Friday, 28 December 2007

Fruity Sesame Street.

Whilst playing on Youtube, I came across this clip from Sesame Street and thought it was worth sharing as I think I'll be using it next time we look at fruit vocabulary. I think it would make a good introduction and go down well with any of the classes I teach - Nursery would enjoy it as much as Year6. Or am I kidding myself because I love it?
See what you think!

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Let's get active (part 3)

It's taken me longer than I expected, but here's the rest of the input from the Birmingham ELL RSG on November 20th - Let's get active! - giving ideas on activities for the PLL classroom that get the kids actively involved in learning language.

I've already blogged about some games and a song - Jean Petit qui danse - that were suggested by Sara Vallis and also shared my input on using parachutes and also some action songs such as Le fermier dans son pré and El granjero (you'll find the files in my Box of Goodies on the right hand side of the blog.)

So, all that's left is to tell you what the 'experts' (i.e. the advisors!) said!

Paul Nutt - whose exact title currently eludes me and Google ;o) - started the session by reading us a passage in French about hobbies and pasttimes. It was in the form of a letter and was not a simple text, but the activities he suggested made it accessible to younger learners who had some understanding of French.

The first activity involved us being split into groups and each group being given the name of a pasttime. Our task was to listen for our activity (my group had 'le rugby')and stand up each time it was mentioned, with everyone standing up for 'les passetemps'.

The next time we listened we were given cards with the vocabulary items written on them. Our task was to hold up the appropriate word when we heard it. To make things a little more complicated, we rotated the person who held up the card so sometimes there were a number of hands grabbing for cards!

Following on from this, we were challenged to put the words into alphabetical order against the other teams.

By this time, we had heard the text and the vocabulary items a number of times, and our next task was to write as many of the hobbies and pasttimes in English as we could recall -the cards were taken away at this point so no cheating was allowed :o(

The final part of the activity involved different cards, this time with phrases as well as vocabulary items, from which we were challenged to make sentences. For example,
From here, we discussed how the activity might go, with pupils being encouraged to substitute pasttimes and opinions, add qualifiers and connectives, give reasons for opinions etc.

This seemed a good idea and I actually tried it out the next day with Year 6 - I read a passage of personal identification information and I challenged them in mixed ability groups of 4 to put the text into the correct order whilst listening. I know that listening is the skill about which they have the most hang ups - even more than with speaking- so I was interested to see how they did. It proved a success and we took it on to the next stage when we discussed how we might use the activity to inform our own writing. The pupils suggested annotating the slips and substituting numbers, sports, names etc to personalise the passage. Here are some photos of their ideas.

Rona Heald - Comenius West Midlands Regional Manager - shared some activities for the hall and playground.
She began with a song about measuring -

Un kilomètre à pied,
ça use, ça use.

Un kilomètre à pied,

ça use les souliers.
The song continues with 'deux kilomètre' etc .
It's very easy to learn and is sung whilst marching around in a line. Rona suggested using it with instructions as to HOW the pupils should march and sing - marchez...lentement, sur place, accroupis, au galop, à quatre pattes, les mains en l'air, en faissent sauter une crêpe... et... changez de direction.
This reminded me of a session I attended at the Primary Language Show last year about linking ELL with Physical development in Foundation Stage - suggested activities included jumping the rope where the leader holds up two coloured cards and calls a colour then the pupils jump to the correct side to indicate answer, and walking the line where the class walk around a line on the floor whilst singing a song - the above would be a good choice!

Rona went on to present different ways of playing hopscotch from around the world. The names themselves were an education - La Marelle (France) El Muñeco (Spain) Tempelhuepfen(German) Hinkelbann (Netherlands - I think!) Rayuela (Argentina). We were also treated to a discussion of another variation called Escargot or La Marelle ronde' where the squares are in a spiral and players hop on one foot to the centre and back.
Hopscotch has minimal language content so the suggestion was to perhaps put a picture in each square and to win it, you have to name the item, or put it into a sentence. Also players should count the squares as they hop, not necessarily starting at 1 but perhaps 8 or count in 2s etc., or even recite the alphabet.

Another activity which we tried was La llamada de los animales - the call of the animals. Four children are given a picture of a Mummy animal eg frog, elephant, cat, dog, and they go to stand in a corner of the room. The rest of the class are given a card with one of the animals on it - they are the babies and they need to find their Mummy. As they approach one of the Mummies, they emit the sound of the animal and if it's their Mummy, they reply. To extend the (very minimal unless you're teaching animal calls!) languaeg, you could give the pupils lines to use such as 'I'm a little .... and I'm looking for my Mummy..' or 'Come and sit down' or @sorry, I'm not your Mummy'.

There were many more ideas for games such as Lupo mangia fruta - the fruit eating wolf, and Alto ahí, a Spanish variation on Dodgeball. Many can be found on iEARN Children's Folk Games, 'a result of an international networking project run in I*earn Kidscan Conference
during September 1998- April 1999.' There are lots of games, rhymes, songs, tonguetwisters and customs in a wide variety of languages - well worth a look!

The next RSG is on 22nd January and I'm really looking forward to it as Oscar Stringer is coming to tell us all about animation - I'm already sold on the educational possibilites so I can't wait for others to discover its potential too.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Lisibo's Christmas message!

Well - if it's good enough for the Queen ......!

To wish you all a Merry Christmas, here are two videos that bring together several things close to my heart - languages, kids and Disney!

Hope you enjoy them and have a really great Christmas!

Multilingual Disney greetings! (very clever collaborative effort!)

¡Feliz Navidad!

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Sverige all väg en.

Much excitement this evening as Chris Fuller has just posted a video on his blog Facing the currently unknown related to the Euro 08 project he's organising. The Project involves classes finding out about one of the countries participating in Euro 08, using Web2.0 tools to share what they find, and hopefully all meet up in June for a football / netball tournament in Devon at Chris' school, Edgehill College.

Filmed at ITV West Country and aided by Seth Conway, Chris drew the names of the schools participating in the Edgehill Euro08 project to pair them with a country participating in the Euro 08 tournament. First out of the draw was ... Whitehouse Common Primary School. The kids were sure we'd get Spain when the draw was done as I'm so Spanish crazy, but Spain stayed in the hat and instead we drew....SWEDEN!

So, after Christmas we'll be finding out all we can about Sweden as well as practising our football and netball skills - we might even ask IKEA to sponsor us!

To find out more about The Project, visit Chris' blog where you can watch a presentation that explains it all better than I can - there is still space for more schools to become involved, and I know he'd love to hear from you. Spain are still up for grabs, as are France. Doesn't matter if you don't live in Devon - Whitehouse Common is near Birmingham and there's a school in Fife taking part!

I've made a start on learning some Swedish - thanks to Translation Guide. The title is supposed to say - Sweden all the way - so if you know Swedish, let me know if it's correct!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Make your photos talk!

Whilst reading my Googlereader feed, I came across a post by Steve Beard on his Thunder blog about some software that allows you to make any photo talk. Being a fan of Voki etc, this attracted my attention. I've seen the results of using a piece of software to make a teddy bear talk demonstrated by Nick Falk and Otso Bear but this promised to make any photo talk, not just bears. But it got even better! PQ DVD are offering the software (normal price $59.90) FREE if you blog about it - so that's what I'm doing!

Have a look at the demo and see what you think. I'd be a happy Mum if I received this on Mother's Day!!

blogmyspacedvd to ipod video convertertalkingphoto, dvd to psp convertertalkingphoto, dvd to zunetalking photo album

Christmas around the World.

I spend a fortune on resources for school so I'm always up for a freebie. Instant Display is a site well known to those that frequent TES staffroom and particularly the 'Parasites Paradise' thread, (so called because all the listed sites offer free resources.) Instant Display offers reasonably priced posters and resources such as labels for use in Primary classrooms (although, as with all resources, there's scope for use with older kids too) - you choose your resource(s), pay by Paypal and the link to the resource is sent to you very promptly in my experience. There are a number of MFL resources available , particularly in French such as number cards, weather posters and classroom instruction cards, as well as some Spanish and German resources too. Each set costs £2.

And there is also a free section!! In this section you can find several French resources, including colours, counting, converting euros, weather and En France (things associated with France).

The reason I thought of posting at this particular juncture is that there are a number of free Christmas resources on the site including a set of Merry Christmas posters in 18 languages, and Christmas around the world, a set of posters featuring traditions from different countries, places and continents including Poland, China, Hawaii, Denmark, Bethlehem and Africa.

I've printed and laminated them, and made quiz trail around the school - greetings in KS1 and traditions in KS2. With productions etc at this time of year, there is a lot of lining up in corridors and spare moments to fill, so this seemed a popular idea. This week I've followed it up with questions on the school website - 5 per day - to encourage families to join in the fun. It's all part of my strategy to raise cultural awareness in the school - and it's also fun!

In case you want to join in, I'll put the questions in the Goodies Box - or you can go to the Whitehouse Common school website .

Monday, 10 December 2007

Christmas is coming...

I'm horrified to discover that it's nearly two weeks since I last blogged! Where is the time going?

Well, with Christmas fast approaching, I thought it might be a good time to share some Christmas ideas.

I prepared a presentation for the Birmingham RSG last year -you can view it as a Slideshow below - but here are a few of the highlights.

If you're looking for French carols, have a look at
It’s always great to get something free and there’s lots here : a great French-Canadian site with songs sung by children, complete with visual presentation of the words.I think it would work really well on an IWB and also as a daily starter activity as it’s an Advent calendar with a song behind each door. My favourites are the first two, a song about peace (Enfants de Noël) and an amusingly animated song about world food (La Tourtière).

For Spanish, why not check out another Canadian website -

where you'll find a webquest based on six articles about Christmas in Spain, Mexico and South America. The articles and accompanying questions are all in English (and in Spanish too sometimes) and include recipes and traditions. Bag the ICT suite or the laptop trolley and see what your pupils can discover for themselves!

Another favourite site is a downloadable 'belén' , postcards to send by e-mail, some carols and, (perhaps most usefully?) tips in Spanish on how to wrap awkwardly shaped Christmas presents!

And the final one I discovered on an Edublog winning blog El Tinglado - a link to a Wiki full of Spanish carols and music for Christmas - El Rincón de los Villancicos.
With words, music, midi files of the carols and videos, this is a one stop concert planner! Just add singers!

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Edublog Awards 2007

The annual Edublog Awards are nearly upon us, nominations have recently been published and voting has begun - and it seems that I know rather a lot of talented bloggers!

First my Googlereader alerted me to the fact that Ewan McIntosh was nominated in the Best Individual Blog category.
Then I received an e-mail from Jo Rhys-Jones about Talkabout Primary MFL being nominated in the category Best educational use of a social networking service.
On further inspection of this category, I discovered that Jo has actually managed to get TWO nominations as her school,NING network Kingswear School Network has also been nominated. And then I found that Sharon Tonner has a nomination IN THE SAME CATEGORY for Voices of the World.
And finally this morning I caught up with news from Joe Dale that his blog Integrating ICT into the MFL classroom has been nominated in the category Best educational tech support blog.

Well - every one of them deserves an award in my opinion so I'll be voting as many times as I'm allowed!

How can I persuade you to vote too? Well, they're all lovely people and .... not sure I can so I'll leave it to their blogs to do the talking! Please check them out and I'm sure you'll be as convinced as me that these people are inspirational, creative and innovative people who deserve a more than a pat on the back for their contribution to education.

Click here to vote for Ewan's blog -

Click here to vote for Joe Dale's blog - Integrating ICT into the MFL classroom.

And click here to vote for Jo Rhys Jones' Talkabout Primary MFL or Kingswear School Network and also for Sharon Tonner's Voices of the World (if I'm only allowed one vote I'm in trouble ;O)

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Monday, 26 November 2007

Jean Petit qui danse (RSG notes part 2).

I blogged last week about the ELL RSG meeting last Tuesday, and my contributions on the subject of parachute games and songs and rhymes that can be used for active learning. However, other people offered ideas too and I was reminded of one of them when I received an email via MFL resources Yahoo group.

One contributor was Sara Vallis from City Road School in Birmingham shared some ideas from a course she had attended in Besançon.
FlySwat and Lamb Darts - also known as Lamb Slam - where two people compete to be the first to swat or slam the appropriate item of vocabulary on the board. Perhaps not one for the IWB!
Chair OXO where you physically play Noughts and Crosses with vocabulary items to be named or questions to be answered on each chair before the square is 'won' and the team representative can occupy the chair. I liked this alternative to OXO on the board with pictures as I usually play it.
Hot/cold - Hide the teddy somewhere in the room whilst one person is outside, then the volunteer returns and has to find the teddy, guided by the rest of the class repeating a word or phrase loudly(for hot) or quietly(for cold) depending on how close the seeker is to finding the teddy. You could use any vocabulary or phrase; you could even use it to practise opposites with two words being used eg grande for hot and pequeño for cold.

Sara also suggested a song in French to practise body parts - as an alternative to Heads Shoulders Knees and Toes! Jean Petit qui danse is a sweet little song about a man who dances with various parts of his body. Sara used a downloadable track to show us how the song went, and yesterday I recieved an email in which MarieFrance Perkins mentioned the same song -

"When revising the body this is the song that I always with my students, they love it. I have now found it on Youtube. A good one to get out of breath and tire them out!!!"
Here's the video -

I'll blog about what Paul Nutt and Rona Heald said a little later!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

eTwinning in Gloucester

I spent today in Gloucester at an eTwinning event entitled Working on the Internet with partner schools across Europe . The event was led by Baldev Singh so when I was asked following the Nottingham PDW by the British Council to attend the event as an eTwinning Ambassador and talk about my experiences of eTwinning, I jumped at the chance. As I blogged previously, I had wanted to attend all three of the workshops at the Nottingham event, so the prospect of learning something from Baldev was exciting. And sure enough, I did!

After giving us an overview of how ICT and technology has impacted our world and how it can be used to develop the international dimension, we had a go at using Photo Story 3 to make presentations on a theme of our choosing. I was itching to have a go as I helped other people with their presentations, and I managed to grab a few minutes to make a quick slideshow about 'Healthy food'. I was really pleased to learn that Photo Story 3 is downloadable free and as soon as I got home I downloaded it - another thing to play with at the weekend ;o) It was really simple to use and you can see the result of my ten minutes (promise you it was that quick!).

Throughout the day we talked about a myriad of tools such as Voicethread, Voki, Animoto, OneTrueMedia, Flickr, and many more as well as mentioning various projects including Voices of the World and Chris Fuller's Euro08 project - possibly not a good time to talk about footy :o( as looked at the possibilities for eTwinning. I talked to one delegate about a collaborative music project and another about their existing partnerships and how it might be developed. It was good to be able to go beyond my brief too as people asked about my PLL experiences too and I was able to point a couple of people towards online support networks such as Talkabout Primary MFL.

All in all, a successful day for all - and I must have done a half decent presentation as I've been asked to go back!

Enjoy the video!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Let's get active! RSG notes

Today's ELL RSG in Birmingham is entitled Let's get active! and I'm presenting ideas for activities using Songs and Rhymes , and also Parachutes.

I've uploaded my presentations to My Box of Goodies (see right) along with some of the materials I'm using. I've done this so that people that were at the RSG can download them but also to give access to those that weren't there - I'm not averse to sharing! I'm also conscious that giving people handouts is lovely but they often get filed away and forgotten - hopefully by encouraging people to be proactive and download the materials they are more likely to use them. And if they don't want them, I've not caused the death of another small forest ;o)

A couple of links -
the parachute stuff is heavily inspired by the work of Daryl Bailey and co at Hove Park School - have a look at their website
You can download their parachute materials in Spanish, French and German from there!
And the materials for Le fermier dans son pré are available from Maternelle de Moustache
by clicking on F. There are lots of other materials there too for stories and songs as well as craft activities.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

You need hands!

Having published the last post, I came over all creative and decided to make a slideshow of some of the hands from Hands around the World using OneTrueMedia - partly as a trial run for this month's Voices of the World task, but also because I think it looks and sounds great. Tell me what you think!

Hands around the World

Back at the end of August, Paul Harrington blogged about Imagiverse and mentioned being involved in their Hands around the World project last year. As I'm always on the lookout for new ideas for global links, I investigated further and signed up Whitehouse Common.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, the time came to take part and on Friday I sent off a large parcel of handprints to Michelle Mock in California.

A brief idea of the project -

Hands Around the World - Students from classrooms around the world will create cut out paper "handprints" which they will send to Imagiverse for distribution to other participants. You will receive as many handprints as you send (at least one per student). The Fall exchange is themed "Holidays Around the World". Since many countries and cultures are celebrating major holidays at this time of year, we would like to celebrate how and what you celebrate. What are the traditions celebrated where you live? What are the customs and traditions you observe? What might someone in another country not know about your celebration? What is the history behind the tradition?

So, being an adventurous kinda gal, I decided that the whole school should get involved, so over the last ten days, 480 kids have been drawing around their hands and decorating the prints to depict a festival of their choice. Then on the back they have written the name of the festival and a sentence or two about why it is special to them. Most classes cut them out too but I did end up with over 100 to cut out myself, and then I took photos of them all for posterity before parcelling them up and posting them to the USA.

Now we await the arrival of our parcels of Hands from around the world! Hopefully we'll find out about some festivals and celebrations with which we are not so familiar as well as discovering how other people celebrate the ones we know.

Just as with our eTwinning project last year, I feel that this exercise has once more given the pupils the opportunity to reflect a little on events that happen every year, like Bonfire Night, Diwali and Christmas, and to remember the reasons why we have these events - even if some of their reasons for choosing to depict them were based on sweets and presents!

So - why not get involved? There'll be another exchange in the Spring, with a new theme. You don't need to involve the whole school, but nothing ventured, nothing gained! It could be a gentle way to introduce the idea of International projects to your school, and, as Paul pointed out in his blog, it's an excellent idea for keeping kids busy during wet breaks!

Monday, 12 November 2007

Lily and her amazing geographical knowledge.

Well - perhaps this is the answer to lack of global awareness of our pupils? Although I'm not sure that geographical knowledge will necessarily translate into global understanding, at least she can find her way around a world map and perhaps one day, visit all these places?
(Thanks to My Wonderful World Blog via Langwitches for blogging this clip first! )

UK pupils 'least globally aware' ?

My BBC Online daily e-mail informed me this morning that, according to a British Council survey, 'UK children aged 11 to 16 have the lowest international awareness among their age group in 10 countries'.

The article reported that 4,170 children with Internet access were asked about language learning and international affairs and the results were scored on an index from 7 to 0 -

  1. Nigeria 5.15
  2. India 4.86
  3. Brazil 4.53
  4. Saudi Arabia 3.74
  5. Spain 3.29
  6. Germany 3.24
  7. China 2.97
  8. Czech Republic 2.51
  9. USA 2.22
  10. UK 2.19
When questioned, children in the UK were least likely to want to try and understand world affairs, and saw themselves as citizens of their country rather than the world. Young people in Brazil were among the most likely to agree with the statement "it is a good idea for schools in my country to have links or partnerships with schools in other countries" but the least likely to be in schools that had such links.

The article finishes with the comments of Martin Davidson,
British Council chief executive
"Our school children cannot afford to fall behind the rest of the world.
For the UK to compete in a global economy, it is vital that we encourage our young people to have an interest in and engagement with the world around them."

Intercultural Understanding is a key strand of the KS2 Framework for MFL (although we're supposed to use PLL (Primary Language Learning) to get away from the negative connotations that 'foreign' can have) As far as I'm concerned, opening the 'window on the world' is a vital part of learning languages. At Whitehouse Common, we're taking this seriously and I've written raising international awareness and understanding into the SIP for PLL as a specific target.

Last year we made a start on this with an eTwinning project called Somos lo que Celebramos. Working with Colegio Público César Hurtado Delicado in Valverde de Leganés, nea
r Badajoz in Spain, we compared and contrasted festivals and celebrations in the two countries. The project not only broadened the pupils' knowledge of Spanish festivals and culture but also made them look at their own celebrations through new eyes. We won a Runners-up Prize in the National eTwinning Awards for the project too - I was very pleased - my head wanted to know why we hadn't won!
(If you want to find out more about this, have a look at the presentation I prepared for The Isle of Wight Conference where I spoke about the project, and eTwinning in general - you'll find it in my Box of Goodies. )

This year we're on a roll and are pushing the boat out into deep waters! We achieved the Intermediate International Schools Award for last year's efforts and this year, we're hoping to achieve the Full Award (fingers crossed!)

We're taking part in the Voices of the World project , have two Ted-E-Bears in North America and
are about to become involved in a new Teddy based project with Silvia Tolisano. Our eTwinning project for this year is called Somos lo que comemos and hopefully will involve five countries comparing and contrasting food and healthy lifestyles in our countries (details being finalised at the mo!). Then there's Hands around the World - 480 handprints to parcel up (and cut out!!) to be sent around the world to other classes as we compare 'Holidays around the world' and, later on in the year, a postcard exchange. I'm working on email links with South America and, following on from the success of this year's European Day of Languages, I'll be starting planning for next year after Easter!

I'll tell you more about these projects over the next few weeks but just wanted to respond to the article with some examples of how we might address this - hopefully in a few years' time, children in the UK will be more globally aware and see themselves as 'global citizens', as they are encouraged to reflect on their own experiences as they appreciate those of others.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Diez animales

Today, I had Year 2 for Spanish for the whole afternoon . I usually have them for between 45 and 60 minutes before swapping with the art teacher for Year 1. As Year 1 are doing a pottery module, I was asked if I would have Year 2 for a 'double' to give the littlies more time to get stuck into the clay (hopefully not literally!)

So we had the time to do all kinds of things! First of all we had a look at ¡Quiero mi plátano! (I want my banana) a Talking Big Book from Early Start and b small publishing. We read the story together with the pupils working out the meanings of words from the context and by looking for cognates. They even made the link between the colour 'naranja' and the fruit 'la naranja'. Once we had read the story, we had a go at some of the puzzles based on animals and fruit. The favourite was the 'reveal' game where a picture is hidden by seven numbered tiles and pupils have to choose a tile to uncover and then make a guess as to (in this case) the animal or fruit. This enabled the pupils to practice numbers as well as the new vocabulary, and was accessible to all as there were two options given for the answer thus allowing the less confident to make a 50/50 choice, whilst the more advanced guessed before the options were given.

We then went back to a favourite song we had learnt a couple of weeks ago - Diez animales en la pared. One afternoon I was inspired to rewrite Ten green bottles in Spanish as the class needed some number practice and bottles aren't interesting - to 6 year old anyway ;-). Diez animales en la pared was the result. The original was created in five minutes (how long I had before the class arrived!) on the SMARTboard, but the beauty of that is that you can export the file as a Powerpoint and then use it on other IWBs (great as WCPS had Promethean!). In the original, the pupils took it in turns to make an animal fall off the wall; in the powerpoint version, I animated it so that the animals fell off the wall on cue so that I could ask the pupils to predict which animal will fall next. Today it was a popular move to revisit the song which was particularly surprising as at this point choir members had to go off to rehearse for the Christmas production, leaving six boys and me!

And we had a great time! Such a good time that I recorded them for posterity - and you can listen by going to my new Box of goodies! (you can also download the powerpoint if you want!) We didn't stop there either - break came and I was inspired again - why not take the classroom outside - so we did. Outside went the box of puppets and we had another chorus of Diez animales this time using the puppets as the actors and the shelter as our stage. The boys weren't happy with the outdoor picture so we moved to the cloakroom for some more!

Then we went back to the class and made our own walls with animals on. So
me walls were more successful than others (don't think we have any future bricklayers in the class!) but the animals were selected and named (mostly!) in Spanish. Comments at the end of the lesson included 'That was fun, Señora, do I have to stop now?', 'I've just put it in my desk to finish tomorrow - is that OK?' and 'Oh! I missed it all cos I was at choir!'.

Next week we'll go back to ¡Quiero mi plátano! as we're moving on to talk about fruit, but I'm sure we'll have to sing Diez animales again!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

School creativity "needs support."

I was interested to read this- the headline story today in the Education section of my daily news e-mail from the BBC (thanks to Joe Dale for pointing me in that direction).

The Chair of the Commons education committee, Barry Sheerman is quoted as saying
"Successful schools are creative schools" and he suggests that although many schools acknowledge that creativity is key, they are afraid to really embrace it due to the pressures of academic standards.

The report urges the Government to fund creativity and make it a key part of the Every Child Matters agenda, stating "Creativity should be at the heart of the very heart of teaching and learning." Amen to that!!

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.

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


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 -


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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