Saturday, 11 October 2014

Self reflection board

Thanks as usual to Twitter, I have found some cool ideas I have merged into one. 

Each envelope has a different evaluation of learning tool in it eg call my bluff, tweet for help, text what you have learnt, gimme 5 (new words etc) for kids to lift out and stick into books as they choose to reflect on learning. The silver board is called el espejo de reflejo (the mirror of reflection) of what to stop doing, do more of and do less of, either for me or talking about themselves. You can get the resources for the small envelopes here

Friday, 26 September 2014


Calling all teachers! Have you discovered Pinterest yet? I have in the last few months and it is an incredible source of resources. I am primarily using it for starters in my lessons. This year, I am displaying a lesson-specific cartoon or saying on the board as the pupils come into the room and they discuss the meaning with their partner or table before we come together to check comprehension. 
Here are some of my favourites: 
A generic one. (3 depressing facts. Today isn't Friday. Tomorrow isn't Friday. Even the day after tomorrow isn't Friday) 

Form 3 are doing parts of the body (I've got your nose) 

Form 2 and Form 5 are doing the topic of education (When your teacher separates you from your best friend in class) 

Yes, you could probably find most of these using a search engine but the excellent thing about Pinterest is its ability to store these pins for you. 


I saw a tweet a while ago on Twitter about Plickers and made a note to myself to check it out. As Upper 6 ploughed their way through a timed essay today, I decided to have a look. The tag line on their website is "Plickers is a powerfully simple tool that lets teachers collect real-time formative assessment data without the need for student devices"  It uses funny wee cards and one smartphone and it's genius. Here's my idiot's guide...
1) go to the website
2) sign up for an account
3) select classes tab and click on Add new class then type pupil names in. This was slightly tiresome as I have all class lists electronically but couldn't see a way to import them. Nor could I see a way to fix a typo and ended up deleting a class (twice!) and starting again. 
  NB message just arrived in email 
"You can edit a student by viewing your roster for that particular class from the Classes tab on the website. Then, you can hover over the student's name to see the dropdown menu arrow, and you'll have options there, including one to "Edit student." "
4) print off the cards from the website and ensure the pupils know which card is theirs, according to the number on the website class list. I went to the photocopier room after school and have copied enough to let the pupils have their own to glue into their books. I figure this will save time and make it much more immediate than giving the cards out every time, sorting the numbers etc.. 
5) select library tab and type in a question plus 4 options for answers. Then add it to a class. Today I did a question in Spanish for U6 on how happy they were with their essay and one for Form 2 on their favourite subject. 
6) crucially, download the Plickers app! I forgot I had done this and a tech-savvy U6 and I struggled round the website trying to work out how to use it. Whoops! 
7) open the app and log in with the same user details as the website. 
8) select a class and then select the question you want to ask them. 
9) click on the camera icon at the bottom of the screen. 
10) get the pupils to hold their card up with the side labelled A, B, C or D at the top according to what they think 
11) slowly scan the room and the app registers the pupil responses, with a bar chart displayed in the top right corner as it constantly updates the responses. Genius! 
Of course, with Apple TV on, the pupils found it hilarious to be on the big screen but all in all it went well and I think it has enormous potential. 

Reflections of an iPad classroom 26/9/14

Oh blog, it's been a while. Apologies but I'm sure I'm just like the rest of you, hitting the ground running after the summer. 

So the iPads are still with me for the foreseeable future and the HODs and SMT in school have all got one each too. It's been weird for me trying to think about how to use one iPad in a classroom when I'm used to at least one between two, one each at A level. There are certain apps which lend themselves to it of course, from the fabulous Explain Everything to my two of my favourites for starters,  Decide Now and Make Dice Lite. 

I have been using Explain Everything in three main ways. Firstly, I have made some videos, using old PPTs and recording audio with them, as a way to flip the classroom. The videos are uploaded to Edmodo and the pupils can access them there in advance of the lesson, which frees up the lesson time to consolidate learning. Secondly, I have marked pupil work which they uploaded to Edmodo, talking through mistakes as I circled them using the pen tool and then I uploaded the video back onto Edmodo for them to watch and correct their work. Lastly, I have taken pictures of pupils' work in class as we have worked through translation work. It is easier for them to see corrections if they can see the base model on the screen and we talk through the different options they have too. I am finding that they are contributing more than they would otherwise. 

With the set of 17 iPads, we have been using Quizlet in bursts within the lesson to consolidate vocabulary acquisition. The pupils love it and feel it has really helped them learn the vocab. I set up a departmental account that they all log in to, which means that the tailored vocabulary is there waiting for them. Interestingly, we find the website better than the app, if you choose to use it. 

Finally, today I used Plickers for the first time. I had read about it on Twitter but hadn't done anything with it yet. It's a way of using one iPad in the classroom to assess pupil understanding and record answers. I'll do a separate blogpost on it soon. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Network for Languages Philip Campagna Differentiation

We were able to attend a series of talks/workshops run by Routes into Languages In our school last month. The first I went to was Differentiation by Philip Campagna. Here are my rough notes: 

Of the ways to differentiate, the easiest (although a bit of a cop out) is differentiation by outcome. 
Most teachers teach to the middle. 
Be careful with extension work, a lot of bright children don't like the idea that they're given harder work, they want to go deeper
If differential gets wider within a class, planning gets harder and harder. 
Target the individual pupil, give them autonomy.  

Is planning more about getting through topics or helping learners progress in their learning? 
The attitude of the learner is key. How do we get a learner to buy in? 

Look at language acquisition rather than rote learning with little comprehension. 
Writing is just copying at this stage. We want them to develop skills. 

David Crystal A little book of language
We should be like tennis coaches, break it down, exaggerate it. 

Differentiation by support, let them see the bigger picture, work the first two questions as examples. 
Teacher, pupils helping each other, classroom assistant. 
Language ambassadors/leaders. Get them to talk to younger pupils re what it was like to go through GCSEs. 
Audit rest of staff to see if they have any languages. 

Differentiation by text / resources. 
Need to build in challenge even for lower ability  pupils. 

Differentiation by task. Eg do similar task where weaker ones interview 6th Years, as they find writing difficult.  

Differentiation by interest: what are they interested in? 
Do they want to go off skiing etc? Interview them re interests eg future plans and teach them that vocab 

Teachers dislike identifying less able pupils but kids know. 
Use 'at least' as this gives even weakest chance of success. (At least 2 better than at least 5) 
Replace at least 5 words in the text with synonyms

Use same photo for different activities with different year groups. 
Form 1 as self. 
Forms 2-3 as third person. 
A level conditional
Differentiation by support. Give less able pupils key words or ask them what words they would want to say. 

Improvise as many sentences as you can which contain the word X (eg Tigre) Go table by table for feedback on possible sentences. 


Differentiation by support: 

Explain to your partner how you did something,  figured something out. 
We don't give them iPhone classes but they work it out because they want to.
Ask kids how we could use the technology.  

Ability groups or mixed ability groups acc to fitness for purpose. 
Try boy/girl seating plan for some activities. Watch the boy dynamics. 

Work in groups to reconstruct the text. 

Network for Languages Philip Campagna Group Talk

The second session at the Network for Languages event was led by Philip Campagna on Group Talk. Brain child of Greg Horton, we have been playing around with the idea of Group Talk for a while now so I was keen to hear what Philip had to say. Here are my notes: 

Developing independent learners 
Barriers to effective speaking: 
How do I monitor it? As opposed to other skills where I collect the answers in. 
Nature of the tasks - often mundane, transactional and predictable. Non-engaging stimuli. 
Often confined to pair work, lack of collaborative group work. 
Poor pronunciation due to lack of coverage of basic phonics. 

Talking cards round the room, pupils went round, pressed the button and answered the question. Made them think on their feet. This is something I could do with the iPads. 

a e i o u   Do a point and repeat exercise 
Do a chopping sign for acute / accent 
Give them mini flashcards with the sounds oi, ui etc and one person in group holds up the sound card as the teacher calls the sound. 
Phonic trains - join in as lead pupil in each train moves round class making the noise of their card. 

Sheets with image groups eg trois, poisson, oiseau etc. 

Restricted meaningful use of TL impacts negatively. Make it meaningful and purposeful. 

Peer pressure, not cool to speak out in class

3 names on slide, ¿cuántos años tienen? 
Opinions, speculative language . Give them this language. 

Rules of engagement 
Stage 1 
Groups of 5, first turns card over, says something and turns it back over. Next person does the same. No comment from others in group. 

Stage 2 
Give opinion (positive or negative) 

Stage 3 
Add adjectives, or justifying statements, 

Stage 4 
Others respond to the statement with agreement or disagreement 

Turn photos face up. First person says something. Only one person at a time, if two speak at once then one backs off. Tell them to have three responses to their comment in the group then move on to next photo. 

Give me one phrase from each table that you would have liked to have had 

Do the Group Talk sheet as a levelled framework 

Develop speaking activities which move away from role play activities 

Talk to the pupils about what they want to study eg past tense? 

Step away and don't comment when they are talking. 

Note to self: Bring photos back in at start of lesson as a starter, use the Guardian Eye Witness app

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Roca, papel, tijeras, evolución

So thanks once again to the wonderful MFL Resources Yahoo group where Rachel Hawkes caught my interest posting about Chris Fullers' game Rock, Paper, Scissors, Evolution. I have played it with 6 different classes in the past two days and they all loved it. 

Pupils circulate round the room, exchanging a selected piece of information eg favourite hobby, food, etc. Once they have exchanged information, they play Roca Papel Tijeras. Here's where the evolution comes in.. They start as an egg, holding their hands clasped above their head. Whoever wins rock paper scissors in each pair 'evolves' into a chick, then into a bird, an elephant (don't ask!) and finally the ultimate winner is the first to become a superhero. The key is that eggs can only talk to eggs, chicks to chicks, etc.. 
It sounds more complicated than it is, it only takes a few minutes so it's a great starter and kids of all ages loved it #win