Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Teach Meet Clevedon - are you a Dolphin or a member of the Ungrateful Dead?

Blimey - when did you last get rock music and popcorn at an INSET event?! Well, they put on a great show at Clevedon as many have reported, but there is plenty of serious learning  going on. It is a testament to teachers in general that at this busy, run-down frazzled end of the year, so many people tip out for an event starting on a Thursday evening at 5 pm.  Why?

Here's what I have been thinking about from one of the speakers and I will try to write a bit more shortly.

Keynote man was Hywel Roberts - lovely blunt Northerner, full of warmth, great stories and fun. Read his book on "accidental" learning - get the pupils in and make them fall into your carefully prepared trap full of learning before they realise. This is hard in MFL, Hywel - pupils can come with the sour "oh God it's French" mentality which makes them very wary before they get to the door. This may resonate with other MFL teachers.

Hywel mentioned these things

  • you must address your coverage of the curriculum by all means but with creativity
  • think about the integrity of the learning on offer
  • How can we make learners more independent
  • Hook the kids!
Teachers need - Enthusiasm/Courage/Hope /Energy 

He talked about "botheredness"!! Can we be bothered? Have we enough ongoing unconditional positive regard for our pupils to keep being bothered? How do we show our "professional capacity to forgive" - very hard with those challenging or under-achieving children in our care, but Hywel asks teachers to re-consider these concepts of the emotional stance that teachers can take and illustrated with some very moving stories of children he has met whose lives have been transformed by teachers actually caring and listening. 

His analysis of teacher types raised a laugh
Where are you on the chart - enthusiasm scale on left hand side!!!


Young and keen but less experience


Top of your game
the Ungrateful Dead
Sleeping bear
Lots of experience but…

What I've been trying to consider too - his KEY QUESTION - are your lessons worth behaving for?
Some days, that's a hard one but we owe it to the pupils to produce lessons worth behaving for and then we may get more of the learning we want to see.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

10 ideas for dealing with differentiation!

We agonise over differentiation in MFL classrooms. It's hard -  how can we differentiate when we're speaking another impenetrable language anyway and it's raining and 9d5 aren't giving much in the way of learning signals.... I know all the arguments but we need to address the issue everyday in our ordinary classrooms. Many of us are still teaching very mixed classes even if they have been put into sets.

I have tried to think about quick tips - fast ideas which won't lead to instant insanity/resentment/overload. Nothing fancy - just things we do and take for granted or have forgotten about.

1.Simplify something existing - don't re-invent the wheel. Take your Tippex to another worksheet and alter or chop a sheet in half.

2. Copy on to pale coloured paper for dyslexic children and make it larger. Allow pupils to cut out and stick instead of writing or join with lines instead of writing out.

3. When doing a complex listening, pop the answers on a piece of paper in the wrong order for a weaker pupil who you know won't manage the exercise. They can listen and re-order - fast solution to a tricky problem. Or allow pupils to listen for half the items if they struggle. Most able can listen for opinions.

4. Set a Find the cognates exercise for SN pupils while others do harder questions and answers. Other possibilities are - Find 10 words you know; 10 words you have seen but can't remember etc. 10 verbs, 5 numbers and 5 times...

5. Give pupils a photocopy of harder text and ask them to colour in various items - blue for nouns, red for verbs, add yellow for pronouns to stretch most able, orange for adverbs or colour in different categories of words. Think of these ideas on your feet in class sometimes - go with your inspiration!
6. Type a list of basic vocabulary for slower writers and leave them to write in the English only. It doesn't take a moment and gives a sense of achievement. Have extra words ready to challenge more able learners. Have a super challenge ready for the very best!

7. Allow a dyslexic child to do a vocabulary test orally for you or record a written homework for you.

8. Make answer sheets for self-marking when you have produced two different worksheets - pass them around so that everyone can mark fast.
9. Give out simple sentence starters and writing models for weaker pupils - more pupils need these than we realise. Grow a departmental bank of these and ensure everyone is contributing!
10. Buy in a programme like Taskmagic which will create a variety of worksheets for you - job done! Dominoes and gaps and matching lists - terrific choice for all pupils.

We are starting a CPD group on differentiation so I may come back to this theme. What have you found that works easily?

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Having a go at My Brainshark

I've been meaning to try this for ages and I am doing a presentation shortly so I thought I would trial my Brainshark with some of my own photos. We had a fabulous holiday and i would thoroughly recommend this company if you get to Port Douglas for your reef trip!

However my main point is that you can use this site for adding commentary to any documents, powerpoint or photoshow and I think it has great potential for inspiring better presentations by our pupils, as well as enlivening materials we put together. I might be tempted by the pro version in order to refine security, notifications and so on.

Have a watch!

Forgive the amateur commentary but I set myself the task of recording really fast with no script, just to see how manageable it was. I am impressed at how feasible it is to make a good -looking presentation and I will be able to set my pupils a more interesting way of preparing their work. 

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Presenting for colleagues

I was pleased to have the chance to put together some ideas for colleagues at school recently - I must admit - with a little trepidation - it's not easy presenting to teachers, I think. Well, I did the presentation and enjoyed presenting and sharing. So I tried to present my journey, my inspiration for the engagement with "Web 2 tools" - soooo 2005! according to my techie son - I'll have to change the terminology.
I have learned a lot from the MFL Twitterati, who share so well and also from the MFL ICT conferences which have been excellent.
It was pleasing to get positive reactions from my colleagues in other departments so I put my presentation on slideshare and found that many people enjoyed discovering slideshare also! I was grateful for this positive feedback and encouragement - I am nowhere compared to the speakers I watch in my turn, but there are still many professionals working away on their own, needing support and feeding with new ideas, grateful for a bit of something new or a reminder of something they have forgotten. Here's my presentation - simple but a reasonable starting point, which won't overload.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Livebinder for teachers

I just found this link on Twitter the other day and was delighted with the fabulous comprehensive content. Maybe you are very familiar with this guy, but I thought the link was worth investigating in detail. Great stuff Tim and thank you for such a brilliant overview of the tools available for teachers in such a good filing system! Tim lists hundreds of tools in types within his filing system. I particularly want to try more of the curation tools - livebinder, symbaloo, pinterest, linoit,- museumbox looked good for History teachers.


Sunday, 27 May 2012

Mind your shoulders!

I have been a bit quiet for some time - I am a Head of Department and I find it very hard to make as much time as I would like for writing my own posts, doing the business of reflection, sharing new materials or just writing about the stuff I do in class with ordinary kids, day to day. Like most teachers, I live with guilt about it too!
However any computer activity has had to be curtailed as I found that I was getting RSI in my right shoulder and mouse hand.
Very common apparently - physios deal with lots of us and the modern world is causing a lot of shoulder injury.

To look after yourself - always stretch your shoulders regularly. Keep your shoulders down and back, keep your neck moving and try to keep the mouse nearer to your body for example.
If you use a laptop, get a stand, buy a separate keyboard and mouse and use them at the correct height for you - you need to be looking straight at the screen at eye level.

You need to get the levels of inflammation down and then do exercises to build up upper body strength too, which can be problematic for women of a certain age also! See your doctor and don't ignore your aching shoulder! All for now, before I set it off again.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

A level Environment topic - a song to use

What's the weather outlook for humankind? Ask GCM - Grand Corps Malade,  His "Bulletin Météo" was enjoyed by my Year 13s recently as a change from the more solid approaches of text book or articles from the Web. I love his style and way with words, so it's win/win.

For what it's worth, here is how I used the song.
  • Lead in to the idea of using a weather forecast as a metaphor for the future prospects of something - French equivalent of "outlook bleak", or " clear periods with storms on the horizon"
  • Play the song Bulletin Meteo to class and ask them simply to try to note down any weather related words they hear. They can find 10 or so by the second time through, I found. 
  • Next, they should try to note down the rhyming words at the ends of sentences. Challenging but fun. Very interesting to see the kids comparing their findings and misheard attempts - they learned a lot from this about the sound/spelling link like claire et nette NOT clarinette!
  • Next, let them see the text - I found it easily on the web. They highlight the weather words, look for cognates and we worked on the text to see if we felt GCM was positive or negative about the future for mankind, from the language he used. 
  • Next for fun we read through it all with GCM trying to match his speed! What a good exercise for trying to improve your mouth muscles in French! 
  • We worked through the meaning of the text in groups of lines with a lot of help from me. I left it there with a final hearing of the song but wonder if I could be brave enough to get a talented class like this to write a forecast next.
It's not an easy text and as usual I wrestle also with exact meaning in places as a non native, but I think it's worth helping pupils to see that real songs will not always be fully understandable, certainly on the first meeting with the material, but that with effort you can get a lot from it. 
By the way GCM is positive about a future for humankind IF we change our ways - Hmmmm. On va voir.