Friday, 29 August 2014

My teaching space

In the past few weeks I have seen teachers on Twitter getting their classrooms ready for September, and the great photos they have posted are making me feel very jealous! I am a visiting language teacher, a one person travelling circus who carries ALL these things in her hands:-)

I park 10 minutes away from my school, that is a fair bit of walk for me every Tuesday and Thursday morning, carrying my "classroom". And because I like challenges, on my way back home, I go to the charity shop just a few minutes away from my school, and buy even more things I then have to carry back to the car! The ladies who work in the shop worry about me if I don't turn up on Tue/Thu, we have become very fond of each other over the years, so I pop in all the time. I have bought lots of treasures there for my teaching: look at my puppet Valentín, or the pizza hat he is wearing (for the "Soy una pizza song.")

Here is a list of my teaching space:
The basket: it is my BRAIN, it has general teaching stuff: a lesson plan book, my iPad with converter for the board , dictionaries, a kitchen timer, fly swats, a Spain scarf (for the mystery voice), fake moustaches for detective games, reward stickers (from The Language Stickers Company), reward notes to send home, CDs,one kilogram of blu tack, a USB stick with a million songs/videos/PowerPoints/YouTube clips,the talking hamster, and the parrot, who flies around the classroom in every single lesson I teach in the first 5 minutes asking questions in Spanish.
Two big yellow bags: I bought these at the airport duty free shop for £1 a few years ago, they are very sturdy and look great. I teach in 2 schools, there is a bag for each.
The 3rd bag (I love Madrid, it says): it is for eTwinning/Spanish club/crafts. In the picture you can also see some playmats, they are only with me occassionaly when I feel I need to burn extra calories!The playmat activities were inspired by Vicky Cooke and Julie Prince.
As a reward, 2-3 pupils can carry my basket, bags and CD player from one room to the other after the class. They absolutely love it, it's better than offering chocolate!

My desk: Well, I don't really have one, nor do I have an office... My teaching resources had been stored all over the house in the past 5 years, but this spring my husband agreed to give me half his loft space, which is his beloved art studio. Because I got there second, I got the space just under the roof where I can't actually stand up:-) I kneel, crawl, sit or lie when I am up there and knocked my head on the beams and ceiling so many times, I don't feel the pain any more. Here everything is put away in topic boxes, each box/drawer has toys, lesson plans and activity descriptions. I have separate shelves for Intercultural Understanding, children's books and stationary. I have big buckets for eTwinning, ALL Primary hub stuff and European Day of Languages rewards (to order free stuff, see my EDL blog post).

On my wall I have language teaching posters I bought from the Association for Language Learning. You can order them from the ALL website.

I know primary Spanish teachers who have their own rooms:  I have seen Carmen's classroom pictures on her blog and Fatima Duerden posted some pictures of hers in the Facebook group before. They both look fabulous, I wish I could be a pupil sitting there in their lessons:-)

But don't think I have always lived like this.... on a different planet in a previous life, I had my own language school, in an old train carriage, heated by a stove:-)

update 31/8/2014: I have just finished my planning on my kitchen table, on a huge sheet of paper!

Happy New Year to everybody going back to school next week!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

A poem: Canción tonta

This summer holiday I am thinking about how to fit in poetry and "great literature"(new PoS) with my teaching. So far I have shared ideas on  two poems: Doña Pita Piturra by Gloria Fuertes and La plaza tiene una torre by Antonio Machado. This week I have chosen Canción tonta,  a poem by Federico García Lorca, because a blog comment by Carmen (who always says nice words:-) made me look into Lorca's work for children.
The poem is easy to understand and learn, and because it's a "silly one", it will give us the chance to play around and use our imagination (and the dictionary, of course). I am planning to read it to everybody around Mother's Day.
The song:
Previously I mentioned the following activities that could work well with this poem, too:
Find the rhymes!
Draw the poem!
Change the poem!
Choose the right word!
Mix it all up!
Run, read and recite!
Make a movie! 
Guess the emotion!
Steal a vowel/consonant!
Add/change a word!
Create a song!

Quiero is a very important verb to learn, so after presenting the poem, the pupils will have the chance to become what they want to be with "Quiero ser..". In Year 3 they could all become their favourite colours and say "Quiero ser verde, azul, etc..". Invite a volunteer to pick a "Quiero ser..." figure from the mystery bag (full of colour people), and the class will have to guess who he/she wants to be. The one to guess the colour right (in a sentence) can come out next.
  • Quieres ser (de color) rojo?
    -No, no quiero ser (de color) rojo.
  • Quieres ser (de color)verde?
    -Sí, quiero ser (de color) verde.

Alternatively, the pupils will have to become a noun they really like. Just like in the poem!They will already know most words on the slide in Year 3 , but can add own suggestions after checking in the dictionary.


I have cut out shapes(the template is here) but there are ready made people shapes in Poundland.
Our dream jobs
The Y5/6 pupils can choose their dream jobs from the list, they are already aware of genders and changes they have to make to the words. We will play vocabulary games like "charades", "mystery voice" and "red herring".


 A dialogue

The pupils can make up a silly poem between child and mum: they can say what they want to be (nouns from the dictionary, jobs from the previous slide)  and the worrying mum can react with the following expressions. They can perform their lines in front of the class and show some drama. Because it is a silly poem, it doesn't have to make much sense, in fact, the more unusual, the better! Surprise and change are good for us:-)

A Mother's Day gift

A shape to put on mum's pillow: the pupils can decorate it with their favourite noun and write a sentence on it in Spanish.


Mine is being made and hopefully it will say: Mamá, yo quiero ser chocolate.:-)
There are more ideas on my blog for Mother's Day.
And finally:  another recommendation from Lorca: La Tarara! I am sure you have all heard it before!



Thursday, 14 August 2014

A poem :Doña Pita Piturra

In my August blog posts I am sharing ideas about how we will work with poems next year. Last week I wrote about La plaza tiene una torre, and today we have Doña Pita Piturra by Gloria Fuertes!This poem will fit in with our Clothes topic in Year 4 (see my clothes games here). It has a few different versions online, I will use the one from my Gloria Fuertes book I bought from here. 

Here it is....very easy to learn!

Get a doll or a puppet to illustrate the meaning while you are presenting it, and use gestures for "grande" and "ancho".This is what I mean:


And repeat the shoe verses again.
I will tell the children that Doña/ Don refer to royalty or when addressing an older person. They are a bit like Sir/Lady/Dame. During the lesson we will challenge ourselves to call each other with Don and  Doña when referring to names, like when I say "Necesito dos voluntarios, ¡venid Doña Amy and don Callum a la pizarra!".

Find the rhymes!

Get your fly swats and ask for volunteers to find the rhyming word. You say "elegantes", and they have to find "guantes" or "antes". Other examples: sombrero-plumero, zapato-ancho, toquillas-polillas, guantes-grandes, guantes-antes.The one to hit the correct word stays out, the other one gets an applause from the class and chooses the next one to come up to challenge the person already out. I have made two slides for this game, one has clues, the other one only features the words. Don't worry, we don't  break an IWB every week in our Spanish lessons, the pupils know that they can't actually touch the screen just go VERY close.

Dress the doll!
Another competition, my pupils love races! Say a line from the poem or a whole verse and let's see who can dress the dolls the quickest! You will  need two sets of each item for this game.

Dress yourself!

Say a line/verse from the poem and see who can put the right piece of item on. The pupils can use blu tack to stick the moths on their clothes:-) If you don't have the items from the poem, they will just have to pretend that they are putting the hat, shoe, etc. on.

Draw the poem!

The pupils can draw the poem or part of it on their whiteboards in pair work or in front of the class on the big board.

Language detectives:

Where do the words belong to? How do you know?


And where would you put these new ones? Why? A good way to introduce adjective-noun agreement and start to build awareness! This slide comes with clues:
And here is a more challenging one for later:

Change the poem!

There are so many words we already know in Year 4, I have copied some on the slide, could you place them in the poem somewhere and think about changing them if they need any change?

 Choose the right word!
And use the activities I blogged about last week, just scroll down for the details!
Mix it all up!
Run, read and recite!
Make a movie!
Guess the emotion!
Steal a vowel/consonant!
Add/change a word!
Create a song!
Buy the book! It is full of the most incredible poems and amazing illustrations!
We "read" it at bedtime in my house in HUNGLISH:-)
After publishing my post, I got a tweet from @valleseco recommending poems on Light Bulb Languages:  Excellent selection!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

A poem: "La plaza tiene una torre"

The new KS2 Programme of Study states that the pupils should "read great literature in the original language" and "appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language."
A few weeks ago I started to prepare myself for this new challenge: I went to the Cervantes Insitute in Manchester, because I remembered reading a very good poetry methodology book during my teacher training years in the Cervantes Insitute in Budapest, and I was desperate to find it. After sitting on the carpet for a long, long time and taking each book off the shelf, I finally found THE ONE! It is full of great ideas for intermediate and advanced learners; I have adapted some and will use them in my primary teaching from September.

I teach everybody from Year 3 to Year 6, so in the following weeks I will blog about a "great literature" piece for each group. I have my pupils and their previous knowledge in my mind when I share my ideas, hope you can use them and adapt them!
The first one is for my Year 6 classes, who will be learning about "places in the town". For this topic, I have chosen La plaza tiene una torre by Antonio Machado.
Here is my list of possible activities after the presentation of the poem:
1,Mix it all up!
While the children listen to the poem with their eyes closed and heads on the tables, the teacher gives out a word from the poem to each pupil. When they "wake up", they have to find their sentence and stay together. Alternatively, a group of pupils can be given a line from the poem and have to line up in the right order in front of the class. I have done this before with different sentences and kept switching the IWB on and off to offer help but to stimulate dialogue and thinking at the same time. You can read the poem or listen to the YouTube video (see at the end of this post).

2, Run, read and recite!
The teacher sticks a copy of the  poem on the wall and asks for two volunteers from the two competing groups (boys and girls in our case). They will be the runners, and they will have to dictate the poem to  representatives of their groups, sitting in the far corners of the classroom with their whiteboards. The runners will run back and forth until the poem is completed, the winner is the quickest group.
3, Act it out!
A volunteer acts a sentence out, and the class has to guess which one it is. The pupil who guesses it right can come out to the front next. This activity can be done in pairs, as well. Here is an example of the actions rom YouTube.
4, Build the sentence!
There are a million building blocks in my house, I literally stumbled over this idea the other day. A volunteer calls out a sentence and the pupils have to build it as quickly as they can. The winner is the quickest. This activity can be done in pairs, as well. Here are the possibilities! (I have enough building blocks to give out, if you need some I can recommend charity shops or carboot sales. You can use them for building blocks sentences I have blogged about.)

 And the last line:

5, Make a movie!
The pupils in small groups can film the scenes of the poem, using themselves, play figures,or playdough people. You can use Lego Movie Maker on your iPads to "build" the poem.
6, Guess the emotion!
A volunteer says a sentence with a chosen emotion (happy/sad/disappointed/angry..etc.) and the rest of the class have to guess it. (Again, you can do it in pairs).
7, Steal a vowel/consonant!
The pupil picks a letter from the alphabet bag, doesn't show it to anybody, and then starts to read the poem omitting the letter. To make it more dramatic, the thief could wear a false moustache (from the Pound shop) or a pair of sunglasses. The one to guess the missing letter correctly is the next thief.

8, Add/change a word!
The pupils have to notice the mistakes and then they have to make up their own versions adding or changing words.
tiene un balcón grande, ha pasado un caballero en motocicleta, el balcón no tiene una dama
la plaza tiene un supermercado, el balcón tiene un gato, la dama una negra flor
9, Make up your own poem!
Give the pupils a card or a piece of paper, that will be the "plaza". Tell them to draw a building in the centre and make up their own poems.It is a great opportunity to use the dictionary.
10, Listen to the song or create your own tune!
The poem has a song version, it is a very catchy tune, you will find it easy to sing along. For some reason I can't link the YouTube video here, but you will find  it on this blog.
Or ask the pupils to sing the poem. They can prepare in pairs and present it to the class for a small prize. If you have iPads, use Autorap to make the sentences into a rap.
11, Make a mini-book!
There are lots of mini-book ideas on Clare Seccombe's blog. I am thinking about making a triarama book based on this poem.
12, Make a role-play!
Imagine a dialogue between "la dama" and "el caballero".There are so many questions they could ask each other!

Please add your suggestions as a comment or tweet me at @Erzsiculshaw!

Monday, 4 August 2014

The cupboard - a new game!

I am writing this post because I promised world fame to two of my Year 5 pupils.
If you read my blog regularly you know about the 10-minute teachers: they are volunteer pupils (kind of...) who have to teach a mini lesson every week on a topic they like most. They revise vocabulary with the class, play a game with them and make them sing a song. During this time I sit  with the other pupils and participate. I introduced this activity in two groups last year, and it turned out to be a success, a very anticipated part of the Spanish lesson.  But the approach was different in Year 5 and Year 6, and not because I set the rules differently...while in Year 6 the teachers revised previously learnt topics (animals, transport, family...etc.), in Year 5 the pupils insisted on creating new topics, like computers, wild animals, sweets...etc. They were very excited about finding words in the class dictionaries and inventing new games! I even had a pupil who included his mum in this activity, they made the list of words together, which made me so happy:-)
So here comes the new game, it is called THE CUPBOARD!! (There is a cupboard/small room in every room where I teach.)

Here are the rules:
1, two volunteers go in and they close the door (one would be enough but they insist somebody has to open/close the door:-),
2, while the class is quiet, the person inside says a sentence in Spanish including the new vocabulary (I insist on sentences, not just words),
3, the class has to guess what the sentence is,
4, the person who guesses the sentence can go in THE CUPBOARD, with a pupil of his/her choice.
The class is so quiet during this activity you could hear a pin drop and they all concentrate on the sentence. Because it is very hard to hear the sentence clearly from the classroom, they come up with rhyming words, similar words, the right words but without plural, etc... It really makes them think!

By the end of the school year, it became the most popular game leaving all time favourites like "the secret signal" and the "mystery voice" well behind.

If you have a cupboard/small room inside your classroom, try it! And don't forget to credit it to the Year 5 pupils in Burscough Village Primary School:-)

In my house this game is called "the wardrobe", the big favourite for "hide and seek".