Pragmatic tools and ideas for the classroom

Digital Magic #16

Digital Story Telling with feature guest Sonya Woloshen

I teach grade 8 French Immersion.  Acquiring a second language requires four main components: reading, writing, speaking, and hearing.  Reading and writing are easily achieved in a classroom setting. However, listening and speaking are more challenging and, in my opinion, the most important for full comprehension of a new language. Traditionally, teachers play a CD of French conversations and students have a questionnaire to fill in.  Also, teachers give students oral presentations to fulfill their speaking mark.  Although these methods are useful, I feel as though there is a way in which we can heighten student learning.  When listening to a CD, there are many distractions: Jimmy is shuffling his papers, the CD is too quiet, Jane didn’t hear it and needs it to be repeated for numbers 6, 7, and 12.  With oral presentations, students are nervous in front of a crowd.  As well, they are not giving the presentation in their native tongue, which can be a very daunting task (even for me).

I came up with an idea to enhance listening and speaking after speaking with the department head who teaches Grade 6 late French Immersion.  She told me that the students are reading a series of 12 books to give them a foundation of basic vocabulary.  The students read the books in class, study the vocabulary and take the books home to practice.  However, she said she wished there was something the students could listen to at home that went along with the books, which were written in the 70’s.

This is when a light went off for me!  I thought, my students need a speaking mark, and her students need to hear an example of correct pronunciation.  My reply: podcasts, of course!
My students would record podcasts and I would post them on my website for the grade 6’s to listen to at home.  While I was testing this idea myself, I thought it would be even better if the grade 6’s could see the words and listen to the podcast at the same time.  Thus, I worked on a keynote presentation and added pictures to illustrate the story.  Then, I screencast the presentation while narrating it and adding music and voilà: a videocast!  I showed the example I had made to my grade 8’s.  They were super excited and wanted to start right away on our digital story telling unit!
I booked mac lab time and my students went to work right away!  I was so impressed with how quickly they picked up on how to use keynote (completely new to them).  After the next week, they started narrating their slidshows and I converted them and posted them online.  We also converted the finished videocasts to ipod files so that the grade 6’s could put the movies on their ipods if they wanted (to have it with them at all times).

Now, each week, the grade 6 class watches the Napoleon movies the grade 8’s have created.  The grade 6’s are really enjoying the videocast series and constantly ask when the next one will be
available on the web.  As for the grade 8’s, they couldn’t be more proud of themselves.  After I have published their movies to the web, I show them in class on the LCD with the speakers on.
Even though they are more advanced than the series of books, they watch and enjoy the movie.  I look around and see normally shy students beam with pride over the work they’ve done.  At the end of
the movies, they always clap for those who have made it (without my prompt).

Programmes used: keynote (mac ppt), screenflow, screencast-o-matic, quicktime pro, visual hub, imovie.


Thanks again Sonya!


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October 26, 2008 Posted by | digital magic, feature, Languages, lesson idea, technology, tools, web based | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Digital Magic #16