Creating a Talking Book – Modern Languages in a Primary school
Wilma Gordon is the ICT teacher at Mid Calder Primary in West Lothian.
As well as working with pupils to develop their ICT skills, Wilma is greatly involved in International education projects within the school. She has used Glow in many ways to support this and we will look at one of these here.
International education is embedded throughout learning within Mid Calder Primary school, due to the school’s great involvement in the British Council’s e-twinning project and the Comenius project. Through these and other initiatives such DFID, Global School Partnerships, eLanguages and the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms project, the school has developed strong links with a wide range of countries, including Romania, Thailand, Turkey and France, leading to them winning an International School Award in 2009.
In 2008, Wilma began an e-twinning project with a school in France, to help develop pupils’ language skills and also their understanding and appreciation of the culture of the country. She worked with the teacher in the French school, Ecole Antoine Pizon, to come up with an innovative and stimulating way to help capture pupils’ interest and develop their language skills.
The project, called ‘A Novel Idea’, and now in its third year of implementation, involves the Primary 7 pupils in Mid Calder jointly writing a book, chapter by chapter, in English and French, with the pupils in the French school.
The pupils themselves decided that the theme of the novel this time would be ‘fantasy’. The children from Ecole Antoine Pizon in France wrote the first chapter, in French. They emailed this to Wilma, who uploaded it into the document store in the International Education Glow Group, so that the pupils – who were eagerly awaiting its arrival – could access it.
The Mid Calder pupils then had to translate the chapter, initially picking out words they already knew to get a general understanding of it, before then finding the meaning of words they were not familiar with. This gave the pupils a real purpose for learning new French words, and they were keen to do so, otherwise, they would not be able to write the next chapter if they didn’t understand the French one.
The next chapter was then written in English and sent back to France, and so the process continued until the book was complete.
It was then decided to take the book one step further, by turning it into a talking book.
The French children read the French chapters and recorded these as MP3 files, sending them back to Mid Calder, who in turn read, recorded and sent the English chapters to them. Hearing the French childrens’ pronunciation of the words helped to improve the speaking skills of the pupils in Mid Calder, as they were hearing French being spoken by native speakers.
The book and audio files were also uploaded to a wiki. The link to this wiki was added to a text editor web part in the Glow Group for all to access.
In addition, Wilma uploaded the audio files into the text editor web part too, completing it with a photo of the French pupils.
We can hear Chapter 1 (in French) of “The little red book” here:
The project has enabled the pupils to engage with a range of both Modern Languages and English/Literacy Experiences and Outcomes. Many of these are beyond the level that might ordinarily be expected of a Primary 7 pupil, as Wilma mentions in the ‘impact’ section further on in this cookbook. There has also been opportunity to integrate Technologies experiences and outcomes into the project:
Modern Languages Experiences and Outcomes
MLAN 3-01a I can listen to and show understanding of mainly familiar language and instructions from a variety of sources, where the sentences are longer and where there may be more than one speaker.
MLAN 2-06b I have worked with others, using a variety of media including ICT where appropriate, and can contribute successfully to a presentation in English, supported by use of the language I am learning, on an aspect of life in a country where the language I am learning is spoken.
MLAN 3-06b I can deliver an individual presentation in the language I am learning, using a variety of media including ICT where appropriate.
MLAN 3-08a I work on my own and with others to understand text using appropriate resources. I can read and demonstrate understanding of more complex texts which contain familiar and unfamiliar language.
MLAN 3-09a I work on my own and with others to read and explore texts in the language I am learning. I can demonstrate my knowledge about life and culture in some of the countries where the language I am learning is spoken.
MLAN 2-11c I experiment with new language, working out the meaning of words and phrases using vocabulary I have learned so far.
MLAN 4-11a I can use my knowledge about language and other strategies to help me to understand and analyse more detailed texts, containing some unfamiliar language and more complex structures.
Literacy and English Experiences and Outcomes
LIT 2-10a / LIT 3-10a I am developing confidence when engaging with others within and beyond my place of learning. I can communicate in a clear, expressive way and I am learning to select and organise resources independently.
LIT 2-13a I can select and use a range of strategies and resources before I read, and as I read, to make meaning clear and give reasons for my selection.
LIT 3-16a To show my understanding across different areas of learning, I can:
• identify and consider the purpose, main concerns or concepts and use supporting detail
• make inferences from key statements
• identify and discuss similarities and differences between different types of text.
LIT 1-20a/LIT2-20a I enjoy creating texts of my choice and I regularly select subject, purpose, format and resources to suit the needs of my audience.
LIT 2-23a Throughout the writing process, I can check that my writing makes sense and meets its purpose.
LIT 2-24a I consider the impact that layout and presentation will have and can combine lettering, graphics and other features to engage my reader.
ENG 2-27a I am learning to use language and style in a way which engages and/or influences my reader.
ENG 2-31a Having explored the elements which writers use in different genres, I can use what I learn to create stories, poems and plays with an interesting and appropriate structure, interesting characters and/or settings which come to life.
Technologies Experiences and Outcomes
TCH 1-04b / TCH 2-04b I can create, capture and manipulate sounds, text and images to communicate experiences, ideas and information in creative and engaging ways.
TCH 3-04a I enhance my learning by applying my ICT skills in different learning contexts across the curriculum.
What did Wilma need to do to give pupils access to the book’s chapters and audio files?
• Have a Glow Group at school level
• Upload the chapters to a document store
• Add the link to the wiki in the text editor web part
• Upload the audio files to the text editor web part
In the following videos we will look at the International Education Glow Group to get an overview of it, then find out in subsequent videos how to include replicate some of the features in it.
Overview of the International Education Glow Group (5:28)
How to add a hyperlink in the Text Editor web part (5:17)
How to upload an audio file to Text Editor (6:31)
Having a real and stimulating purpose for learning French has really engaged the pupils in their language learning. They have also had a real purpose for using ICT, learning amongst other things how to record and upload their mp3 files to enable the French pupils to access them.
More impressively though, the project has been so well received and was so successful that in 2009 it won a European Award for Languages from CILT – The National Centre for Languages for it. The award “recognises creative ways to improve the quality of language teaching, motivate students and make the best of available resources” source: CILT.org.uk
Wilma sums up the impact the talking book project has had:
“the pupils were enthusiastic and motivated to learn French. The innovative approach gave the children a structure which enabled them to take control and this autonomy drove them to improve their work. The story allows healthy competition and the literacy levels are way above what you would expect of a ten to eleven year old. I believe this is partly because of the motivation and because the pupils are aware they have a wider audience. Even making the MP3s were made and then improved because other people would listen and they had to be good.”
She goes on to explain why using Glow added to the project:
“ Glow was great because as each chapter was posted the children could read this with their parents, even the ones written in English were exciting as they could be shared at home. They also used the page to discuss the best title for the novel. Originally, it was called Teruvia, but through discussions on GLOW it was decided to call it the Little Red Book.”
This has been an extremely successful and enjoyable project and one which Wilma and the rest of the staff at Mid Calder hope to continue for quite some time to come.
Creating a Talking Book – Modern Languages in a Primary school