Wednesday 24 February 2010


In a never-ending quest to help my pupils learn their answers to the conversation exam, I have trialled speed dating, whereby half the pupils remain at their desk as questioners, and the other half rotate round the room, answering questions for the duration of a minute, before moving on to their next 'date'. Halfway through the lesson, questioners become answerers, and vice versa.

Pupils had previously been filling in a feedback sheet with all interviewees listed, but after a clever suggestion from one of my Upper Sixth on Monday, today pupils carried their own notebook around with them, and each person questioning them filled it in at the end of the round. They are given a tally of how many questions they were asked, as well as a comment and a score out of 10. I find the pupils are excellent at giving feedback, generous in their praise and constructive in their criticism. We discuss what we should look for: a low tally (as this shows excellent expansion) as well as tenses, opinions, fabby phrases and connectors. I always make time for a quick feedback session at the end of the lesson, where they shout out names for each of the questions I ask e.g. 'Who was good at giving opinions?' The value of the notebook is that pupils now have a record of peer evaluation, as well as hopefully seeing progress over the coming weeks and months.

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Reflecting on sharing

On Monday, I shared my ideas for using ICT in the MFL classroom with a group of PGCE students. On the same day, Ken Royal, a senior editor with Scholastic Professional Media, wrote a post about "Twitter, Twitter ICT Stars" I was extremely flattered, if somewhat gobsmacked, to be included in Ken's list of 5. I follow so many people on Twitter whom I consider to be so much more proficient than me. During the past week, José Picardo also published the collection of blogposts written by my fellow MFL Twitterati (as coined by @simonhowell) at http:// These are colleagues that now form part of my PLN (Personal Learnign Network) and upon whom I now rely at least as much as my own beloved department in school; they are a constant source of support, advice and humour when needed.

Events like those of the past week let me appreciate just how much I have come on since the summer of 2008. The A-Z presentation was fairly easy to produce, as most of it is software I have used either to teach the pupils, or for them to work creatively in Spanish. I was confortable presenting the ideas to the PGCE students, firstly because I use them regularly and secondly because I totally see their value in my own teaching and the pupils' learning. The same for the Box of Tricks blogpost, as Edmodo is a valuable tool in my day-to-day teaching.

I blog this not to blow my own trumpet, but to say that if I have progressed this far over the course of the past 18 months, then it is within the grasp of any enthusiatic teacher. There are so many advantages to harnessing the free technology that is out there, and it is easily accessed through the power of your PLN.

Sunday 21 February 2010

A-Z of ICT in Modern Languages

I have the honour of presenting to the Modern Language PGCE students tomorrow at Queen's University in Belfast. I spoke to the same group last term about the use of games in the modern language classroom, so this time I thought I would go a little more high tech, stealing Alex Blagona's theme from the London Languages Show, and do an A-Z presentation of ICT in the ML classroom.

I have uploaded the presentation to Slideshare