Monday, 29 October 2007

Launching live birds into the world.

Having spent all weekend working hard (honest!) at the eTwinning conference in Nottingham, the last thing I fancied today was an Inset day. This was partly due to fatigue but also as I didn't want to lose the thoughts that are still floating around my mind following the excellent CPD over the last few days. So many ideas, so little time! A further complicating factor was the need to produce evidence for our school 'Curriculum for the 21st Century' display that each Head had to put up for today's proceedings. Flattered to be asked but lots of work - hence the Twittering about laminating.

Despite my misgivings, I have to say that I enjoyed today and found it quite exciting!

The theme of the day was 'A curriculum for the 21st Century' and the day was actually an Inset for our cluster of local schools based around the Creative Curriculum.

We started the day with a definition of creativity - 'bringing into being something that did not exist before' - before moving on to consider our aims for our pupils, deciding that it's not content as much as attributes and skills that are at the heart of what we want. What really excited me was that the things being said fitted so well with what I had been hearing (and agreeing with!) in Nottingham, particularly in George Glass's presentation about collaborative communities, raising self esteem, nurturing empathetic youngsters who can work cooperatively in teams, becoming effective learners and local and global citizens.

The idea of working creatively was likened to building a house - the house won't be built by leaving a pile of bricks on the plot - you need to put them all together. There was also the analogy of a tree with content as the leaves, and attributes as the roots (teamwork / reflective learners / self managers / creative participants / independent enquirers), held together by the trunk of learning experiences.

And the picture I liked best was about throwing things! If you throw a dead bird, there are laws etc that make it possible to calculate how far it will travel, but if the bird is alive, there is no way of knowing. The vision was of the creative curriculum as a way to launch live birds into the world, hoping that they will soar , becoming things of beauty rather than plummeting to the ground. Perhaps I'm just a sucker for a good analogy, but this made sense to me!

I can see that thinking creatively and given pupils more responsibility for their learning is desirable - we want children to remember things - what's more memorable than finding out for yourself, and enjoying the process? I could have downloaded Oscar Stringer's notes on animation and learned that way, and without the opportunity to experience the workshop, that would have taken me through the necessary steps. However, being there, hearing the instructions first hand whilst watching what to do and then working with a group of people to create and animate our own ideas was so much more memorable.
We were allowed to play around with the plasticine (and we did!) without being told off - how often do we give kids something that they're dying to play with (as a language teacher, I'm thinking of dictionaries), only to tell them that they've got to do it our way? Wouldn't it be better to let the pupils 'play' first and discover for themselves with guidance where necessary?

As a Primary Languages teacher, I think I've become increasingly creative in my teaching, looking for ways to embed the subject across the curriculum, and I believe that's one of the reasons why I was asked to present some ideas and evidence for the display. It was good to talk to teachers from other schools about eTwinning, International School Award, Voices of the World, EDL, links with Canada and USA as well as Spanish from 3-11, and to share some ideas that they could use in their schools. And, in the end, it wasn't too onerous to miss lunch and stand by our display talking to colleagues, because I wholeheartedly believe that being creative is the way to go.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Animation for Education

Just rushed out of Oscar Stringer's workshop to upload our finished animation (it is coffee time so I'm not being rude!)

The idea of our animation was as a promotional video short for the Voices of the World NING group that Sharon began following a previous eTwinning conference, hence the multilingual big mouths.

video

This was made by Sharon (Scotland), Elissa (UK via Australia), Kurt (Germany), Nikolay (Bulgaria) and me (UK / Spain) in about an hour and a half (although we fiddled and tweaked for longer!) and I can see it as something that I could now use within my practice. We talked about how we might use this kind of animation in our classrooms, specifically in the context of eTwinning, and suggested that an animation could be started in one country, sent to a partner school for music and sound to be added and perhaps sent on for subtitles, credits etc, thus making it a collaborative project. That's a really exciting idea that I may well be pursuing so watch this space!!

eTwinning conference

I'm blogging from the Internet hub at the NCSL in Nottingham as I'm attending an etwinning conference this weekend. For those who have never had the pleasure, it's a lovely place - Molten Brown toiletries, a maid to make your bed, complimentary drinks and delicious three course meals.



I've met lots of interesting people from across Europe; England, Scotland, Wales, France, Spain, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Sweden, Finland etc. After a drinks reception on Friday with people bringing items of food and drink that represent their countries, there was a conference dinner and then today we've got down to the 'work'.



I've been involved in eTwinning for the last year or so, completing a project called Somos lo que celebramos at Whitehouse Common with Colegio Público César Hurtado Delicado. I spoke about this project at Joe Dale's conference a couple of weeks ago (see my blog post on Talkabout Primary MFL) and was sent to this conference to represent Comenius West Midlands, the idea being that I would find out further information about eTwinning links across regions and countries, and also make new friends and potential contacts for future projects.

There have been sessions about the eTwinning portal and ICT and eTwinning. the main part of the day has been spent in one of three workshops taking an ICT theme and showing how it could be used for eTwinning. I've been attending the Animation for Education session lead by Oscar Stringer. In my next post, I'll share the outcomes of the sessions in which I worked with four other delegates and some plasticine to make a short film.

eTwinning is a great way to address the Intercultural understanding strand of the KS2 Framework, and is also a great source of cross curricular activities, as the project between WCPS and CPCHD showed. But more of that tomorrow - the clocks do change tonight but it's still tiring work being at a conference ;-)

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Talkabout Primary MFL


Visit Talkabout Primary MFL

A few months I became a member of Talkabout Primary MFL - and what a good decision that has proved to be!

Set up by Jo Rhys-Jones 'This is an interactive network for those teaching (or considering teaching) a foreign language in a Primary school; a place to share your worries/successes with supportive colleagues. Please let us know what works (or doesn't) for you.'

I have contentedly made myself at home on the site, joining in discussions, discovering new resources, making friends and blogging about a number of things including European Day of Languages, the Rugby World Cup and teaching Primary Languages without a voice (my first ever blog post!!) And I will continue to do so.

I'm starting my own blog because I've always wanted to have a blog, and also due to the fact that NING is blocked at school. As one of the intentions of doing this is to support my colleagues as they begin to teach Spanish at WCPS, it's important that they can gain access to the support when they need it.

However, I would thoroughly recommend joining Talkabout Primary MFL as you will discover a supportive network of people with a mixture of experience in relation to PLL , offering and discussing lots of ideas and resources to support and inspire.

So why not click on the badge in the sidebar and find out for yourself!

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

¡Vámonos!

I can delay no longer! After months of thinking about it and finding reasons to delay for a bit, I have finally stopped procrastinating and jumped into the blogosphere! So, may I present to you -

¡Vámonos!

Why Vámonos?

It means Let's go! in Spanish and that seemed appropriate as I hope to encourage my colleagues (and the wider world!) to join the PLL train (as I heard it described at a CILT meeting earlier this year).
It's one of my favourite phrases and one of the first I recall learning as a child.
And of course, it's well known to most pupils courtesy of a certain bilingual young lady who has taught so many children how to count, shout 'watch out' and name colours in Spanish. Yes, Dora the Explorer has a lot to answer for - and I for one owe her a debt of gratitude as it means pupils start with at least some idea of what I'm saying!!


So - 'Come on! ¡ Vámonos! Everybody, let's go. Come on! Let's get to it! I know that you can do it!'


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