Over the winter the French team has run four workshops on the IWB in the English class for primary and secondary teachers.
Primary school teachers
Shona was invited to deliver half-day training sessions to three groups of primary teachers in December and in February at the university teacher training centre Liégeard, in Nice. These sessions were part of in-service training on ICT for teaching English, and included teachers with different profiles: some were already teaching English in their classes, others not ; very few had IWB access or training.
The sessions started with a brief overview of communicative and task-based language teaching and the second language acquisition arguments that underpin the iTILT project. We then presented the project and the website, and worked on the training materials developed specifically for primary learners. The participants were then able to try out the NoteBook software for the Smartboard to create activities for their pupils. We also explored the Cherry English portal which groups learning activities by topic as a place to start for teachers keen to use ICT with their learners.
Secondary English teachers
This week I was invited to conduct a secondary level workshop, for English teachers in their first year of teaching and who also have a number of scheduled training sessions. We had a full day at the university teacher training centre Georges V in Nice, and were able to take time to explore trainees' views of the IWB before the presentation of the project and hands-on sessions at the board and the computer.
Of the thirteen teachers present only 3 had IWB experience, so there was variation in the ICT skills and preferences in the group. However, all the participants found the Smartboard fun and easy to use, and the NoteBook software very intuitive. The group also had a sneak preview of some of the project video clips: they liked the enjoyable, interactive segments, but expressed some doubts about actual learning, particularly for advanced learners in terms of writing and grammar.
At the end of the afternoon session, three quarters of the trainees spontaneously offered arguments in favour of the use of the board in their own teaching contexts, and 4 who expressed a fear of using the IWB at the start of the workshop claimed to feel more confident and motivated to work with ICT in their classes by the end of the day.
From the chalkface to the IWB with iTILT ...
The Nice workshops contribute to the team's local dissemination effort for the project, but also provide an opportunity to gain insights "from the chalkface" which will be useful as the project advances. In particular, these sessions provide feedback on our first session of data collection ahead of the second round of filming, which starts this month. They also help project partners gauge teachers' views of the IWB for their own teaching contexts and thus provide input for the piloting stage of the iTILT website, which also starts very soon.