This morning I had got up, reasonably early and decided to mark my spelling books. I was casually watching Twitter as I did this and saw that an ‘International Teachmeet’ was happening. I’d been to a Teachmeet before (see post: ) but never an international one which was entirely web-based so my curiosities drew me in.
As I joined the teachmeet I found a wealth of both presenters and ‘lurkers’. Counting just the presenters alone they were from 20 different countries; one of whom had stayed up until 4am to participate from Australia! As always with teachmeets there was a frenzy of activity conversation and presenters and this was no different in the web based versions.
One of the most interesting idea I heard was a presentation about ‘6 word stories’. These follow the basic idea that given a photo, children have to write a ‘story’ about the photo using 6 word…no more, no less. Now initially my reaction was ‘A nice idea, but very Key Stage 1’ but then I watched the live chat window full of teachers finding 6 words to tell a story about the picture being shown and realised my initial judgement was a bit rash.
When you think about it the sentence-structure knowledge being used here is immense, not only to extend a sentence that is not long enough e.g. ‘dog head’ but also to reduce a longer sentence to 6 words ‘there once was a man who had a dog head’. As well as this further extension is necessary to add a type of humour or pun to the sentence.
Overall I think this is a brilliant activity idea, it is exciting and funny and with only 6 words to think of it will not deter those less interested writers. This activity would make a great starter to a lesson or could be extended through VCOP activities into a whole lesson focus.
Another idea that I found fascinating was the use of a games console as part of a unit of work. Here it was using an Xbox Kinect and the game Disneyland Adventure which gives you the virtual experience of being in Magic Kingdom, Florida. The teacher had planned a whole unit of work including all subjects from Maths, Literacy, Geography, ICT and Arts.
The basic concept was that they were going on a trip to Disneyland Florida. The children had to begin by planning their trip, how were they getting there, how much would it cost, what did they need to take with them etc etc. When they were ready to go they went on a trip to the airport to look at the planes and see the real thing. When returning to school they then began their trip as if they had landed, taking turns to play the games whilst they use their geography skills to navigate the Disney park. Whilst the children were playing the game they were also asked to each keep a diary describing the people, places, and events with relevant details and completed other tasks such as creating and writing postcards to mail to friends at home.
We were shown some videos during this presentation and the faces of the children said it all, the only thing better would have been to be there themselves. Their mouths were open, they were frantically scribbling notes and working together in groups. I can guarantee most of those children went home and told their parents what they’d done in Disneyland today, orally retelling the story and organising their thoughts which is bound to improve their writing.
Overall the experience of an international Teachmeet was slightly different to that of an in person one. I had more time to reflect on my own thoughts about the things that were being said, as opposed by being overwhelmed by others around me but I did miss the slightly clunky handover waiting for the next person to be picked rather than a click of a button. Overall the realisation that there are teachers across the globe who are having the same ideas and trying similar things to you was eye-opening. I suppose it really makes sense if you think about it, but I never had, a teacher is a teacher, it’s a type of person not a location.