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Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Inspired in IKEA 2.0

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

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I love visits to IKEA as, along with the scented candles and plastic bags, I invariably come away with all sorts of unexpected items.

In 2008 I posted Inspired in IKEA and quickly followed it up with Inspired in IKEA part 2. I continued being inspired in on A visit to IKEA in 2010 and with Breakfast from IKEA and En la granja de IKEA in 2011. And then there was my (continuing)  love affair with Señor Brócoli.

On Friday I decided it was time for the annual trip to buy gingerbread for the tree – and a gingerbread house too as my domestic goddess status doesn’t extend that far.

I always get excited when I approach the children’s section but this time I nada surprise as I met the LATTJO collection  mid way around. What an exciting development!

This little video showcases the new range

IKEA have started a collaboration with world class storyteller DreamWorks Animation highlighting the power and importance of play. DreamWorks Animation brings the LATTJO world to life through more than 25 short animated stories that celebrates and expands the imaginative world of the LATTJO characters.

Well, first of all I saw the Jenga-like stacking game with coloured bricks adding to the fun. I know that Jenga is used widely in language teaching – see Eleanor, Amanda and Erzsi‘s blogs! – and this could well add another dimension to its use. IMG_7377
Then I came across these cones – great for directions, target practice with a bean bag (for practising colour, number, counting up the score etc) IMG_7378
Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 20.54.45 And then I saw these number ‘sleeves’. The suggestion was to put them around bottles of water to make skittles which is a great idea.

I immediately thought of using them as arm bands and making human ‘skittles’, not to be knocked down but for counting activities. For example, give a sum in Spanish/French/German and the answer has to stand up, or children have a pile of cards with word problems in Sp/Fr/Ger that they have to assign to the correct ‘skittle’

I was also rather taken with the large inflatable die and the giant sacks but then I saw the dressing up! Oh my! I actually started jumping up and down!

I find puppets and dressing up to be an excellent way to get children talking in an imaginative way as I’ve shared before and here for example. So what did I see?

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Moustaches and beards. I think I look rather fetching with a beard, and you can still talk and see the mouth even wearing it!

And then there were wigs…

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…and other made head gear! I was particularly taken with the snail head, and also the brain which I decided to try on but I think – well, know!- I have a very big head as it kept popping off!

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And then if you’re feeling like splashing out more than £3-£6, you can get full dressing up costumes! The parts are available separately too 😉

You can also be an eagle or a bat, and you can add monster claws to make your rat scary!

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Queen

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Robot

 

Getting away from the dressing up and LATTJO, I made it to the children’s department where I found some great cushions. I bought the sunshine one and I’m going to use as an incentive/ to reward excellent work. Impress Sra. Stevens and make her smile like the sun, and you get to sit on the cushion next lesson. I may yet add the cloud to my collection for excellent ideas, but, as with everything, it’s where to put it between lessons! IMG_7395
IMG_7393 My final inspiration came in the shape of these piglets. Can you guess my thoughts…?

Indeed. Los tres cerditos. (Their Mummy is available too!)

Oh, one last idea – these GLON templates for a house, some flats, a church-like building and a mosque-like building look great for describing the town, particularly thanks to the variety of building shape that accommodates the shapes the children I teach see around them!IMG_7396

I hope I’ve managed to communicate my excitement. I didn’t buy all the items but I may well do over time. I do have the moustache and beard, brain hat, sunshine cushion and two sets of the number sleeves though!

Communication4all

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

My FB wall reminded me this morning (edit – was yesterday now!) to wish Happy birthday to Bev Evans and I sighed. She passed away a few weeks ago so it’s another sad day for her family and friends. Her husband Paul tweeted

and I thought – why not?

Bev set up up Communication4all  in 2006 to share all the resources she had made to enable inclusion within her own school, and continued to share there, and then latterly on TES Resources where she was @tes_SEN.  Her resources have been downloaded 4.5 million times in 248 countries. Amazing lady – and very much missed.

One of her legacies is her website. There is an MFL section containing numbers,  days, months and seasons in French, Spanish, German and Polish as well as multilingual greetings and a few French resources on animals transport and colour. Very attractive and clear – well worth downloading.

However, there is a wealth of other stuff on the site that could equally be used in primary languages.

For example, the Spring time dominoes feature no language and could be used to practice numbers and spring vocabulary: for example in Spanish

un pollito     un pato       un nido      un huevo    un cordero    un conejo

uno dos tres cuatro cinco seis

For Christmas, why not try this activity that uses 2D shapes to make Rudolph, Father Christmas an angel and a Christmas tree; not only is it themed for a season/festival but it also allows you to discuss colour, size and shape.

Take Rudolph.

¿Cuántos rectángulos hay? ¿y círculos? ¿De que color son los triángulos? El círculo marrón ¿es grande o pequeño? and so on!

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Getting away from festivals, Bev made lots of colourful board games, often with a literacy theme, that I;ve used before in the language classroom.

Her bright bold snakes and ladders board can be used for any topic; simply have a list of questions or instructions for each number to which learners refer, changing the list according to the theme. Or you could make question cards (perhaps the same ones you use for QuizQuizTrade) and learners pick one up when they land on an odd square. (The link is to the numbered version – picture is linked to unnumbered version)

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Where in the world is Barnaby Bear? is a good game to link geography to knowledge of the world. It’s in English but you could discuss the languages spoken in the countries visited, the flag and talk about colours (Clare Seccombe has some great resources for this on LightBulbLanguages) and perhaps some discussion of transport.

 I love the Catching flies game for counting and as an introduction to who eats what for young learners, and also Build your own Gruffalo which could easily be adapted to another language and used when talking about facial features – great for our unit of mythical beasts! Likewise, Elmer’s Colour Collecting game is great for colours and Build a bigger caterpillar for numbers!

The Hungry Caterpillar is a story that I use in Spanish and there’s a good healthy eating game linked to the story; great opportunity to use food vocabulary as well as ‘es sano’ / ‘no es sano’, and ñam ñam / beurk! or ¡Qué rico!/¡Qué asco!

Likewise, the Handa’s Surprise resource is a data handling one, reinforcing maths skills and asking children to make tactical decisions too! And there are more games/activities too based on other stories such as Dear Zoo, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Hairy McClary.

Then there are all the editable labels – great for labelling table groups, making displays, creating flashcards on topics, creating clues for treasure hunts and generally making colourful resources. I particularly like the handprints and the wild animals!

One final thing I love – the colour sums in the Art section, and also the colour dominoes; love a good paint splat!

 

 

 

And that is only the things directly from the HOME page. I haven’t begun on the resources accessed via the sidebar. I’ll save that for another day, although feel free to explore before then. In fact, I’d encourage you to do so, and share with your primary colleagues as there is such a wealth of high quality resources’ hidden’ here.

One last thing – I am particularly nostalgic about the international rugby balls, originally created for 2007 Rugby World Cup and updated in 2011; that’s possibly one of the first times I ‘spoke’ to Bev and, having made them in English and Welsh, she made them in French and Spanish because we asked her. That’s the kind of lady she was!

 

Reflections on #ililc4

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 21.07.15After a week in which my exhaustion was overcome by the enthusiasm of my learners, I’m finally getting around to posting about #ililc4, the cause of said exhaustion.

I love #ililc. Every year, I look forward to it, and it’s especially special as I’ve flown back from Switzerland the last two years to speak there. #ililc1 there was the possibility of us moving to Switzerland; #ililc2 it was the first time I’d been ‘home’ since I moved to Switzerland and last year at #ililc3 I was about to announce my return to the UK when I was offered a job that threw a spanner in the works – therefore, I’ve ended up rather emotional each time. And that’s why I love this conference so much. It’s about far more than the things we learn about language teaching and learning; it’s about looking after each other, supporting one another and encouraging people to keep going when they feel like giving up. It’s for hugs, pats on the back and hand squeezing; listening and sharing, laughing and crying; for pep talks and words of wisdom. And in the past it’s even been for providing ‘exiles’ with essential supplies of paracetamol and Horlicks (I can never thank you enough for that!)

No big dramas this year (thankfully!) so a much more even keel was held and I enjoyed ‘spreading the love’ with much squealing and hugging (apologies if I squished you too hard or squawked just a little too loud)

And so to the reason we were there. I admit to taking very few notes as I was too engrossed in listening and tweeting. So here’s a Storify of my tweets, and i’ll try to summarise other bits!

Joe Dale’s keynote was packed as usual with facts and figures, great thoughts, funny pictures and plenty to give pause for thought. I need to watch the re-run and pause it to catch it all I fear!

Then I did my session on A beginner’s guide to iPads in the Primary language classroom (see my next blog post!) – seemed to go down well!

After a swift cup of tea, it was off to Clare Seccombe’s session on mini books.  WOW! You wouldn’t think that there were so many types of mini book. Like Clare, I love books and appreciate her sharing “It’s a book!”, a story that I bought in German. I tweeted madly, taking pictures of the different types of book, and was left wanting to make books for the rest of my life. Find out more here

A lunchtime presentation on This is Language was interesting. Not necessarily useful in a primary context but fun to have a look at the videos and activities designed for GCSE learners of French Spanish and German. I discovered that my ability to type fast in French is very suspect! 

Next was MFL PE Rap and ICT with Dominic Traynor aka Spanish Bootcamp. Dominic shared how he has a dual role as PE and Spanish teacher, and how he combines the two. I loved playing some of the games he uses like La batalla de cojos that involves hopping whilst trying remove your opponents’ ‘tails’ (bands tucked into their waistbands) and Cabezazos (heading a beanbag); I even used Palmadas (throw a beanbag in the air and count to a specific number in Spanish before you catch it) in assembly this week! He also recommended Memrise which is something I spoke about a couple of years ago at various Teachmeets but had stopped using, It seems to have developed more now and it’s possible for teachers to write their own courses. 

Final session of the day – Don’t worry be ‘appy with Rachel Smith aka @lancslassrach. Subtitled – The Power of One; 1 iPad, 1 classroom; 1 teacher, Rachel talked about her experiences of using one iPad in there language classroom. She recommended several apps that interested me including Pass the parcel and Shake and Boom for games playing, and  StopGo for timed activities. Have a look at her presentation or my tweets for more ideas.

The evening Show and Tell was good as ever with really interesting and practical ideas from many people including ClareRachel, Nina Elliot and Sam. Simone shared about her Chinese New Year celebrations at school – including a real live horse (at school, not the SAT!), Helen sang beautifully and advertised ALL (join if you haven’t already!) Dom shared a game called Mot de passe when you have to communicate a person, place or thing to someone using single words, Eleanor talked about using physical actions for punctuation and accents, Glennis talked about my beloved Tellagami, Chris talked Teachmeet, Garry talked about Sporcle.com and Simone and John sang (anyone got a video? Mine didn’t record!)

Day two started at 8.50am – and I was speaking! Find out more in my blog post on Something old, something new – coming soon!

After coffee, off I popped to see Isabelle Jones talking about Pinterest, a very addictive site. As I tweeted, it’s not all about cake pops, shoes and wedding dresses, and as Isabelle shared, it’s very useful for collaborating with others in collecting ideas and resources for language teaching and learning. Much oohing and aching followed her presentation as we were given time to play and pin whether online or using the app, following one another and discovering that those in other sessions were pinning too – multitasking they called it 😉

Jo Rhys Jones was my next session (wish i got to see her more – must try harder!) talking about Big ideas for tiny schools, or extreme differentiation for little people. I was glad that someone else gets an idea/motif and runs with it as her use of gnomes rivalled the wedding photos in my presentation. Although most of us aren’t teaching mixed age classes, everything that Jo said was good practice for differentiating in a same age class. Her ideas of progression in terms of skills was particularly helpful, e.g. word to word+adjective to short phrase to sentence to extended sentence. And Pigloo and Tchic et Tchac too 🙂

My final session (well, ¾ of the session) was Flipping the classroom with Sadie McLachlan. Loved the videos that have been made by the department to facilitate learning and interesting to see how Flipping is working for them as we continue (slowly) to flip lessons at Welford. A bit trickier for me as I don’t set homework and can’t make participation compulsory, but ideas can be adapted! Find out more at fliplearningmfl.blogspot.com

Then home, happy and exhausted.

However, that wasn’t the end really as I read Clare’s keynote on the train and promptly welled up, tears streaming down my face much to the bemusement of those around me. I could identify well with all that Clare said and although I wasn’t there, I felt that I was. Heavens only knows what state I’d have been in if I were – perhaps it’s better I’d left as I had another weep when I watched it back on the recording. Well said Clare.

I am looking forward to more fun, more sharing and more inspiration next year at #ililc5 – but in the meantime, I’m looking forward to interacting with the #mfltwitterati on Twitter and hopefully in person.

GlobaNova_ILoveYouMap_Pink-1800Presentations and handouts

List of blog posts (as of 14th Feb) about ILILC4

 

Breakout! #ililc3

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Just like @msmfl, I’m so excited and just can’t hide it, so I’m going to

BREAKOUT! 

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ll be in the UK in February to attend ILILC3 or to give its full name, the ICT Link into Language conference taking place at the University of Southampton on 9th and 10th February.

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The theme of the conference is Jailbreaking the MFL classroom and there are sessions on


Mobile technologies  

Social Media
Making the most of Web 2.0 Technologies  
The Global classroom  
Developing Speaking
Closing the gap  (SEN, SOLO, supporting learning etc)

There are many many excellent practitioners participating – I’m particularly looking forward to sessions from Clare Seccombe, John Connor, Jo Rhys-Jones, Dom McGladdery, Jen Turner and Amanda Salt (to name but a few!)  and keynotes by Joe and Isabelle,  and I’m really pleased that I’ve been asked to present.

 

#ILILC2013_I-am-speaking-at-with-QR-code

 

I’ll be delivering two sessions –

Screen Shot 2013-01-04 at 14.57.39 In I want to break free  we’ll be looking at ways to break away from ‘chalk and talk’ and involve learners, encouraging them to interact with and demonstrate their understanding as they learn using (mobile) technology. We’ll investigate some ways of doing this using tools such as Nearpod, Socrative and Memrise and whilst I’ll be using my iPad and Mac to present, that doesn’t mean you need a fruity device to join in as some tools are web based and others are both Android and iOS. And on top of that, we’re a friendly bunch so I’m sure people will share!
Let out for good behaviour? refers to leaving the classroom being (often) seen as a treat. There are many ways to ‘break free’ of the walls of your classroom, both physical and virtual, and this session will involve both. Participation is required as we explore activities and games, that will enhance teaching and learning whilst bringing a breath of free air to a stuffy classroom. Technology will be involved but you don’t need anything but your imagination and sense of adventure to enjoy the activities. Screen Shot 2013-01-04 at 15.02.29

On top of the conference, there’s the Show and Tell on Saturday night at which ANYONE is encouraged to share a snippet sized piece of good practice, song or activity. Everyone has a good idea and has something to say so it’s great to hear from new people each year. You can sign up for it here.

Why should you attend?

  • it’s excellent value CPD
  • the speakers are excellent
  • you’ll learn so much
  • it’s the friendliest funn-est conference you are ever likely to attend
  • you’ll learn as much from conversations as from the sessions
  • your batteries need recharging
  • if you don’t, you’ll miss @bellaale ‘s sequel to Academy Copout!
  • I want to meet you!

And, back to the song at the start. Whilst I’m sure not everyone is at the end of their tether (at least I hope not!),  it’s good sometimes to ‘breakout’ from things that are just not working for you, or your learners, look at things from another perspective and find a new ‘way’. Come to ILILC3 and you might just find the inspiration, support and encouragement that you need!Screen Shot 2013-01-04 at 15.13.02

 

 

 

 


 

Modern Foreign Languages – Now you’re talking (TES 4/11/11)

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Following on from a mentions here and here and a short review, I had my first article published in The TES today! So exciting!

Here’s the link to the article as it appeared. The original text is below – doesn’t look like it was edited much, a fact about which I am very chuffed!

I emailed Whitehouse Common immediately and told them – and within minutes it was on the school website.

Lots of lovely tweets too – thanks to @valleseco whose tweet was the first I knew of publication, and @bellaale @IrisConnect @davidErogers @matttodd1 @NajmC @suzibewell @whcps @bootleian @bgflnews @chrisfullerisms @TaskMagic @dughall and anyone else who’s tweeted it since I wrote this post!

Hope this won’t be my last article…

Me gusta / Je t’aime / Ich mag / ???

What do learners like doing in MFL? Lisa Stevens ponders this and reflects on activities that her primary school pupils have enjoyed.

When I think back to my best experiences as a learner, they were memorable because they captured my attention and imagination. And it seems that many other learners have a similar experience.

I asked my pupils aged 3-11 what they enjoyed about learning languages, and they came up with many ideas. A class I taught in Reception who are now in Year 3 always want to play a memory game involving painted toenails because a member of their class holds the school record for the game (he was 4 when he set it!), and a Year 6 group remember retelling the story of El Nabo Gigante (The Enormous Turnip) when they were in Year 2 with silly hats and actions.

These were one off examples – when I asked a group of year 6s, they were more general, listing singing, rhymes and chanting as a favourite activity because they don’t do that in other lessons. They also said that they could better remember things that they had learned this way as they recalled the tune or the rhythm as well as the words. Towards the end of Year 6 we do a unit on a Spanish café and one activity involved rewriting a song about ordering in a café to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas. The task involved recalling vocabulary but was more then that as learners had to consider whether the rhythm of the words they were suggesting fitted the tune, making them concentrate on stress patterns and syllables. It also offered the opportunity to be imaginative as each group wanted to be the most original and perhaps funniest.

This type of creative task, using language in ‘unusual’ ways, is popular in other year groups too. In response to the story ¡Fuera de aquí Horrible Monstruo Verde! (Go away Big Green Monster), Year 3 used 2D shapes from their Maths lessons to create faces, feature by feature with a photograph taken at each stage. They then to wrote their own (simplified) version of the story saying hello to each new facial feature then telling it to go away using the photographs to create a comic strip. The sense of achievement – “I wrote a story in Spanish!” – was echoed in Year 5 when they rewrote a section of a famous Spanish poem, La Primavera by Antonio Machado, then went on to write their own poems about seasons in Spanish. Many of them were unsure about writing poems in English let alone Spanish, and here the language learning fitted well with their Literacy lessons. Year 4 were equally proud of their work in Healthy Heroes week, creating Superheroes Saludables (Healthy Superheroes), and building on their previous learning about sport and food in Spanish to create a clean living hero and unhealthy enemies. They did something no other class had done and, in a theme week, that holds great sway.

What do all these activities have in common? They were all led by the learners, all involved independence and imagination, and they all involved a challenge. The learners enjoyed themselves, feeling a sense of achievement when they’d finished, and I enjoyed ‘teaching’ them as each learner was able to stamp their individuality on the task.

Lisa is a Primary Language educator and consultant.  She is PLL and International coordinator at Whitehouse Common Primary School, and works with her LA (Birmingham) as a Language Coach supporting schools with their language provision. She is an Apple Education Mentor, an eTwinning Ambassador and BGfL MFL Curriculum Associate, and is on the Spanish Committee of ALL. 

(I know – that’s not all strictly accurate, but it was when I wrote the post!)

 

Alan Peat – Raising writing standards and motivating reluctant writers.

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Great way to start the school year – an inspiring INSET day with not a dress code, health and safety lecture or mission statement in sight.

Alan Peat, addressing the subject Raising writing standards and motitvating reluctant writers was EXCELLENT! He engaged the room all day long; noone was muttering, noone was fidgetting and at the end of the day there was unanimity about the value of the day (rare indeed as every group has at least one or two cynics)

I tweeted all day – here are (most of) my tweets. Unfortunately they start at the end and work back through the day! But I think you can tell my thoughts on the day by the final tweet – which appears first!

And here are my notes – do they make sense? Possibly! I’ll attempt to expand!

Alan Peat  www.alanpeat.com

A blank sheet is scary
Games based approaches are not a waste of time – they are vital.
Bite sized chunks are best and *DBW and decontextualised drilling should be avoided at all costs (* death by worksheet)

Brainbreaks or brain warm ups are anything that has nothing to do with the task – NOT braingym which is a big fib.

Games based approaches
Staircase
Build a chain as a staircase
Lateral thinking – bans the obvious
Across word
Sets of letters – first and last
1 pt for adding one letter; 2pt for 2 etc
*the anecdotal sticks in the mind* makes the less engaging more palatable
Glidogram
1st letter, 2nd letter, 3rd letter, 2nd letter, 1st letter

Aardvark

pArrot

snAke

jAguar

Antelope

rally
Like a staircase but harder! Last 2 letters of the word – you need to think ahead so you don’t break the chain

I found the OULIPO concept by Raymond Queneau fascinating. The idea that constraints are needed for creativity seems very contrary but when you think about it, some constraint actually makes you think! Some examples follow –

lipogram  – ban a letter of the alphabet

eg ban the a in

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall …. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men

and it beomes ..

Humpty Dumpty perched on the brick constructionEvery one of the King’s horses plus every one of the King’s men.

A book that demonstrates / celebrates? this is Ella minnow pea” by Mark Dunn

Hendecasyllabic
11 syllable sentences

I like sausages becomes I really like juicy, sizzling sausages.  Great for recognising syllables as well as being creative with language. And an activity that could easily be used in language teaching – in Spanish, syllables are different!

Rashomon effect
examples include Akutagawa – At the grove ;  Anthony Browne – Voices in the park;  Hoodwinked

Same story from different perspectives

Beyond acrostics
Where do you go from basic acrostic?
Hidden acrostic– word as 2nd letter
Telestich– word as last letter
Tele-acro – word as start and finish of sentence

(I tried these out on my son when he was bored the other day – he loved the challenge!)

Genre modification
See below.

I loved this idea as it is very supportive, is a useful ‘working wall’ with context, and also because it provides assessment at start and finish without fuss!

Wordless storybooks

I loved this too as one of my favourite actvities as a kid was making up stories about what’s happening in a picture – in fact, i loved the bit of my Spanish exam. where I had to do that!

Monosyllabic – rewrite texts in monosyllables – it’s very tricky. We tried with Little Red Riding Hood. Again, constraint lead to creative thinking as we thought of ways to avoid syllables!

Yoked sentences – last word of first sentence starts second sentence then last of second the third etc A good tool for persuasive writing.

One word at a time storytelling

Like storytelling ping pong! Yout hink you know where the story is going then your partner throws in an unexpected word and you need to rethink! Makes you listen! http://www.alanpeat.com/resources/listening.html

Plot skeleton – using one skeleton ie the bare bones of the story, and adapt for another genre – genius!

If you Google Citation of a phrase / word, it gives usage and when first used v useful!

7 key pedagogical approaches which underpin effective teaching of non-fiction writing
1.linked to real experience GGM – growing going and making
2.fictionalise it
3.link to books being read in class
4.link to pupils’ interests – know your pupils
5. Use talk/oracy as start
6.maximise cross-curricular links
7.ensure breadth of real purposes and audiences

A quotation I loved from the day was

“to be creative you need a body of knowledge to accept modify and reject”

I (sadly) got over excited with the quotation and didn’t note down who said it :o(

And also sadly, at this point I became so engrossed in the course that I stopped taking notes digitally and started scribbling!

However, one thing I’ll share is that the nailing down of level appropriate prompts for genre types was a very valuable activity – a good point that learners shouldn’t have to relearn the structure of genres according to their teacher’s way of putting it – why not have a common lexis?

Another thing I thought was great – and would again be easily used for language learning, is the sentence structuring activity Alan described for use with those who aren’t yet reading.

You pick a card from each envelope to ‘write’ phrases – and then sentences.

And another activity I loved was based on The Ultimate Alphabet by Mike Wilks.

Look at the image below. It is the B page. How many things beginning with B can you find? My partner and I got 70 in our 3 minutes.

And finally – it wouldn’t be at all like me if I didn’t mention technology of some kind – and Alan was on my page. He mentioned Twitter – and made me blush by mentioning that i followed him and had loads of followers! And Wordle – www.wordle.com – so excited when staff around me said ‘Oh, you showed us that Lisa!’ – hurrah, I’m not a freak now! E-pals – www.epals.com was another recommendation – look for classes around the world studying the same things as you and share your learning. Alan also advocated using Skype – tick!  And then a new one on me – Padworx. Checking that out now!

To summarise my thoughts – I thoroughly enjoyed the day because it challenged, encouraged, inspired and confirmed. Alan obviously believes passionately in learning being an enjoyable activity and that that is the best way of getting the best out of learners. I admire the fact he is inspired by and champions ‘normal’ teachers who are in the classroom, and that he is obviously an practical educator at heart rather than a theorist. I loved the fact that so many of the ideas were so easily transferred to learning languages. And he loves his iPad too so must be a good bloke ;o)

Find out more at www.alanpeat.com or follow @alanpeat on Twitter.

What I learned today! pt1

Monday, November 1st, 2010

I’ve already blogged three times today about the INSET today with Ian Gilbert– twice during the INSET day and once when I returned home.

However, I haven’t even scratched the surface!

So, here is a summary of the key points I noted from session one.

“Nothing is as dangerous as an idea when it’s the only one you’ve got.”

One of the major points made was that we need to encourage thinking – that all too often we stick to closed questions, always searching for a single correct answer rather than asking questions that encourage thought and have multiple ‘right’ answers – or none at all!

An example of this was the picture below – what is it?


A gin and tonic?
A handbag?
A child hiding behind a wall?
A chair?

This sort of ‘pre-starter’ is a good way to get us in the right frame of mind for learning. And the state we’re in when we learn has a profound effect on our learning – our breathing, our surroundings, our frame of mind.
Laughter is a good way to get us in the optimum state as it releases dopamine – plenty of that today!

Next we thought about this – attitude counts for more than aptitude.
Employers are looking for creativity – people who break the rules, stand out, make a difference, to make a dent in the universe. The idea that school is just a phase you go through – important but not the be all and end all – seems obvious when you say it but that’s not often the view taken with our pupils.

I learnt a new word today – fungible (meaning digitized and sent somewhere else).
Many jobs are fungible – like accountancy; others are anchored- a nurse will be needed to apply dressings. Which led to the question – who needs a teacher when we have Google? With services like Tutorvista, are we needed?  However,  the teacher who leads children to learning is important, the one who doesn’t just drip feed  knowledge but prepares kids for our world.

Some interesting quotations at this point –

‘It’s better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.’

‘Every act of creation starts with an act of destruction.’  Picasso

‘To know and not to do is not to know.’  Buddhist saying

The brain.

95% of what we know about the brain we’ve learnt in the last 15 years.

Male and female brains are different. (see Why men don’t iron)

The RAS (reticular activating system) is particularly key, stimulated by physical activity and emotions. So things like fidgeting and fiddling could actually be ways of staying ‘with it’ in lessons rather than signals that people are not paying attention.  I know that I concentrate best when I am multitasking – I was making notes or on my iPad all day today.

We did some ‘fartlek for the brain’ – particularly liked chopping and sawing!

And discussed that pace doesn’t mean speed – it rather means that the ups and downs of your lesson are appropriate to learning – lots of starts and ends – mini chunks of action/learning.

Three things to make your brain happy and healthy

1- eat antioxidants – tea coffee red wine tomatoes strawberries blueberries

2- healthy body, healthy mind

3- use it or lose it.  For example – taste something new each week; brush your teeth with the other hand; listen to Late Junction

Final question of the session

Is our school a teaching school or a learning school?  Is it a thinking school?

(Image by Highwaystar on picasaweb)