My year 11 Business Management students primarily come from farms. The produce from their farms – lamb and beef can be sold for export to the Middle East. When dealing commerically it is essential to understand the culture, so when we were given the opportunity to learn some Arabic language and more about the culture, I thought this was a fantastic opportunity for them.
Year 11 students learnt Arabic, initially with a fluent speaker from the USA, Sophia Aron of Critical Language Service who has devised a series of flipped learning activities where students can learn vocabulary at home using apps at home which provides a fun and engaging way to learn. Then students practise during face to face time with Sophia using videoconferencing tools like skype.
In our second class with Sophia, she setup a 3 way skype call, where a couple of young American children spoke to us in Arabic and showed us how they would greet each other if they were in Egypt. This was a great demonstration showing my older students what should be done.
Students enjoyed using the apps either individually, in pairs or in small groups. There was mixed reaction as to which they preferred – Quizlet, Memrise. or Flashcards by NKO.
Some of my Business Management class had learnt mandarin Chinese last year and queried why they would want to learn Arabic. However, I reminded them that they lived on farms and some of their beef and lamb would be exported to the Middle East. In fact when I travelled to Qatar many years ago, I saw Midfields vacuum packed lamb in the freezers in a local supermarket. Midfields is our local abattoir.
To supplement the language development, Sophie had added videos into the Memrise app. Students watched some of these to gain a better cultural understanding of the people – another important skill when dealing with global markets.
What a wonderful opportunity my students were given!
- the importance of hearing accents prior to dealing with them when connecting virtually
- class room setup. My computer lab is a great setup for normal classes but when connecting online with videoconferencing, it is not ideal. Straight rows in front of the webcamera would ensure better engagement for both sides.
- how effective videoconferencing can be for learning – and the abolute need for chat, video, audio, screen sharing and recording possibilites etc
- greater impact of a charismatic engaging teacher for learning
- importance of getting to know each other on a simple basis before getting into the nitty gritty of learning.
Although I have been involved in many special and almost unbelievable global projects and events for many years now, and feel that nothing would surprise me anymore, last night’s experience, organised by Reinhard Marx and online teaching colleague from Germany, did amaze me.
It was the start of Mardi Gras in Germany and students were encouraged to attend school in costume. In the weeks prior to this event, Reinhard sought global support for teachers and classes across the world to join three classes, view the German students in costume, watch them act out what they were wearing and vote on a shared google sheet. Teachers and classes registered on another shared google sheet and at least 5 or 6 registered as judges for each group.
I helped judge the third group together with students and teachers from France, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia and Hungary. It was 8pm my time so I was without students.
How it looked:
- Participants were given a link to a google document with the rules and procedures clearly explained and links to the voting sheets in google sheet
- One day prior we were given the option to test the connections, audio and video
- Google hangouts was chosen to connect us all
- The same link was used for each of the three German classes.
- Even though the class may not have been in the room, the webcam was on the empty classroom, so that we could see when the students walked in and know that we were in the right place. The back of the room featured flags from across the world.
- I entered 20 mins early to make sure I could logon and was surprised to see so many other judges/classes in the room already. Some were a little confused over the times and when it was going to star (one of my biggest challenges is time zones). We were able to introduce ourselves and get to know each other through the chat.
- Reinhard and his class entered at the appointed time. Students were obviously dressed in costumes, some hired, some made at home.
- Students came up one at a time to the webcam, showed their costume, tried to act out in costume and answer any questions. There was a wide variety of costumes – a police girl, Snow White, a zebra, a Unicorn, a martial arts person etc Some were too shy to come up to the webcamera.
- As they finished, the global judges would add their votes to the online voting sheet.
What a wonderful innovative global event. We all had a great time and the chat was to support those when they did not understand. Great work, Reinhard and thanks for organising the event.
Lucy Gray recorded the session for her NLU class. There were two presenters – myself and Mike Muir, Maine Learning Through Technology Policy Director. Mike gave an overview of MLTI and his state’s work on proficiency-based professional development. Follow me on twitter @murcha You can see the recording on youtube at
Tomorrow I will informally present to a group of Lucy Gray’s students who have been studying different ways of gaining professional learning (PD). My topic will be using Twitter and Twitter Chats for PD.
The following online resources will be shared
- Twitter Chats – a list of resources that that can be accessed during and after the session.
- All Things Twitter – a previous presentation of mine that has general tips on using Twitter.
Twitter can be used for PD:-
- As a general search engine on topics of interest
- Following hashtags of interest
- Creating lists of tweeters who have common educational interests
- Through subscriptions to existing lists – tweeters who have common interests in education eg global education, games in learning etc
- Twitter chats
I like the idea of Lucy calling on her extensive global network to present on topics that they are familiar and passionate with, in regard to PD.
What have I missed? What would you share with a group of trainee teachers?
Year 11 Business Management students will learn basic Arabic in 1.5-2 hours using a mix of online tools. As businesses become more global in nature and outreach, cultural understanding and ability to interact with other languages is essential for success. Most of my class live on farms and their beef and lamb may be exported to the Middle East.
We have been offered the opportunity to learn Arabic, initially with a Sophia Aron of Critical Language Service in the USA and then, finally with an Arabic native speaker in Egypt. They will initially learn basic language and also view a number of cultural videos. This is to support Sophia with her request for sample videos of students learning Arabic and will be recorded. Skype was used to connect with Sophia for each of our classes with her. She was able to speak to us, be on standby for any questions and share her screen with us so we could be stepped through some of the tools. The skype chat was used for sharing codes required for some of the tools.
The time allocation:-
- 45 minutes: studying the vocabulary and materials that would be used in the lesson on the platforms Quizlet, Memrise. and Flashcards by NKO.
- 30 minutes actual class
- 15 minutes: student reaction and question time.
Tasks Prior to Learning eArabic
Students will obtain a username and password login for the following sites. Use your login code for computer access as your username.
Pre – session
Sophia was online on skype, she helped us walk the students through the process live of setting up accounts using screen share. The classes work on a Flipped Classroom/Blended learning model so Sophia pre- teaches the material via online tools and then the face-to- face time with the Egyptian teacher serves as a chance to practice implementing what they already learned.
Here are Sophia’s notes to us
I plan to use 2 platforms to pre-teach materials:
1. Memrise http://www.memrise.com/group/9115/
Memrise is the main platform.The class was divided up into 3 groups. Inside the group, there are 2 courses. We will focus on the first course; Arabic for All Ages. The second course is simply an FYI about the Arabic alphabet. If students do study that, then the Egyptian teacher will incorporate writing into her live lesson with them, if not then she will not use any Arabic letters. Inside the course “Arabic for All Ages” there are 4 levels. Level 1 is a video level. The first video in Level 1 is the vocabulary video. It is a section of a cartoon and most of the words we will use in the live lesson are in this short clip. The videos below the cartoon video offer English explanations of basic Arabic expressions and grammar. Level 2 is the where the studying begins. This level is spaced repetition flashcards of the vocabulary words. Students study the flashcards in small chunks. They can opt to take breaks between studying chunks to go back and watch the cartoon video from Level 1. The goal is for Memrise to determine that they have mastered all of the vocabulary words in the list; though due to time constraints this will not likely happen. Level 3 is not relevant for this class. Level 4 is culture videos. These videos will help the students to perform culturally appropriate role plays during the live class. They only need to be watched once.
2. Quizlet https://quizlet.com/_psu61
Sinbad Sets 1 and 2 Transliteration w/D…
Quizlet is used for its games. After the students have been studying the vocabulary for a while its useful to have competitions between groups and individuals using Quizlet Live and the various games built into the platform.
The problems we faced-
- Logging in to some of the platforms and gaining user registrations.
- Downloading some of the apps. Bandwidth at home was not strong enough in our rural areas to download the apps on to their smart phones.
- Student smart phones to not have wireless access at school nor is there mobile phone service.
- One student did not have a smart phone
- Finding common times that would suit all time zones. However, amazingly our Egyptian teacher only gets home from work at 1am and is willing to connect with the students after that time.
- Initially finding a class that I could work with easily. But on reflection, it was easy to ‘tweak’ Business Studies curriculum and fit it in there as it is a small class and I have them 5 times a week This made it possible to work in with Sophia’s time zone.
Feb 7th is Safer Internet Day across the world, not only for students but for all who use the internet – whether beginners or experienced users.
Our Department of Education and Training in partnership with the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commission organised several webinars on Safer Internet Use. Read more here. These webinars were online and free.
Another exciting opportunity was offered to schools in Victoria, to apply for the opportunity to bring 2 female students from year 10 to work with Facebook and Instagram in their new Melbourne offices in the Docklands discussing the topic – Safety in the Age of Disappearing Media. Much to their excitement, two of our year 10 girls were accepted into the workshop and I accompanied them. The hashtag used is #girltakeover with the discussions being on encouraging them to be the power for change and make the internet and even more positive place to be, especially in regard to social media. Facebook and Instagram sponsored this event and were interested in getting feedback from this age group as all too often it is adults who are vocal and dominant.
There were fun activities for them to start with enabling them to get to meet the other students, gain confidence and have fun, in preparation for the ‘hard fun’ about to begin.
Some of the great advice given once the day formally began included:-
- Best filters that exist are between your brain.
- Disappearing media does not happen – it is there forever but it can be rewritten
- be empowered, be fierce, be strong, control your own brand.
- Facebook and other sites create great privacy settings so ues them – block, mute where necessary!
The children’s eSafety Commissioner took an active part in the day.
- the pressures of sharing information,
- why misunderstandings occur, why stories might be change and the trust that goes into the moment of sharing.
- the challenges of sharing media eg snapchat, instagram story.
Trust is put into ‘just a moment’, will people understand the context of what your are sharing, screenshot content which is supposed to be deletable. Platforms are evolving all the time. Instagram has live story now to create real connections. T is all aoubt likes – adds new pressures. Doesnt have to be perfect. Deletaable media. Share moment which are not to be massively shared. Can put lots out there without spamming.Our intentions are temporary and private but can be made public. You are not being humiliated – they are.
A cartoonist captured many of the activities and events of the day.
As we all love social media – there is a need to talk about all that we love in this world. Expectations as women what we want out there, how it should be respected etc. The girls will come back to school and take on a leadership role sharing what they experienced, seeking further feedback and keeping conversations open at school on positive and safe social media spaces.
SticksnStones and Project Rockit and were there to help organise the day.
What did you do for Safer Internet Use Day?