Friday, 28 March 2014

My iPad journey

I did my PGCE in Budapest (Hungary) 8 years ago and the only technology I used was a CD player. When I started to work in England in 2008,  I didn't even know what a PowerPoint presentation was and I was astonished to see an Interactive Whiteboard. When I got my first small job in a primary school I always made sure I stood a few metres' away from the IWB, it felt like being next to an alien. Because I was never taught with technology nor was I shown how to use it in the classroom, I didn't really understand all the fuss about moving images on the IWB or writing on it with those special pens. When I learnt how to make a PowerPoint presentation in 2008 I thought I had the world at my feet!
I am a visiting teacher, I fly from one classroom to the other with 1 basket and 2 bags, I meet my pupils once a week and spend very limited time with them. I teach with lots of props, PowerPoints, Youtube videos, CDs, craft activities, I do make sure we learn and have fun and I don't think anything will be missing if little Connor drops my iPad 'Dominic McGladdery' style....we will just shrug our shoulders and move on. 
My iPad journey started after a Show and Tell event in Manchester last October where almost all the presenters  mentioned their twitter names. I had no idea what they were talking about, but I couldn't sleep that night and joined Twitter, which was probably my smartest move of 2013. I saw loads of iPad questions and advice on my timeline  for weeks but was completely immune to them, just scrolled them down until one day I saw a tweet from Joe Dale (@joedale)  who made a picture of himself in ComicBook and wrote some lines there, too. I found it so funny that I immediately downloaded the app on my iPad; which until then, I had only used to go on Facebook or read the news. I took my iPad to my lesson the following week and with shaky hands gave the ComicBook task to a couple of children as an extension activity when they finished their writing.

Since then I have challenged myself to try something new, that I see on Twitter, every week, and I am getting really excited. Yesterday I even bought myself a VGA adaptor so that I could use the big screen as well.

Here I am listing the apps we have used so far. I can't show children's images from the classroom so I just took a few selfies for illustration, sorry:-)
Great to practise the Spanish question/exclamation marks and the accents.
Just like a whiteboard, good to draw favourite numbers, pets etc.  and let the others guess it.
After writing 7-8 sentences about themselves, the pupils can make their own 'gamis' then read out what they've written, making an audio recording of this. Very engaging, motivating and funny!
Even the shyest pupil will speak out loud to my hand holding the iPad and then will listen to the rap proudly. This one is called "Me pongo...".
 Thank you @EWoodroffe and @ SylvieBRawlings for the idea!
Based on your own photo, you can make funny faces with different themes and then record a message.
Thank you for the idea @lisibo! Here goes a smile for your blog!
Make Dice Lite
You can write your own sentences on the 6 sides, a volunteer rolls the dice, if somebody from the the rest of the class can guess where it stopped, he/she can roll the dice next. It really motivates the children to speak!
Decide Now!
A volunteer spins the wheel, if somebody from the the rest of the class can guess where it stopped, he/she can spin the wheel next. Just like the previous app, it gets the pupils to speak easily.

YAKit Kids
Put eyes, nose and mouth on your face and record your message, the mouth will actually talk!

Thank you @joedale and @Nieves_Sadullah!

We made "daily routine" short movies with it, there is a wide range of pictures you can use, it is really funny to look back and show the children the movie again at the beginning of the next lesson to remind us of the vocabulary.


Using the iPad in the classroom makes my pupils very excited, they all have their hands up to talk, sing, or have a go. They love looking at themselves on the screen and listening to how they speak in Spanish. I can't put much interesting technology in my bag but the iPad and the adaptor are really small to carry around, get out and set up. 
Thank you #mfltwitterati  and @joedale:-)
This is where it all began, and who knows where it will end? :-) I am looking forward to the iPad workshop next Saturday at ALL Languages World in Lancaster!


Saturday, 22 March 2014


In our last lessons of the term we will use eggs, chicks and bunnies to help us remember what we have learnt so far this year. Hiding and racing are all time favourites is my lessons!

Egg hunt in the classroom

I will hide these eggs in the classrooms before the school day starts, the children will have to find them and stick them on the board next to the right numbers.

The card eggs are from Asda, £1 for about 30 of them.
Egg race

A pupil will say a number and the two volunteers standing by the whiteboard will have to pick the number as quickly as they can. I always make them put their hands behind their backs first.

¡Preparados, listos, ya! Treinta y............ocho!

 Colour race

To practise the place of the adjective, a child or I will say sentences like "Tengo un huevo naranja". The 2 volunteers standing by the board will have to race to pick the right egg.

 What is the sound?

A game in pairs: the pupils will work in pairs, they will be given 2 different lists and they will have to challenge each other to recognise the sound and point to the right egg. The eggs will be hanging in the corners and on the walls of the classroom. If they point to the right egg, they can go to the next one, if they don't, they have to sing/rap the word, or sing/rap a sentence with the word! I will have a sentence written next to each word to help those who need more support.( My list will have words like amarillo, me llamo, rojo, perro, España, verde, junio, julio, jueves, viernes, hace calor, hace frío, está lloviendo, está nevando, hace viento, el hermano, la hermana, etc.)
Egg and spoon race:

I will put laminated flashcards around the classroom (different topics in every classroom: in the school, in the town, transport... etc). The two volunteers will have to race from one place to the other holding a spoon with an egg on it while saying sentences in Spanish (Voy al supermercado, Paso por delante del restaurante, Llego a la iglesia... etc.). If they can get to all the places without dropping their eggs they get a sticker.

Egg head families
I bought these eggs from one of the pound shops. In year 6 we are learning qualities and how to describe ourselves and others, this will be a good activity to finish the term. We will decorate them and describe them , and have a contest at the end for "la familia más mona" . There are four tables, they will each work on a family. I used the back of cereal boxes for the descriptions and I connected the egg and the card with a cocktail stick.

Chicken/Bunny Pacman

4 chickens stand in the 4 corners of the classroom and 4 bunnies stand between them by the wall. A volunteer will ask questions in the middle of the classroom and the quickest chicken or rabbit to answer right can move up a place, eating the one standing in his/her way. They move in a clockwise direction, if there is a gap they fill that. The last one standing is the winner. I learnt this game from my colleague Scott Davenport long time ago, he played it with "toros y gallinas".
Click for the bunny mask  and the chicken one.
La Mona de Pascua

This is for my Year 6 pupils and Spanish club only, I am not prepared to feed 200 pupils:-) They will have to work hard before they can eat them, because the plastic eggs have Spanish words and sentences inside that will need to be put in the right order. If we have time, we will decorate the cakes with ready made cake icing , I have got lots of half packets left from my son's home made birthday cake. We did some baking on this rainy Saturday afternoon:


Los pollitos dicen...
A song to learn an animal sound: pío pío and to say "I am hungry" and "I am cold".

Monday, 17 March 2014

10-minute teachers

I give my job up for 10 minutes every Thursday:-). I am not retiring yet, I just sit down with the rest of the class and participate in the activities of  the "pupil teachers".
We only have one lesson per week and I find it a real challenge to make progress within our topic and go over previously learnt material. There is a Q&A time at the beginning of every single lesson when we mention lots of different vocabulary and structures ("Tengo un hermano y una hermana", "Hoy hace frío", "Me encanta el limón", etc...), but  I would like to spend more time on "old" topics and  I thought that Year 6 were big enough to help me review material we had introduced before.

This is how it works:
At the end of each class I choose 2 pupils, they will be the 10-minute teachers the following Thursday. They pick their favourite topic (so far we have had animals, transport, body parts, colours...) and they have to prepare a mini lesson with a lesson plan (don't look for AFL or differentiation, they don't know Ofsted:-).

I like seeing how seriously they take this job: they come into the classroom a bit early to practise what they will say and to write down some words on the whiteboard. I always have CDs and my memory stick with me so they can put on a song or a video. They can bring in props if they want to, a few weeks ago one girl brought all these soft toys from her home, I was soooo pleased:-)
And it made my day when a pupil teacher corrected somebody for not using the PLURAL in "Tengo dos gatos." What a great assessment opportunity for me as well!

Teachers don't work for free of course, they get their pay at the end of their lesson: a Spanish pencil or a notebook.

I have bought these pencils from The Language Stickers Company.

The idea of my 10-minute teachers occurred to me when I was reading about "plenary pals" in "Pimp Your Lesson!" by Isabella Wallace and Leah Kirkman. Fantastic reading and lots of great ideas!


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Mother's Day

March is such a busy month! We are celebrating World Book Day, Mother's Day and Easter, and we also have specific topics and different skills to learn. As my penpal Natalia wrote it in her email once : "Siempre vamos con la lengua fuera." I know that Mother's Day is celebrated on different dates in all the Spanish speaking countries; the reason why I am fitting it in now is because it would be nice if the children could take some Spanish gifts home. I teach 8 classes a week and run a lunchtime Spanish club, we will use the following activities:

A tongue twister

Many years ago around Mother's Day I was sitting in a Spanish restaurant where the laminated placemat said "Mi mamá me mima mucho." I am sure we will have fun repeating it and listening to each other!

Gifts to take home in Spanish
I bought a big bag of letter beads a few months ago in my favourite charity shop, I was hoping to use them in my classroom to practise spelling. But because the beads are "girly" I couldn't find any activities suitable for everybody until last week when I thought that we could make bracelets for Mother's Day! Even boys will enjoy this, because they can make a gift for their mums or they can make a flower instead / write a card in Spanish.

 you can buy letter beads  on ebay
There are two types of flowers: one is for Year 6 where we are learning "porque" and describing ourselves (adjectives), the other one is for the younger ones, we will learn to  say "Te quiero, Mamá".  The templates are here and here.

A song

I love the animation, the tune and the fact that it is subtitled.


There are more ideas on Janet Lloyd's Mother Day's blog post! I am waiting for the postman to bring my "Mi mamá" book by Anthony Brown:-). I will let you know about it.
Update on 13/3/2014
I received the book, it is full of adjectives, a great chance to practise genders and agreement.
¡Feliz día de la Madre! from my garden...this hydrangea was my very first Mother's Day gift five years ago:-)


Friday, 7 March 2014

La Tomatina

On Wednesday morning I visited Becky, a friend of mine I hadn't seen for ages. We were chatting and having a cup of coffee when she casually mentioned that she had been to the Tomatina last August. My pulse  immediately went up, I  got very excited and invited her to my Spanish lessons to talk about this great festival. She said "All right, and when?", I said "TOMORROW!!!" Becky is off to Spain next week for a long time so there was no time to waste... Becky said she could come to both of my morning classes, a Year 5 and a Year 6. They are my longest sessions, 60 minutes each with lots of possibilities:-)
The right atmosphere
Early in the morning I went to Tesco to get some soap and a packet of ham to create our own "palo jabón". Finally these ugly posts in the classrooms gained a real purpose (we keep bumping into them when we play the lighting house directions game). The looks on the children's faces were priceless while I was sticking my ham up on the post before the lesson.Then Becky and me covered the post in soap, a very strong coconut one, the only kind they had in stock in the supermarket that morning:-)

I had asked the men in my family to make me a Lego truck and I filled it with tomatoes. I put the truck, diving goggles and swimming goggles in the middle of the classroom before the lesson started.
At the beginning of the lesson I asked the pupils whether they had noticed anything strange about the classroom, they mentioned the ham, the truck, the tomatoes and the "GIRL"(Becky:-). In year 5 we had never mentioned La Tomatina, in year 6 we had, so they could name the festival based on the clues.
Tomate, tomate, quiero tomate...
Becky gave her presentation, it was fantastic! We saw photos of her with her friends getting soaking wet, sticky and red! My favourite picture was Becky's hair after the Tomatina, she needed 4 washes to get all the bits off! She taught a chant: "Tomate, tomate, quiero tomate.....", this is what everybody shouts while waiting for the tomatoes to arrive. She reminded the children of the "ñ" in Buñol, taught us words like " los mozos", "el camión"  and "el cohete" and answered all the questions we had.
Me gusta la Tomatina PORQUE....
After the presentation we asked the children "Te gusta la Tomatina?" and they answered "Me encanta/Me gusta/ No me gusta la Tomatina." Then I said that now we are going to learn to give reasons with our opinions ("Es una fiesta estupenda/divertida/aburrida/sucia"). Those who could say their opinions with a reason were given a tissue tomato or paper tomato and could participate in the tomato fight at the end of the lesson. Obviously everybody's hands were up to express their feelings so we listened to about ten and then just listened to the rest while the children were doing pair work later. The tomatoes have to be squashed before throwing, so it was all right for me to prepare them quickly with tissue paper and not worry about the looks:-)

YO!!! We are rapping!

The day before the lessons I came across my friend Emilie's rap song on twitter and really  loved it, I downloaded  the app AutoRap and was desperate to try it with the pupils asap. We created a song with our opinion sentences and we found the rapping hilarious.

Mini books/Posters
We had about 10-15 minutes left and the pupils were given a choice: make a tomato shaped mini book or design a Tomatina poster for this year's tomato throwing festival in Burscough!!! In Spanish of course, because we will send the posters to Buñol:-) They are not finished yet, we will spend about 15 minutes on them next week and will put more images up then.
La Tomatina in the classroom
Our last activity was to actually throw the tomatoes at each other! I gave them a whole minute to go totally crazy and they loved it! I will have to use 1 minute of "Tomatina time" as a reward in my lessons in the future:-)

(And I am inviting you to a REAL tomato fight if you  think that Intercultural Understanding doesn't bring progress....:-)

Monday, 3 March 2014

Pancake Day again:-)

We almost finished our pancake flapbooks from last week! We will send the images to our Spanish penpals who will decide which one is the yummiest. The lucky winners will get lemons!:-)

Tomorrow is Pancake Day so I have thought of some activities we will do in different levels/contexts.
Flip the pancakes!
One pupil flips the pancakes and everybody else will count them in Spanish. When the pancake falls, another pupil will come out and we will just continue counting from the previous number. It is going to be a team competition between boys and girls. We made bean bag pancakes with my little daughter, we always have our PPA time together on a Monday morning:-) We didn't find beans at home but dry pasta works just as well.


Find the pancakes!

I can't play this game in every classroom because I don't have a break before all of my sessions to prepare for it, which is a shame because I know how the pupils like searching for my hidden treasures. I will hide pancakes with numbers written on them and the kids will have to stick them on the whiteboard next to the right number. 

Arrange the pancakes!

A race to see who is the quickest to put the pancakes in the right order (increasing or decreasing).

Pass the parcel frying pan!

In some of the classes this will be my starter, we will have to create the sentence "Me gusta el limón." I will stick the pancakes on the frying pan with blu tack. Those who pick a word when the music stops will have to come out to the front and make up a living sentence. Then one by one I will send the words to sleep by turning the pupils around and the rest of the class will have to remember the sentence with the gaps until there are no words left at all.
 Throw the pancakes!

Every pancake will have a number on, the pupils will have to stand at a distance and throw them into the frying pan. We will add the numbers together at the end. I read this idea on

Me gusta...

I was browsing on twitter half asleep last night and found this gem, thank you Janet Lloyd  for tweeting it:-) We will practise "Me gusta/no me gusta...., pero...."  sentences with pancake fillings.

Happy Pancake Day!