Friday, 20 November 2020

No prep retrieval practice ideas

 In the mild chaos and serious exhaustion of hotdesking, it's been great to have a few tricks up my sleeve this year while the computer logs on or to finish the lesson. Here are three activities which my classes are loving:

  • 4 Squared                                                                                                                            An oldy but goodie which I had never used before this term. Draw 4 squares on the board then ask a question. Whoever gets it right gets his/ her name on the board: once you have 4 names, the next pupil to answer correctly chooses someone to eliminate from one of the squares. I give stickers to the 4 in the box when the game ends. 
  • Stand up if                                                                                                                              You say or display a phrase in MT or TL and they stand up if they think they know it. You choose one of the pupils standing and if they get it right, everyone standing up gets a point. If they get it wrong, everyone standing loses a point. I gave a sticker for reaching 4 points and a sticker for every point after that (5 stickers = a positive on lesson monitor) It works brilliantly at all levels.Yes, some might not stand up at all but they still seemed to enjoy it
  • Vindictive                                                                                                                            You can do this orally or  with a mini whiteboard each. All pupils stand up to play. Call out a word, the first person to call out their name and answer immediately when called upon or to write the correct trans choses someone else to sit down. If they are sitting down, they still play and if they win the round, they stand back up & knock two others out. The winner is the “last man standing” If two pupils are left at the end but someone sitting down gets the correct answer first, they stand back up and knock the two standing out and ultimately are the champion. No prep and excellent retrieval practice as well as for learning new vocab if able to look at list as play
  • The wonderful @Chapeluser shared this with me last year and which I'm going to try it out again this week

"Have you ever tried a ‘Cat’ lesson? (Actually it could be dog, elephant or anything you fancy!) It works for any age and can be mangled accordingly. Great fun, and loads of learning.
You simply ask them to divide a page into two columns, English on the left, TL on the right.
Just sit and dictate, starting with simple phrases with them writing the translation each time.
1 - The cat
2 - A cat
3 - The cats
4 - Some cats
Then move through crazy sentences, the sillier the better. For a top set GCSE you would arrive at about no 15 with, ‘If I were to tell you the truth I would say that the best thing about my cat is that he can order food in a restaurant!”
The kids love it cos it’s silly, and you can provide instant feedback after each one. Get a feel for how many have got one wrong and then you can slip in another re-worded one on the same grammar point later. Verbs, adjs, grammar structures, the lot. "
Hopefully some of these are helpful, I've found them excellent for recalling vocabulary and retrieval practice as well as engaging pupils and adapting to not being in my own classroom all the time.


Site smashing with vocab lists

The joy of a busy languages teacher when you realise that one humble vocabulary list can be used multiple times and join up pupil learning 😍
  •  Create your word or sentence list, tabbing from the target language to the English. Copy it all and paste it into a new course on Quizlet. Pupils enjoy Quizlet for the flashcards and games as well as playing Quizlet Live in individual or team mode. 


  • Go to Memrise and sign in. Select the Courses tab, create a course, fill in the details and set it up. When the empty vocab list appears, click on advanced and select bulk add words then paste your vocabulary list.  My pupils like the fact that they can gain points for each vocab set they learn. 


  • Go to Gimkit and select New kit then select Create with flashcards and paste the vocabulary list. This is always a favourite either in team mode or individual. 


  •  Go to Blooket and create a new set, pasting the same vocabulary into the set. The games on Blooket include the classic game which is like Kahoot, the race and the Battle Royal game. The graphics are cool and the pupils love choosing their animal icon.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

  • Go to Carousel Learning and download the template to create the question bank. Paste the vocabulary and complete the final column for the topic/s. Upload the question bank spreadsheet and then create a quiz using this question bank and allocate it to a class. This is new to us this week and the pupils have found it really useful to test their learning and retrieval of vocabulary. @Carousel_Learn posted this on Twitter:
      "Also worth noting: REVISE QUESTIONS = students see flashcards of the questions in the quiz only REVISE TOPICS = students see flashcards for every question in every topic included in the quiz"

In these very busy days of school, it is so heartening and pleasing to find websites which are so easy to use and with time-saving uploads of the same vocabulary. Pupils can see links in learning and a sense of satisfaction at their progress. 


Thursday, 29 October 2020

Using OneNote as my planner and digital textbook

This year I have moved to using OneNote as my teacher planner, after inspiration from some other teachers in the Facebook NI Teachers Collaborate group. Rather than use one notebook as my planner, I am using the Teacher section in the class notebook for each of my classes in MS Teams. Here's some screenshots from my Year 9 notebook. This is a page from the Content Library which the pupils can look at but not edit. I put useful links, videos and texts here.
This is what I use as my planner. I adapted a PPT template from the aforementioned Facebook group then exported the slide as a JPEG. I import it to the page I have labelled as week beginning and rightclicking on the JPEG, I can set it as the page background which then allows me to type and write over it.
I have created a section in the Teacher Only section called Unit Content. I then can create pages within this, with hyperlinks to the documents and PPTs I intend to use which I have saved in One Drive.
Here are some screenshots from my A level notebook. Again, the Content Library is a superb form of digital textbook for the pupils. Here is an index list of the sections I have included so far, and an example of the page with useful websites.
I can include texts with exercises
I can easily paste the link to an assignment in Teams or just post it to one of the channels.
Another section in the Content Library for A level is the film we study at AS. You can see the pages I have added already in Column 2.
Here is the oral section in the Content Library, again the second column shows the different pages I have added to help the pupils work independently.
Finally, here is my Teacher Only section with the planner, SEN, Admin and Topics section, which I use in the same way as the Year 9 one detailed above. The Planner section has a planner page per week as well as the schemes of work and scheme of assessment for quick reference.
I genuinely cannot recommend using OneNote as a planner enough. It has made teaching so much easier, particularly this year as we hotdesk from classroom to classroom. Let me know if you decide to try it

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Retrieval roulette for GCSE Spanish

I read Adam Boxer's blogpost about Retrieval Roulette with great interest and downloaded his template. A quick appeal on our NI languages Facebook group and a lovely friend had emailed the CCEA GCSE Spanish vocabulary list through in Excel. It didn't take long to copy it across and then categorise each topic. There are notes in the second tab to explain how to set your parameters according to the vocab you want to revise in the list. Therefore you can tailor the quizzes each time you use it. I'm looking forward to using this in class to help with retrieval practice and also for the pupils to use themselves at home. Download the CCEA GCSE Spanish Retrieval Roulette here

Monday, 26 October 2020

Adding a class notebook page to an assignment in MS Teams

I am a massive fan of MS Teams. This year I have started to use the integrated class notebook more with my classes. It makes it much easier to mark using digital inking and means the pupils have their work assembled in one place online. There are, I am sure, many different ways to approach this but here's what I do if I have a particular page I want all pupils to complete as part of an assignment: 1)Add a page to your Teacher only section or to the Content Library in the class notebook. The Teacher Only section is private from the pupils whereas the Content Library is a read-only section for them. I think of this as a digital textbook.
2) Go to the MS Team for that class and click on the Assignments tab then click on Create (bottom left) or the + sign (top right) depending on the device you are using. Then select 'Add resources'
3) Select Class notebook and choose the page you added in step 1) then click 'Attach'
4) Choose the student section where you wish this assignment to go and click 'done'
It's as easy as that. When the pupils have submitted the work, you go in through the assignment and click through each pupil's name, clicking on the MS OneNote link each time.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Digital inking in class notebook

Year 11 did a writing activity and as I am trying to minimise the amount of pupil work I touch, they uploaded it to the assignment I had created on Teams, with a page inserted from their own area of their class notebook. The two options at that stage are either to go in through the assignment in Teams or to open the page in OneNote. You can enlarge the photo, crop it, etc.. I went to the Draw tab and selected either text mode or the pen to annotate their work and add comments. I then went back to the Assignments on Teams and added general feedback plus their overall score before returning their work.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Teams and MeetNow in the age of coronavirus

Two Year 13 pupils had messaged to say that they wouldn't be in class today for our triple period on the Spanish film. I asked them if they wanted to join us via MeetNow on Teams and they agreed to. We had a few hitches. The Meet button is on the browser but I couldn't see it on the Teams app on my iPad or my phone. A quick query in the always useful c2k Getting to know Teams post primary group and the brilliant Donna Vaughan from c2k pointed me in the right direction as you need to go to your calendar within Teams and start a new event. This allows you to give it a title and put it in the right channel.
The two pupils joined using the link on Teams and I then told them to turn off their cameras and their mics, unless they wanted to say or ask something, and we proceeded with the lesson. It was useful as this is a hard topic to catch up on if you miss it. The downside was that they couldn't hear their peers as easily as me, given that I was beside the iPad and they were socially distanced from me in the classroom. However, all in all, it was a worthwhile first go and definitely worth it from a learning perspective.