Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Pass the translation...or whatever you want to do!

Last Yr13 lesson tomorrow and I felt the need to do something fun, yet also useful. So I found a brilliant tips for the translation sheet on TES here: A2 German translation tips by Lis1982, adapted it and used the translation sentences as a pass the parcel type game. I took each sentence, wrote the English on an envelope, wrote the German translation on a strip of paper and chopped it up, added some alternative words and threw in some red herrings and popped all the pieces of paper in the envelope.

What I'm going to do is give the students an envelope to begin with, give them 3 minutes to rearrange the words, write the translation down correctly and identify what grammar points they needed to watch out for. At the end of the time limit, they are going to pass them to the next person and repeat. At the end, they are going to check their work against the answers and see who got the most correct.

Hope it works cos I feel like I've been cutting up paper forever!!!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Whiteboard noughts and crosses

Can't believe I haven't done this before. You have your normal noughts and crosses grid etc, but instead of just having one child from each team give an answer, everyone in the class writes the answer on a mini whiteboard. You then pick a name at random (lolly sticks are my favourite modus operandi here!), making sure it's someone from the right team and they show you and read out their answer. If they get it wrong, you pick out a name for the opposing team. Works well and its actually quite a good settler. Everyone is involved too, which means less heavy handed classroom management!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Slappy hands team game

I wanted to call this slappy hands relay, but it isn't really a relay!  You'll see what I mean as you read on...

I purchased a large amount of fly swatters from Poundland in March (2 in a pack for ... £1!) to be used in our version of 'Splat'.  Basically, you have pictures up on the board/wall, teacher says the vocab and 2 pupils battle it out against each other to 'splat' the correct matching pic with their fly swatters.  1 point per correct answer - I give points out to the first pupil to splat the pic. The first pupil to reach 5 points wins...simple!  This can then be played in groups (hence the class set of fly swatters), using a printout of your slide or a copy of whatever you used for the whole class game.

I took it one step further today...bit of a risk with a lively, large class of year 8 pupils.  I split the class into 2 teams and made them line up, either side of the board.  The first person was armed with a fly swatter.  From the back of the room, I shouted out the vocab and the two armed pupils had to splat the correct pic, as the original game, but then, they had to pass their fly swatters to the next person and go to the back of their team's line.  The next two pupils were then up and had to do the same. And so it continued until a score of 20 was reached.  There was much excitement and a huge cheer at the end for the winning team.  This was topped off by one of the winning team saying, "Wir möchten 20 Punkte, weil wir gewonnen haben!"  How could I refuse with lovely TL like that!

Such a good game, and easily adaptable to other subjects. Pass it on! I would love to hear how you get on.  Comments below!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


I was inspired to do this as ever, by @morganmfl, who posted pics of these mini Jenga games that she had found.  I had heard about it through other amazing MFL teachers (check out: http://elvisrunner.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/jenga-revisited.html)  on Twitter and was excited to try it myself, so after receiving these mini games from Amazon, I spent (far too much) time numbering all of the bricks.  I decided to number each set in a different colour and put coloured labels on the top, so that the sets wouldn't get muddled.

For my Year 10 guinea pigs(!), I had on my board, 10 questions in German about their town and ideal town as they are currently practising for their structured conversations.  In groups, they had to take turns to remove a brick each (as per the usual rules), place it on the top and answer the question the brick corresponded to.  For example, if a student picked brick 3, they would answer question 3.  They had to answer the question before the next person took out their brick (Thank you to @Pixiejojo for this idea).

It was a success I think.  They seemed to enjoy it.  I would definitely bear in mind the time of the day you do this and with which class, as my Year 11 class p5 today, were somewhat giddy and for them it wasn't quite as successful.

Here are some photos:

So far so good!

getting a bit rocky!

clever idea - contain the debris when they fall!

aaargh - watch out ...

... and they've gone!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Praise and sanctions

Happy New Year to all!

In August I blogged about some behaviour cards that I had made (see original post here).  I just wanted to update and let you know about how I have adapted them to suit a particularly challenging, quite large, Year 8 bottom set of mainly boys, to whom I am trying to teach French!

In trying to incorporate as much enjoyment as possible, given that many of them do not rate French as one of their priority subjects, I was finding it very hard to strike a balance between fun and structure. Although the majority was enjoying the lessons, there was a hardcore of pupils who was taking advantage and spoiling it for the rest of the class.  I decided to stop the teaching and get back to basics.  I told them how I wasn't happy with how things were progressing and that we needed to re-establish some ground rules.  We went through the rules, after I had rewritten them to make them crystal clear and spent some time working on them.  We discussed sanctions and rewards and it was made perfectly clear what would happen if they messed about and also if they tried hard.  This is what I told them:

The behaviour cards I blogged about before are key to the whole thing.  They are very straight forward and simple.  I also made laminated cards with all their names on.  After a verbal warning, anyone whose behaviour continues to get on my nerves has their name stuck onto the yellow card. So far, this is as far as I have had to go since our 'new start', which I think is testament to how this system has worked.  Names on a yellow card can be removed if the behaviour that got them there improves.  Continued poor behaviour leads to the name being removed from yellow and added to red.  Red is dead, i.e., a withdrawal from lesson and/or a detention if required.  This is accompanied by parents being informed.  On the positive side, if a child has shown that s/he has tried really hard in the lesson, their name is stuck to the green card.  At the end of the lesson, everybody on a green card gets a merit and parents are informed (I use +ClassDojo for doing the class register and for messaging parents).  In addition, one name is selected at random to receive a scratch card (see here for blogpost on scratch cards).  At the same time, I have a teampoints competition, which is ongoing.

I am so happy with how the whole thing is working.  The class as a whole is much more focussed; the conscientious are still conscientious and are getting rewarded; the silly ones are now kept in line and are dealt with if needed, and rewarded like the rest as necessary.  Nobody wants to go on the yellow card, let alone the red; there is real excitement when it is time for the scratch card draw and pupils are genuinely interested in what prizes have been won; parents are informed of successes, which they like and of course, they would also be informed if their child was in need of a kick up the bum.  The whole thing fits into the school merit/detention system and we are still having fun!  It took a lot of effort to set up, but I absolutely recommend taking the time to repaint any boundaries that have faded. It's not too late and is worth every second.

Many thanks to @teachertoolkit, who gave me the idea of the behaviour cards in the first place!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Games, competition and fun, fun, fun!

Hello all!  In MFL we use all sorts of strategies to engage our learners; much of this is centred around games, competition and fun activities - all ways to 'con' our learners to learn!  As an MFL teacher, I was trained to use these types of strategies most of the time, but today it was brought to my attention that perhaps colleagues in other areas might benefit from these types of activities and it doesn't do any harm to be reminded of them too, so below are some common strategies/games we use in MFL to keep the little darlings engaged!

This underpins everything.  Everything is about competition.  Every game we play earns the winner teampoints.  You pit one side of the room against the other.  If you are brave enough, you pit the girls against the boys.  You can go for 2 teams or more.  (I like to keep it simple by having 2, but have been know with lower sets to have more due to there being fewer of them and it being easier to handle).  I keep a tally of points on the whiteboard; just a simple cross with A and B at the top works, or you might want them to take ownership and choose their own team names - this could work well if you get them to choose something relevant to the subject they are learning.  It is a brilliant classroom management tool; give points for working hard, being first to hand books out, best group work etc. Also you have the opportunity to take points away for poor behaviour etc.  So what becomes of the points?  I like to start by just letting the winning team from the lesson be the first to leave the room, singing 'Wir haben gewonnen/Nous avons gagné' because I use it as a linguistic opportunity.  Later on, I like to develop a chart of some kind, where the 'wins' are accumulated and the winning team at the end of the half term wins sweets or merits or something.  You can make it cultural, topical etc.  In MFL, we might have the Eiffel Tower to 'climb' - first to the top wins.  You could do anything, really!  They really enjoy it and it makes learning fun.

Simple but effective, and great for AfL.  Simply put pictures or questions, for example, in a traditional noughts and crosses grid; number the squares and the teams take it in turns to answer the question or say whatever is represented by the picture.  Winning team gets 5 points.

Brilliant game.  You can do a grid or a line.  Put a selection of pictures or facts on the board and give each one a number.  Pupils choose, say, 6 numbers and write them down.  You call out something which links to one of the pictures or facts and if the pupils have the corresponding number, they cross it out.  First to get a line or full house etc wins.

Don't worry, this is not what it sounds like!  Same idea as above, but you give them a strip of paper, divided into six for example.  Pupils write the numbers on in each segment.  When you call out the information linking with something on the board, if the corresponding number is at either end of the paper, they fold it under itself, revealing a new number at the end, until they have folded over all their numbers and you have called out their last one.

Like the game show, have a grid of hexagons; Click here for an interactive grid I uploaded onto TES. (there must be scope here for some SOLO hexagon work!).  In each hexagon put a letter.  Team A goes from top to bottom and Team B goes from left to right.  When they give you a letter, you ask them a question.  If they get it right, the hexagon is coloured in their team colour.  If they get it wrong, the other team can answer, thus blocking them if they get it right.  It can take quite a while at first and they can get quite competitive, but it is a good way of consolidating work at the end of a topic.

These have become invaluable in the MFL classroom.

We like telepathy, where the teacher 'thinks' of something from the topic and writes it down on a mini whiteboard.  The rest of the class has to write down what the teacher is 'thinking' of.  When the answers are revealed, the winners get teampoints!  A great plenary. Another version of telepathy is where you write something down on the mini whiteboard and the pupils take it in turn to guess what you have written, thus recycling what they have learnt previously.  For each wrong answer, you draw one of the components in a hangman gallows.  They have to guess what you have written before you complete the gallows.

Write it once, say it x3:  This is great for recapping and revising key terms, for example (or for MFL  - vocab). In pairs, 1 person has to choose a word and start writing it in the mini whiteboard.  His/her partner has to try and work out what is being written and say it 3 times before they finish writing it.

There are many more whiteboard activities - maybe I will blog about more another time.

The above activities can all be played in small groups too, which makes for smooth transitions and ... more fun!  The main thing is, the pupils are enjoying themselves and are hell bent on winning.  What they don't realise is that you have created these activities to con them into learning - what's not to like!

Please comment below, if you have done a variation of the activities above and you would like to share.

Silent read and run

This seems to be a contradiction, but it really works. @mcclearning brought it to our school and set it up so well I had to haven a go.
You have a number of the same short texts on folded pieces of paper stuck on the wall at head height in the corridor. You split your class into groups of 3 or 4. They take it in turns to run out to the corridor and remember as much as they can and then run back in and write down, in silence what they remember. The others read through and correct any possible mistakes. Then the next person goes out and repeats the action. They carry on until your timer goes off. Obviously you need to make sure there are no trip hazards etc.

Then for the scoring. You give each group 100 points. You add 20 if they completed it in silence. You remove 20 if they were noisy. They swap their work and correct each others', taking away 1 point for each mistake and 2 for each word missed out.

It is so much fun and even slightly calming as they try to stay silent. I offer a prize to the team with the most points. Careful no-one cheats; just knock 20 points off for taking pens out or papers off the wall. 

I am definitely going to do more of these!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Where have all the photos gone?

I was just reading a lovely comment left on my Year 11 Balloon Towers post and I realised that my photos, to which I allude, have all gone missing!!!  It then dawned on me that I had a big deleting session yesterday and have now got rid of all those pics from ...everywhere!  So I apologise if you were expecting to see accompanying photos in my blog posts; you can't - they don't even exist any more!  You will have to use your imagination!

Sometimes technology drives me mad!

Fix it with marking plasters!

I love this idea - I got it from @ASTsupportAAli's blog, http://cheneyagilitytoolkit.blogspot.co.uk/, which is brilliant, by the way!  I just adapted it and included a QR code to link to an explanatory webpage, should the student need more information or support.

The plasters are below in my Dropbox (I used Publisher, though, so that might cause some probs for some people):

These are the stickers using the Avery template 3489 (30 on a sheet)

and these are the others I had to make because I bought the wrong size stickers!  There are still 30 on a page though!

Feel free to adapt as you see fit.  I am using them sparingly, where there is a real need for support; i.e., the student keeps making the same mistakes.  Otherwise, I could be plastering their books with them (Scuse the pun!).

Post a comment below or tweet me if you use them.  Would love to know how you get on.  I shall be posting some feedback on this blog as soon as I can!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Parents giving marking feedback!

A colleague of mine, Karen Green came up with a brilliant idea this week. Get parents to look at exercise books and give their children 2 stars and a wish, ie, comment on 2 good things and set a target for their child. Haven't done it yet, but I will soon. No doubt the result will be displayed here!

Simple classroom poker - plenary

A simple no prep plenary - ask class to stand up if they know the answer to a particular question. Then ask one of them at random. Teampoint for correct answer...ta-dah!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Twitter - not for twits!

This post is mainly for my colleagues at school who are not on Twitter.  This has already been posted on Twitter by @jillberry102 and I thought it was a brilliant way of outlining the merits of Twitter for teachers, or 'Tweachers', once converted!!!  For those of you thinking about soaring into the Twittersphere, stop thinking and just do it - and here are some of the reasons why: What Twitter offers teachers: The evidence

Thanks @jillberry102 for tweeting about this marvelous post!

(How many times can one person use the word 'Twitter' in one blog post?!)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Slappy hands gone sophisticated!

In MFL lessons in our school, we love playing what we call 'slappy hands'. Others may know it as 'splat'; you have several answers to questions on the board/wall. In MFL it works well for vocab, practising genders etc. You shout out a question and 2 volunteers have to slap the answer. For this we have fly swatters! First to slap correct answer wins. Also great in groups with answers on a big sheet of paper.

Here's the sophisticated bit. My colleague, Caroline Pattinson has adapted it to work with highlighters, where each group member has a different coloured highlighter and highlights the correct answer when the question is shouted out. it's still a competition, but you can see as a teacher who gets all the questions right.

Great for older classes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How Lego saved my sanity!

I've blogged about this before, but I felt the need to mention it again as today was one of those days where I was really pleased with myself and it was all down to Lego!

In a Year 10 lesson, in which we were learning how to describe buildings in a town, I gave out Lego bricks instead of teampoints, for effort mainly (That is my 'thing' this year - praising how hard they work and how much effort they put in).  At the end of the lesson, they had to group all the Lego pieces together and today, I asked them to build a 'building' I would recognise.  It is amazing how quietly Year 10 students can work!  The one which looked the best won and they won a sweet.

I also used it in a Year 9 bottom set French lesson, predominantly boys. I wasn't going to, but they specifically asked if we could.  Now, this class has caused me some headaches, I'll admit, although the behaviour cards that I have blogged about have been brilliant in helping, as have the scratch cards, which they are actually scrambling to receive (Again for hard workers).  I only give out 1 per lesson, so it is really special and often I ask for nominations. I have the class on a Wednesday straight after lunch, which means that they are either nice and full and sleepy, or bonkers due to what they have eaten/who they have spent time with at lunch etc etc.  Today, some were bonkers (Well, 1 actually!) and the rest were sleepy.  However, the minute the Lego bricks came out, they were putting their hands up, working well in groups and doing written work well.  I was really happy to see such a big change and it came from them as a request - just goes to show that we need to listen to our pupils; they are really rather helpful!!!  Their topic at the moment is body parts and being ill.  I didn't want to risk asking them to build a body part (!), so I asked for a face.  The winner had a wheel, that actually turned, for a nose.  I couldn't help but choose that one - who doesn't like a spinning nose?!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Marking with highlighters

I saw this post on timetothinklanguages.blogspot.co.uk:
 http://timetothinklanguages.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/ooh-very-excited.html#more and was desperate to implement it in my department.  We started off with 'green' being good, but that clashed with our school's 'green pen policy', where the pupils use a green pen for self review before handing their work in.  So I just replaced it with yellow and voila!

It's supposed to make the pupils think more about their mistakes and also make marking a little easier (I have made comments too on the next page of the book!). I'm handing the work back tomorrow, so we'll see what they think!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Jigsaw success!

I tried out the jigsaws mentioned in a previous post (The blank ones from Wilko).  For those of you who haven't read it, I put 2 'messages' on it in German about 2 songs (opinions and reasons why) and gave it to my set 3 entirely male Year 9 class to work out in pairs.  There was some differentiation in that 2 sets had single words on each piece, whilst the rest had words written across the pieces, thus making it easier to put together.  It was a race to complete them and tell me the 'message'.

At the end of the lesson I casually asked if they liked it and out of 18 boys, 14 of them said they did - success!

Watch out Wilko; stock up on your blank jigsaws, I'm coming for them!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Update on jigsaw planet

@JaneJaneheg suggested you take a screenshot of your document that you want on the jigsaw and upload as a jpeg. What a good idea!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Jigsaw heaven!

Thank you to @JaneJaneheg for this - Jigsaw Planet - http://www.jigsawplanet.com/.  You can make interactive jigsaws to put onto your website!  Direct response to my last post and a really nice alternative.  Tricky putting text on though.  Might have to save as a picture and then you can upload it.  Will have a go and report back!


I found some 2 pack blank jigsaw puzzles in Wilko for £1 (http://www.wilko.com/creative-play/wilko-craftime-jigsaw-draw-your-own-x-2/invt/0279053?VBMST=jigsaw - 3 for 2 at the moment!)  ...

...and finally found a use for them!  At the moment, with my quite large, entirely male bottom set Year 9 German class, we are discussing music - giving our preferences and opinions etc.  Quite tricky in German, as we have some lovely opinion phrases and connectives which play merry hell on word order!  So I thought a nice way of putting it all together would be to write a couple of good examples on these jigsaws so they can piece them back together, thus learning about word order.  So I started with 2, like this:

I thought this would probably be quite hard, as there are not many clues to link the pieces, so I made these into ** jigsaws and made the rest like this, as * jigsaws:

I was planning on doing them in today's lesson, but had planned too much into it already, so I will probably put them into next lesson.  Hope they work!

NB:  A tip - write each one in a different colour so you don't mix the sets up!

Quiz quiz trade with a difference!

After an observation by our new teacher trainee, we were discussing the merits of quiz quiz trade and she came up with this genius way of taking it further: Mark one of the cards as the card not to have at the end of the activity; anyone who had this card would lose team points. You could also make it positive, by having a secret card which would earn points as well, but you couldn't mark this one or they would not let it go! Thanks Sophia!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Who needs high tech when you've got a mini whiteboard?  This came from my colleague Karen Green, who tells me it's from teacher trainer extraordinaire Anna Bartrum!  It's a way of answering quiz questions with a small class (or teams!).  Get them to draw a buzzer (Circle) on their whiteboards and decide on a suitable noise, eg, honk!  When you ask a question, they 'buzz in' to answer!!!


I bought some cheap Lego style bricks from a local toy shop and then wondered what I could do with them.  I asked the 'Twitterverse' and it delivered with some brilliant MFL specific ideas, but just this week I have been wondering what kind of team point competition I could run with KS4 and then it came to me in a flash - I could use the bricks as points!  Today, I rewarded individuals' effort, hard work and participation with a brick.  I didn't tell them what was going to happen with them.  At the end of the lesson, I asked each side of the room to work together and pool all their bricks together to build a tower.  The tallest tower won!  Simple!

Talking to a colleague afterwards, we were wondering how this could be developed further and we thought it would be fun to connect their creation at the end of the lesson to the content of the lesson!  For example, if learning about transport, build a car or vehicle!  Obviously best 'creation' would win!  Not sure about the criteria though!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Lolly stick plenary

Mentioned this in an earlier blog.  I have used the green, orange and red tubs in a plenary twice this week, both with GCSE classes.  I handed out the lolly sticks with their names on, then at the end of the lesson I asked them to put their stick in the appropriate tub on their way out:  red = struggling with what was covered in the lesson, orange = getting there, green = nailed it!  When they had gone, I wrote the names down of all those who had put their names in the red and orange boxes, to inform my planning for next lesson.  I am happy with it because it is so simple to set up and really useful for me.  So again, thank you @morganmfl for planting this seed in my head!

Behaviour and sanctions

Almost a week in and here's an update on 2 systems I have introduced.
'I (don't) like your behaviour' cards - these have worked well so far. I am trying to identify at least 1 person each lesson to go on the green card and I am putting them there for hard work and effort. I have also asked pupils to nominate someone in the class to go on the green card and that worked well.  I have put nobody on the red card, but I have used the yellow. I told them that if they get a red, they're dead!
Scratch cards - fantastic. Really motivating. I use these for anyone who gets a green card. These have gone down really well. Prizes include sweets, merits, lucky dip prizes and badges.
Really happy with these 2 systems - nice and simple!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Class Dojo v Classcharts

I have a Class Dojo account, which is brilliant for individual reward points etc.  You can communicate with parents about how well your pupils have done, you can use it as a register, you can use it on your tablets or PC and its a great motivator.   However, I have had some problems with Class Dojo with my tablet at school (Don't know if its me or Class Dojo. All works fine at home) so I thought I would give Classcharts a go and see which one I like best.  Classcharts is similar to Class Dojo, and you can also create seating plans.  Class Dojo has an app, which is great but Classcharts doesn't, so 1:0 to Class Dojo!!!

I'll keep you posted!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Update on 'I (don't) like your behaviour' cards

The red, yellow and green behaviour cards have been up and running. So far I have put 5 names on the green one (merits) and 2 names on the yellow one. I intend to link the green one with the scratch cards on the previous post. I didn't explain it - I just wrote their names up. They seemed to get the message! None on red yet! Good!

Scratch cards

This is really exciting if you're a geek like me! On Twitter, @dwphotoski tweeted a blog post about making scratch cards for rewards. As brilliant as it was, making really clever scratch off paint out of metallic paint and washing up liquid, it was all a bit fiddly for me, so... I managed to source some scratch off stickers from a company in Northern Ireland on the internet - www.scratchlabels.co.uk
Look at what I made below (more pics on twitter -  @reebekwylie)

Saturday, August 30, 2014


I was looking for a way to make my own Avatar for Twitter (I never like photos of myself and I'm rubbish at taking selfies!) and I found this site - for creating avatars really simply: http://make-avatar.com/.

Here's mine:
Not bad eh!

Compare with the real me!
In MFL, it can be used to describe hair and eyes etc.  In other subjects, useful when you need characters, maybe in a cartoon, or on a worksheet or presentation etc?  You create the avatar and email it to yourself. No sign-up required.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Powtoon - my creation!

So, after a little experimentation, here is my first Powtoon!  Just to intro myself and German to my new Year 7 class:

I like it!

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Here's yet another way to present stuff!  http://www.powtoon.com .  It's a fun way of presenting; as the name suggests it packs a punch!

Have a look below:

I'm currently using it to create an intro (about me) for my Year 7 French and German classes.  When I've done them I will upload them here.