April 2008 – ¡Vámonos!

Month: April 2008

As part of QCA Unit 11, El Carnaval de los animales, 4AT have been learning a song that may yet replace La Vaca Lola in their affections. Well perhaps not, but it’s quite popular!

Here’s the video from Youtube – I’ve downloaded it, converted it via Zamzar and uploaded it to the school network so that everyone can access it (and other things). Youtube is not currently blocked, but you can never be sure how long that will last.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJVib32-kf8&hl=en]

Finishing off a display based on the topic – come back soon for the pictures!

I spent this afternoon at the aptly named Beaumanor Hall near Loughborough in the company of teachers of pupils with special needs, drawn from both special and mainstream schools. I had been asked by the British Council to present a case study on eTwinning as part of the afternoon’s proceeding led by Lorna Belsey and Tom Birtwistle, and I was happy to do so.

After a delicious lunch – my healthy first course of mackerel and salad was followed by not-so-healthy bread and butter pudding – although the bread seemed to be brown so that must be good??- we adjourned to the ICT suite where Lorna explained Comenius and the ISA awards. Then it was by go to present a case study about last year’s project at WCPS – Somos lo que celebramos – and to share some ideas of how eTwinning might work for them, and some ideas of tools that could be used.

You can access the presentation and some of the documents in a previous post, but here are some links that I mentioned that you might wish to investigate.

British Council website
eTwinning home page
eTwinning portal

Whitehouse Common Primary School website
Colegio Público César Hurtado Delicado website (etwinning section)


Voices of the World wiki of previous months’ activities
Euro 08 project

David S Stewart’s interview about Special Schools and eTwinning
Nick Falk and Anne Jakins’ presentation about eTwinning at Sackville School (with SEN pupils)

Wishing you all happy eTwinning! :o)

I’ve been posting powerpoints to Slideshare for a while, first pointed in that direction by Chris Fuller (I think) in the days when he was just a name to me, not the fun person I now know! I knew that it was possible to make a Slidecast, combining audio and presentation but hadn’t made one ….
until yesterday!

I recorded the London ALL Show and Tell at Language World on my iRiver – and so did Joe Dale. I just fancied hearing what other people said – as well as checking out how I sound recorded (very odd is the answer, and not at all as I hear myself!) After the event, Joe mentioned in a Skype chat that he had edited his version of the audio and thought that I should make a Slidecast of it with the presentation I had prepared. As I had lost the lead for my iRiver, I said I’d do it when I found the offending item. (Still haven’t found it but the lead from our camcorder works – in case anyone else has the same problem)

This week, I received a message from Joe saying that he’d send me the audio so I could do my Slidecast. As it’s necessary to have the audio file saved online somewhere, and Blogger doesn’t have that facility, Joe kindly hosted it on his blog and I set about my challenge!

Basically, you upload your presentation to Slideshare – already done!
You click on ‘make Slidecast’ and enter the URL of the audio.
The audio track then appears under the Slideshow and you can decide how you want to synch the slides with the audio – equally spaced or, as in my case, to coincide with when I turned the page to the next slide.
Then you save it and there you have it – a Slidecast.

I found out that I had stretched my 7 minutes to over 10, ( sorry Nick!) that I spent a long time on the first few slides and not very long at all on the later ones as I ran out of time, that i talk very fast, and that my ears don’t hear what everyone else hears.

I also discovered that making a Slidecast is easy peasy lemon squeezy – and I’ll be doing it again in the near future.

Here it is – it features the lovely aforementioned Mr Fuller singing!!

PS just noticed that it’s already been viewed 51 times – that’s pretty impressive. Let’s hope all those who watched it have gained something and will put even one of the ideas into practice.

Educational Block 4 zero zero house 0
Whilst fiddling with my blog today, my hit counter reached the 4000 hits mark. Not quite as impressive as Joe Dale’s 100,000 I know, but I’m still very pleased with 4000 since ¡Vámonos! started at the end of October 2007. Here’s to reaching 5000 by the end of the summer term!

Unfortunately I was occupied by saving and reinstalling widgets when the counter tipped the magic 4000 so I didn’t get a screen shot – so here’s an image from Spell with Flickr , a site with which I love to play.

After I posted Joe’s quiz yesterday, I had an exchange of comments with Langwitch about how tricky it is was to name all the bloggers from their photos with so many people using avatars.

My obsession with widgets and avatars is well known (and well documented on this blog) but less is known about my love of quizzes and very competitive streak!

So, combining the two, here’s my version. Let’s see how ‘Joe’s best class‘ as José put it yesterday in a comment on Joe’s post, you get on with this.

(apologies to those who I’ve missed – any more avatars to declare?)

Click here to get your own player.

5MW have been working on QCA Spanish Unit 14 Soy el músico this half term and today we gave our opinions about types of music. I thought after we’d sung our song and revised opinions and shared our reasons that they’d make posters to show their pinions – displays need changing!

But I felt like being different today!

So out came my laptop from home and my head / microphone combo. I set it up in the book corner and, having set the rest of the class off on their RE webquest about what priests do, I invited anyone interested to pop over to the recording booth and, using Audacity, record their opinion in Spanish.

I was so glad I did it as everyone of the volunteers enjoyed the experience, and the looks on their faces as they listened to themselves played back were priceless.

Zach’s comment made me laugh and cry at the same time!
As he listened to himself back, he said
‘Miss, have you done something to my voice?- I sound Spanish.’
I assured him that I couldn’t do that, and that the voice he heard was him –
‘That can’t be me Miss’

So, I’ve spent the evening uploading all the soundfiles to our Podomatic account (signed up last July and didn’t put anything on it until today!) and above is the first set of WCPS Spanish podcasts. Please leave comments if you wish – the pupils will be very encouraged (as will I!) I’m expecting more volunteers next week – we ran out of time today and one of the quietest girls in the class is first in the queue for next week!

MFL Bloggers

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Joe Dale of Integrating ICT into the MFL Classroom fame has been playing around with a new tool called MyStudiyo and come up with a quiz.
It’s based on MFL bloggers – multiple choice with four names to choose from for each photograph, so even if you don’t know the answer, you can guess.
Being a girly whirly swot, I got full marks – how will you fare?
PS I’m in it but the less said about the picture, the better ;o)

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I’ve finally got around to responding to being tagged for the Passion Quilt meme – not once, but FIVE times!
This meme, started by Miguel Guhlin , asks people to consider what their passion in education is, find an image that encapsulates it and explain their passion.
So, thanks to @theokk , @moodlehotpotato, @ajep, @langwitch and @ahenderson, here’s my passion.

Entitled Happy Colourful Girl, this picture is described as follows:
‘I just gave the girls poster paint with no rules…I told them they were free to paint themselves any way they wanted and they were given clean white T-shirts to wear and use as napkins! They had such fun…what you see is the result of pure child’s art…no rules 🙂 ‘

Whilst I don’t think we should abandon the rules completely, this image for me sums up how I think teaching and learning should be –

  • colourful, full of vibrancy and life
  • child led
  • fun
  • exciting and thrilling
  • offering challenges and activities that inspire creativity
  • memorable experiences.

I loved going to school – I’d fight my parents to let me go when I was ill. You may think that’s odd, and it possibly is, but that’s what I want for my children – my own and the ones I teach – to enjoy the time they spend at school, learning so much more than how to read and write, experiencing a wide spectrum of activities and wanting to come back day after day to find out more.

Some of you might have expected me to choose something Spanish – and I could easily have done so as nothing stirs me quite like it – but my passion goes deeper than that into all areas of teaching and learning – not being restricted to one subject but encompassing all.

So there you have it!

Now to tag five more people (hopefully who haven’t already been tagged!)

1.Leanne Simmonds
2.Rachel Hawkes
3.Dave Stacey
4.Sharon Tonner
5.Adam Sutcliffe


1. Think about what you are passionate about teaching your students.
2. Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.
3. Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt” and link back to this blog entry.
4. Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce etc.

Have fun :o)


Better late than never!

It’s a week since Language World and I have sat down each day intending to blog about it, but everytime I’ve had to do something else first and the post hasn’t materialised. It’s not that I haven’t got anything to say, it’s more that there was so much to assimilate that it’s not something I could do in five minutes! Anyway – here are my impressions.

Kathy Wickstead shared thoughts on the new KS3 curriculum – things that stood out for me were Sir Christopher Maynard’s comment that ‘it’s inviting teachers to be bold’ and also Kathy’s parting comment – ‘we’re being offered an opportunity with this new curriculum – can we afford NOT to take it?’ Check out www.all.nsc.org.uk for all you need to know about the new secondary curriculum for languages – worth it for primary language teachers too so as to understand ‘what happens next’. On the same (ish) subject, Mick Waters spoke really clearly and sensibly about the new curriculum and the ‘big picture’. He seems so passionate and completely committed to the vision of a modern world class curriculum that it’s not hard to catch his vision.

Ewan McIntosh once more challenged and inspired me with his ideas on using technology in language teaching. This time, Thinking out of the XBox suggested ways in which gaming might be used to inspire and encourage creativity in the language classroom. My son was particularly looking forward to me attending this seminar as I bought a Nintendo DS last year following Ewan’s seminar at Language world and he was hoping for a similar result this year, possibly a Wii? Alas for 9 year old, no such recommendation, but he is awaiting the arrival of Myst and Nintendogs from Amazon, and has had a good nose at Samorost (he’s become my chief researcher ;o) Using clips from Youtube and Tim Rylands’ website, Ewan made a great case for being innovative and creative, tapping into what pupils are familiar with and enjoy with the purpose of achieving a greater variety and richness of learning experience and outcome. Check out his blog for his notes – and much more to make you think!

Wendy Adeniji as always shared some brilliant ideas and resources for making the language classroom interactive and fun, specifically based on Rhymes songs and sounds to teach phonics.
Wendy showed how simple rhymes can be learned off by heart and recited, and links made with other vocabulary that contains specific phonemes. I always look forward to wnedy’s seminars as her ideas are easy to implement and very practical.
She recommended a number of artists’ music; for French, Ilona Mitrecy and Henri Des as well as the adorable Pigloo! For Spanish she suggested José Luis Orozco and for German, Detlef Jöcker and Rolf Zuckowski.

Bev Whiteside, Development coordinator for Languages and Sport from the Youth Sports Trust presented on making links between sports and language. A language teacher before joining the YST, Bev talked about the obvious attractions and benefits of sport and the potential links that could be made in terms of skills, values, pedagogy and context. She presented some brief case studies to demonstrate each point, ranging from teaching handball through Spanish, the Young Language Leaders award, creating a fitness DVD in French prior to a skiing trip and a subtitled video giving information about healthy eating and sporting facilities. You can read about some of Bev’s work in a book published by YST.

Day 2 brought Steven Fawkes’ Language Learners being creative with language, including sign language, Russian numbers with actions ( I tried it out on a Russian pupil I teach and she was impressed!) and things to do with a pear! Learned lots and had a good giggle too -the mysterious disappearance of Steven’s trousers last year featured large too – perhaps they’re the same place as my hairbrush that disappeared in Oxford?? There’s a chorister somewhere with very well groomed hair ;o)

I was also pleased to hear an update on the videoconferencing project at Tile Hill Wood in Coventry where Ana Neofitou delivers language lessons to local primaries via a videolink. I attended a session last year introducing the project which seems a very effective way of building capacity in primary languages as the class teacher facilitates within the classroom and works closely with Ana and her colleagues on what is delivered, and how it can be followed up during the time between lessons.

And then the ALL London Show and Tell session – I shared the ‘stage’ with Stephane Derone (authentic resources), Nick Mair (learning styles and gender differences), Monna Brown (motivation) and Helen Myers (using song) – all members of ALL London so I was a bit of an interloper! I delivered my Top ten tips for Primary Languages in a little over my alloted 7

minutes I think (sorry -I talked as fast as I could!) You can download the presentation below (if the songs links don’t work, let me know!) And when I find the lead for my iRiver, I’ll make a Slidecast!

But of course, there is more to Language World than the seminars! I love conferences for the ‘formal’ learning but, as anyone who has met me will testify, I love to talk. And talk I did – incessantly! I met old friends like Joe Dale, Lesley Welsh, Ewan McIntosh, Chris Fuller and Rachel Hawkes, made new ones like Nick Brown and José Picardo and generally talked to anyone who’d listen! Much fun was had at the wine tasting – I think I hold the record for the most Heinneman coffee mugs acquired in half an hour (not all for me!) followed by a quick visit to the pub before the wine reception and dinner. This was followed by bellydancing – no photos have yet appeared (thank goodness!) but I hear we were a sight to behold! Bed was finally reached in the early hours – I just didn’t want to miss a moment of the fun!

Last year I went to Language World wanting to find new ideas – and I was inspired as I told Joe Dale when he VoxPop-ed me! This year I went with the same purpose, but I reflected as I arrived just how far I’d come in a year. Last year I had just learned how to write articles on our school website. I’ve now got a blog, spoken at a number of conferences, attended eTwinning conferences as an ambassador, am becoming ever more techno-savvy and am employing all kinds of new ideas in my teaching! The pupils at school associate language learning with using technology, with doing new and exciting things, and with having fun. And several people came up to me and said how much they’d enjoyed reading my blog or hearing me speak, and how helpful the ideas I’d shared had been – that made me want to sing and dance!

Here are my pictures – started off well but got distracted by talking (surprise surprise!) so you can find more here, listen to VoxPops and read what Joe and José and others had to say about LW2008.

Roll on 2009!

These young people were at the International Opportunities conference today. They are from five local secondary schools and were there to explain their experience of an international project called INDIE – Inclusion and Diversity in Education.

‘Inclusion & Diversity in Education is a project that addresses the challenges migration presents to schools in Europe.’
‘The impact of migration on schools presents similar challenges to school education at all levels in all European Countries. We want to combat social disadvantage and raise educational standards for students with migration backgrounds. In order to succeed, we need to develop effective and culturally inclusive schools. To achieve this we need high quality school leadership.’
(from British Council site)

They explained how they had been chosen to take part in the project as they had shown leadership skills at school and been invited to take part in training in Sutton Park on teamwork and leading people. They were then selected to take part in a conference in Brussels in February with similar young leaders from across Europe to discuss a common charter for Inclusion and Diversity. As part of the conference, they presented in the European Parliament where they received a standing ovation.

The young people above shared their thoughts and experiences today of the project. One commented on the issues they discovered through the conference such as a young lady from Belgium being banned from wearing her headscarf who was working for a change in that area. Another talked about making an effort to understand people who didn’t speak English. And the lad in the middle commented that, whilst in Brussels, he spoke to people to whom he wouldn’t normally have paid any attention – he described one encounter ‘I’m not sure what he was,….some kind of Goth…. and I definitely wouldn’t have spoken to him in Birmingham.’

Although nervous, they spoke with honesty and simplicity – and they inspired us all. Let’s hope that there will be many more young leaders who look to lead the way for inclusion and diversity in this country.

Note – I’m trying to get hold of a copy of the Charter -I’ll post it here when I have it!

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