Using technology to engage teaching and learning Welsh

So it’s been a while since I’ve blogged, mainly because the new edition to my family has, as would be expected, taken up a lot of time along with all the usual distractions of life. There are a few topics that I want to write about and hopefully they will come to fruition over the next few weeks.

The first is slightly not what I would expect to be writing about, Welsh. Being in a Welsh school, teaching the Welsh language is very important whether you agree or not. I am the first to admit that I am not the best Welsh speaker and my pupils often know more than me, usually that does not bode well for teaching but in this case I have had to think long and hard about how to turn it into a positive. Understanding the importance of technology for learning has allowed me to find a way of engaging the pupils and making Welsh more relevant, interesting and purposeful. I have flipped my lack of knowledge upside down and been open and honest to the pupils which they appreciate.

Below are a few ideas I have used in the classroom successfully to ensure they are making progress, I am always on the look out for more and see it as one of my greatest areas of development.

Book Creator for writing, reading and oracy.

This being one of the most versatile apps around is great for Welsh, it allows you to incorporate writing, reading and speaking into one project or piece of work, it can be applied to any topic. One of the topics I teach the children in year 4 is third person. Once they can talk about themselves, they should start describing others. With that in mind, each pupil makes a book containing a number of different descriptions. First they start off describing themselves by typing it out and inserting a picture then they move on to describing a friend in the classroom and then to someone they admire and also a king or queen from our Tudors topic. Straightaway you can see the cross curricular links to PSE and History that engage them as they enjoy describing Henry VIII or their favourite footballer.

Because it’s done using technology the engagement and effort by the pupils is instantly improved. Which would you prefer, writing pages in an exercise book or typing it onto a tablet? Writing well in welsh is also very hard with all the technical spelling, so typing allows them to check and correct their work much easier without getting frustrated. Once the typing is done, the power of Book Creator comes to life, as they have to record themselves reading their work and insert the link onto the page, thus making a beautiful interactive book.

Essentially that is it, last year the pupils books were good but they could of been better and this year I have discovered how, make it purposeful. I am going to try publishing their books on iTunes, this is relatively simple (there are lots of tutorials on google). When the pupils know they are writing with purpose then they instantly try harder because they know it is not just going to sit in an exercise book at the back of classroom.

And you may then ask, how to I assess what they have produced, Edmodo, they turn their books in as an assignment, I can read and listen to them and assess accordingly.

The only point worth noting which can be a hindrance but also an advantage is their typing skills are not as good as writing so it longer to complete but on the flip side it is developing their typing skills so they are getting quicker all the time.

Whether you teach welsh or not, Book Creator is my number one app, it can transform the dullest topics into the most engaging. It also allows videos to be embedded, so why not film some welsh drama and add that as week, the possibilities are endless. If you don’t have enough iPads for 1 each, group the children or make one class book.

Evernote for oracy and assessment

I have written a number of times about using Evernote for assessment, I use it a lot for recording pupils welsh oracy which is weighted heavily against reading and writing. Gone are the days of getting a microphone, CD recorder etc out and taking hours to get some evidence of speaking.

I have an Evernote, note for each child which contains all their speaking over the year, why one note and not a separate note for each activity, I’ll explain later. At least once a term I will record a piece of welsh speaking with the aim of showing an improvement in progress and confidence. To get round the a class of 30 pupils takes about 2 lessons, which I think it very good and the results are very useful.

So, why one note, well what you can do with this note is limitless, each note can have a link to it so just think how it can be used:

Have a class blog, why not link to these notes so pupils can show their parents how they’re getting better, again this makes it purposeful if it’s going on the internet for others to listen to.

QR codes, paste the link into a qr code creating web site, lots around, and bingo you have a qr code which you can use on displays in the classroom or as I like to do, put the qr code in their exercise books, this gives anyone wishing to scrutinise books, inspectors, parents, senior management, an easy way of seeing what the pupils have done. I even tell my parents to bring their phones with the, on parents evening so they can scan and listen to their child speak.

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