Thursday 15 January 2009

Self help guides

After a mixed bag of results in the Christmas exams, my first year Spanish class and I sat down to look at where some of them went wrong, and how they could learn from their mistakes. They ended up making some excellent contributions and we compiled a series of advice sheets which 3 pupils then typed up and we posted them to our wiki,
I enjoyed the input from the pupils, and the fact that they were so keen to learn from their mistakes and improve. What started as a sponatneous feedback of the exam papers, ended up as a very worthwhile exercise and a perfect example of the Revised Curriculum in action!

Sunday 11 January 2009


Blogging about Adam Sutcliffe made me think back to Bob Sprankle who first introduced me to the idea of doing my own podcasts in the summer, with his website Bob has a lot of practical advice to give, and I have summarised it below:
• Podcast = living portfolio, archived, shows growth over time, available 24
• VERY Revised Curriculum with peer evaluation, group work and it's real life!
• Subscribe to podcasts you like through itunes rather than the sound file on a website
• Use the microphone on your laptop or mobile - you don't need fancy equipment.
• Use a blog to leave comments and engage your pupils.
• Set questions, which the pupils answer through the podcast
• Communication to parents
• Pupils become Global citizens/learners
• Constantly reflecting with larger community
• Self-directed learners
• Ask questions e.g. “How are you self-directed learners when you podcast?”
Reflecting on learning
• Who should be working hardest in your classroom? Reward students who really own the work/outcomes. Democratise your classroom - give power to the pupils!


I have been toying with the idea of podcasting for a while but as yet had not done anything. Then came the push I needed through the MFL Resources forum, with a post by the fabulous Adam Sutcliffe. He has created a series of videos on podcasting for the Learning and Teaching Scotland site For those of you who are unfamiliar with this site, it is an excellent site full of great ideas for enriching the curriculum and your teaching.
Adam's videos talk about the reasons behind podcasting, as well as giving specific advice and practical help.
The most helpful section for me was the video on ideas and practical examples for podcasting. Here they are listed below:
Vocabulary lists
Verb drills
Pronunciation practice
Grammar explanations , whereby you get pupils to produce explanations of the grammar point in their own words
Songs & poems created by the pupils
Exam practice – record model questions (& answers) or even an actual exam
Guided tour – use a site for text to speech such as for pupil scripts
Radio show on a topic pupils are studying e.g. Leisure
Conversations with/by FLA
School news in the target language
Cross-curricular collaboration

With the suggestions made in "Podcasting 3 - Ideas and examples" I now have the inspiration I needed, so off to Audacity I go. I will keep you updated with mine and pupils' creations.

Friday 2 January 2009



David's talk included how you should consider the following when you have a blog:
• Leadership
• Audience
• Podcasts
• Learning
• Blogrules – what pupils are expected to do
• Web 2.Oh yeah – students sharing ideas and thoughts with the teacher coming in. Bear in mind that the teacher intervening in a dialogue can sometimes stop conversation, but that they should be there to ask a question in order to steer the dialogue in the right direction, or to intervene if necessary

What did David learn in the first year or so of having his blog? He made the blog a private and sheltered environment. He created Wikispaces –, where the kids like to see cluster maps of visitors from around the world.

If we consider Bloom’s taxonomy, whereby
Higher order 6 Create
5 Evaluate
4 Analyse
3 Apply
2 Understand
Lower order 1 Remember
then using a blog and a wiki are excelllent tools for creation and experiment by the pupils.

Other ideas to arise out of David's excellent talk included:
• One pupil’s idea may trigger someone else’s e.g. blogging about science experiments
• Eduspaces – forum for social networking for teachers
• TakingITGlobal – online community for youth to get involved in local and global community
• Encourage contributors – check profile. Allow them to do assignment on paper if they want

Why blog? It is where we do most of our learning, connect with other educators, challenge ourselves to improve and link with other people

It is BLC 08 and in particular these 2 talks by Ewan McIntosh and David Truss, that I credit with the creation of this blog and my Spanish wiki
Here's to connecting with others and pushing ourselves further in 2009!


It was my privilege to attend the Building Learning Communities 08 conference in Boston this past summer. My New Year's Resolution (amongst others) is to blog about my experiences there. I start with the first keynote address to the whole conference..

Ewan's blog can be found at His talk included references to Twitter,, Flickr and Facebook, of which the only one I had experience was the latter.

Why should we use web 2.0 tools? Ewan stated that in the UK, kids spend 60 mins/week in school on computers, and 400 mins/week at home on their computer. When a pupil takes more pride in setting up their Bebo page than in doing their coursework, we need to take a look at how we are teaching these pupils. What we do with technology is key in the classroom. Of course, we can try to move forward, for example by setting up a school blog. The problem with setting up a blog in school is that their Bebo page more important to them. It causes them no stress, there are no deadlines, and they are publishing to and interacting with a large group of friends. We also need to look at the use of mobile phones in the classroom as the way forward for the future.

What did I take away from Ewan's talk? We need to have a “shared awareness” i.e. seeing things the same way as our pupils. Use the interests, knowledge and skills that they have to engage them and advance learning.