Wednesday, 31 December 2008

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

(I know - the picture that's used as the screenshot of this clip is bizarre!)

Wish I was there tonight...

Puerta de Sol, originally uploaded by lisibo.

Having visited Madrid in November, I have now stood in the Puerta de Sol, in front of this clock which will be the focus of festivitis in Spain much as Big Ben is in England. The square will be full of the level of chatter and hubbub that only Spaniards can produce - oh to be there! Hopefully I'll find it online somewhere!! Got my grapes ready...

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Día de los Santo Inocentes

28th December is el Día de los Santo Inocentes in Spain (and other Hispanic countries - found a clip from Venezuela too) - their equivalent of April Fool's Day. I think it's a great time of year to have a day of practical jokes as it's in that awkward 'lull' period between Christmas and New Year, and also as it's the time when people are visiting relatives and friends so gives much more scope for 'inocentadas' or jokes.

Have a look at this description of the day and for some ideas, check out this site which offers suggestions of jokes you might like to play! Here's another list of suggestions - one of which involves salt to make people think you have dandruff!!

Other 'bromas' might include some of the following-

And here's a clip from The Simpsons where Bart plays a joke on Homer - (sorry video quality is poor - Twentieth Century Fox have had most clips removed!!)

That's a bit extreme I guess!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008


This Christmas is going to be different in my family as my Dad is not here to share it with us, and I have to say that I haven't really entered into the whole Christmas thing this year with the gusto I usually do. I've not sent any Christmas cards and don't really feel as I normally do at this time of year, a time that I usually adore. Being ill last week didn't really help I guess.

However, when it all boils down, this is what Christmas is all about for me - the celebration of the birth of Jesus (whenever it actually took place). And, because of Him, I believe I will one day see my Dad again.

Wishing you a Happy Christmas xxx

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

El Gordo

Yesterday saw the biggest lottery of the year - El Gordo (the Fat One) - in Spain. As far as I know - and I think I would know - my Aunt didn't win and nor did anyone else I know, but I still like to check it out as it is drawn and called in such a quaint way with children singing the numbers and prizes.

As The Guardian reports;

The Fat One showered €2.15bn (£2.02bn) in prize money across the country. It brought tears of relief to some winners and champagne-soaked pledges to pay off mortgages and meet debts from others.

The world's biggest lottery payout has ushered in the Spanish Christmas season for almost two centuries since it was first drawn in 1812.

Rarely has the prize money, spread among tens of thousands of people, been so eagerly welcomed. "Everybody says they are going to use it to get themselves out of problems," said Madrid lottery seller Rosario Rueda.

So, congratulations to the winners, and to the losers...there's always next year.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

¡Feliz Navidad!

Reception loved this song this week, and were all bopping along so for your delight and delectation, here's Feliz Navidad accompanied by the film Rudolph.

You're noone if you're not on Twitter!

A rather amusing song about the progress of social networking! Rather tongue in cheek I feel!

You can check out the French translation and the lyrics by going to Ben Walker's site.

NB I know it's been around since August, but I've only just found it and it amused me in my bunged up state so indulge me ;-)

Friday, 19 December 2008

Stephen Fry on Catalan Christmas traditions :o)

Now I've broken up for Christmas holidays, I'm ill - isn't it always the way with teachers? So, to get myself in the Christmas spirit, and because it is very funny - and true! - here's the inimitable Stephen Fry explaining a couple of rather particular Catalan traditions. Perhaps not the clip to use to explain it in class though!!

Warning - these clips contain coarse language that may offend.

And here's a clip of children attacking their Caga Tio!

Monday, 15 December 2008

The Snowman - El Muñeco de Nieve

Following on from El pequeño petirrojo, here's another idea for Christmas that is adaptable to a variety of age groups.

Courtesy of HGfL (Hertfordshire Grid for Learning) comes ideas for using Raymond Briggs' Snowman in French, Spanish and German.

You can download a set of flashcards in the form of a Powerpoint, and also the script of the story in the above languages. Here are instructions for how it's suggested you might use the resources:

The basic idea is to show the DVD, which (apart from the introduction) has no words, accompanied by a reading of the script. Some confidence and competence in the chosen language is required as the text, although in the present tense, presents some challenges as you need to understand when to pause to allow the film to tell the story. Some ideas:
  1. Introduce key words with the flashcards.
  2. Play flashcard games.
  3. Develop actions for each flashcard. Children repeat the actions whenever they hear the words in the story.
  4. Distribute flashcards. Children wave flashcards when they hear the appropriate words in the story.
  5. For older children you may want to introduce the written word and distribute word cards which the children show as they hear in the story.
  6. When the children have watched the film and listened to the script in the appropriate language several times, they could act out the story as it is being read (first of all with the film and then without the film).
  7. Older children could be given a simplified text, cut up which they then need to put in order. A similar activity could also be carried out using the smartboard or something similar.

I think this is a marvellous idea! Not only do you get to watch a classic, it also serves as a teaching resource.

And in case you haven't got the DVD, here it is from Youtube - in three parts!

And here's just the song - Walking in the Air - which I have just discovered was not originally sung by Aled Jones.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Stuck for a Christmas present?

Stuck for a present for Christmas? Don't want to waste your money on a present that will be discarded as soon as you've left? Want to give something with that will have a lasting value?

Here's an idea, presented with all the cheesiness of a ripe Gorgonzola as only Mr P can ;o)
(Congratulations on the European Podcast Award win)

Alternatively, check out Oxfam Unwrapped or Send a cow :o)

Sunday, 7 December 2008

You know you're doing something right when..

You know you're doing something right when you ask a class to write a Christmas poem and several kids ask you for a Spanish dictionary - in a Literacy lesson!!

I have to explain that as well as teaching Spanish, I teach other subjects too and whilst I like to integrate Spanish into other areas of the curriculum, on this occasion I had meant them to write in English. However, I wasn't going to discourage them so off they went to fetch the dictionaries. I did advise them to stick to a simple structure and suggested 'Navidad es....' as a repeated line but otherwise left them to it!

Most of the class did write poems in English - although several finished their English one then wrote in Spanish too - but there were three or four Spanish ones. We shared our some of our poems and, using an Easispeak microphone, we recorded some of them (sadly didn't have time for all of them but we'll do it next week!) Then, at lunchtime, we made them into Voki. They're on the school website, but here are two Spanish ones.

One is written as an acrostic using Regalos as its theme.

Get a Voki now!

The other was written by a lovely girl who finds literacy very tricky so I was really proud of her!

Get a Voki now!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

French is a game for tiny têtes.

Just read an interesting article in The Telegraph Education section with the above title. It reports on a group in the Harrogate area called French for Fidgets (a great name for the group!) that teaches French to toddlers through song and games. Taking kids as young as 18 months, their philosophy is -

"... to make it fun. When devising these classes, I asked myself what children this age enjoy doing and the answer was singing, eating and rolling around the floor. So that's what we do. It just happens we speak French while we're doing it."
I've taught Kindergarten at a previous school and also had pupils as young as 18 months, so I can completely agree with and endorse the benefits of catching them early. In fact there were children with emergent speech who had as many words in Spanish as in English - and all that from 20 minutes first thing on a Monday! The analogy 'little sponges' is a very apt one.

And research backs this up - Professor Annette Karmiloff-Smith of the Birkbeck Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development in London is quoted in the article saying -
"Right from birth, the brain has the capacity to learn three or four different languages and in many countries that's what happens," she says. "In fact, the majority of children in the world are bilingual, either because their country has a number of borders or because their parents speak different languages.

"The typical pattern is for a child to learn one language from their father, one from their mother and another at school or in the street. As for brain capacity, I know children with Down's syndrome who have three languages simultaneously. The truth is that languages shouldn't be introduced at primary school, but at nursery school."

And she concludes with a radical idea-
"Teach a language at nursery school and you won't need to teach it at secondary," she maintains. "By that time, the children will already be able to speak it."

It's a thought - what do you think?

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

El Pequeño Petirrojo.

At this time of year I am regularly greeted at meetings in the West Midlands area with 'What's that story you told last year ?' or 'You're the one who tells that story about the robin, aren't you?'
For the last three I've promised to put it online. And I've finally done it!

I first came across this story on a Tweenies video from Spain - La Nochebuena. In this particular episode, Santi Claws, as Jake calls him, picks up the Tweenies from their houses on Christmas Eve and takes them to the North Pole where he tells them the story of 'Los chalecos del pequeño petirrojo', a translation of Little Robin Red Vest by Jan Fearnley.

It's the story of a little robin who washes and irons his seven warm vests the week before Christmas. Each day he puts on a different coloured one and goes out into the cold, only to meet another animal who complains of being cold. And each day, he gives away his vest to the other animal, until he is left on Christmas Eve with no vests left, cold and alone! The story ends happily though as Father Christmas comes along and takes the robin to the North Pole where Mother Christmas knits him a very special red vest that will always keep warm.

I immediately saw the potential of this story in my classroom. I taught Kindergarten to Year 6 at the time and could see how it could be used with all these age groups. Initially, I downloaded clipart pictures of the animals and made flashcards, then drew different coloured vests. I laminated them all and told the story with these, moving the vests from robin to rabbit, mole, frog etc. It's a great story as you can count the vests over and over, discuss the colour of the next vest and guess the next animal. It's good for repetition - the refrain 'Tengo frío' is soon taken up by even the youngest children, who also like to join in with Gracias (good manners!) and it encourages concentration and memorisation as the children try to recall what happens next. And there's the 'moral' element too - the robin showed the true spirit of Christmas by giving selflessly to help others, and was rewarded with his very special red vest.

As I said, I've used my laminated flashcards and vests for the last few years and every year am availed upon to repeat my performance at RSGs. And finally, inspired by a request from Jo Rhys-Jones for help, I made the long awaited Powerpoint presentation, complete with animations and sound files. It took AGES to make so I hope you like it. I've uploaded it to Slideshare and embedded it below.

El Pequeño petirrojo
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: story spanish)

I've also uploaded the scanned flashcards and vests in case you want to laminate them and tell the story that way.

I think it would make a great assembly with masks and vest, and I did spend a while today in charity shops looking for different coloured vests or T-shirts.... but I didn't find any so I'm working on my next plan - do PE bibs come in pink and purple??

Monday, 1 December 2008

Resources for Christmas.

Well, it's December 1st and as much as I've tried to be strong, Christmas has finally got me! School is full of Christmas plans for plays, parent partnership days, activities, assemblies and the like, and home is likewise in Christmas mode as littl'un plays the lead in the Infants' play tomorrow as The Little Angel - if his temperature doesn't get any higher :os

And, obviously, plans for classroom activities are turning Christmas-ward too!

So, I've been through my files and found some Powerpoints that might help you - and me! to get our classes in the Christmas spirit as well as ticking a few Intercultural Understanding boxes!
I am not claiming responsibility for all of these as lots have been kindly shared by people on Yahoo! MFL resources group, or the Consejería.

So - to start you off, why not try learning how to say Merry Christmas in 10 languages other than English? Perhaps you could take one each morning for the next two weeks?

Here's a Disney video from Youtube if you want more languages - and it's even got the pronunciation for you!

Then perhaps have a look at some Christmas vocabulary in Spanish? If your room is decorated for Christmas, why not label the decorations - or use them for a game of 'Búscame...' ?

Christmas in Spain is very particular and the Ministerio de Educación y Cienciain conjunction with the Consejería de Educación en el Reino Unido e Irlanda have produced a great powerpoint presentation choc-a-block with authentic pictures of the events in December and January - not all of which are religious.

La Navidad en Espana
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: christmas spanish)

They have also produced a presentation about El Belén - the traditional Nativity scene that decorate Spanish homes at this time of year. I usually use my ELC nativity scene to retell the story of Christmas from the Biblical perspective completely in Spanish. Kids understand because it is a story with which they are familiar and also because I'm very dramatic in my retelling - the Head of the Catholic Prep, School where I used to work was rather taken aback by my reenactment of Mary being told by an angel that she was pregnant with Jesus ;o)

I also uncovered this very comprehensive presentation about Spain at Christmas complete with more photos and information in bite size chunks. It includes details of El Gordo, el Caganer (in ploite language!) and el Roscón de Reyes.
Navidades En Espana
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: traditions spanish)

I've also found a presentation I did a few years ago at Birmingham Council House (I think it was!) about ideas for Christmas in the MFL classroom. It includes ideas for French, Spanish and German, and the ideas are suitable for right across the age range. I posted it last year too but in case you didn't catch it....hopefully something for everyone! (hope the links still work!)

to be continued!!

Monday, 24 November 2008

I wish the English.....

I love this poster, shared with me on Twitter by @nwinton from the imaginatively named I love Typography blog in a post entitled Diacritical Challenge. The challenge is to a) name the font and b) identify the diacritical marks!

I've got to say that I couldn't name all of them but there are plenty of people having a go in the comments!!

The subtitle of the post is 'Squiggly bits' which is how many of the pupils I teach describe them. As they're unfamiliar in our language, it can take a bit of explaining but ñ isn't too hard to explain, and the accents in Spanish to show where to stress words is easily explained when I mispronounce their names by stressing the wrong bit. And ¡ and ¿ are explained by the need to know if something is a question or exclamation a the beginning of the sentence so that your intonation is correct - cue much overacting ;o)

All counts towards Knowledge about Language!

Friday, 21 November 2008

Typealyzer - what type is your blog?

Via my FriendFeed, I was asked by John Johnston (via Twitter!) what type of blog I had, linking to Typealyzer. Being a nosey, inquisitive soul, I decided to find out! And what I found was rather interesting.

I'm forever doing quizzes and surveys on Facebook like Which Sesame Street puppet are you? (Zoey) Which Heroes power do you have? (Peter Petrelli) and Which Scrubs character are you? (Elliot) and frankly, whilst amusing, they interest me for about 10 seconds before I move on to poking someone or finding out if I remember the 80s.

However, this captured my attention for much longer. I put in my URL as requested and was given the following analysis.

And apart from the bit about being impulsive (have to work at that!) and following things through (which I do!), I'd say it was rather accurate! especially the bit about sitting still and remaining inactive!

But even more interesting was the next bit which analysed my brain activity.

Made me think - why am I so low on feeling, intuition and imagination? I'd say I was that way inclined but my blog doesn't. Perhaps it's the way it's analysed - not sure if it's on the last post or on the whole thing. Perhaps I'll have another go in a week or so and see if it tells me anything different.

If you've got a blog, I'd be interested to know what it says about you. I did check a few and discovered that Chris Fuller is a Doer like me, Joe Dale and Oscar Stringer are Guardians, Tim Rylands is a Mechanic, Tom Barrett is a Scientist and Jo Rhys Jones is a Duty Fulfiller.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Young Enterprise winners - LanguAges - UPDATE!

Some of you may recall a blog post in July about a group from English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College, Hartlepool, winning Company of the Year and Most Creative Company of the Year in the Young Enterprise in the NorthEast sponsored by The Arts Council NorthEast for their product LanguAges.

For those who don't, here's a brief recap from the group ;

Our company, LanguAges, provides educational resources to aid the teaching and learning of French in primary schools at Key Stage 2. We have created a compilation of three different games, The Clothes Game, The Class Card Game and The Shopping Game, and an Interactive CD, which form the LanguAges Pack.

All of our games are tailored to be fun, yet educational, comprehensively covering the Key Stage 2 curriculum, and helping to improve vital comprehension and speaking skills.

Having tested the product and marketed it to Stockton schools, all schools in Hartlepool should now have a copy of the materials.
A representative from the Hartlepool local authority, Tom Argument, said: “Their materials are creative, fun, very practical, and of a high quality. The group present themselves in a business-like manner and have real entrepreneurial potential.”

The group went on to discuss the future-

We realise that LanguAges has a huge amount of potential, and are currently investigating the many options available to us. Several possibilities are being considered, such as selling the idea, or even continuing the company even after the Young Enterprise Company Programme is over.

The prospect of mass producing the LanguAges Pack and even expanding the range to include a variety of other modern foreign languages is a very exciting one.
Today I received news from their (very proud) teacher, Madame Welsh, about LanguAges.

An update....they did brilliantly well at the National Finals, winning the Award for Financial Management. They are working with a company to market their product further afield! They make me so proud!
So well done once more to the LanguAges team for their continuing success - a great example of language learning going hand in hand with other areas of the curriculum.

And a pat on the back to TTS for seeing the potential of the product. TTS is currently one of my favourite school shopping places so I'll be watching out for the arrival of the products!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Enthralling tales from afar.

I came across an interesting news report via my GoogleAlerts from The Kerryman paper in Ireland, entitled Enthralling tales from afar. The report begins...

It goes on to say that this is the second time that this type of visit has been made possible by the GoetheInstitut, and that the aim of the exercise was to encourage primary pupils to learn German in a fun environment.

"There has been a growing interest in teaching and learning modern foreign languages at primary level in Europe and research shows how enthusiastic teachers and children are," Georgia Herlt, head of the language department at the Goethe-Institut Dublin, stated.

"As well as learning languages it helps with cultural awareness and combats stereotypes, and the children are geared up for it when they go to secondary school."

The visits saw Suse Weisse using familiar and less well known fairytales in German (with explanations in English).
I love using stories to teach primary languages for many reasons. For example;
  • familiarity of structure
  • familiarity of story
  • children enjoy being read to
  • making links between English and the language of the story
  • you can do all kinds of things with a story - drama, games, jigsaw texts
  • using them as a model for production of new stories
  • easy to embed sound in story powerpoints to help non specialist teachers
  • I enjoy doing the voices ;o)
I could go on!

So I'm all for these visits - when a Year2 class told me that they'd worked out from listening to and reading Rubiales on the Northumberland GfL that Spanish put the adjective after the noun whereas English put it before, I was sold on the use of stories to teach!

Off to see if I can find a Spanish storyteller now...;o)

Monday, 17 November 2008

Google Reader translates!!

I have been criticised before for 'posting in a foreign language' on ¡Vámonos! A little harsh, I felt, as the blog is subtitled 'Teaching and learning Primary Languages in the 21st century'. (comment to that effect has been deleted from the post!) However, I am aware that there are readers who do not speak Spanish or Catalan, the two main languages (other than English!) in which I blog. Since its inception, ¡Vámonos! has had a 'translate' widget in the right hand sidebar for just this reason, and I recommended the use of Google Translate last year.

Last week, I discovered that Google Reader now offers the opportunity to have your reading translated into a language that you understand. So, if you have subscribed to my blog using GoogleReader, and didn't understand a word of the previous post, this is for you!

Go to view 'Translate into my language' (that is the language that you have set as default for your reader) .....

and Bob's your Uncle!

The translation isn't perfect - me chifló seems to have it stumped! - but you can get the gist!

So, now there's no excuse for not reading my blog, eh?? ;o)

La historia de Lego

Acabo de leer un artículo que me chifló sobre la Historia del Lego. Como madre de dos niños de seis y nueve años, no puedo escapar del Lego - han pedido de Papá Noel el Lego de la Guerra en las Galaxias.

Noticias Locas hoy habla de The Lego MiniFig Timeline que muestra los muñequitos de acción Lego desde 1978 hasta hoy.

Ahora estoy lista hablar con mis hijos sobre el Lego con más autoridad ;o)

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Animoto gets text!

I first used Animoto during the Voices of the World project last year when we made a short 30 second video featuring pictures that the children had drawn of Spain accompanied by a rather dubious rendition of the Spanish Himno Nacional by most of Key Stage 2.

Animoto describes itself as follows:

Animoto produces TV-quality music videos using your photos in just minutes.

It's so simple to do too. Choose a song as the soundtrack to your video and Animoto will analyze every nuance of it. Producing a totally unique video each time, no two videos are ever the same.

I thought it was a good tool then although the limit to 30 seconds for the free version was a little annoying. A while back, I saw it reported that educators could have a free account (saving you $30) and I was sure I'd registered then. However, it seems I hadn't as when I went back today, I didn't have an account. So I rapidly registered and began playing!

I'd been reminded of Animoto by a Twitter message saying that you could now add text to Animoto. So, having uploaded lots of pictures of flowers taken in my garden from iPhoto as a test Animoto video and then remixed it, I set about investigating the new facility.

I uploaded a set of photos from my Flickr account entitled Spanish food and drink. Next I sorted them a bit so that they were grouped vaguely. My first text screen was the title page, then I added a section title - Tapas and a comments about gazpacho - Me gusta mucho :o) . I then thought I'd make use of a set of pictures to tell a story - a man choosing from the menu and then enjoying his morning break - thanks to my model ;o) I was a little disappointed that you couldn't subtitle the pictures as I'd envisaged making a slideshow to teach food words. However, you could insert a text slide before or after each picture for revision I guess! Having selected a suitable piece of music from the Animoto library, I let Animoto work its magic and voilà - a video that can be emailed, uploaded to Youtube, downloaded and embedded as it is below.

If you want to learn more about Animoto, why not check out the site or the case studies section where you can find out how educators have used Animoto in their classroom.

I'll be exploring further and will keep you informed of how things go!!

Friday, 14 November 2008

Primary Languages Regional Conference - Making the links.

Yesterday saw a repeat of the Primary Languages Conference that was held in Coventry in June, this time in Bromsgrove to cover the South of the region.

Held in the lovely Bromsgrove Hilton, we were treated to a lovely lunch (always important on a training day!) as well as some great sessions on such things as Numeracy and MFL, Parachute games, Music and MFL and The International Dimension.

Eight lucky individuals took part in an Animation workshop with Oscar Stringer and had great fun producing short animations in just over an hour and half. Thanks to the British Council eTwinning, the lucky few took away their animations and Oscar's animation PDF on a memory stick! :o)

Find more videos like this on Animation For Education

I delivered a session on Exciting ICT in the PLL Classroom, looking at delicious, Voki, Voicethread and Audacity. As promised, the presentation and notes are below for those who attended and also for those who didn't!

Exciting Ict In The PLL Classroom
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: ict voki)

Exciting ICT in the PLL classroom.

And the day ended with the lovely Steven Fawkes of ALL once more stunning and inspiring us all with his ideas on Performance and Motivation, culminating in the performance of La Banane, a new and innovative take on Kylie's Can't get you out of my head!!

And I won a lovely soft Spanish calendar in the raffle courtesy of Little Linguist. I eagerly await its arrival! :o)

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Los animales hablan español.

This afternoon I had the pleasure of the company of Year 2 for a whole afternoon of Spanish!! So I decided to indulge my creative urges and let them loose with the puppets! This caused great excitement - obviously - perhaps a little more than was strictly necessary, but heigh ho!

The idea was to create short role plays in pairs in Spanish using puppets so that we could safely record them using my camera's video facility, then upload them and the kids would be able to watch them before going home. Best laid plans...

I handed out the puppets by naming them in Spanish and asking ¿Quién quiere el mono? for example - the pupils had to guess the animal to 'win' the right to hold it! That was fine. However, as they put the finger puppets on their fingers, the pupils' excitement was a little more exuberant than foreseen and it took a while to calm down sufficiently to set the task. Of course, the pupils immediately wanted to start talking to one another using the puppets and I didn't want to squash that urge, just channel it ;o)

Next problem was that all previous knowledge seemed to have popped out of their heads and for some reason there were very few who could even remember how to answer ¿Qué tal? let alone ask it! However, after a quick revision session we rehearsed and after break we had a go at recording our animal role play, using Smartboard backgrounds as our backdrops.

Below you can see some of the results - some were better than others and, believe me, given the time and effort it took, I'm pleased we recorded anything!

I was thinking of doing some animation with them.... perhaps leave it until I've recovered :o)

Monday, 10 November 2008

¡Viva eTwinning en Madrid!

Here are my photos from my three day stay in Madrid at the eTwinning conference.
Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoy remembering taking them!

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Encuentro eTwinning España / Reino Unido

DSCN1256, originally uploaded by lisibo.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I'm currently in Spain, in Madrid at a bilateral eTwinning meeting for Spanish and English teachers looking for partners - for eTwinning projects.

The meeting is coming to an end today after three days of frantic activity as teachers from both countries really threw themselves into the task of making friends and influencing one another. After a treasure hunt around the sites of central Madrid, numerous three course meals and several copas de vino, everyone has found a partner or partners, and begun to formulate project ideas. So it's been a very successful meeting - and some of the project ideas that people are sharing as I type are really interesting and creative!

One partnership are going to use digital storytelling and video to share talents between their schools with pupils acting as a Simon Cowell and judging the talents of their partner pupils.

Another group are planning on looking at festivals and cultural events along the lines of 'similar but different' - I know that this type of project leads pupils to not only learn about their partners' culture but also to reflect on their own!

'One liners' will be based around a 'guessing game' involving proverbs in Spanish and English, with the partners schools exchanging one line each week that will be displayed for the pupils who will work out / guess what it means. The partners hope that this will lead to discussion of the imagery of proverbs and a comparison of similarities and differences. Apparently this idea was formulated yesterday in the middle of the session I delivered on Voki Voicethread and Audacity in eTwinning after I shared the Voicethread highlighted in the previous post called What could it mean? :o)

Another group were inspired to create a NING network in my session (and I only mentioned those in passing!) and are planning on a monthly Voicethread activity about the City of the Future - environment, culture, lifestyle etc.

I've had some very interesting conversations over these few days about languages and technology, and also about the use of technology in general. One delegate told me on the first night that he hated technology, couldn't do anything technological and that his own children were banned from using computers as they are 'evil'. Mmm! I suggested that he might like to learn how ICT works alongside his children, thus knowing what they were doing and learning at the same time, and we had a discussion about educating rather than banning but didn't seem overly swayed by my argument! So I took that as a challenge for my session and was pleased as punch when he made a Voki in my session and declared that perhaps he could do something after all. And in the report back, he's just suggested using online Playstation competitions as a way of maintaining and establishing links between the schools. :O)

Here's my presentation below - and the notes I made too.
You can't put Keynote presentations in Slideshare or Pages documents in DocStoc so the formatting is a little odd as I had to export it as .ppt and .doc :O(

Notes for Madrid - Get more Business Documents

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

What could this mean?

As I'm presenting at a British council conference in Madrid this weekend, I've been researching Voki and Voicethread and uses thereof.

I'll post my presentation and notes etc after the event, but this particular Voicethread made by Silvia Tolisano aka Langwitches came to mind and I thought I'd share it now as I think it's genius!

Basically, there are many photos contributed by people from around the world of something that is particular to their country - could be a tradition, a habit, a routine, a custom - in order to promote intercultural dialogue about our similarities and differences. People are invited to contribute - see the whatcoulditmean wiki for details - by uploading photographs and also by surmising what the photos might mean!

A simple idea but great fun and thought provoking too.

Friday, 31 October 2008

¿Por qué creen que las mujeres somos brujas?

El Ogro y la Bruja

A beautiful story for the end of October - made me go 'ah!'

Here are the words in case you want them!

Ella era una bruja fatal

su hermosura y su soledad

caminaba en la niebla sin ver

que un ogro muy triste la seguía

Este amigo tarareaba una canción

y la bruja ocultaba su emoción

En los cuentos de hadas

las brujas son malas

y en los cuentos de brujas

las hadas son feas

así decía la canción

que el ogro cantaba

En el bosque,un día de sol

se encontraron frente a frente los dos

le clavó su mirada

la bruja malvada

para ver si podía

con su magia ahúyentarlo

pero el ogro sonríendo y cantando

el hechizo rompió

La tomó de la mano

las lechuzas callaron

se miraron un rato largo

y el ogro y la bruja se amaron

bajo el sol..

No hay mejor brujería que el amor

la la ra lara la la ra larala!!!
La ra la larala laieee!!!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

'This weekend I will mainly be wearing red.'

clothes line, originally uploaded by daniel n. reid.

Having accosted him at the bus stop, I had the pleasure of travelling from Cowes to Newport with Adam Sutcliffe last Friday. Not quite sure why or how the subject arose, but I do know that at some point during the journey I said 'This weekend I will mainly be wearing red' as Adam reminded me of it on Saturday evening when I was in my fourth red outfit of the weekend saying 'you weren't joking, were you?!'

So, it amused me to read the following article on BBC Mundo:

Más sexy si se viste de rojo.
¿Quiere volver a un hombre loco de amor? Vístase de rojo. O al menos eso fue lo que encontró un estudio científico.
Basically, it suggests that if a woman wears red, she is seen as more attractive and more worth spending money on by men (but not by women!)

I'd just decided I would stick to one colour to save problems of deciding what to wear jewellery and accessory-wise and I'd just bought some lovely clothes in Barcelona. But it makes you wonder, doesn't it?? ;o)

¡Vámonos! is 1

Having congratulated José 'Así se hace' Picardo on the 1st birthday of Box of Tricks yesterday, it dawned on me that it must be ¡Vámonos!'s birthday soon - and then I realised I'd missed it in all the fun and excitement of the IoW conference!

So belatedly, Happy Birthday to my lovely pink blingy blog ;o)

As I explained in my first post on 23rd October last year, I procrastinated and vacilated for a long time before finally taking the plunge and starting a blog. Having said that, I have loved blogging - it suits the chatty, enthusiastic, got to share the news part of me, and also satisfies the part of me that is frustrated by day to day stuff. And it means that I can write which appeals to the part of me that hasn't seen much action since my Uni of Sheffield days.

Of course, I don't just blog for my own satisfaction - I hope people find my blog interesting and useful - but I really think I'd carry on even if I didn't get read. At times this year, I have hidden from reality by blogging and it has kept me going through the hardest and saddest time of my life.

And it has also restored my feeling that I do have something to say that's worth hearing - sometimes it's hard when everyone at school tells you that you're so good but you know that they actually don't really know if you are or not as they have no idea of how Primary languages or new technologies work. So it's important to me that my peers - like Jo and Joe and José (and others whose names don't start with Jo!)- tell me what's what.

Added to which, without this blog I probably wouldn't have met and made friends with so many people across the country and world who have enriched my life so much with their advice, thoughts and funny comments.

So to all those who have read ¡Vámonos! over the last year, keep reading and .... xxx

Mark Pentleton - Two years of podcasting.

I've had the pleasure this weekend of finally meeting Mark Pentleton. Can't believe we have never actually met before! Mark is a really busy man so I grabbed the opportunity to find out more about why exactly he is up from before dawn to way after nightfall!

I first heard of Mark when he worked on Partners in Excellence (PiE) in Scotland, a project with the purpose of raising achievement in East Ayrshire by establishing a virtual school with pupils contributing through such things as film making, animation and latterly podcasting. The project involved 29 schools across islands and down to South Ayrshire, a very large geographical area with diverse sizes and types of schools. For some, the project became a case of expanding peer group of pupils in tiny schools by use of VLE to develop a community.

The PiEcast was a way of keeping everyone in touch as well as a learning tool for the particpants. It began as a podcast containing news about events, interviews and news reports to give the community a voice. As time went on, this expanded to include a learning element such as listening material in French, Spanish, German and cultural element. This then led to something else - the Verbcast. This was an intense 10-12 minute nightly podcast for four weeks for 25 young people, looking at French verbs. Having listened to the Verbcast, pupils received a text message each day testing them on what they had learned the previous day; the answer was posted to the website - very interactive! Verbcast used relaxation techniques - feedback was good from pupils and teachers were really pleased with the grasp that pupils had of verbs after participation. (Note to Mark - do it in Spanish please!!)

Radio Lingua Network
Mark saw a gap in the market for beginners Spanish podcasts - Notes in Spanish is good for intermediate. So he started Coffee Break Spanish with Ciara in October 2006; a premium version with access to extra materials was launched in January 2007. Lesson 79 was looking at imperfect subjunctive so it wasn't all easy peasy!!

Mark then began his quest for world domination as follows:
February 2007 - My Daily Phrase German / Italian
September 2007 - Coffee Break French - on episode 41
October 2007 - One Minute Languages x6 in response to requests for basic phrase podcast - Norwegian, Polish, Luxembourgish, German, Gaelic, Russian - 10 lessons
Another 6 just launched - Mandarin, Catalan, Danish, Japanese, French, Romanian
September 2008 - Show Time Spanish - after first few episodes of preparation got soap opera for show - to be released at end as an entity in its own right
October 2008 - Write back soon - EFL podcast tackling phrasal verbs - emails between students using lots of phrasal verbs that are then explained.
Although he didn't mention it, I particularly like his idea of a week of podcasts leading up to Valentine's day last year entitled Love Lingo that taught the language of LUUURVE in Spanish, German, Italian, French and Norwegian!

Podcasting fits our lifestyle - it's hard to learn from a course that is linked to a text book when you’re driving, walking etc. It's so much easier to listen alone- and less obvious too!! And that's why podcasting is so successful!

Mark then shared some future projects for RLN - but I'm not allowed to blog those so you'll have to wait and see ;o)

So, to the lessons learned:

Learning -
Podcasts give-

  • content in the learner’s context
  • ‘secret learning’ - lack of peer pressure
  • massive storage opportunities - 670 hrs in 5 years lang learning/1000 on an iPod
  • access - if it’s there, they might just use it! If it’s not, they don’t have the opportunity!
  • just in time delivery via RSS - time things to happen just before an exam, at a particular time etc
  • learners learn most by making podcasts

Sharing information
Podcasts show that
  • learning not just for pupils
  • podcasting inherently builds community
  • collaboration

Style of delivery
Podcasting should NOT be recording of classes delivered - must be created eg four main points rather than whole lesson
Should they be scripted or non-scripted - most of RLN's are non scripted

Technical lessons
  • equipment - CO3U Samsung USB mike
  • mic techniques
  • recording
  • systems
  • ‘respecting the ear’ - if people are listening through headphones, avoid crackles!!
I found all this fascinating - I am not going to launch a business empire like Mark - for a start, he's too good and I wouldn't stand a chance against that competition. However, the lessons are applicable to all podcasting and podcasters. It also all showed exactly why Mark never seemingly sleeps - he has no time!!

If you're going to the Language Show this weekend, you can catchup with Mark and the RLN crew yourself on stand 20!

Keep up the good work Mark - and I look forward to the next lot of RLN projects in the pipeline - they sound very exciting - but my lips (and cheeky tweets!) are sealed ;o)

So - for all your language needs - check out RLN - there's something for everyone!!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Podcasting with a Mac.

One of the highlights of the IoW conference was learning how to podcast on a Mac. Not so much for what I learned as to how I was taught and by whom.

Don’t get me wrong; it was very exciting learning how to use Garageband to podcast and great fun too. But more important to me than that was the fact that the session was delivered by four pupils from Heathfield Technology College with little or no ‘teacher’ input.

The pupils had written the presentation themselves and taught us what they had learned from Shirelands CLC, represented by Lesley Hagger-Vaughan of whom I have heard many great things! They were confident, cogent and very professional in their delivery- first of all , explaining the ‘W’s of podcasting - why/when/what/how/where before demonstrating the whole process of making a podcast and then splitting it into manageable chunks. Each stage was re-demonstrated before we were set off in small groups to try it out. And at all ties, there was a pupil at hand to check we were getting on OK, or to give us extra help if we needed it.

  • A storyboard was produced.
  • We rehearsed using an iPod with a microphone attachment.
  • We recorded using a condenser microphone, splitting the audio into manageable chucks to allow for easier editing. At this point we were encoraged to make sure that we ‘acted’ with our voices and didn’t keep it monotone!
  • Next came editing the audio chunks to eliminate pauses, create space for the intro music and ensure that it was all corectly recorded.
  • Using the ‘Jingles’ option, we added music to the audio, lowering the music so that the voice could be heard over the top of it.
  • Finally we added photographs to illustrate the podcast.
  • (My group even managed to add a Powerpoint slide ours!)

The session concluded with a showcase of the three finished podcasts - all about our visit to the Isle of Wight. I had to rush off to my round table presentation with Jo Rhys-Jones so didn’t get to download our podcast onto my memory stick so I can’t post it here, but it was very good! ;o)

Apparently, it was the first time that these pupils had done such a session but you’d never have known. They delivered clearly, supported one another, answered questions when asked and kept perfectly to their timings - other presenters weren’t so good at that - especially the ones talking about Primary MFL ;o)

And, with the Brummie accents, it was like being at home!

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