December 31, 2014 – ¡Vámonos!
 

Day: December 31, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 20.35.03With 2015 just a few hours away, and having met a (running) goal I set myself in September this afternoon, I thought I’d set myself some goals for the coming year. Equally, I had in mind to contribute to/’join in’ with two initiatives designed to encourage those in education – #nurture1415 and #teacher5aday.

2014 has been a year of readjusting to life in England. There have been frustrations such as breaking my ankle in April just as I was fully recovered from having broken my foot six months previously, and a turbulent time at school for a variety of reasons. However, those frustrations have had positive outcomes too: for example, I did take it easy as instructed and learned that it really is possible for me to sit for longer than 10 minutes.

Workwise, I’ve established Spanish at a new school, taken back the reins of Spanish at another and continued to work as Lisibo Ltd, speaking in Southampton, London, York, Solihull, Nottingham and Stafford, writing articles for TES Connect, ALL, Primary Teacher Update and Rising Stars, and consulting on projects with Osiris, Rising Stars, the BBC and a new app that came out this week called Pacca Alpaca.

Personally, I’ve got back to running. Twice! I’ve enjoyed singing with worship group at church and loved being part of the Cabaret once more, even managing to sing a solo early this month. And I’ve enjoyed concerts with Jude and his trumpet.

So here are my thoughts on the coming year, using the 5 John Muir Framework hashtags.

#connect – I’m aiming to be more confident to share my ideas with other staff at school. I think some wonder what happens in my lessons, and others don’t really mind as long as they don’t have to teach their Spanish lessons! However, I find it easy to share what I do with people outside school, so why not with colleagues? I’m looking forward to (re)connecting with people at BETT, ILILC and Teachmeets with whom I tweet and connect virtually, and I’m also going to get a Birmingham Primary Languages Hub off the ground but not going to try and sort out the whole of the city as that’s not going to do my well being much good!

#exercise – I’m going to start enjoying running again. I haven’t stopped running and I do enjoy the adrenaline rush but the joy I felt running in Switzerland seems far away sometimes. Work gets in the way, I know, as I can’t just go for a run when I fancy, and I am more limited with less public rights of way through fields etc here. However, I’m going to make a conscious effort to go for quality not quantity: no attempt on 1000 miles this year (but if it happens, so that’d be nice!) And then to …

#notice – I’m also going to worry less about speed and enjoy the sights and sounds as I run. Well, not all the time as that would drive me mad, but I intend to ‘seize the moment’ and pause to appreciate the view, and also to run without my headphones and music more often.

#learn – In Switzerland I learned German and even got to speak it sometimes! Since returning, I haven’t had much opportunity to practice but this year I want to keep it up, especially as my eldest is doing his GCSE. Just hope I don’t put him off with my tactic of ‘say things with confidence even if you’re not quite sure.’ I’m definitely going to keep developing my resource collection for German in primary language learning.

#volunteer – In September, I said I’d do a cross country club at one of my schools; we’re blessed with the sufficient grass around us (belonging to school and ‘shared’ with the local grammar school) to do it safely. I really enjoyed it and so did the kids that signed up. I hope to revive it once the nights get lighter and certainly in the new school year, not least because I had a waiting list of children who wanted to join in. And perhaps I’ll add an element of HIT to it too.

Most of all, I’m going to make sure that I remember that I am a mother, and that my children won’t be children forever – indeed, they are now 16 and 13. My job is important but they’re far too precious to neglect. That may mean that I’m not the perfectly prepared teacher every lesson but who is?

And I’m going to keep looking on the bright side of life and blogging my Smiles – it’s good for my mental wellbeing!

Pacca Alpaca

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Introducing Pacca Alpaca, a language learning app for little people!

http://youtu.be/QEds9SfUgIU

I’ve been working with Anamil Tech on the Spanish dimension of this app and am pleased to say that it is now available in the iTunes and GooglePlay stores where it has already received a review!

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It was lovely to work with Nicole again after the success of The Lingo Show which she created and produced (I did the Spanish on that too!) as I knew that the concept would be fun and interactive.

Pacca is a funny quirky and very inquisitive alpaca who travels on a magical carousel from his home in the Andes to explore, learning languages on the way as well as exploring his new environment. In this first instalment, he pops off to Australia!

Here’s what the ‘blurb’ says:

Pacca Alpaca – Australia!

Pacca Alpaca – Australia is a multilingual app aimed at children aged two to six and designed to encourage them to learn new languages and understand the world around them as they embark on an Australian adventure with Pacca the alpaca.

Pacca’s adventure unfolds in his home in the Andes Mountains, as he spots a new destination from afar and flies off in his magical carousel to investigate. When he lands with a bump in Australia, a local host greets him and takes him on a tour of the country. Along the way, the two play games, meet other animals and learn about shapes, colours and numbers. While they play, children can earn rewards as they complete challenges and learn new words in their chosen language – French, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic or English.

The app is the first in a series of adventure apps following Pacca and his friends on their travels across the globe, so watch this space for the next installment!

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Things I like about it:

  • Pacca is a lovely character; very friendly and fun
  • you can complete the activities in several languages using the same app
  • there are no advertisements/pop ups/in app purchases
  • the language is clearly spoken by a child (the Spanish voice actor was a delight; a really sweet little girl from Canarias and it was a shame I didn’t actually get to meet her!) which I think is important in an app aimed at little ones
  • it’s fun to play the games and you are rewarded with souvenirs for the carousel
  • all the vocabulary you’ve learned is stored in your suitcase and can be reviewed when you wish
  • you can start again and recollect all the souvenirs when you’ve finished – and in another language if you want
  • there’s a Grown Ups page that explains the educational background and a TopTips document giving ideas of how to use the app too
  • you discover a new country/culture as you learn e.g. aboriginal style artwork is used for the colours, famous landmarks are shown
  • there’s the promise of more adventures to different places!

It’s not a free app – it costs £2.49 – so having it on a class set of iPads would need some negotiation but I’ll definitely add it to my list of apps that I recommend to parents/grandparents who want ideas for engaging children in learning outside of the classroom as well as putting it on my iPad for individual/paired play.

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