8 posts categorized "Français"

March 29, 2013

Help! Missing: trust in young people

I'm currently attempting some "holiday" in France, but the downtime has had my brain whizzing with sights that are more or less unfamiliar, certainly not from the time when I lived here over a decade ago or from my wife's own upbringing.

One such thing is what you can observe in the photo I took in a book shop in a city centre mall. This was the third shop we'd been into where we observed the same pattern:

Children and teenagers, though never adults, would diligently and without having been told to, take their bags to the entrance and dump them in a pile before going about their shopping.

I remarked that in pretty much any other country, a) the bags would be stolen within minutes, or b) they'd be removed as a bomb threat, and almost certainly c) any young person asked on entering a store to leave their bag would cry foul, civil liberties and assumptions of innocent-until-caught-with-a-loot-of-school-supplies (this was a stationery and book shop; hardly the stuff of hardened crack heads or hungry desperadoes).

France is certainly struggling at the moment. Her economy is dying, her politicians panicking, her entrepreneurs leaving by their hundreds every week on the Eurostar.

But success might be more likely to appear some day soon if it can do one thing for the taxpayers, citizens and workers of tomorrow: trust them as equal citizens in a Republic built on liberté, égalité and fraternité.

Help! Missing: trust in young people

February 25, 2012

Clair 2012: Le design thinking, du studio à la classe


In early February I presented, in French, a 90 minute story about how design thinking and the educational worlds of formative assessment, school building, curriculum and assessment strategy are all bound together.

I wanted to show to the audience at Clair 2012 in New Brunswick, Canada, what can happen when these apparently unrelated worlds of technology startups, product design and formal education are bound together by leaders with foresight and an understanding of the detail and complexity of learning, amazing learning opportunities can happen.

It was a joy to speak about the complexity of learning and teaching, with the time and audience who got it - it was, after all, New Brunswick teachers that taught me how to really teach through their French immersion, project-led pedagogy.

It's the first time I've ever had a standing ovation for a talk, especially one that was 90 minutes and between opportunities for the audience to drink wine and eat cheese. I was taken aback by that. And even more humbled by the words from Stephen Downes, who also braved his fears of keynoting en français at the event:

I've had my criticisms of Ewan McIntosh in the past and I will no doubt have my criticisms of him in the future. But they will be a bit tempered from now on, I think. Ewan McIntosh weaved what can only be called magic at the conference I attended at Clair 2012, in northern New Brunswick. It wasn't simply because his French is easier to follow than his English ;) - he wove a tapestry of ideas together talking about what it is that will draw out students, interest them, engage them, and get them to be more than just followers of orders. It was one of the best presentations I've even seen - visually beautiful, low-keyed, personal and engaging. He has clearly learned a lot from his work with TED, but also, with 90 minutes to work with, the talk was never rush, never forced, and, in the end, exactly the right length. He received a standing ovation at the end, very much (to my observation) a rarity at education conferences. Well deserved.

I think part of it was to do with speaking French, but not because I was making an effort to speak it or anything, more that as a result of speaking my second language in an unfamiliar context I took extra care, and extra time from the normal 45 minute keynote sprint, to weave the complexities of our learning world in a simple way.

It was great fun, and I'm grateful to Roberto Gauvin, the Principal teacher at Clair's learning centre, for the opportunity to come through the metre-thick snow and -30˚C freeze to work alongside such a dedicated group of franco-canadian educators. 

You can download a copy of the talk from the Clair 2012 website (right click/control click and select "Save As..."). Better still, you can see the actions stemming from it and other talks when you dip into the manifesto for change, the DeCLAIRation, a pragmatic document for change based on what we all heard from the four speakers and our many corridor conversations.

How To Start An Education Revolution

Part of the manifesto is an ongoing Revolutionary Google Doc, developed in a furiously productive 50 minute BarCamp session that I led on Starting A Revolution. I've been reading Gene Sharpe's work on real, political revolutions, and wanted to produce a live, step-by-step guide to education revolution, much along the same lines:


This growing document is designed by 100 educators who gave up a Saturday morning in a gym in Clair, to provide links to research that disprove the key naysayer arguments for curricular, assessment and pedagogical change in the classroom. Well, it's a dream document for a keynoter, even one with 90 minutes, because the Saturday morning exercise allowed us to revisit and question all those things we had heard from the keynoters through two days of conference, and back up our views with research and leading practice, rather than anecdotes.

It's open until March 11th for changes, and then we're going to use it to create change in the Francophone and, with some translation, the Anglophone worlds of education, by create a copy that can be sent to every politician and Principal we know.

March 31, 2007

So motivating you can't stop them learning

397831786_cd1b38b937 A few days down south in Shropshire and Oxford have rounded off two months of pretty much non-stop conferences and workshops. I've worked with around 1500 teachers over that time and, considering each one might have an average 80 students a week (between primary and secondary), that's potentially 120,000 kids that might see a classroom near them change, even just a bit. Add to that around 24,000 uniques to the blog, and 1700 subscribers, the slightly surreal fatigue I'm experiencing this weekend is, I hope, worth it. It's not quite over yet - April's got its fair share of kms - but I thought I would leave some notes of what I've learned through doing this over the winter of 2007.

The changes I have been proposing are small steps. We need to pick one or two pet projects and really make a difference through them and then, just as we get comfortable, it's a good idea to share that with colleagues and move on to the next thing ourselves. That's because most of these teachers are the potential innovators - they chose to come along to conferences on new technology. You/They are the ones that'll make a difference.

Four things that hold us back from innovating, or that make us get innovation a bit wrong:

  1. "Thin-slicing"
    Malcolm Gladwell's Blink gave me plenty of parallels in education to think about. Thin slicing is the Pepsi Challenge effect, where we see a guy at a conference talking about something new for a couple of minutes. We then make up our minds: "I love it, I'll just jump into it" or "I'm too old for that/the boss will never go for it". Taking a thin slice of a more complex process makes us less likely to succeed in both these scenarios. Most of the things I've been proposing this last wee while are simple initially, but require more complex thinking about the role of the teacher.
  2. Fear = loathing?
    When we fear things we decide not to take the jump. But if we can decide that failure might actually be a good thing then we can start to play a lot better. Making purposeful play something that both learner and teacher do will help make that learning so much more effective.
  3. Over planning
    I'm not saying that we should stop planning our lessons, but rather that we need to leave room for happy accidents to happen, for those tangents to be developed. This might mean throwing out the annual planner for a week, just to go off on a tangent that might lead to something more interesting or relevant to the kids' own experiences. It might be a false lead, it might be the lead that makes that period of learning 100 times more worthwhile.

    With ICT we tend to overplan our lessons. This might be a starting point, if we can start to see technology as opening tangents ("how could we do something other than PowerPoint to make the task more demanding cognitively and less demanding technically?") rather than closing them off ("we don't have all the equipment we need to do that").
  4. "Why bother?"
    Kids are changing. The 16 year old in 2007 is entering the employment market with only internet-age experiences on which to rely (the internet came into being in 1991). The six year old entering elementary school expects the web to allow them to publish and share their views with the world.

Five elements that have changed outside school and which need to change inside school

  1. Audience
  2. Creativity Unleashed!
    • Student creations can be conceived and published in the same place, whether that's in photographic, video or audio forms . Find out how to do all this. Channel the creative energy and ideas of your students - teacher as guide, not fount of knowledge - and you can turn those silly YouTube aspirations into something much more powerful.
  3. Differentiate... by raising the bar
  4. Authentic goals (for students, not teachers)
    • Create real audio guides for the city in AudioSnacks.
    • Keep a learning log of what is going on in class or on a school trip .
  5. 438003004_5cf11894c9_o It's not about the teach, it's about the tech
    • Use the technology that is in your students' bags and pockets - mobile phone ideas; iPod  use (listen to education material on iTunes Podcast Directory; xBoxes let you speak with fellow players around the world; the games played by kids on their Nintendo DS or Wii (I'm playing one at Steve's here) can often be put into multilingual modes - never has brain training been so draining.

The tools we use should not get in the way of the far bigger question - what is your role in your classroom now and will new technologies integrate with it? The chances are they won't, unless you integrate (i.e. change) with them. The main release these tools will offer the teacher is the extension of the classroom beyond the 'nine-to-four': collaborative tools like these offer free and flexible ways to claim back some of the 200 minutes spent online by our kids each night.

And why this urgency to adopt new and changing technology? Because new technology tends to push us into new practices. Take a look at the Scottish Inspectorate's report or the Becta New Tech report to see what I mean. Some ideas will work, some will not. Do you have the desire to try and maybe make some mistakes? Will you blog about it so that others needn't make the same mistakes?

March 18, 2007

Congres Frans: News ways to teach and to teach yourself

Img_5112 Another packed talk on new technologies, but yesterday morning's was more about specific tools and letting the participants use their imaginations as to how they might use them to either work with the kids or just to get more savvy themselves.

The notes are in French, but obviously the links are of use to anyone new to tracking the wealth of useful information out there for teachers of languages or any other subject for that matter. Excuses pour les fautes de français ;-) I'm glad to be home after yet more time away, but Sonja, who I met while doing the ECML Blogs project 18 months ago, was kind enough to take me to the beach at Noordwijk for some brisk breezes and spectacular moonscapes (left).

Avec tellement d'information sur le web ça devient de plus en plus important de savoir comment y naviguer. Tout ce que j'ai montré ce matin est gratuit et se prête parfaitement à l'apprentissage de langues et, bien sûr, sert à former le professeur.

Firefoxscreensnapz001 1. Del.icio.us - mon réseau de liens
Tu gardes tous tes liens sur le menu 'Favoris' de votre ordinateur, où personne peut les trouver et où ils deviennent désorganisé dès qu'on y rajoute? Pas moi. Je garde tous mes liens en ligne avec le service del.icio.us où j'ai ma propre page de liens.

Chaque lien est 'étiquetté' - ou 'tagged' - avec des mots que j'ai décidé étaient les meilleurs pour les retrouver plus tard. Certains liens ont deux mots clés, d'autres ont vignt. Ça dépend du lien et pour qui c'est utile.

Pour mes classes, je peux inventer des tags particuliers: francais2e (c'est pour la classe de français '2E'). Je peux aussi mélanger plusieurs liens: poésie, contemporaine, français2e, français6f (ce lien est utile pour tout étudiant ou prof qui s'occupe de la poésie, de la poésie contemporaine, de la classe 2E, de la class 6F ou tout combinaison de ceux-ci. Tout ce que j'ai à faire c'est rajouter des tags à celui que j'ai déjà choisi pour rafiner ma recherche.

Firefoxscreensnapz002 2. GoogleDocs
Collaboration à plusieurs auteurs? Utilisez GoogleDocs. Invitez ceux qui peuvent changer le fichier 'Word' ou le tableau 'Excel' (tout est en ligne donc il n'est pas nécessaire de disposer de ces logiciels, en effet, pour visualiser les fichiers). Vous pouvez être à un, à deux, à vingt... personnes à la fois en train de rédiger le document et voir ce que les autres écrivent en même temps, même si les autres se trouvent loin dans une école partenaire, par exemple.

Firefoxscreensnapz006 3. Wiki
Wikiwiki sont les bus rapides de Hawaii. Un wiki est un site web qui peut être changé par seulement une personne à la fois. Créer une page est simple comme une clique, donc parfait pour des élèves ou des profs qui veulent créer un simple site web de ressources ou de travail. Les pages peuvent être réglées pour que tout le monde ou seulement certaines personnes puissent les changer. PBWiki ou bien Wikispaces ne sont pas mal (et gratuits).

Firefoxscreensnapz003 4. Blogs
Le centre du réseau personnel pour beaucoup de professeurs partout dans le monde. J'ai montré plein de profs anglophones avec leurs 'learning blogs' (journaux d'apprentissage) mais il en existe aussi en français - plus de liens à venir la-dessus.

Regardez les Blogroll des blogs pour trouver encore de pensées, des idées et des ressources de profs qui partagent les mêmes passions. Pour savoir créer votre propre blog allez sur le MFLE.

Firefoxscreensnapz004 5. Pageflakes pour tout tenir ensemble
On peut copier les liens trouver dans les petits boutons oranges (comme celui sur mon blog, en haut à droite) dans le 'Add Feed' de PageFlakes.com. Vous finirez avec une page qui n'arrête pas de changer. Regardez la page de East Lothian Council. Devenir membre de ce site et vous pouvez partager gratuitement vos pages avec tout le monde comme nous avons fait ici.

6. Podcaster
Faire un podcast c'est facile avec Garageband sur tous les Macintosh. Si vous voulez un logiciel qui le ressemble sur votre PC téléchargez et Audacity et LAME MP3 encoder (liens et instructions ici). La première fois que vous créez un fichier et que vous voulez le convertir en MP3 vous allez devoir montrer à Audacity où vous avez suavegardé LAME, mais c'est la seule partie difficile de ce logiciel.

Pour une bonne introduction au podcasting (en anglais) allez sur le site de ma région, Podcasting 1. Il y a aussi des idées pour faire encore mieux dans vos podcasts et des idées de structure et de pédagogie dans la partie 'Podcasting 3'.

Pour voir ce que d'autres profs de langues ont fait allez sur le MFLE.

Firefoxscreensnapz005 J'avais utilisez Google Earth pour montrer ou les professeurs écrivains se trouvaient un peut partout dans le monde. J'avais aussi 'volé' d'une photo dans Flickr à un endroit sur Google Earth en utilisant le logiciel FlickrFly. Ce dernier n'est pas le plus facile à capter la première fois qu'on utilise, mais ça vaut une petite demi-heure pour l'apprendre.

Bon courage avec vos nouvelles technologies et n'hésitez pas à me contacter avec, bien sûr, mon blog!

March 16, 2007

High production values of French International Radio

At the end of my talk this afternoon I was dragged off to a quiet sideroom for interviews with Richard at TV5, the French publicly funded international TV company, and RFI, Radio France Internationale. I just loved to see that the pros do radio with the same kind of production values that I and most of our kids do our podcasting. I bet you didn't know that plant pots could be so useful ;-)

First day at end... almost

I've got some notes (J'ai bien des liens et des idées) in French (en français) and English for the wonderful crowd (vous étiez supers!) that made it through to apéritif (vin vin, 2020) with an hour of emerging (and not so emerging) technologies.

I've been so busy today that I haven't really had time to blog Congres Frans as much as I had hoped. It's been great, and the reception to the fives ideas (you can listen to ten in archive here in part one and part two) I gave in my talk seemed really positive - Holland's ready to accept that kids are different from most teachers. There was lots of enthusiasm to use the mobile phones and, I felt, a desire to get podcasting, even though I didn't have time to actually do a podcast in my 50 minutes.

The French media from TV5 and RFI were interested in an interview afterwards, too, so hopefully the word will spread further and get our (r)evolution going.

Some links just from this talk in franglais:

Img_5080 Cinq façons de rester brancher sans perdre la tête et pourquoi le blog n'en est pas une:

  • Quatre choses qu'il faut éviter quand on regarde les nouvelles technologies:
    Four things to avoid when looking at using new technologies:
    • "Thin-slicing" - "J'aime pas ça"; "Je suis trop vieux pour ça"
    • La peur - il faut pas la détester (don't fear change, don't hate fear. Failure is good)
    • Surpréparation - laissez la place aux hasards heureux; don't over plan, leave room for serendipity
    • "Pourquoi changer?": parce que les élèves aujourd'hui sont différents. Ils vont pas changer, à nous d'apprendre
  • L'enfant de 16 ans en 2007 est entre les premiers à entrer le marché de travail qui, en même temps, a connu seulement l'âge de l'internet. L'enfant de 6 ans qui entre à l'école primaire connait seulement l'âge où on peut tout publier en une seule clique.

Cinq éléments importants:

  1. Le grand public
  2. Créativité sans limite!
  3. Différenciez - levez la barre
  4. Buts authentiques - pourquoi faut-il faire ça?
  5. It's not about the teach, it's about the tech
    • Utilise la technologie portable des élèves - téléphones portables (calendrier pour les devoirs, enregistrer les voix pour auto-évaluation de l'orale, faire des histoires photos avec les caméras - plus d'idées ici); iPod (écouter un tas de matérial trouvé sur iTunes Podcast Directory; jouez aux jeux en VF sur les PSP, les Nintendo DS etc... Les xBox laisse jouer et parler aux gens partout dans le monde, et en français!

Apologies to my English readers, but there's some homework in there ;-) Normal service resumes shortly...

Congres Frans begins

  Congres Frans begins 
  Originally uploaded by Edublogger.

The message is loud and clear: Holland's issues with language learning are more similar to Scotland and England's problems than we might think. The Dutch have a reputation as being language learners extraordinaire but there is still, says our opening speaker, too much emphasis on the Anglo-American in our 'Western World' (what is the West nowadays, anyway?)

It sounds as if, perhaps like at home, learners don't always see the point in learning French and other non-English languages. There is a lack of motivation to learn something which, in an age when school tends to value what is useful in a rather narrow way, is the first to go when put alongside the sciences, media and social studies. And in Holland, fewer and fewer are choosing French, despite it often being the language that makes the difference, the language that made Scotland great during the Enlightenment and continues to make a difference in the world of politics, decision-making and international affairs.

I'm happy with the opening speech since my talk this afternoon shows how languages are really at the centre of creativity and multimedia work, if we choose to make them so. But it's not good enough to have one or two individuals making strides to use multimedia, social media and other creative tools with their learners. It needs to be a united front, a global effort on the part of all language teachers, to make a dent in this world which, rightly or (probably more likely) wrongly, places too much value on English as a lingua franca.

That's where tomorrow's talk on how teachers can get themselves together will fit in. Using technology with learners is great, but it's seen as 'fun', motivating icing on the cake. Let's show them that social technology can unite those individual great teachers like nothing before, and amplify their practice.

Chapeau pour le français!

Waking up in Noordwijkerhout

  Originally uploaded by Apotheker.

It's been a beautiful evening and it looks like the good weather will continue today for the opening of Congres Frans, Holland's national languages conference at which I've been asked to deliver two keynotes.

The first is in the afternoon today, 10 Façons Pour Rester Brancher Sans Perdre La Tête, with around 300 of the 350 pre-registered conference-goers signed up to come along. It's great, a lot more than sign up in Scottish conferences for similar talks. It's a good sign.

But this, you see, is where the problems begin. I have to do two talks, which I've been at best a little nervous doing in English, but do them completely in French. It's made even worse since, wanting to double check which talk was when, I discovered only Dutch descriptors, the titles of which seem not to match up completely ("Bijblijvin" for "10 Ways To Stay Connected Without Losing Your Mind And Why Blogging Is Not One Of Them"; either Dutch is the concise language I yearn or someone's been editing...). There's also the article they wrote about me for the Congres Newsletter, which could be as libelous as they come. We shall see... ;-)

And despite having a long-suffering French wife (she came to BarCampScotland for an hour, just for me) I'm sure many of my more geeky readers will understand the concept of not talking about the finer elements of social media's impact on education to their better half over the apéritif or dessert course. At least on Wednesday night, as I asked her for the first time how to express my concise, snappy English text in some French that was as concise and snappy as French can get, she seemed relatively interested in the subject matter. Never did get that snappy French, though. They just can't write a sentence without a verb, and a subjunctive at that, it seems.

The programme is packed and includes at least one Web 2.0 seminar. I'm about to work out what I'll go and listen to, but I'm also tempted to see if it's possible to walk to the beach in the picture to get some snaps before lunch. In the meantime, with a bedroom view of, well, more bedrooms in the block opposite, it's Flickr to the rescue.

About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

Recent Posts