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!



  1. What a super idea! I used to work with a maths teacher who did a lot of research on short-term and long-term memory. He said that what we had to strive to do was to commit all the language (in our case) to the long-term memory from where it could be dug back out when needed. This can only be done by frequent revisiting and repetition. He used to devote 50 mins of each hour to the new stuff and then the last 10 mins to going over and refreshing something they'd done before. I tried it with KS3 in the past and it does work. Heather Rendall's work treats a similar theme -

  2. I have just read the blog post, it is fantastic! How interesting! I will have to read all the other links at the end of the post as well. I wish languages were taught more than once a week. I know that ideally the class teachers should practise with the children but they can't find the time or lack the confidence. I will have to extend the 10-minute teachers' work to do an extra session during the week when there is no Spanish. Also, my post only refers to one class where the lesson is 60 minute long so we have enough time, but I teach 30 minute lessons and 45 minute ones where I constantly struggle to fit the current topic activities.
    Thanks for your comment, I really appreciate it!

  3. Thanks Erzi ¡It's a great idea! It's a pity that we only have lessons of 45 -50 minutes more or less. I used to work as an English teacher in Spain and I used to have 4 hours a week with each group ...Can you imagine? Yo can do miracles ha,haha. Unfortunately here, we only have 1 lesson a week so I agree that we constantly struggle fo fit the current topics activities. I try to recap previous vocabulary or structures every week. I have a routine called "El reto de la semana" in which I ask questions in relation to a video, picture, poem (whatever you would like to use) and children have to guess the answers. We use music, silly props (glasses and hairband) in order to make it funny. To be picked the children have to show me a silly face (pretending that they are thinking) and then "Los responsables" (Special helpers) decide who is going to do it. If the child says the correct answer, he can get a "ticket de rifa" for the prize we give at the end of the lesson. It takes 5-10 minutes's not enough but I think we are trying our best.
    I think your idea is really good and obsiouly enocurage children to think and practise Spanish '¡Olé Erszi! ¡Tú lo vales! .-)

    Muchas gracias por el post.

    ciaoooooo :-)

  4. Tu m'as inspiré! Je vais essayer...