Wednesday 26 October 2011

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William A. Ward

The title of this blogpost is a small nod of recognition once again to the wonderfully generous spirit that is Rachel Hawkes Today Form 4 and I had a brilliant lesson and the resources were all directly adapted from Rachel's many powerpoints available on her website.

We started with the "What's the question?" slide, after going through all the Spanish question words. This is an area which I think we often neglect as language teachers, focusing instead on the answers. It makes sense to ensure that pupils not only are familiar with question words but are comfortable using them.

This game is so simple yet brilliant for learning vocabulary. Pupils work in pairs, each with a sheet. They choose their options secretly then take it in turns to try to guess the options their partner has chosen. If they guess right, they continue. IF they get it wrong, play passes to their partner, and they must start at the beginning again.

As suggested by Rachel, pupils used post-its to write down as much vocabulary as possible on the chosen topic for 2 minutes and then swapped with a partner to see if they could add any in a different colour. They then had 1 minute to memorise as many words as possible from their list before sticking the post-it to the back of their chair and taking 1 minute to write down as much vocabulary as possible. This was a brilliant way of showing pupils how much they knew as well as working on developing memory skills.

We used this slide to ask questions in advance of viewing the next slide with the photo, again useful if only to get pupils comfortable asking questions in Spanish.

We finished with this slide, where pupils again worked in pairs, one speaking and the other listening. This activity is called 'Spend the words' with the idea that the speaker is focused on raising the level of Spanish spoken, as pupils hand over the words/phrases as they use them, ideally ending with none left.
This was a brilliant lesson, with lots of spontaneous Spanish being spoken, and a real buzz of enthusiasm for the tasks. And the best thing is, there's plenty left...


I know that there is a danger of me sounding like a sponsor, but since @bellaale talked about Triptico at the Show and Tell event at Cramlington Learning Village in September, I have been using it a lot in class, and thought I would share some of the ideas I have used.

The tiresome bit is typing up the class names, but once this is done, you can save the lists to load time and again.
Self-explanatory and worth its weight in gold in terms of focusing the class. This week, if working in groups, I have told them to appoint a time monitor to keep half an eye on the timer
Pupils love the novelty of the sound and visual aspect of this tool which allows you to choose the number of groups and also to remove any pupils who are absent from the list
This is a simple yet effective tool which adds a whole new level of competitiveness to group work
I use this for many different things
- when a group wins a task, they spin to see how many ballot tickets they have won, for the prize draw at Christmas
- I put irregular verbs on the spinner, and the pupils then had to write the 6 parts of the verb out on the mini whiteboards
- Put 6 different topics for AS Spanish and they talk for 1 minute on the topic, optionally recording themselves on the digital voice recorders
- For A2 literature, the six main characters are on the spinner, and pupils will talk to their partner for 1 minute about the selected character
I used this to great effect with both Form 3 and Upper 6 this week. Use the group selector to sort the class into groups, then open the Random Task Generator with tasks you have typed up before the lesson, setting how many groups you want. Once each group has finished one task, they come up and click the board to see what the next task is. All classes were totally focused and worked with energy and independently for the whole lesson.
Pupils had to select the ten irregular verbs, from a total of 15, similar to the TV programme Total Wipeout
Like 'Deal or no deal', this will appeal to the pupils although it does take a little more time to prepare
This is just a selection of the tools available, and doubtless you can think of many many other ways to use them. If so, please share.

Tuesday 11 October 2011


Those who know me know just how important Twitter is in my teaching life. The MFL Twitterati are always on hand to share advice and resources, and last night was no exception.
This year, our department is trying to use more 'real' resources and trying to encourage higher order thinking and more active learning. We all, pupils and staff alike, are enjoying it immensely but the preparation required is intense. I tweeted to ask if anyone had any kind of 'thinking skills' activity for KS4 jobs and @zaragozalass kindly obliged with an activity she had made using the maths software Formulator Tarsia
We started the lesson by recalling as many jobs as possible in Spanish. I then split the class into groups of 3 or 4 and gave them the sheets and scissors. They merrily cut the mini triangles out before settling quickly to the task at hand ie building a large triangle where touching sides linked information eg 'I like science and animals' linked to 'I want to be a vet'
I was amazed with how engaged the pupils were with this task, and how focused they remained, even when other groups had finished. This is definitely one idea I will be repeating.
NB you can download Marie's worksheets here entitled 'El mundo de trabajo'triangle puzzle.

Sunday 9 October 2011


Thought I'd do a very quick blogpost just to share some recent websites wih you: This section of the website has lots of videos of Spanish people living in different parts of the world This site is bright and eyecatching to look at and has some very impressive resources to download This site has over 20 interactive tools which are quick and easy to use This is an excellent blog, and this article is of particular interest to those who heard Chris Harte speak at Language World