Monday, 27 July 2009

Let's Flash(card) !

I sometimes feel that I should blog more often. But then I don't know what I would blog about. So I wait until blogs find me, if you like. And on Saturday, one did.

I received a link to ProProfs, which is an online poll, quiz and flashcard maker. It was the poll bit that caught my eye, as I have dabbled in online surveys for MFL Sunderland using questionform, which I really like.

I was then sidetracked by the flashcard bit. When I did my PGCE in the mid-nineties, we were taught to use picture flashcards to present and practise new vocabulary, but not a lot else. For KS3 I always preferred OHTs, as they were smaller and a bit easier to manipulate. Then a few years ago, presenting vocabulary via PowerPoint crept in. I have to say that I have never got to grips with that, and there are reasons why I don't like it.

PowerPoint seems a bit remote. Your pictures are always in the same order and fixed in place. Flashcards, on the other hand, are tactile, kinesthetic, portable and immensely versatile. It's sad but true that today's students aren't really exposed to the low-tech methods anymore, and so using flashcards might actually make a refreshing change for them. No more Death by PowerPoint.

So this all got me thinking: What can we use flashcards for ? What are the online flashcards all about ? I set about some research, and here are the ideas that I found:
Teacher-led activities:

1. Use flashcards for choral repetition, to introduce and practice vocabulary.

2. Show students the flashcard and say '¿Es una manzana?' (etc) and they say 'sí' or 'no'.

3. Show students the flashcard and say '¿Es una manzana o una pera?' and they call out the correct one.

4. Show students the flashcard and say '¿Qué es?' and they have to say the answer.

5. Put the flashcards around the room and they point at the right one when you say it, or eventually say the right one when you point.

6. Place flashcards all around the room - on walls, hidden and stuck under tables and chairs etc. Have the TL word on the flashcard as well. Give students the list of new words, either in English or TL, and they have to go round the room and use the flashcards to find the correct translation. Make it a race to get all the words.

7. Cover and slowly reveal the flashcard, asking students to say the correct word when they think they know what it is.

8. Quickly flash the flashcard and see if students can say the correct word or phrase.

9. Students have a set of the flashcards and they hold them up to demonstrate their understanding.

10. Students have a set of flashcards. You tell a story which includes these words and they put the cards in the order in which they hear them.

11. Write some random numbers, including negatives, on the board and stick flashcards over them. Organise your students in teams. They tell you a phrase, you take off the flashcard and that is the number of points they get.

12. Guess which card / Beat the teacher Hold the pile of flashcards with the facing you. Students have to guess which one is at the top of the pile. They have to listen carefully to each others’ guesses to eliminate wrong answers and work out what the right answer is. Whoever gets it right could come to the front to take your place.

13. Slaps Stick the flashcards randomly on the board. Divide the students into teams and invite one of each team up to the board. Say one of the words or phrases and the winner is the player who can slap the right card first. Slapping the board with a fly swatter adds to the fun.

14. Noughts and crosses / Snakes and Ladders Students have to say the correct word or phrase for the flashcard to be able to draw in their nought or cross or to advance along the game board.

15. Loto / Bingo Use small flashcards, and give each student or pair of students a set. They choose a certain number (say 6 or 9) of cards and lay them on the desk, face up. You call out the words and they turn over each card as they hear it. The winner is the one who has turned over all his cards. An extra test could then be for the winner to read back to you all the cards he has turned over !

16. Pass the parcel Find a box, bag or envelope that can be passed around the room to music. When the music stops the student holding the box must pick out a flashcard) and say whatever goes with the card. If you have a large class you can add in more boxes or have groups with their own boxes.

17. Les quatre coins Stick flashcards around the room. Turn your back to the class and play some music. When the music stops (or when you call 'arretez!'), the students have to go and stand by one of the flashcards. The winners are the students standing by the one you have called out.

18. Round the World Students sit in a circle. Choose a starting person. This student stands behind the next student in the circle. The teacher holds up a flashcard. The first student to say the answer stands behind the next person in the circle. If a sitting student says the answer first, the standing student sits down in the winner’s chair. This process continues until at least one student makes it completely around the circle.

19. Team Tag Divide students into two groups. Have them form two single file lines facing forward. The first student should be about 3 metres from the front of the room. Put two equal stacks of flashcards on a desk in the front of the room. When play starts, the first person in the line races to the desk, takes the first card in his or her pile, holds it up, announces the answer to the class, places the card in a discard pile, and then races to tag the next person in line. If the student does not know the answer or gives the wrong answer, he or she puts the card on the bottom of the pile and selects the next card. This student keeps selecting cards until he or she knows the answer to one or until five cards have been selected. The two teams play simultaneously. The first team to correctly give the answer to all the cards in its pile wins.

20. Flashcards at the door As the students line up at the beginning of the class, hold up a flashcard for each of them to solve in turn. The answer to the flashcard is their "pass" into the classroom. If a student answers wrongly, they must step to the side and work it out before they can come into the room. You will want to choose flashcards according to individual student's ability or you could be standing there all day with some of them!

21. I'm going on a picnic Students sit in a circle. The first one takes a flashcard from a bag. They say the word in target language. The next pupil takes another flashcard and has to say the word of the first person, plus their own, and so on around the circle, until all words are used. Words can be duplicated.

22. Monsieur Intelligent Ask the students to stand up. Show the flashcard, model and the students repeat. Except sometimes you use the wrong word and then they don't say anything. Those who speak when they shouldn't are out and sit down.

23. For moving them on to the written word: Have a set of flashcards with the vocabulary in the target language blu-tacked at the front of the class. Students have a mini whiteboard each. Call out the English word and they have to find and write the appropriate Spanish word from the list, onto their whiteboard. You can choose a student to be teacher and call out the words. And you can reverse it - you call out the Spanish word, they have to write the English word.

24. Kim’s game Stick the flashcards to the board. Ask students to close their eyes, remove one, then they have to work out and say the one that is missing. Alternatively, students put small picture cards on their table. They study them for a few seconds and then, at a signal, turn them over (but keeping them in the same order). Call out a card and invite them to try to select this from memory. They hold it to their chest until you say Show me. If they have guessed correctly, they put the card to one side. If not, they return the card, face down, to the same place. The first child to have guessed them all correctly is the winner. The winner can be the caller in the next round.

25. Odd one out Use the pictures to make some Thinking Skills-style odd ones out. For example, put together pictures of un crayon, une règle and un sac. Which one is the odd one out ?

26. Stand up sit down Set the students up in two teams and get the teams to line up in rows. Walk up the middle of the two teams and show a flashcard to each member in turn. The student that is shown the card should then say what is on the card. If the student is successful then he or she is able to stay standing. If the student is incorrect or then he or she should sit down on the floor where they are standing, and remain sitting until the end of the exercise. When the teacher has shown the flashcards to all of the students and they have all had the chance to take part in the activity the teacher then allocates one point for each student standing.

27. Board memory game Place all of the flashcards on the board that in a line so that all of the flashcards can be seen. Re-drill the vocabulary. Turn one of the cards over and then drill the line of flashcards again with the students saying what is on each card, including the one that has been turned over. The process is then repeated until all of the cards are turned the wrong way up. By this time all of the students should be able to say what is on each card even though they are unable to see the pictures on each card.

28. Use them to build up sentences. Use a structure such as J'ai or As-tu..? and add the nouns to it using the flashcards to illustrate the sentence. You can also add an adjective, the cards and their position making the word order clear.

29. Human sentences Students hold flashcards and make 'human sentences'. They can also work in pairs or groups with mini-flashcards to do the same. They are learning to read and write without using a pencil.

30. Sound-spelling link Have a set of phoneme cards and a corresponding set of picture cards. Say the sound and the students have to identify the word (picture) containing that sound.

31. Avalanche Stick 5 cards going vertically down the board for team 1 and 5 cards going vertically down the board for team 2. Team 1 line up behind the first set of cards and team 2 line up behind the second set of cards. The teams start at the same time and the first person in each line writes the French next to the first flashcard. Then the second person writes the French next to the second flashcard and so on. Each member of the team gets 2 points for a correct answer and 1 point for an attempted but incorrect answer. If there is an avalanche due to a wrong answer, all is erased and the next person in line starts with the first card again.

In pairs or groups:
1. Pelmanism Each pair or group has a set of flashcards showing, for example, pictures and the corresponding words. They have to find the pairs by turning over pairs of cards in turn, and remembering where each card is.

2. Classification Students sort the cards into groups and explain why they have grouped certain words together.

3. Dance mats / Hopscotch Put the flashcards on the floor, and students take it in turns to call out the order in which their partner must jump to the cards.

Private study:Students can make their own flashcards, with a picture on one side and the word on the other side, or the English on one side and the TL on the other side. They can then use them to help them to learn the vocabulary or structures. The electronic flashcards from online activity makers like ProProfs and Quia can provide an alternative to paper versions.

I'm looking forward to trying out some of these ideas with KS1 and KS2 next year. I've already started to make some
flashcards, which I have uploaded to MFL Sunderland, and will add more as I make them.

Do you have any other flashcard activities ? I'd love to hear about them. ¡Viva el low-tech! Let's all flash(card)!

Saturday, 11 July 2009

We are multicolored

"Join Twitter, it's really good."
"It's the best CPD you'll ever have."
"I find it incredibly useful."

In April some esteemed TESsers were muttering about the wonders of Twitter. In a moment of idle curiosity I registered and had a look around, but honestly failed to see the point. The TESsers persisted, tracking me down and following me.

It didn't take long for me to become totally hooked. Each day I receive interesting information from those I follow. For example, today I received a link to Free Technology for Teachers, which looks like just my kind of website. I had a peruse of the MFL links, and came across something that is definitely my kind of site - We are multicolored.

In my World Cup 2010 presentation (see previous post), one of my ideas for using the flags of the qualifying nations was for pupils to research the colours and symbols used in flags and then design a flag to represent themselves.

"We are multicolored" is a website that will help them to do just that. The site is the brainchild of some of the digital artists at the Tenement Museum in New York, which aims to "promote awareness around the contemporary immigrant experience".

There are two main areas of the site. If you click on "symbolism", you can browse the flags of the world and the colours and shapes that they use, and find out the meanings behind them. Then on the homepage you have the opportunity to create your own flag by answering three simple questions:

  • where is your home ?
  • what other country has affected you ?
  • where have you dreamed of going ?

Then you are given the three flags of the countries you have chosen, and you can click and drag their individual elements to make your own personal flag. As you do so, you are shown information about the flags. When you have finished your flag, you can save it to the site and write an explanation of why you designed it that way. Clicking on "superflag" brings up all the flags that others have made and their explanations. There is also a downloadable 45 minute workshop available.

Here's the flag that I made with my three choices - United Kingdom, Spain and New Zealand.

It gets pupils to think about where they come from, where they have been and where they would like to go. Community Cohesion ! Enjoy.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The 2010 World Cup

So you might be wondering what the 2010 World Cup has to do with the blog title "Changing Phase". Well, football up here in the north-east is certainly changing phase, with Sunderland being the only north-east team still in the Premiership. Who would have thought it ?!

Today I attended the annual Atlas conference at St James Park in Newcastle. Atlas is the name of the steering group of the north-east branch of the Regional Network for International Learning, and I have been the Sunderland representative since I became an AST in 2002. The title of the conference this year was "Ready, set, go global! - developing international links to enrich school life", and had a particular focus on forthcoming sporting events, in particular the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 Olympics, and how they might help us as classroom practitioners to bring an international dimension to our teaching and therefore to pupils' learning.

I "volunteered" to give a presentation on the 2010 World Cup and how it can be used as a stimulus for activities in the primary classroom. We ran an event in Sunderland in 2006 called "Making the most of the World Cup" which produced many resources and which was very successful. The World Cup resources page on the LA's international website continues to receive a number of hits even though the tournament is long over.

When putting together my presentation, I looked at the resources that we produced for the 2006 tournament for a bit of inspiration, but based my presentation on the official Fifa World Cup website, which is a mine of fantastically useful information and well worth a look.

I hope you enjoy the presentation. It's my first go with Slideshare, and especially my first go at linking audio with PowerPoint. I hope also that it gives you lots of ideas for how you can bring the world into your classroom. After 12 years, 4 Comenius projects and 3 International School Awards, international education is something that I am passionate about. This is the latest step in my mission to enthuse as many other people as possible !