Posts Tagged ‘Social Network’

Social networks are controversial topics in schools. Much has already been written about the pros and cons of trying to integrate various social network sites into the classroom and I don’t really intend to add to this debate a great deal. I’m aware of the issues, the risks and the importance primarily of ensuring that pupils are aware of how they can be at risk as well.

What is certain though is that social networks are a fact of life, something used daily by probably 99% of the pupils we teach and to my mind it is important to find where they can be useful to improve pupils’ education and in our case, language skills. With a bit of care, there can be various benefits to the language teacher and student using social networks, and I am going to deal with how twitter can be used.

AS A TEACHER

I originally joined twitter more out of curiosity rather than anything else and didn’t really see the immediate benefits apart from it being a status update type site, or somewhere where you could find out what celebs were up to. Our MFL HoD then organised a summer competition to see how could get the most followers on twitter and I began to look into it, and began to establish a network with other language teachers and cricket coaches.(note, I won the competition but the HoD has yet to come up with the prize, a nearly full academic year later…) I should say straight away that i am @pedroelprofesor on twitter, feel free to follow if you don’t already!

This connection with fellow teachers is hugely beneficial. You can share resources, ask for advice, chat about problems and discuss issues with people doing the same thing as you across the world. Within maybe an hour of putting a question out on twitter, you may have several replies giving you ideas and help, and this can be incredibly useful. Once you have established a link with a couple of teachers, you get suggested the chance to link to various others and your network will grow increasingly.

A good place to start is by using hashtags (#) to follow topics. One of the best to start with is #mfltwitterati and other good ones are #flteach and #spanishteachers and there are certainly various others worth searching out.  When you search for this, you will see a list of recent tweets by people using these hashtags. You can then follow regular contributors. Also you could just use the search facility to find other language teachers. The more people you follow, the more will follow you, particularly if you include in your profile about the fact you are a teacher. Retweeting messages, favouriting posts and commenting or replying plus regular tweets yourself will start to grow your network. Through using twitter I have got to know quite a few other teachers personally, and have gone on to meet them at Language events such as Language Show Live.  I have benefitted quite a lot already from using twitter, and not ust to publicise this blog either!

I have followed a lot of Spanish language magzines, newspapers, radio stations and so on that give very regular headlines. This can be a quick and easy way of finding and up to date article as well as just keeping up to date about what is going on in the Spanish speaking world. Some good ones include: @Madridiario, @la_informacion, @TelemundoNews, @milenio, @muyinteresante, @publico_es, @CNNEE and @el_pais, amongst many many others.

A good idea is to use Tweetdeck to organise your tweets. You can create lists for common hashtags, and easily find tweets on these topics, rather than having to scroll down for ages. (I tend to use this more on my smartphone for some reason more than my laptop, but it is good!) Creating a list for news sources for example could give you an easy filler at the start or end of lessons, just showing the latest Spanish news tweets for instance and getting pupils to find out and translate news headlines. A quick translation (remember tweets are only 140 characters long maximum) and a quick way for pupils to be more aware of what is going on in the target language country.

You can also use twitter to remind pupils of homework, give news and pass on links they might use. As with all things, you will have to get pupils to subscribe to the service first and show them how it works.

FOR THE PUPIL

Here is a quick list of ideas:

There are various receptive benefits, particularly on who might be worth following. 6th form students could follow newspapers and magazines such as those mentioned earlier. They can also follow Spanish speaking celebrities such as footballers, musicians or actors. Famous Spaniards on twitter include footballers such as Cesc Fabregas (@cesc4official), and Carlos Puyol (@carles5puyol), and actors such as Gael Garcia Bernal (@GaelGarciaB).

In terms of productively, you can use hastags to to get pupils to write on certain topics, and just to produce regular language. 140 characters is a quick and easy amount to produce and you may get a bit of a trend developing as other pupils look to see what other classmates have produced.

Some other links as to how Twitter can be used are as follows:

https://wordpress.wildern.hants.sch.uk/blog/2011/11/20/using-twitter-in-mfl-to-promote-and-engage-language-learning-outside-the-classroom/

(updates https://wordpress.wildern.hants.sch.uk/blog/2011/12/13/an-update-using-twitter-in-mfl/)

http://www.onlineuniversities.com/blog/2011/12/60-inspiring-examples-of-twitter-in-the-classroom/ (not just language specific)

 

Edmodo is a social network site that is geared up for teachers to set work for pupils. I am a huge fan of this site, given that one of my main aims as a Spanish teacher is to create a ‘Classroom beyond the classroom’ mentality in which pupils are enthused and empowered to do more constructive revision and practise on a regular basis. It has really worked since I started using it about a month ago, and so far I have introduced it to my Lower 6th and Upper 6th AS and A2 groups (Years 12 and 13) and also to my 4th form (year 10). Given that in appearance it looks a lot like facebook, it immediately feels familiar to the pupils, and therefore it is very easy to use.

Basically, the concept is that you create a group that your pupils join and then you create various assignments, quizzes and polls for them. With each assignment, quiz or poll, you can set a time limit for its completion, collect a mark for your gradebook and thus monitor your pupils’ progress. You can also send notes and alerts to pupils and create a library of useful links and resources that pupils can use.

Best of all, it is a free resource. Simply go the website and click on ‘I’m a teacher’ and follow the instructions to create your username and login details. When you then have the option to create a group it will give you a join code, and this is what your pupils will need to know to join the group you have created. When they logon, they will be asked for this code as well as to create their logon details, and they will then join your group.

To create a quiz could not be easier. You have a variety of options to choose from (True/False, Multiple Choice, Short Answer and Fill in the Blank) and then design your questions as you want. You can set due dates for test completion and time limits as well once the quiz is started. So far I have been doing vocabulary revision questions, grammar multiple choice questions and various quizzes on the films my class is studying for their WJEC SN4 exam and my pupils are finding them really useful. Most of the quizzes are corrected as your pupils do them, but you do need to correct short answer quizzes yourself.

Another fun thing is the awarding badges option for good work. I have created a few of my own and things are already getting competitive amongst the pupils to gain as many badges as possible.

All in all, I strongly recommend Edmodo. It can also be downloaded as a free app for your iPhone (don’t know about its availability on other smartphones) and should have a real impact on pupils practising and improving their language use.