. If the students know they will have meaningful opportunities to apply their language learning and to create for an authentic audience, they will surely be more engaged.
Our teachers explored a few such possibilities today and, while we teach Hebrew, these ideas could work for any language.
We started by looking at ways to use Power-Point to enhance second language learning. Inserting sound creates all sorts of opportunities for the students to record themselves, thereby practising important reading and speaking skills.
- Insert a series of images into slides and have students record a story based on the images (insert sound, select record). This can be written first and corrected by the teacher, then read out, or students can simply improvise and tell the story right away.
- Students select their own pictures or take their own photographs to use for their story. You can see an example in a previous post here.
- Students work in pairs to create a conversation which they record, based on the selected images.
The slide show can be uploaded to Slideboom, or another such site, so that the link can be shared with parents and others, so that there is an authentic audience for the students’ creations.
Most of the above can be done with Voicethread too, adding the extra dimension of allowing collaboration. You can see see more detail in a previous post about Voicethread, with examples here and another example here.
- Start with an image or a series of images and have students speak about them in the foreign language (using those newly learnt grammatical skills!)
- The students can be added to the teacher’s Voicethread identity and everyone takes turns to talk about the image or set or set of images.
- The students can login and add their own comments or storyline to the images.
- Other students and parents can record comments on the final product.
If you have ever read this blog, you will know that ToonDoo is one of my favourites! We have our own school toondoospace, which is a secure, private version of the online comic creator. These were the ideas that came up in today’s session for using ToonDoo to practise language skills:
- Students can choose one panel to create a scene illustrating new vocabulary.
- They can use 2-3 panels to create a story, adding text bubbles, incorporating new vocabulary and grammatical constructs.
- Several toons can be combined to create a toonbook.
- The teacher can create the first scene of a cartoon story and save with the ‘let others redoo’ option. Students can then continue the story.
- As above, except the teacher gives the middle panel and the students create a beginning and end to the story.
Voicethread is a great tool that can be used in so many ways, for all kinds of conversation around images. It allows you to upload pictures or video clips (or a whole power-point even). Once files are uploaded, users can record or type in comments. Great for discussion, feedback, collaboration..
Here’s an example my Year 5’s made today. Each pair chose two characters from the story we have been learning, about the Jews who were rescued from Ethiopia in Operation Moses. They then created an imagined conversation in Hebrew. It’s not a showcase presentation! This is authentic classroom learning… if you listen carefully (even if you don’t!) you can hear all the background noise, the teacher asking for quiet so that people could record, the mistakes in their Hebrew and the technological issues which sometimes affect recording!
Vodpod videos no longer available.
And this one was created by Jocelyn’s class during their unit on fair trade. She uploaded a video and the students recorded their comments.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
See our Scopus ICT wiki for more information and examples. Leave a comment with your idea for using voicethread. (I will NEVER stop asking!… I know you’re there and reading… why don’t you share?)
The Year 5’s learned about Eliezer Ben Yehuda, sometimes referred to as the father of modern Hebrew, who was instrumental in the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language in the late 19th century.
The students were eager to learn more and asked many questions. So we decided to contact the Academy of Hebrew Language in Jerusalem to try and obtain some answers. Students wrote their questions in the discussion page of the class wiki.
Each child received their own personal answer. For instance, Toby asked how new Hebrew words are invented. Tamar from the Academy replied…
יש כמה דרכים לחדש מילים בעברית. אחת הדרכים החשובות היא לקחת שורש מהתנ”ך או מהמשנָה וליצור ממנו מילה חדשה
לדוגמא, אליעזר בן יהודה לקח את השורש ס.ע.ד ,שמוכר מהמילה סעודה וחידש את המילה מסעדה
There are a number of ways to create new words in Hebrew. One of the ways is to take the ‘root’ from the bible or the mishna and create a new word from it. For instance, Eliezer Ben Yehuda took the root letters of the word ‘meal’ or ‘feast’, which is ‘se’uda’ and created the word ‘misada’ meaning restaurant.
Alon Asked about other ways that words are invented. Tamar’s response…
לפעמים לוקחים מילה בעברית ומוסיפים לה סיומת כדי ליצור מילה חדשה
. למשל: מהמילה שָׁעָה והסיומת -וֹן נוצרה המילה שָׁעוֹן. גם המילה עִתּוֹן נוצרה כך
יש גם מילים שנכנסות לעברית משפות אחרות, כמו טלוויזיה או בננה, למילים כאלה אין שורש עברי
Sometimes existing Hebrew words are used, with an additional suffix to create new words, such as sha’a (hour) with the suffix -on- becomes sha’on , a clock. There are many words which enter the Hebrew language from other languages, such as ‘banana’, which has no Hebrew root!
The possibilities for genuine inquiry are so much greater, when we flatten the walls of the classroom and bring in the outside world! Share some of your own examples!