Monday 3 June 2013


This weekend saw the arrival of the much anticipated MFL Show and Tell organised by the fabulous Suzi Bewell, @suzibewell on Twitter. I flew over for the weekend as I knew it would be more than worth it and I wasn't disappointed. Firstly tho, I was put to work by Suzi, packing bags for the delegates on the Friday night. The buzz of #mflsaty on Twitter started to increase around the same time..

 Saturday brought the excited arrival of lots of old friends from the #mfltwitterati (with some notable absences whom we missed deeply) as well as meeting people I had only tweeted before, and some totally new friends. Bob Harrison @bobharrisonset kicked off proceedings with a starter addressing the theme of preparing schools for the learners of today and tomorrow, posing the question to us "How do we get from where we are now to where we will end?" He talked about the dangers of technology for teaching,not technology for learning, which is a trap all teachers and schools need to aware of. He also asked the audience to role play explaining to a child what a disposable camera is. These questions and scenarios were all designed to make us change our mindset. Schools will be totally different by time our kids leave school yet we are building schools of the past for children of the future. Bob finished all with a quiz of 30 questions each worth 10 points. I was quite proud to score 230; the quiz was a bit of fun with serious point. Our children are immersed in a world of digital technology and we need to ensure that our teaching and their learning reflects that. 

 After the starter, Suzi used a cool little app called Tap roulette to randomly select the speakers. First up was Tom Allison aka @TAllisonMFL, talking about You can create the class lists on Excel and import them into Kidblog. It is a secure environment and all in the class can see and comment on each other's posts. Tom uses it with his tutor group, giving them 5 stamps in tutor time for posting a comment on articles eg An article on a globetrottting Briton leading on to What are your ambitions? 

Second came Marie O'Sullivan who is @reesiepie on Twitter. She talked about adapting familiar tunes using sites like to access tunes. Select the Karaoke version, then choose your level for gap fill activities. AlexTV is very like my favourite Spanish band of the moment, Kevin Karla and La Banda, all of them taking very popular English songs and doing their own version in the target language. Marie finished her talk with references to Greg Horton's talk at Language World. You can find out more on her blog BLOG 

 Next was the very brave Martin Wheeley who is only starting his PGCE with Suzi this September. @martinwheeley on Twitter, he talked about Christmas in Catalonia with the Caganer (The Pooing Man) representing fertility and luck for the new year, as well as Caga tío (The Pooing Log) Martin's point was that by talking to pupils about tales like this, you can capture their interest as well as increasing their cultural understanding. And kudos to Martin for speaking to a room full of teachers and trainee teachers too. 

 David McDermott, @davidmcdermott2 on Twitter, talked to the group about using Learning mats in the classroom. He asked the question "When kids get distracted by the games, how do we get the learning in?" Learning walls are great at primary, but how can we use them at Secondary with so many different classes? David showed the English learning mats to scaffold talking and expressing selves and how they help implement the Group Talk initiative. There is a need to reintroduce joy into MFL and to move away from the obsession with levels. Spontaneous speech will do that. David recommended going to the TES site and searching for "mat" I particularly liked the one where the 5 min lesson plan has been adapted, so that pupils annotate as they go through the lesson. Where Ofsted are looking for the journey of the series of lessons , learning mats tie this in. 

 Will Strange went next with Group Talk Poker, a simple yet excellent idea where pupils have to talk about topics and there is a chest in the middle where they collect the coins from if they win. 

 After Will came the always-wonderful Isabelle Jones, who needs no introduction as @icpjones. Isabelle talked about jazzing up revision at GCSE. A key concept is obviously effective time management - the pupil should be relaxed but not too relaxed! Isabelle suggests mixing and matching strategies including past papers, core vocab booklets, false friends, prefixes, make your own words, songs (songs and grammar in songs), videos (where you give them a taster and they look at it at home ) and using jokes. As always, there was plenty of food for thought. 

 Lisa Gibbs @lisamgibbs was up next talking about changing their Year 7 SOW to use the video "Kirikou et la sorcière" Given the mixed previous learning of their pupils, they start in September, looking at cultural background etc They do a quiz on the film, intros as characters, T/F activities, sort vocab,create mind maps, storyboards and learning mats. Extended learning includes HW and independent research. Their summer work is on Henri Rousseau (artist whose work inspired some of the images in the film) 

 The legendary Mary Cooch (@moodlefairy)talked about adapting Vincent Everett's Google Street View activity which sent pupils on a treasure hunt round Paris.Street Mary put it on Moodle and automated the google street view mystery. Pupils follow the street views, click on tick boxes, unlock listenings, answer questions and get their score then transcript appears. In terms of piecing it together, they need to go back and re-interview one revealed person. If you go to, the mystery is there. Check also 

To make me feel old but also very proud, past pupil Ricky Gibson came up to talk about his blog and using Google. He makes a Google quiz on Google forms then embeds it into his blog. There are loads of different question forms to use and you can get script gallery flubaroo to mark the test for you. Another option is to use Conditional formatting to highlight a column, use the "answer contains" box to type in the right answer and wrong answers. This is something I am keen to use quite soon in my class. 

  Clare Seccombe, the fab @valleseco on Twitter and the brains behind MFL Sunderland, talked about categorising vocabulary for example, using Venn Diagrams with topics such as Alcohol, drugs, smoking. She also introduced me to the idea of Tesoro o basura? whereby pupils get laminated sheets in pairs with a treasure chest and a bin on it and a load of words from different categories inc phonics. Pupils should decide whether the vocabulary, literature concept, etc is relevant to the title or topic selected. As someone famous once said "One man's trash is another man's treasure" 

 Next came Claire Hampson @mrshampson who was speaking for the first time (not that you'd know it, she was as calm as a cucumber!)Claire did an active presentation on singing. Alluding to unpacking a packet of seeds, Claire pointed out that you can't just put a packet of seeds in the ground. Similarly, you can't just put a verb into a sentence. Verbs are like flowers - stem, petals of parts. To help her pupils learn grammar, Claire loves writing a song using backing tracks from a website eg on Claire suggest recording it and showing it to the world. Use Audioboo and upload it to the web. Claire then gives them a QR code to stick in their books. To demonstrate, Claire got us singing IR verb endings to Abba's Money Money Money tune. You can find out more here 

 Dominic McGladdery @dom_mcgladdery asked us why use the iPad? Would paper be just as good? If so, why use it? It makes you stop and think about the learning behind the teaching, a point which dovetailed very nicely with Bob's opening speech. 

 Alicia McKenna @aliciamckenna gave an energetic and stimulating talk on making the learning visible for our pupils. She uses the Tarsia discussion wheel as follows: Step 1 arrow on table, start and end time of class at each end. Vocab sheet and task sheet, write the words they know on their arrow and write new words on arrow as progress Groups finish at different times, go back to vocab sheet and arrow, play games. Eg memory games, mini whiteboards, etc. exploiting the resources, use the wheel as dominoes, follow me cards, make a human wheel Teacher calls out the item of vocabulary, give the card as a prize, the team with the most wins. After every task, update the sheet and the arrow Step 5 Identify vocab in text, use vocab in sentences, paragraph with X words from the text, engage in a learning conversation - what have you learned? How did you learn it? Who taught you this vocab? Differentiation: task sheet, personal targets, 2 sided sheet with easier ones on the first side, mixed ability groups, job roles, sense of achievement Stretching the most able: Bogus cards, blank cards, vocab sheets with gaps, give the the Eng vocab only Next lessons - timer, word chain. Peer /self assessment. Identify vocab in a text. Jenga This talk was fab and I am off to make an arrow template for my pupils' books! 

 John Bidder from Blippit ended the day talking about his app creator Blippit. Much promoted by Jen Turner @msmfl, this holds a lot of interest for me. Blippit will have its own App Store soon. In terms of practicalites, John assured us it was just a matter of: Create new app Give it a title Enter contact email Save and close Drag and drop the writer widget Save and close Choose theme from selection Publish app! This then comes to the school administrator who approves it before it goes live. These ideas made it worth the cost of the flight alone, but add in the networking, bonding, laughter and general craic and you can understand why I flew in from Belfast for the weekend. Long live the #mfltwitterati!

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