At the beginning of the month, in my role as a Goethe Institut Professional Learning Facilitator, I was invited to Adelaide to attend our annual, national meeting and to present at the South Australian German Teachers’ conference. Since returning from Adelaide I’ve been on a constant cycle of teach-test-mark-sleep-repeat and writing hundreds (yes, literally) of report cards, but now that they are finally complete, I can share a couple of thoughts on the conference.
I attended last year and knew I would come back from the SAGTA Konferenz with something new and different that would enhance my teaching practice. It was at this conference that I was first inspired start presenting my own ideas to others. As a presenter this year, I was only able to attend three of the four workshop sessions but the following are some of the valuable points I took away from the conference…
Melissa Bond – Facilitating student engagement through educational technology
Melissa presented an interesting keynote on the research she has been doing on flipped classrooms and use of digital technology (you’ll find it here). A lightbulb moment that I tweeted…
This was a good reminder to consider how and why we are using digital technology in the classroom – is it to enhance student learning and engage them in the learning process or is it simply using technology for technology’s sake? Do we assume that because we are using a digital medium that students are automatically more engaged?
Nathaniel Smith – Lacking the ‘I’ in ICT
I really enjoyed the wide variety of online apps and websites that Nathaniel shared during his presentation (available here), I am particularly keen to further explore Duolingo’s Tinycards app. However, what was most thought-provoking me was the SAMR Framework from Dr Ruben Puentendura that Nathaniel referred to. From my very basic understanding, it considers how technology is used in education, whether it is for enhancement (substitution and augmentation) or as a transformation (modification and redefinition) of a task. Like Melissa’s keynote, this framework made me consider how I make use of digital technology. Am I making full use of the capabilities and possibilities presented by different apps and learning platforms, or am I doing the same old stuff just on a device?
Jelena Herster & Eva Baker – Felix und Franzi Online
The team from the Goethe Insitut presented the new online materials for my beloved Felix und Franzi. The materials have been designed as a self paced course for independent learners (for distance education or schools without a langauges teacher). The interactives have the familiar videos we’ve used before with new interactive, self correcting activities. At a glance they look fantastic and could definately be of use to German language teachers in the right context. I’m not 100% sure that these materials are availabe to the general public yet but they do present new opportunities to engage with this excellent resource.
Julianne Wandel – Phonics testing as a systems of language assessment in Australian curriculum
Julianne presented a phonics/spelling test she has been trialling in her school as a means of collecting data on student understanding of the ‘Systems of language’ sub-strand in the Australian Curriculum. She has used her background in primary school teaching to devise an assessment tool, similar to other spelling diagnostic tests, in order to build a picture of what the students do and do not undertand around phonics in the German language. I am interested to see where I could utilise this assessment tool in my teaching and am considering using it at the beginning of next semester and then towards the end of the year to plot student progress.
In Julianne’s presentation she shared the fact that the English language has 44 sounds represented by 1200 spelling combinations and German has 34 sounds with just 39 spelling variations. I will be remembering that information for the future when students try to tell me German is too hard and that English is much easier.
A final thought…
While I came away with a few different ideas to try and things to think about, I find the most valuable aspect of attending these conferences is simply being able to spend time with other German language educators. Despite this being the South Australian conference, the presence of the Multiplikatoren meant that teachers from seven states and territories across the country were in attendance. So many of us (particularly primary school teachers) work alone in our schools and it’s really nice to have the opportunity to be able to share experiences with others who can really relate and appreciate the challenges and rewards of our job. As always, I really enjoyed travelling with fellow Queenslanders Paula and Val. We used the long flight to work, not just doing our own marking and planning, but to have professional discussions, moderate and share teaching methods and resources. Thanks as always to the Goethe Institut for giving us these excellent opportunities to develop ourselves and share our expertise, I look forward to our national conference in Melbourne later in the year.