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Archive for September, 2016

My school has an extremely rich oral language programme. Junior classes are assessed on prepared reading, formal speaking and impromptu speaking over three terms. And no, they don’t exactly love it. Last year we opted to introduce debating to the Year 9 programme to spice things up a little. We generally do this right after or right before formal writing so have found it really helps with forming and justifying opinions.

My Year 9s have been under the pump somewhat so our debating unit is being condensed down to just two lessons, 1 prep session and 2 for assessing this year (too many interruption in an already short term). Given that impromptu speaking is a nightmare scenario for some and ,even those who profess to loving it (because they love arguing!) often have to be guided towards the nuances of structuring a logical argument!

The first introductory lesson was simply to introduce them to debating concepts, watching clips of our junior debaters at the Dunedin Schools Debating Competition while applying concepts (so using pause and asking – what is the moot? Are they affirmative or negative? What is the team line? What are their main points etc). I also love this downloadable powerpoint which uses building a house as a metaphor for debating.

I came across this awesome great TedTalk by Christopher Bell (see below) last week and used it for my second lesson which ran pretty much like this:

  1. Human continuum – do you think we have gender equality in NZ in 2016?
  2. Watch the talk – dot and jot 3 reasons Bell says girls need superheroes
  3. Four corners – I strong agree/agree/disagree/strongly disagree that we have gender equality in NZ. Each group write down 6 bullet points justifying opinion, read out. Ask students to swap corners if they find themselves being convinced to update their opinion.
  4. Tag Team – groups of five, each person must speak. Aim is 1 minute each but you can tag others in if running out of ideas, can’t be tagged in until everyone has had a turn. Same topic as before and use the online bomb countdown timer to time their presentation which must make 5 minutes between them.

That pretty much takes an hour and has got them:

  1. forming opinions
  2. explaining opinions
  3. working as a team
  4. getting comfortable standing up and speaking in front of peers

Looking forward to next week when they get to prep a debate over an hour then present for the assessment.

 

 

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With our seniors heading into practice exams next week, there’s been the usual flurry of emails this weekend from students in various stages of panic. While I am more than happy to give feedback to students who have come to class, contributed, met milestones and generally brought something to the learning table, it’s a little harder to know how to help those with questions like”Can you help with dystopia? I’m really confused.”

Like I said, difficult to know where to begin.

We’ve a got a few months yet ’til externals so I hope their questions will become a little more refined in the near future! In the meantime, I’ve had a go at summarising an Achievement Standard via a web based presentation tool called mysimpleshow. This allows you to explain topics using a range of templates to create a short video. You supply the script (there’s a word count limit per slide so it tests your skills in brevity). The programme then matches your words with visuals which you can keep, delete or replace and even reads the script for you. If you don’t like the male American script readers, you can record your own. Each step is navigated via a set of tabs at the top of the page logically labelled: Summarise, Visualise, Add Audio, Finalise.

I’ve used similar tools in the past – ShowMe is a great one to use on iPad. I’ve used it for Slide the Corner,  The Whale Rider and Level 2 ConnectionsOfficeMix will do similar for Microsoft people. These programmes enable you to project directly off the site or if you’re worried about WiFi connectivity, you can download and save your presentation. Another plus for time-poor teachers is these sites feature collections of presentations made by others so you might find what you need ready to use! (A bit like SlideShare).

Curation sites such as ScoopIt, which I love for students looking to elevate their thinking and make independent reflections on the text, are also helpful at this time of the year. It’s also handy for saving all the sites you bookmark for a topic in a more visually appealing space.

Mysimpleshow combines text, visual and audio elements catering for a range of learners. You can elect to turn subtitles on or off – I put them on – and choose the speed of the speaker. I view it as a starting point to get students focused on key concepts. For my subject area at least, students will always have to engage with material, develop their knowledge and then synthesise and express their ideas via a well structured written response but as we all know, starting if often the hardest bit!

Next time I teach these topics, before writing a practice essay, I’ll get students to hone their thoughts by creating their own  Simple Show – flipping the learning should enable them to reflect on the content in a meaningful way AND ensure they create their own revision resource for later in the year.  I’d call that a win:win.

 

 

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