#EP 8 – Digital Planners, World Language Teacher Summit, Escape Rooms and TechTalk Interview with Graham Stanley


We begin episode 8 with a heartfelt tribute to a fellow podcaster and edtech enthusiast who sadly passed away earlier this month followed by recommendations on digital planners to help listeners get organised for the new academic year. Noah announces the exciting free online World Language Teacher Summit conference (#WLTS19) starting next month including over 30 presentations from the US and beyond. 

Next we hear an inspiring story from a languages teacher who wanted to see what impact taking a GCSE in Spanish from scratch would have on him as a language learner and his department’s pedagogical approach. Noah highlights some more of Meredith White’s innovative practice in using authentic resources and Flipgrid for promoting speaking.

For the Show and Tell section of this episode, we explore the use of mysteries and escape rooms in the languages classroom and showcase a range of examples from practitioners which have proved to be successfully challenging and purposeful.

Our TechTalk interview follows the same theme and features self-proclaimed escape room nerd Graham Stanley from the British Council who shares some fascinating insights based on his recent research and experimentations. A must listen for anyone interested in trying out escape rooms in their classrooms.

You can follow Joe (@joedale) and Noah (@SenorG) on Twitter, and follow the hashtag #mfltwitteratipodcast for more info. You can also email us with questions or ideas, info@mfltwitteratipodcast.com and subscribe to our newsletter to keep updated about the latest episode.

If you’ve enjoyed this episode of the #mfltwitterati podcast, please rate and review us on Apple’s Podcasts app so more language teachers can find us. You can subscribe to the #mfltwitterati podcast on the Apple Podcasts app, Google podcasts, Spotify, Overcast or Stitcher or wherever you listen to your podcasts. For more information and links, go to our podcast site mfltwitteratipodcast.com where there are lots of references to this episode content and all the previous episodes too!

The #mfltwitterati podcast – Celebrating the voices of the modern language teaching community!

Thank you for listening!

Joe and Noah

Show notes

[1:03] Tribute to Dai Barnes, Head of Digital Strategy and Computer Science Teacher at Oundle School and co-host of the TIDE podcast with Doug Belshaw and catching up with each other’s summers.

[6:13] Radar: Choosing a digital planner for the new school year and hearing advice from:

[6:46] @MrLoweTeacher on iDoceo

[8:44] @elinakrommyda on OneNote

[10:57] @RCCS_MissBawler on Planboard

[12:11] @reebekwhylee on Google Calendar

[14:05] Noah gives a shout out to The World Language Teacher Summit organised by @SpeakingLatino a.k.a Jared Romey, a free online conference 23rd-27th September featuring over 30 video presentations from leading practitioners. Check out host site worldlangteachers.com and the public Facebook page too

[16:16] MFLtwitterati Takeaway: @AAdams2127 talks about his decision to study for a Spanish GCSE as a full time teacher and head of department and the benefits he found of doing so. Huge congratulations to Alex for getting a 9 in his exam too!

[22:36] Noah describes Meredith White’s One Word Answer activity in which she uses authentic articles from the Spanish email version of the New York Times with beginners. He also highlights her use of the rubric option in Flipgrid to give meaningful feedback.

[25:05] Linguascope

[26:05] MFL Show and Tell: Murder Mysteries and Escape Rooms. First of all, we have @monsieurwayth, @spsmith45 and @mlleeasby talking about successful activities they’ve used around solving a mystery from a set of clues.

[33:25] Some advice on how to set up a murder mystery activity with support from Detective Taggart a.k.a @glasgow3000.

[34:20] @MissCauserMFL describes her Harry Potter Murder Mystery activity

[36:33] @modern_perth on his voluntary murder mystery creative writing task

[38:00] @southernplshow a.k.a Sue Cave on her free Language Detectives materials aimed at primary language learners. See more PBL ideas here

Practical suggestions on how to use escape rooms to enhance language learning from:

[40:02] @SaschaStollhans

[42:38] Bucksburn Academy

[46:06] @PitlochryFrench

[47:36] @JuschMo and her site Escape Room Lessons

[49:10] @Mmepetitgateau

[51:26] @senoritamarron

[53:23] @MissMFL1

[56:01] @rcaseyLHS

[57:53] @aaronmcluckie1

[59:55] @caron_downes

[1:01:04] @cateevans

[1:04:20] TechTalk interview with @grahamstanley on use of Escape Rooms in the languages classroom. Graham is the English for Education Systems Lead for the British Council in the Americas currently based in Mexico. At the time of the interview though, he was in Uruguay. He is the author of the handbook for teachers ‘Language Learning with Technology’, published by Cambridge University Press, and co-author of Digital Play: Computer games and Language Aims, published by Delta. He is also newsletter editor for the International Association of English Language Teachers Learning Technology Special Interest Group.

[1:05:30] Describing where his interest in Escape Rooms came from, starting with the power of video games and how they could be used to enhance language learning which led him to co-author the book Digital Play and exploring the global phenomenon of escape rooms through his blog EscapeRoomELT.wordpress.com and running an Electronic Village Online ‘Escape the Room’ session for TESOL over 6 weeks from January to February 2019 collaborating via Google Classroom and Zoom/Adobe Connect live sessions.

For more details go to Escape the Room Google classroom space and use the code u91gxp to join. The session will be re-run in January-February 2020 too for those interested in taking part live.

[1:08:01] Defining an Escape Room and suggesting how one can be adapted for the classroom to make learning more memorable.

[1:11:19] Game based learning and the importance of effective task design.

[1:12:34] Sharing some false starts on the journey of designing escape rooms and working out what works and what doesn’t work in the languages classroom. Deciding on a narrative with clues which lead to a range of short activities focusing on practising the language and leading to a learning outcome. Giving the example of the Missing Mayan Mask escape room which has a strong narrative around a historical object that is missing, presumed stolen. Apart from exploring the environment, reading texts to find clues to where the mask has been hidden, the students as they discover new objects and information, start to develop a theory about who stole the mask, which then the teacher makes the most of once the mask has been found and a suspect implicated. Who stole the mask is not so clear, which means in this activity the students are encouraged to put forward their own theories, which the teacher can use as reasons for students to make short presentations and then write follow-up reports and conduct interviews. Using colour coding for different groups for using escape rooms with classes.

[1:19:41] Using more imaginative and cleverer multimedia clues with audio though Google Voice (US only) or emoji ciphers such as Codemoji . Check out 101 more ideas here.  The importance of trying out a puzzle idea first with some willing volunteers to work out its difficulty level and how long it takes to complete. Using guinea pigs allows you to better set the level of the puzzle to make the activity challenging but not too challenging so the language learning is as effective as possible.

[1:22:52] Ensuring learners use as much target language as possible when completing activities.

[1:26:18] A few final thoughts and looking forward to the next episode.

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