Friday 30 September 2011


Alex (finally) decided to talk to us about a trio of tool He started with ClassDojo for rewarding pupils in real time, which he feels has increased engagement dramatically. Teachers create a class, with each pupil getting an individual avatar. There are awards for participation,creativity etc. The sanctions not really used as the positive are so good. You can also edit the positive and negative rewards. There is an end of class button for collective performance, with the possibility of a % performance download as pdf, and send to the form teacher, parents etc. There are Apps forms for Apple and Android phones. Alex suggests you make it a peer assessment tool as the next step.

The next tool, Lingro, turns any webpage into clickable dictionary resource. You simply paste the link into the box, choose thelanguage, then you go to the website and hover on the word.
Finally Triptico is a suite of tools for use in the language classroom eg word magnets, class timer, random group creator – you put the names in, it creates the groups, with scoreboards showing the results of up to 4 teams . Another option is answer boards, whereby pupils guess the question.

This was a brilliant session and the perfect way to end the perfect day.

#MFLSAT RENÉ KOGLBAUER Social Networks in MFL teaching

René talked to us about the use of social networks such as Facebook with pupils in the language classroom. The aim of the project was to improve boys’ writing. Initially email was used to exchange work and to create a dialogue for AfL.German Groups were then set up and used for feedback by staff and students on texts. Unfortunately Facebook was banned in school and the project had to end. It will be interesting to see how schools and education authorities approach the issue of social networking in the forthcoming months and years.

#MFLSAT ISABELLE JONES BY SKYPE Creative Partnerships with Art and Music

Unfortunately Isabelle was unable to join us in person but she was still keen to participate and joined us via Skype. She talked to us about a project she had done to enthuse and engage boys in her class who were anti-French. They brought a graffiti artist in to help the pupils create a 3 panel mural. In terms of the music, they worked on cognates, for the rap. Isabelle played us a snippet of a rap the pupils produced, which was very impressive.
Isabelle said that this project was great for raising the profile of French in collaboration with other departments. She pointed out that there could be other departments who want to collaborate, and we just don’t know it yet.

#MFLSAT SUZI BEWELL Speaking for homework in MFL using

Suzie Bewell talked about focusing on oral skills using Vocaroo offers the possibilty of creating audio recordings without having to log on or install software on your computer. Once the pupil has recorded, they should select the 'Send to my friend' option to email their teacher,then the teacher clicks on the link to go to the website. At this stage, the teacher can save it as a wav file (option at the bottom of the page)
Suzie also highlighted the site to record video in a similar way.
With such time pressure in the language classroom, anything which allows the pupils to record themselves speaking has to be a bonus, and something I look forward to trialling in the coming months.

#MFLSAT JOE DALE Exploring the educational potential of QR codes

Joe talked about using QR codes for language teaching. He started with a definition of QR codes, which can be scanned with a mobile device to get a link to an URL, video, audio files, texts or google forms, amongst others Joe suggested that Google form can be used as a form of questionnaire.
In order to use QR codes, first of all you need a QR code maker such as Sparqcode. The excellent Russel Tarr has created a QR treasure hunt generator, where the website creates the code immediately
Once you have created your QR codes, pupils will need a QR code reader such as i-nigma

In terms of other uses, Joe directed us to Dr Sarah Elaine Eaton who has written a blogpost with accompanying manual and webinar training on "How to Use Google Forms: A Step-b-Step Guide" Also, Kath Holton has used QR codes successfully with her pupils to play Zondle games. Some teachers have used a QR poster to display the results of favourite websites, others have used QR codes for marking homeworks, where kids write the homework and get it marked and then it is uploaded to blog. At this stage, the QR code of the blogpost stuck into the exercise book.

It remains to be seen whether QR codes are a flash in the pan, or the way forward in education. I personally am excited at the potential but schools will need to reevaluate their internet and phone use policies if we are to use them to their full potential.


Alex’s talk was inspired by teaching a somewhat unmotivated class. He decided to get them to ask themselves “What do I need to do to get better at French?” He took the brave step of asking the pupils to judge him at the end of each lesson, in terms of what they thought. He asked them to not be personal, but to look at the teaching and learning that had taken place. They did this by completing the sentence “I thought this lesson was... “at the back of their exercise book. How was this beneficial? Well as Alex explained, he was establishing a dialogue with the pupils by writing a comment back. In this way, he personalises the kids’ experiences of lessons, actively engaging them with their own learning. It is important to give them feedback vocabulary and ideas to a certain extent at the start to guide them, rather than just saying ‘it was funny’ etc
Doing this ensures that you can differentiate lessons according to the understanding that has taken place. You can give better feedback to parents at interviews and the pupils have more ownership of their own learning. This obviously adds value to their work. This was a really enjoyable talk, and one which I think I will adopt as we review the teaching and learning within our department.


This much-anticipated slot was not a disappointment, as Dominic whizzed through a series of tools that can make our lives easier whilst enthusing the pupils.
• Wallwisher – superb for pupil voice as well as genuine language in action
• Fakebook on -a safe way of harnessing the ever-popular social media tool
• Twister Fake tweets on – an excellent resource, I could use this with younger pupils for many different topics including Daily Routine and Personalia, as well as with A level pupils whereby they take on the persona of a character from our literature text
• Random name generator / ppt - to choose names or questions in class
• Random letter sequence generator
• Wiki
• Blog
• This cleans up Youtube pages, taking links off etc. NB It only works with Chrome and Firefox
• Puppets – popular with pupils and a great way of encouraging the shyer pupils to participate
• MOM or POP – the Mug of Misery / Pot of Participation with lolly sticks to choose pupils


Terri talked about Blockbusters, and how she uses it in many different ways within the classroom. She uses it once she has introduced vocabulary, as well as to build language as pupils start to get more vocabulary and can add opinions and tenses, and was enthusiastic in her promotion of it as an excellent classroom tool.


Thomas works for the Language Resource Centre in Newcastle University and was keen to talk to us about the many resources available through the university. These include: Podcasting for language learning LOADS of videos on the site, all checked for content


Simon‘s talk was hilarious and informative – most unfair, given his own admittance of a lack of preparation, but brilliant to listen to. He started with a clip of Joey from Friends ‘speaking’ French to illustrate how what we say and what pupils hear are often two completely different things. Simon suggests that is an excellent way of getting around this, whereby pupils can record themselves and hear how they are pronouncing it. He uses the Audioboo app on his phone and immediately uploads recordings to the website.


Despite the title of her talk, Emma has made more than a few small changes to overthrow the curriculum in order to do interesting stuff. We were blown away by the variety of topics that her pupils cover in KS3, and the novel approach she has taken to some of the more traditional topics.
• Sat Nav navigation using PPT and Audacity to navigate from their house to school, rather than straightforward learning of directions
• Feedback sheet with sentence starters to help pupils articulate what they have learnt
• Cognates text (quite long)then extended writing
• Cluedo game whereby pupils keep guessing who committed the crime, with what and where, until they have the whole sentence correct
• UNICEF video derecho/reponsabilidad sentences
• What am I? Pupils create a series of sentences eg I have a long tail etc for others to guess who or what they are
• Questions before listening activity
Despite Emma’s protestations of extreme nervousness, this was a superb presentation which ties in closely to Rachel Hawkes’ ideas on teaching at KS3, and which we are trying to adopt ourselves in Grosvenor.

#MFL SAT CLAIRE SECCOMBE @valleseco Reading books in KS1 and KS2

Claire is a passionate advocate of primary languages, and this session was no different, looking at ways that you can read with primary pupils. Many of the ideas are adaptable for KS3 and above too, of course.
• Originals or translations from English
• Vamos a cazar un oso, La oruga muy hambrienta


Lynn talked to us about using Thinking Skills in the languages classroom. Examples included:
• Odd One Out – making connections between words and languages
• Am I fit? Categorise sentences for Fit/Not fit category
• Words scattered round 3 columns without headings, pupils group the words and then give categories their name
• Map from Memory – pupils build/draw the house according to the sentences
• De Bono’s hats – pupils categorise sentences as positive, negative, facts or creative
• Photo of a famous Spaniard – use facts/positive/negative/creative to describe
• Plenary – pupils draw round their hand, fill in fingers what learned in language, write the skills they have used on their palm
I am a big fan of Thinking Skills and whilst I had used some of what Lynn talked about, most of it was new, and an excellent way of getting pupils to extend their thinking and improve their learning.


I thoroughly enjoyed this presentation by Samantha, not least because it is so easily ready to be used in the classroom. She starts each lesson with the Pasar lista song, with one pupil then calling the roll and a second pupil timing them. You can then follow this up with the rest of the class:
• ¿Cuánto tiempo tardó? Creo que tardó 29 segundos
• ¿Cómo fue? Fue + adjetivos
• ¿Por qué? Fue interesante/aburrido
• ¿Quién no está? ¿Por qué? List of reasons
As Sam explained, this routine expands the pupils’ spontaneous language re opinions, whilst the benefit of routine means that they are comfortable with what is happening. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to look at other options such as the Forfeit routine, but we were left with great ideas for making the ordinary administration much more interesting and appealing to pupils.


This was an active start to the SAT, with Mark demonstrating how he uses music to lift the mood and engage pupils, as a warm-up at the start of the lesson. Mark told us that it is all about the breathing, so we should get the pupils to pull in their stomachs and open the throat. Singing engages the pupils quickly and gets their attention, as they listen to you and repeat what you say.
Mark recommended that we read “The Element How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything” by Ken Robinson. We must look at teaching a curriculum which enthuses the pupils, where they are motivated by creativity. The benefits of singing are that it builds a class community, giving pupils a sense of a shared identity and the obvious benefits of this are that pupils who are comfortable with each other are happy to participate and contribute orally to a language lesson.
Mark ended his slot with Singing Praises. He makes up gestures to accompany the words for heaping praise on pupils’ heads, eg magnífico etc and then the whole class does it adding the person’s name with gestures too. This is probably easier to demonstrate through video, so if we adopt it in class, as I intend to do, then I will post the video here.


So the long-awaited MFL Show and Tell in Cramlington Learning Village was upon us. I had said farewell to my long-suffering family the night before, arisen at 5am (yes, seriously) and arrived safely at the school thanks to @wizenedcrone.
The idea of a Show and Tell is that people sign up in advance to talk about any topic of interest to them, for a maximum of 10 minutes. This time, there was also a Genius Bar, whereby a series of people talked to smaller groups about topics such as Twitter, Dropbox, Storybird, and Solo Taxonomy. Chris Harte did a sterling job of organising the whole thing, helped by his lovely wife, and the whole day went seamlessly, from the scrumptious food (with thanks to the sponsors) to the talks and Genius Bar.
The talks can be seen here