Monday, 31 March 2008

Should it be Tweep or Twit?

I picked this cartoon up from a Lucy Gray and Silvia Tolisano aka Langwitches in my Google Reader this morning - it not only made me laugh, but it also made me think!

In the last few weeks there has been much tweeting and blogging about Twitter - is it good for you or not?

I really like Twitter and tweeting, don't get me wrong. I'm just wondering how much it is taking over my life, and how much it might be distracting me from other things that I should be doing.

Doug Belshaw really prompted this over the weekend with two very thought-provoking posts - The map is not the territory and Is Twitter bad for you?. (Read them if you haven't already!)

The former, subtitled The changing face of the edublogosphere, made me consider how dizzy and confused I can sometimes become thanks to Twitter (and following URLs and recommendations) - as I wrote in my comment on the post, perhaps it's out of my own 'immaturity' as a blogger and technochick (as I have been dubbed by colleagues!), and the wish to ensure I don't miss out on the latest thing that my head starts to spin. I do need to be more selective and I guess with experience will come more wisdom.

That's why I love EdTechRoundup meetings - lots of ideas backed up with uses in the classroom and also lots of debate about tools and their use. I lurk and listen quite a bit - and that to me is very important so I learn! That's not to say I don't contribute - I'm not completely clueless :o)
I lurk on Twitter too - but often I feel excluded from the conversations - sometimes because I only follow half the speakers, or because it's over my head. Guess I could follow more people but that to me feels like collecting friends on Facebook just so I have lots of friends, or becoming a 'groupie'. Don't get me wrong, there are times when I have received really great ideas via Tweets - someone tweeted a couple of weeks ago - think it was @injenuity - and this site has infuriated, entertained and educated my family ever since. 9 year old spent over half an hour searching rivers in Holland this morning in search of a particular bridge - the clue did not enlighten but he found it, bless him! And @willrich45 and @davestacey pointed me a blogpost showing how to use YahooPipes to put all received Twitter messages containing URLs into Google Reader. However, there sometimes seem to be far too many seemingly great ideas floating around- as a commenter on Doug's blog said, 95% are irrelevant but 5% are gems. Recently I've been off work and had the luxury of time to check out all the recommendations, under normal circumstances I wouldn't. And then there are the ones that everyone raves about - then never to be heard of again. What happened to @teachablemoment ? And @bookgroup ? Both started off with lots of activity but seem to have fizzled.

So is Twitter bad for me? My husband would say it was - but that's more to do with mobile tweets than Twitter! And there lies a key issue - should I switch off my mobile tweets? During Edtechroundup last night we talked about this. Several people have switched off their mobile tweets - Doug commented that they were getting in the way of teaching. My inclination is to keep them switched on - I've been careful with from whom I receive mobile tweets and chosen people who aren't too prolific in the tweet department. Even so, most that I receive are not directed at me - and some are like the cartoon man's! My reason for keeping them on in term time is that Twitter is blocked at school so the only way I can even begin to use it with the pupils is to use my mobile. As I've blogged before, Year 6 answered a question posed by Ewan McIntosh via witter - and were fascinated by it. And there are times when I let out my frustrations on the Twitterverse via an 'end-of-my-tether-sympathise-please' message.

Then there's Tom Barrett's post Twitter- a teaching and learning tool. It's a really comprehensive guide to Twitter's many possibilities for learners (young and older) - it's one of those posts you have to go back to and read several times to really grasp all of it! As I commented when Tom asked about the use of Twitter in the classroom, it's hard to use when it's blocked but I'm working on that one!
Interesting that he was cut off from the world of Twitter when he wrote it - as he said,
'I am removed from the network I want to reflect upon and away from the classroom that it can impact. This perspective is welcome as it offers me clarity of thought, as I write, that I have not had for a long time.'

So, if I switched off mobile tweets, followed more people and was more selective with things I pursue, would that be OK?

I think Doug's post about Twitter hits the nail on the head - there are times when I need to switch off from Twitter, email, Facebook as I can't concentrate. Writing this, my mobile has Spiderpig-ed 24 times - and that's from 3 people in an hour - and I've not finished yet! I haven't checked my emails but I guess there are several of those too. His model of outward facing and inward facing modes of working seems so simple and sensible that I'm quite cross I didn't come up with it!

So perhaps it's a case of there being a time and place for everything and not allowing Twitter to encroach on everything I do, whilst still exploring the possibilities of using it creatively ;o)

Twitter-ing on.

The starting point for a new post .... are you a twit or a twerp to use Twitter?
.... to be continued!
clipped from

  • htjoshua

    @lisibo yes that is right: 'tweet' v. + n. <=140 char msg, to send/receive such; 'tweep' n. e.g. someone who sends/receives tweeps

    about 2 hours later


    @htjoshua - you learn something new every day! Never been called a tweep before - a twerp perhaps ... ;o)

    about 2 hours later


    @lisibo ... but not a twit I am sure.... :-)

    about 2 hours later

  • blog it

    Friday, 28 March 2008

    Jalkapalo, voetbal, ποδόσφαιρο - in other words, football.

    I read an interesting article in the Guardian the other day about language learning and football - two topics close to my heart.

    In the Sports Comment section under the title 'Learning the lingo will net England brighter future', Louise Taylor suggests that apprentice footballers, now called 'scholars', should learn languages as part of their studies to prepare them for the possibility of playing for teams abroad.

    Gareth Southgate recently cited the lack of players experiencing new systems and styles of play as one reason for the stagnation in the national game - learning a language would make a transition to playing elsewhere that much easier.
    'Sadly most are unwilling to step outside their lucrative, cosily familiar, domestic comfort zones and the same could be said for many home-grown managers. Instead of whingeing about continental types - often multilingual and well-educated - pinching the top jobs here, why don't English coaches start investing small portions of their large salaries on language lessons before emigrating for a while?'

    The case of Chris Coleman at Real Sociedad is mentioned - communication difficulties made his job hard - and that's a man who tried (and succeeded to a certain extent) to learn some Spanish while he was there. Michael Owen is reported to have driven miles just to get an English newspaper when he was at Real Madrid, and we all saw David Beckham's 'interesting' efforts to speak Spanish (although he did manage to get himself sent off for some colourful Spanish at least once!) Not sure about his excuse that his cockney accent impeded him, but it is true that people can feel embarrassed about the way they sound in the foreign language. Didn't do a bad job of his last press conference I guess!

    One man who did make an effort - and actually succeeded - was Gary Lineker who learned to speak Spanish sufficiently well whilst playing for Barcelona to interview Spanish speakers like Diego Maradona on TV, and also learnt Japanese when he played for Grampus 8. But he is the exception.

    At a time when the state of language learning in this country is as newsworthy as the state of our national football team, could this be an answer to both issues? Lots of young lads (and lasses!) aspire to be footballers and look up to their heroes. If it's known that languages are seen as important, perhaps we'll see a resurgence in the uptake at KS4? And if footballers are learning languages, they might be more inclined to travel abroad to play, gaining the experiences that might be said to be missing in our national team(s). I don't know - but something has to change!!

    And perhaps it will help them to avoid too many slip ups - although some are inevitable, perhaps they won't be as spectacular as this one! You can even relive the moment on Youtube!

    Thursday, 27 March 2008

    Osborne Bull #1 - El Toro

    El Toro, originally uploaded by sparky2000.

    I've been (re)exploring Flickr this evening. I joined a while ago and uploaded some photos - but then forgot about it. As my husband was delayed by the Heathrow Terminal 5 fiasco, I had a spare few hours that i have spent browsing a multitude of photographs.

    So here begins an (occasional) series of images of one of my first memories of Spain - the Osborne bull or Toro de Osborne.

    More about Flickr and Osborne bull in future posts!

    Wednesday, 26 March 2008

    Spring Day for Europe 2008

    Hot on the heels of yesterday's e-mail from CILT about Europe Day (see yesterday's post), today I received a message from Pamela Powers at the European Parliament about Spring Day in Europe;

    Spring Day in Europe was set up to promote learning and debate about the European Union in schools.

    As 2008 is the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, "Bridging cultures through dialogue" is the chosen theme for Spring Day 2008. It will be held from 25th March to 30th June, with a special focus on 9th May, which is Europe Day. Schools across Europe are invited to take part.

    The Spring Day in Europe website provides teachers and students with ideas for events and activities in the classroom. For further information and to register your school, please look at the Spring Day website:

    Once registered, you will have access to the full package of teaching and learning resources, activities, tools and services of the web portal.

    The teacher adviser for the UK is Ian Levinson . He is a contact point between European Schoolnet and schools that register with Spring Day in Europe and is able to advise and answer questions.

    Investigating the Spring Day website, it seems that there are various benefits to registering for the day - such as involvement with other classes and schools, taking part in competitions and receiving a certificate of participation for your involvement - always popular in schools with SMT :o)

    Content is in 23 different languages, allowing for access to the site in the language studied as well as English, and the ability to compare text (and I assume activities) in different languages. At the same time, the whole day is based on the discovery of other cultures and traditions, thus covering ICU strand. There are online games, ecards to send and podcasts too which make my evolving techie side smile! You can find out more about activities, past events and how to register on the Spring Day for Europe 2008 site.

    At the time of writing there are 1113 schools registered - I'm about to make it 1114.

    What about you?

    Tuesday, 25 March 2008

    Europe Day 08

    I've just received notification from Ruth Churchill at CILT of some FREE resources available. Never one to look a gift horse ..., I immediately investigated!

    Apparently May 9th is Europe Day (I'm afraid this was the first I'd heard of it!) and the European Commission has produced a booklet to promote the day as well as provide information promoting the EU.

    Here's the e-mail:

    Representation of the European Commission in the United Kingdom - Passport to the European Union
    What do we know about the member states of the European Union? Whereabouts is the statue with more clothes than one would find in any woman's wardrobe. Did they really use eggs to built a bridge in Prague? Could there still be an island where no female either human or animal is allowed? This and a lot more information on the 27 member countries of the European Union e.g. their size and population, famous citizens etc. is answered in our little booklet "Passport to the European Union" which also includes stickers of coins, flags, buildings and even a map. Children can find places for the stickers in the passport and on the map.

    In order to support Europe Day (9 May) activities for young people, the Representation of the European Commission in the United Kingdom is making 100,000 copies of the Passport to the European Union available to UK schools and similar organisations completely free of charge.

    You can view the booklet online and then decide if you want to order up to 100 copies per school either from your Europe Direct centre or by filling in a form online. I'm planning on using them for SODA (start of the day activity) and also for incidental work. If every class focussed on a different country, we could share notes in assembly later in the week. Kids love finding things out and with stickers and things too, it's sure to be a hit (they'll prefer it to handwriting too!)

    So don't hang around- there are now 100 less copies as my order's already in!

    Here's a montage of posters used in previous years to promote the day - perhaps it'll inspire you!

    To find out what's going on in the UK, have a look at the events diary - I like the look of the Giant European Union Pub Quiz in Wrexham! And there's also a whole page of ideas for how your school might be able to celebrate.

    SMS en español

    hla k tal? spro k b. k acs? kntm.

    Sbs k digo? My typing skills haven't deserted me - I'm texting! If you speak Spanish and/or are conversant with the language of texting, all that makes perfect sense.

    I must admit that I sometimes get confused by all the abbreviations and double meanings in English - LOL is laughing out loud but also lots of love - and have to explain some abbreviations I use - I thought ROFL was universally understood as rolling on the floor laughing??

    I was interested to read a recent post from entitled Spanish cell phone abbreviations - Shortcuts make text messages faster.
    I wondered how the language of text would vary between English and Spanish. It was interesting to see how Spaniards use similar abbreviations to us:
    • letters and numbers just like us - gr8 = great / 100pre = siempre or salu2 = saludos
    • phonetic abbreviations as we do - cu = see you / aki = aquí
    • initial letters - brb = be right back / npn = no pasa nada
    but also have borrowings like pls for por favor, and also sms for texting itself.

    I wonder if we could justify texting as a suitable for Primary learning -
    it's definitely Modern, it's Foreign to many and it's a Language in its own right. How about it? ;o)

    m1ml, b7s, a2

    Monday, 24 March 2008 (appendix!)

    Just found this helpful video on Youtube that shows you how works, and as I can't edit the previous post for some reason, I've made an appendix to the original post.


    You may have noticed I've got a new widget on ¡Vámonos! labelled Where in the world...??
    This follows someone (I'm afraid I can't recall who!) Tweeting about, an online map game based on Google maps. There are numerous riddles showing a satellite picture of somewhere in the world in the top box, and in the bottom box is a Google map of the world. Your task is to find the exact satellite picture to 'solve' the riddle. Some people have left clues to help you - for example, I've just solved on with the clues

    ....... Beach
    Crockett and Tubbs
    leading me to Miami.
    Yesterday I was sent to Ullaru with the clue
    I'm now addicted to the site - given the cold and hail/snow, it's a fine way to spend a Bank Holiday afternoon, improving my Geographical knowledge (not my strong point). Some of the puzzles are fiendishly hard, others are very easy - I had to find the border between France and Spain yesterday!

    Here are a few puzzles I've made to bamboozle you - they're not hard! Congratulations to @mrmackenzie and @josepicardo for solving the first one very quickly!


    Sunday, 23 March 2008

    Peter Pan El Musical

    The ever innovative and very talented Leigh McClelland from Comberton Village College sent me a message on Facebook last week about a theatrical novelty taking place in the West End very soon.

    Peter Pan El Musical: Spanish musical adaptation of JM Barrie's famous children's story comes to the West End's Garrick theatre from 28 March to 27 April. Peter Pan El Musical, which has enjoyed box office success in Spain, features all the familiar characters from this most English of stories - Wendy, Tinkerbell, Captain Hook and Peter Pan himself - who reveal a previously unknown aptitude for languages by performing the musical entirely in Spanish, with English subtitles. Adapted by Cristina Fargas, the show includes 14 original songs, performed by a cast of 25, led by Spanish musical theatre star Miguel Angel Gamero as Captain Hook and Mr Darling. Interesting? Lx

    So I investigated further and discovered a website of excitement with photographs, music and news from the production. I particularly like all the photographs of the production.

    The production is in London for a month before returning to complete the tour of Spain with Badajoz, Zaragoza and Valencia. A shame London isn't nearer to Birmingham for a school trip but I might get there. If you want to find out more, go to the website, or here for tickets.

    Saturday, 22 March 2008

    ¡Felices Pascuas!

    Wishing you all a Happy Easter with a couple of videos of Easter celebrations in Spain.

    ¡Felices Pascuas!

    Friday, 21 March 2008

    Asset Languages - Birmingham Primary Languages Conference #5

    After my post earlier in the week about assessment I was interested to attend the session on Asset Languages at the Birmingham Primary Languages Conference. I knew a little of Asset from previous presentations but I was interested to hear if there had been any changes since I had last been updated.

    John McNutt began his presentation with the statement -

    'Asset Languages is ...a new way of assessing languages against the CAN DO statements of the DSCF’s Languages Ladder. It uses discrete assessment of the four skills of speaking listening reading and writing, allowing assessment to be done in as many or as few skills as wanted. It marks a move away from a content to skills based approach – not what you know but what can you do and work out with what you know; not just learning a language but learning how to learn languages.'

    He gave us examples of how the first level descriptors look for Speaking and showed us by teaching us some Chinese that we all could attain this level quite easily.

    1. I can repeat a short phrase.
    2. I can ask a few questions.
    3. I can answer a few questions.

    He pointed out that it's easier to see your progress and your success if it’s in small steps like this.

    Asset can be carried out through teacher assessment, external assessment or a mixture of both.
    If you do teacher assessment, you can do it on your own at any time – can be done without telling pupils and you can issue your own certificates. John suggested that if the children don’t know they are being assessed, what’s the problem? Fair point I guess. He also highlighted that it is based on what pupils Can Do not Can’t Do.

    I liked John's honesty on the subject of external assessment - If you do external assessment, there is stress! So why do it? He did suggest that it could be done at the end of Yr 6 for transition documents? this caused a sharp intake of breath from a number of people as they thought of SATs and already stressed out 10 and 11 year olds being faced with more exams.

    The assessments are available in a range of many languages – and it is possible that a generic English pack will be produced so that any language can be assessed – good idea! The teacher assessments can be adapted as long as they fit the can do statements although external assessments are obviously set externally.

    John wanted to demonstrate that assessment can be fun and asked for a volunteer. Having been met with silence, I took pity on him and volunteered, little knowing that i had to prepare the 'class' for an Asset Languaeg assessment in 5 minutes! I had to teach the ‘class’ a song in another language – guess what I chose? La Vaca Lola! Soon the whole class were waving their tails and mooing in Spanish - great fun!

    Advantages of using Asset:

    • A way of providing baseline data (in the future!)
    • No need for QTS status.
    • Kudos of having a certificate to recognise their achievements in languages.

    So what do you have to do and how much does it cost?

    Primary Starter pack – Breakthrough £75 +VAT (covers all languages)

    Certificate packs – 1st pack of 125 is free, after that, costs can be as low as 26.7p +VAT

    For external assessments - £1 per skill per pupil.

    I asked the question - Do you have to be accredited teacher?

    If you want to issue certificates, you complete the self access DVD and it covers you for all languages. As a training exercise rather than pass/fail – and you can be an accredited teacher for any number of schools. This is a change from the previous system where you had to complete the course for each language and each level that you wished to test!

    Registration is free – you pay as you go!

    Centre coordinator training is free and organised regionally – one day to become an administrative expert on Asset – not compulsory but recommended.

    Asset seems to have adapted to become much less of an administrative burden than it used to be. I like the idea of not having to externally assess to use the system, and also the ability to reward certificates as and when you see fit (obviously assuming pupils have met the standards!) Perhaps it's something I should investigate further - although I'm still a little reluctant!

    Thursday, 20 March 2008

    Adapting and using stories in PLL - Birmingham Primary Language Conference #4

    Sophie Bregent-Kight, Primary MFL AST at Moseley Language College led the second workshop on Tuesday entitled Adapting and using stories in PLL. Sophie is no stranger to many of those attending as has worked with a number of schools and also speaks at the ELLRSG almost as much as me!

    She began by taking us through some reasons for using stories in PLL, linking it to the KS2 Framework for ALL year groups. There seems to be a concern that stories area great fro Year 3 but not for Year 5 and definitely not for Year 6. I agree with Sophie's point that stories aren’t just for little kids – they can be used for all ages; it is what you do with them that matters.

    Sophie recommended a number of places online where you might find some stories and activities, either in Powerpoint form or to purchase- there are many more including the various Grids for Learning, especially Northumberland which has whole units preplanned around fairytales such as Goldilocks, Red Riding Hood and the Three Billy Goats Gruff.
    There's also Herefordshire and Stoke . – PPT stories – little stories – French website

    Sophie then went on to show us an example of how a story can be adapted and used for a whole unit of work. Goma de verduras is a story that Sophie has adapted from Vegetable Glue by Susan Chandler illustrated by Elena Odriozola about a child whose body is falling apart because they don't eat enough vegetables to make vegetable glue.

    Sophie translated the story into Spanish - here's the first page:

    Cuando mi brazo derecha se cayó

    Sabía lo que hacer

    Lo pegué de nuevo con

    Goma de verdura

    We then discussed ways to use the story - obvious themes to pursue are food and body parts. Sophie talked about some of the activities that she had used in exploiting the story:

    • ¿Adónde va la mariquita? betting game – guess where the ladybird is going.
    • Made books as visual dictionaries using glossaries and research
    • Labeling Shrek / monsters – gave a choice of people to label according to interests
    • Making storyboards of the story
    • Human sentence to reorder text
    • Had models of little girl and practiced parts of body falling off with narration in Spanish
    • Teacher revisited during the week
    • Did similar activities with food stuffs
    • Took it on to like and dislike
    • Grammar plurals
    • Survey and graph
    • Report back reuses previously used vocabulary
    • Healthy / unhealthy = sano / malsano
    • Menu for a party – to keep in mind that it’s supposed to be healthy
    • Another idea – what do you put in your basket?
    • Recipe for vegetable glue – quantities included here
    • Girl with a stomach – feed food stuffs into the girl for their recipe
    • Moved on to talk about food groups ands healthy eating pyramid in English and Spanish – compared and contrasted – portion sizes
    • Used to discuss their eating plans for next day
    Sophie then shared another idea she had to use ICT to research food in Spanish supermakets by accessing their pages on the web. You need to have a Spanish postcode – use the white pages to choose a name you fancy and 'borrow' their postcode if necessary– or borrow one from a Spanish friend!

    Some suggested activities -

    • Compare prices
    • Compare food stuffs – do we eat the same or different? Different vegetables? What is traditional? Packaging?
    • Make own adverts for food - cut and paste
    I really enjoyed Sophie's ideas - I've never read Vegetable Glue, but it sounds like just the kind of book that is really versatile and useful for PLL. Makes a change from Hungry Caterpillars and Giant Turnips!!

    Any further suggestions anyone?

    Wednesday, 19 March 2008

    Lingua@Hillcrest - Birmingham Primary Language conference -#3 -

    Hillcrest School in Bartley Green, Birmingham, has recently developed a language facility called Lingua, similar to the Europa Centre in Havering (See NACELL report). It caters for groups from KS2 - KS5, offering tailor made half or full day programmes in French, Spanish, German and EAL.

    Avril Cooper and her colleagues from Hillcrest showcased the possibilities at yesterday's Birmingham Primary Languages Conference, showing us a presentation about the facility before allowing us a taster of the types of activities that pupils might experience on a trip.

    On offer at Lingua@Hillcrest:

    • Shopping experience
    • Puppet shows
    • Video editing days
    • Tailor made visit
    On entering the Shopping Experience, pupils pass through Passport control, then change money into Euros at the bank to be spent in the cafe or souvenir shop. All the shop front, signage etc are in the foreign language. Pupils will then take part in a carousel of activities learning the vocabulary of

    • Clothes
    • Shops names and items
    • Numbers and prices
    • Food and drink

    Once there has been much hilarity as children rush to dress in the correct clothing, or play pass the food, or make number with their bodies, they go shopping with a personalised shopping list, gaining a stamp for each item. Once pupils have successfully purchased their six chosen items, they then shop for other items, competing to buy most (The record is 32!)

    Then pupils can buy a drink or souvenir with their euros before going home!

    New innovations soon to be added include the use of PDAs with the language recorded on it visually and aurally as a reminder, longer opening hours and the development of new games and activities.

    Several schools in the area have already visited and thoroughly recommend the experience. One quotation from a child - ‘We had the best time of our lives at the language village’. The current cost is £125 for ½ day or £250 for whole day, with optional lunch available at £1.80 per child.

    I'm planning on taking a group from WCPS; problem is - which year group do I take??

    If you'd like more information, contact lingua@hillcrest, or call 0121 464 3172

    Tuesday, 18 March 2008

    Birmingham Primary Languages Conference - #2 Primary Languages – The National Picture

    Joe Brown, was the keynote speaker at the Birmingham Primary Languages Conference. Joe is a Primary Language Teaching Adviser at CILT explained his experience and background as a Primary School teacher, teaching abroad (in bilingual German school) and in Inner city London. Joe used an exercise with the following greetings to highlight how many languages were spoken by the pupils at the school where he teaches. He talked about the opportunity that this offered to show respect to others by learning how to greet these children in their own language, giving value to the home language and also the possible discussion of forms of greeting (tu et vous; tu y usted) How many languages can you identify?




    Bom dia

    Guten Tag












    Joe was definite that PLL is NOT just about speaking and listening – there are five strands in the KS2 Framework and all are as important. There is fun in PLL but there is also rigour.
    He highlighted the QCA scheme of work, pointing out that it is specifically designed for the KS2 Framework and is freely downloadable or can be purchased for £15.

    Joe asserted that every child is interested in language learning – every one can be intrigued by the idea of different languages, giving successful experiences to those who may have struggled in other areas of the curriculum. We want to harness this enthusiasm, embedding language into the curriculum and making sure that language lessons stay as among pupils’ favourite lessons. Joe commented that, in his experience, this enthusiasm is particularly well maintained where there is dialogue between primary and secondary, and where PLL has the support of the Headteacher.

    Joe reported on the spread of languages chosen for PLL - 91% doing French, 25% Spanish and 12% doing German. He also pointed to HLTAs playing a big role in some areas.

    When pupils re asked about PLL, three words are heard a lot – Joe offered some ideas as to why:

    DIFFERENT - incorporating learning styles

    EXCITING - working with and extending the children’s interests

    FUN - children and teachers see learning experience as motivating

    Joe used the following song to discuss how we decode language using KAL and LLS. How did we work out the meaning? What comments might children make? Can actions help us? How could this become a month’s work? Could this cover all five strands of the Framework? For example - intercultural understanding in discussing songs from other countries about the weather. The only clues he gave were in the form of an action for each line.

    ¡Qué llueva! ¡Qué llueva!

    La virgin de la cueva,

    Los pájaritos cantan,

    Las nubes se levantan,

    ¡Qué si! ¡Qué no !

    Que caiga un chaparrón,

    Con azúcar y limón.

    Joe then highlighted more resources that are available including the NACELL site and the ELL forum, the various Grids for Learning including East Riding (schemes of work) and Northumberland (interactive stories with resources) and the Training Zone

    Joe offered some ideas of brain breaks – using actions like stretch, turn, dance, and then adding adverbs or perhaps negatives. Why not do brain breaks in Spanish? Such activities cover Framework objectives and count towards the recommended time allowance.

    Finally Joe highlighted an often forgotten part of the Framework – part 3 which has 8 sections giving guidance on more general matters such as inclusion, progression, assessment, making links, transition. Under inclusion the Framework addresses self esteem, involving parents, social skills such as body language etc.

    Joe concluded by offering some ideas on the question - What does good PL look like?

    He demonstrated in a whistle stop 10 minutes that, from small beginnings, a unit of QCA can be extended to an end result that can be celebrated.

    • Teach body parts
    • Simon says (listening activity as well as a game)
    • Look at word and point to it
    • Phonemes
    • Apple pie/Sausages/Squeak piggy squeak/Your majesty to practice vocabulary
    • Look at graphemes / orthography – accents / use of gender – engaging children in the written word
    • Tongue twisters – eg Poquito a poquito Paquito empaca poquitas copitas en pocos paquetes.
    • Colours
    • Comparing colours in different languages – not sticking to the language you’re learning
    • Cross curricular – practice using grid references along the corridor up the stairs using numbers and colours for axes
    • Beetle with body parts and colours to produce monsters
    • Talk about the monsters they have created. Using 1st or 3rd person
    • Portraits – look at painters eg Picasso
    • Produce a portrait of self for display labeled in language in simple words then sentences.

    A summary of Joe's Key messages
    Framework available
    There are 5 strands
    Training Zone is there to support
    Nacell is there to support
    QCA SOW is available and builds on KS2 Framework and 5 strands.
    Small steps – giving a broad base of knowledge and enthusiasm for language on which secondary colleagues can build.

    Birmingham Primary Languages Conference #1

    I've spent the day at Edgbaston Cricket Ground, taking part in the annual Birmingham Primary Languages Conference. A lovely venue with views out of 'patio doors' across the ground - we even got to sit outside in the midday sunshine and eat the delicious hot buffet. All added to a really informative day - I'll tell you all about it over the next few posts.

    Paul Nutt (Birmingham Advisory and Support Service) opened the day with an overview of why we teach Primary Languages and the situation in Birmingham. He emphasised the interim steps being taken to arrive ultimately at a sustainable model where the class teacher (ideally) delivers the PL.

    Some key principles were highlighted:

    • a free choice of languages is given to schools, encouraging ...
    • diversity of languages (reflecting the nature of Birmingham),
    • an inclusive provision ..
    • as part of curriculum time
    • goal of class teacher delivery
    • support at present is focussed on building capacity
    • links and exchanges are being encouraged.

    The support offered was explained:

    • when schools sign up to be part of a 'Cohort' they receive £1200 in year 1 then £400 in year 2 to be spent on developing and sustaining PLL;
    • 5 days equivalent support from a trained coach;
    • half termly network meetings across the city, offering the opportunity to ask questions, share concerns and pool resources and ideas;
    • a generic scheme of work and guidance;
    • resource base at Woodview Centre (Comenius West Midlands) where the ELL library can be viewed;
    • a programme of courses and taster days;
    • in school consultancy (at a cost)
    • FLAs (can be shared between several schools or 'borrowed' from another school)
    • List of places where you can find more help including RSGs, Training Zone, British Council
    Joe Brown then delivered the keynote address .....

    Monday, 17 March 2008

    Primary Language learners in the news.

    A couple of local news items about been brought to my attention by Google alerts, both related to young language learners.

    The Mirfield Reporter covered the story of a Year 4 class at Battyeford Primary School who learned a song in French, La Meteo, that they performed in assembly. Not just for fun, but also in order to achieve Asset Languages level 1.
    The class teacher mentions that they are the first class to achieve the award - how many other schools are already going for accreditation for their pupils? She also thanks the teacher at Castle Hall School for her help. Sounds like an example of cross KS links / liaison to me.

    The second article, from the Liverpool Echo is headlined School girl wins award for language.
    It reports that Elizabeth Foulkes, whilst a pupil at Grassendale’s St Austin’s Catholic primary school, achieved the highest score of all primary children tested in Spanish for Language Ladder Asset Languages exams. With Liverpool so hot on primary languages, it doesn't surprise me that the girl comes from that area, especially as St Austin's is a centre of excellence for Spanish, having a FLA and an advisory teacher working with them as well as a link school in Spain, parents encouraged to learn alongside their children and weekly language lessons for teachers. Shows that the effort is worth it!
    Elizabeth has now moved on to high school and is quoted as saying -
    "Learning it means now when I’m on holiday in Spain I can understand things, like menus – especially useful because I’m vegetarian!"

    The children I teach love learning Spanish and one of their reasons for enjoying it is that they don't have to do exams and aren't labelled as 'level 3s'. So there's a tension for me between knowing that there is a need for some kind of assessment of progress but also not wanting to remove one USP of PLL. But here we have examples of pupils having fun and learning useful stuff for personal interest, and at the same time gaining recognition for their efforts. Mmmm.

    What do you think? Should we be looking at formal ways to assess PLL like Asset, or is informal assessment sufficient?

    Saturday, 15 March 2008

    2500 hits!

    Just checked my visitor counter on ¡Vámonos! to find that, since I added the widget, there have been 2500 visitors. How exciting!
    In fact, if you look at the graphic below, there have apparently been 2509 (when I started the post there had been 2500, but I wasn't pleased with the Clipmark I took and the counter had changed by the time I finished playing!)
    And I recently added a Clustr map too and have been excited to see that I've had my first visitors from Africa and South America in the last week.

    Thank you for reading and keep coming back with comments and suggestions.

    Gracias por la música.

    I've been hit by a wave of nostalgia this week - perhaps due to the large number of photographs of my childhood flying around Facebook and at the centenary celebrations at my church (including one of me dressed in a black binbag decorated with silver foil and sporting bright red lipstick and a flashing headband)

    In this nostalgic mood I thought back to a few(!) years ago to when I used to teach 'big kids' and the fun we had one Prize Giving. Bar the music department who were always expected to perform, no other department ever did anything to showcase themselves, so the head was rather surprised when my colleague Nikki and I decided we were going to get some of the pupils to sing in Spanish - and what's more, join them.

    One year we sang 'El profesor me fastidia' from Vaya 1 ( I remember it well!) - all the kids wore mortar boards and Nikki and I made fools of our selves doing a hula dance (complete with grass skirts) in the instrumental break! They loved singing about how much the teacher was annoying them and our performance became legendary.
    Another year we sang an Abba medley - no mean feat as the words made little sense to most of the kids. Some of them didn't do Spanish and the rest were enthusiastic Year 7s who liked singing and did their best to fit the words in. To their credit, they learned all the words and could still sing the medley the following year - and it was great fun!

    Nowadays, singing in language classes is much more common place (look at Steph Hopkins, Leigh McClelland and Rachel Hawkes, Helen Myers ...) and I'm sure that some schools have been doing it for years (Un kilo de chansons has been around ages!), but at this 'challenging' comprehensive, singing was a new thing and it certainly worked for some of the pupils. I hope they still get to sing and rap - we've both moved on now so I don't know. But for old times sake and to remind myself that HH wasn't all bad, here are ABBA!

    Firstly, an ABBA medley (ours wasn't that long!!) and then Gracias por la música.

    Friday, 14 March 2008

    Meez blogging in a field.

    Meez 3D avatar avatars games

    I've been playing again! Here's the latest addition to my 'virtual selves' - Lisibo Meez.

    Meez allows you to create a 3D animated avatar, choosing a theme (in my case Easter), clothing including costumes and sports wear, and other accessories as well as the physical appearance of your avatar. You can export the finished product to your blog, website, Facebook etc and even send it to your phone.

    You could use this when looking at physical descriptions, or clothing in a similar way to the suggestions for Build your Wild Self in the previous post - for reading, writing, speaking, pair or group work - or just for fun!

    Wish I was blogging in the middle of a field of Easter eggs and spring flowers ....

    Thursday, 13 March 2008

    Build Your Wild Self

    Build Your Wild Self

    I've been having some fun making myself a new avatar. I've got a WeeMee (see right), a Yahoo avatar (wearing a Spanish football shirt or a Sevillanas dress), a DoppelMe wearing the Swedish football kit, and a beaver Voki of me pretending to be Mrs Beaver from Narnia (for the benefit of my kids :o))

    Build your Wild Self is a site run by the Wildlife Conservation Society and New York Zoo and Aquarium. It allows you to choose a basic body and then add bit of animals, reptiles, birds etc to it to make a 'wild self'.

    I had great fun making myself into a rein-pol-conda-guin-peacock. Cute aren't I?

    I can see using this in the PLL classroom, linking body parts (los brazos, las piernas, la lengua, las orejas, la cola, las alas etc), animals (un pingüino, un reno, un pavo real, una serpiente, un tigre, una tortuga etc), descriptions (colours, characteristics like feroz, grande, tranquilo, orgulloso, peludo etc) and habitats (la selva, la jungla, el Arctico, la sierra, el desierto, el río etc) in a fun activity. Pupils could collectively discuss and describe a model Wild Self, perhaps using a scaffold text. Then they could create their own Wild Self either to match a given description (listening and / or reading) or choose their own design and then describe it (speaking and /or writing).
    e.g. Tengo las orejas de un oso polar. Tengo los cuernos de un reno. Tengo la lengua muy larga de una serpeinte. Tengo la cola impresionanate de un pavo real. Tengo las piernas de un pingüino.
    Perhaps the class could then play a game with all the Wild Selves - someone says a sentence in Spanish about one of them, and teams have to find the correct image, or perhaps five images and five descriptions to be matched. And what about a quiz akin to the baby photo game - whose Wild Self is whose?

    What do you think? Anyone got any further ideas or comments?

    Wednesday, 12 March 2008

    Metro - Daily free newspaper download.

    I've travelled by train several times in the last few weeks and each time have acquired a free copy of Metro. I knew that there were different editions for major cities, but didn't realise that it is an international paper.

    Today, courtesy of MinkiePinkie aka Emmanuelle and via MFLresources Yahoo group, I discovered that not only are there editions in a number of countries, but also that they are accesible and downloadable online. You can download today's paper in PDF from Metropoint
    choosing not only from the coutries below but also from the regional edition you fancy in a number of countries, including Spain.

    You can also read the papers online at Readmetro, selecting the country, region and date of the paper you require. Added to this, there is the facility to change the language of the site between English, Spanish, French and Danish.

    A great feature is that, as well as a 'global search', there is an 'advanced search' facility, allowing you to search for a specific theme, in a specific country, region and/or time frame.

    This looks a great way for older pupils to access authentic newspaper articles, weather reports, TV pages, puzzles and advertisements as well as for teachers to keep up to date not only with the language itself but also with their knowledge of countries speaking the language they teach.

    I'm off to read the article about Bryan Adams on page 12 of today's Edición Nacional from Spain.

    Monday, 10 March 2008

    Rhymes and coordination.

    Inspired by Jo Rhys-Jones post on Minibeasts, and her suggestion of some suitable French videos on Youtube to support it, I went in search of some Spanish equivalents - then got sidetracked!

    Having followed Jo's links to Papillons, (complete with operatic French version of Anything I do, I do it for you), I decided to search for Spanish butterflies - mariposas. I came across a clip of 'Mariposas de Asturias' which is very similar (the music is more relaxing!)

    Then my search took me off in a different direction when I came across a video clip called Mariposas Silenciosas. Not about butterflies, but a game that can be played in small groups to improve concentration, coordination, and also provide a bit of calm!

    Then I investigated Luis Pescetti further and found more videos that I thought might be interesting. Keeping to the minibeasts theme, how about Cienpies about a centipede-

    This is followed by an action rhyme with nonsense words - a bit like Gingangoolie (not sure if that's how you spell it as I've never tried writing it down!) - with simple actions that get faster and faster. Amazing how muddling it can be to do simple actions fast! And here's another - Aiepo - this time, the rhyme is said in different voices depending on the speed, starting as an elephant, very low, and finishes higher!

    Another rhyme along a similar vein, but this time with 'proper' Spanish words - in this case a traditional Spanish rhyme - Palmas, higos y castañas.

    Also on a minibeast theme, scroll down to the seventh song on this page for La canción de la pulga about a flea that jumps on a dog, bites it and then has a full tummy!

    In fact, having found lots of his videos on Youtube, I then went to his website and discovered lots more too see and do. Words and (very usefully) mp3 files for songs as well as videos and jokes. Well worth investigating. From a quick look, I can see a Spanish version of London Bridge is falling down, as well as Un kilómetro a pie (referred to in a previous post on Active learning) and a lovely song called Mocos about bogies!!

    And on that note, I'll leave you to explore for yourself!

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