January 2011 – ¡Vámonos!

Month: January 2011

Today a new part of the Birmingham Grid for Learning (BGfL) website was launched. After a long wait, the Birmingham Primary Language (BPL) website was unveiled.

Offering sections of guidance, useful weblinks, documentation and training opportunities for coordinators and class teachers as well as a growing bank of downloadable resources including sound files, there’s plenty to investigate.  The site is in its infancy but will hopefully grow and grow, especially if the Primary Language teachers of Birmingham volunteer resources and ideas to add to the bank.

Postcard courtesy of Landsbankinn

The fifth in the series of Icelandic sayings is –

There are many wonders in a cow’s head.

Strange things call for strange metaphors.  Should you lack words to express your amazement at rotten shark being served as a delicacy, beer being the only alcoholic beverage banned for decades or elves taking up permanent residency in wayside boulders, you can safely mention the cow’s head and be understood.

I think there are many wonders in a cow’s head.


I love cows.

PS this one is for Sinclair and Angus }:8)

After a tweet from @NeilAdam this morning inviting me to view a clip suggesting that cupcakes are the meaning of life, I discovered Fuzzwich.

Fuzzwich is an online tool for making short animations using backgrounds and characters supplied, plus speech bubbles.  The length of the animation seems to be limited to about 20 seconds and I have to admit to not having discovered all the features yet, but here’s my first attempt. (If it won’t work below, here’s the direct link!)

It’s rather fun!

Lisibo’s been shopping again.  This time, though, it’s not IKEA that has inspired her but TK Maxx that has come up trumps.

In the sale (!) I found this Very Hungry Caterpillar felt set.

Ideal for –

  • telling the story to the class
  • getting pupils to follow the story actively by adding / moving/ substituting the felt pieces
  • animating – and because it’s a felt board, you can do it horizontally or vertically
  • small group work
  • independent play

Sad that Year 3 have finished with that story for the year and we’ll have to wait until next September to ry it out with them.  perhaps it’s time I invaded Foundation stage again…

The Hungry Caterpillar is a great story to use with kids as it’s familiar and repetitive.  The vocabulary is simple and everyday – numbers, colours, food – and it looks at healthy eating as well as the life cycle of the caterpillar / butterfly, so very cross curricular!

There are great resources all over the place for this story including

And that’s just gleaned from a quick Google search!

Postcard courtesy of Landsbankinn

Fourth in our series of Icelandic sayings –

One wave is seldom single.

Observe the sea for a short time and you’ll notice that waves come in series and sets, never alone.  Legendary Icelandic pessimism has applied this law of nature to misfortunes, never tiring of darkly enjoying the pluality of Murphy’s Law.  Yet the opposite must also be true, meaning that good things occur in series as well.

My Dad was a great fan of Murphy’s Law, and the closely related Sod’s Law!

TeachMeetTakeover videos

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Thanks to @Iris_Connect, you can now access some of the many TeachMeetTakeover sessions.

Click here for access to talks by @tomhenzley @dannynic @kevinmulryne @gvibe and @charte – and me- and to spot the highly amusing typo (you’re good, Mr Harte but not quite the Messiah!)

I’ve also put mine below ;o)

ALL NE Spanish Day


ALLNE Spanish Day 2011

One Stop Shop for ALL NE Spanish Teachers – everyone welcome!

Venue: Gosforth Academy, Regent Centre metro

Date: Thursday, July 14th 2011


Neil Jones: “Say it with feeling!” – raising attainment and cultural understanding in MFL.”

John Connor: “Digital Encounters” – looking at the use of Web 2.0 tools to promote/develop speaking and writing.

Rachel Hawkes:  “Creativity Talks”: lots of practical ideas to encourage more target language talk (planned and spontaneous) in KS3 and KS4 Spanish classes.

Joaquín Moreno: “Poesia para la clase de español” –  illustrating how we can make use of poetry to improve students’ intonation and pronunciation, but also to encourage reflexion and understanding of emotions in KS% classes.

Lisa Stevens: “Sorpresas y sonrisas” – tips and ideas on how to keep everyone engaged and enthused in the primary language classroom.

Shirley Kliment-Temple: “Spanish through the Media”  – a show and tell session on motivational  projects from KS2-KS4 using Green screen film making , Print Journalism, News days,  Pod casting, animation using a visualiser and Radio broadcasting.

Please contact Claire Dodd to pre-book your place! Claire.Dodd@gosforthhigh.newcastle.sch.uk

Exceptional value @ just £50 for members of ALL

Non-members can join on the day or in advance

£20 for student teacher / NQT members

including refreshments and lunch

Gosforth Academy is easy to find opposite Asda and is just a few hundred yards from the Regent Centre Metro station.



optimist prime

Image from gcouros on Flickr

This really struck a chord with me – I am definitely a glass half full type of person. I know that there have been times when I’ve stayed out of the staffroom, or have avoided certain members of staff as their negativity has dragged me down. And I can identify my worst periods in teaching as when I’ve sunk into negative thinking and lost all hope about my abilities, or those of my pupils. It certainly did my teaching no good and made my life rather miserable too.

So, now I’ve been reminded, I’m going to do my best to be Optimist Prime and encourage others to think positively. Tell me off if I don’t!

On Friday, I hit BETT in London.  I didn’t really see much on Friday apart from some wonderful presentations as part of TeachMeetTakeover which I was helping coordinate for the day.

TeachMeetTakeover is a sort of ‘organised flashmob’ idea where companies offer their stands for half hour / hour slots to be used by someone talking about free ideas that they’ve used in their classroom.  There were presentations throughout Thursday, Friday and Saturday – the variety of ideas can be seen from the wikispace, which also shows how many offered but didn’t get to take part.

Having snaffled a helium balloon from a stand, I taped the logo to it and flew it by presentations – it seemed to make people stop for that all important three seconds it took for them to be drawn into the presentations!

My presentation was on the Babcock4S stand – and I have to say a huge thank you to Dan and the team for their welcome – and the beer!

Below are the slides from my talk entitled ‘Free stuff doesn’t have to be pants!

A lady from IRIS Connect was videoing it – if it gets published, I’ll upload the link! UPDATE – blog post with link

And look!  Just found this photo on Flickr that was taken during my presentation – you can see my legs just under the banner!

From Foto’s Frans Peeters on Flickr

Postcard courtesy of Landsbankinn

Third saying is –

Everything is nice that is green.

Origins of this saying are slightly obscure.  Was its inception fuelled by the desire for glorious summer during the darkness and discontent of winter?  The absence of vegetation in the seemingly endless black lava fields and lifeless sandbanks?  Or blissful ignorance of the existence of radiating plutonium?  Who knows.  But since it’s an old proverb, it must be true.

Brussel sprouts?  Snot?  Mmm…..

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