Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Planning for Excellent Learning

At the beginning of any new school year, all of us teachers come up with new ideas, hopes and projects to improve our teaching. We want to be better teachers, we want to give more, we want to achieve new goals together with our pupils. We want to make up new strategies and activities to keep our pupils - and ourselves - from getting bored.
I'm no exception.

And after this engaging CLIL summer, I have even more to think of. That's why I want to share with you an interesting document: it's a lesson planning form I was given in one of the English schools I visited. I met this brilliant young Geography teacher who told me he had been working there for just a year; since he was very young and he just left University, he had been trained to perform a new kind of teaching, which he believed was not perfect, but still good. Then, he was so kind as to give me one of his lesson planning forms.

Now, if I've learnt anything in the UK, is that being a teacher there is very stressful. They're very strict as far as the teaching is concerned - and then, do you remember? there's that hard part "the pupils should be speaking 90% of the time".

So, have a look at the form and let me know what you think of it. I'm uploading it here and in the TwinSpace of The Next Generation as well. By the way, you'll find lots of new materials there, so do have a look.

Have a successful new school year you all. Enjoy your job, and have fun with your pupils!

Monday, 22 August 2011

more on CLIL? visit TNG TwinSpace !!!

Hello everybody! Here are some of the references Dr Diana Hicks gave us during the course, as well as some links and info I got on my own, or during different CLIL courses (so, please note: you may find not all of the links are updated!).

Important: together with Monika, we're trying to upload all of our materials (including activities, links to websites & so on) in the TwinSpace of  The Next Generation - the link is here, and a permanent link is just under the blog title. You may want to go there from time to time and check if there's anything useful to you.

As for me, I'm very interested in the EU files - that's why I put so many. In this difficult period for Italy (and for Europe as well) I find it very important not to forget the direction we are taking together as European teachers, in order to build a coherent educative system. Ok, have a look and let me know!
Note: we use The Next Generation Twinspace as a teachers' playground for newbies in eTwinning. That's why only two folders are public (we suppose you won't be interested in how to use a forum/blog, how to open a folder & so on).

Ok, so here are some of the CLIL references I found:   (not my favourite, since it's mainly just English Language exercises; still, it can be useful)  and  (of course Language teachers will already know these. Well, they can be of use for CLIL lessons as well. Give them a try it if you need materials and videos for your lessons - you've got to pay but it's not expensive)  (looots of useful stuff, games and ideas from teachers to teachers! I loved this. And there's a special section with all materials from the Cheltenham course as well)  (it's a children's - 8/13 years old - magazine with lots of materials for subject teachers... and lots of fun for students) (Graham Workman wiki for Bilingual teaching: plenty of links and ideas... I'm still exploring it) (great teachers' blog... if you know Spanish !!! I found some interesting info here, but I leave the rest to my Spanish friends!)  (for History teachers who want to steal some ideas... the History Website of Hounslow Homeschool Group)

and eventualy, in case you decide to take the Teaching Knowledge Test ...

Have fun you all, and enjoy the rest of the summer! And do come back from time to time :)

Monday, 8 August 2011

TEDGLOBAL 2011: The Stuff of Life

Let's take a break from CLIL for a while, and concentrate on "the stuff of life". Sounds funny? On the contrary, that's something very serious indeed.

You may remember Sugata Mitra's speech - the one Elena found for us. That's one of the speeches recorded during one of the TED conferences (I think 2007). And the TED motto is "ideas worth spreading".
So, who is TED? TED is a number of people who, since 1984, are sharing their ideas for a better future, and a better life, for all of us. There are two conferences a year: one in Spring, in the US, and one in Summer, in Europe. This year's TEDGLOBAL took place in Edinburgh , July 11-15. And its subject was "the stuff of life".

I was in the UK at the time and dreamt of attending. I say "dreamt" because I soon realized that 1) couldn't afford it; and 2) every single place had already been booked looong before.
So I had to wait for the videos to be uploaded on the conference website.

The idea of TEDGLOBAL has been defined "the speed dating of ideas": short speeches about different issues/opportunities/perspectives on a subject (in this case, the stuff of life) one after the other. That means scientists, writers, philosophers, economists, actors, politicians... all of them sharing their point of view, their ideas, their discoveries.
A shower of ideas.

So have a look and be sure - you'll find something for you as well:

An important note: many of the speeches have subtitles in different languages. After all, they're ideas worth spreading...

Friday, 5 August 2011

some materials..and experience

In July I went to Florence, to participate in a teacher refreshing course with Comenius. It was great - good lessons with good teachers, so I liked it very much. And..Italy is a special place for me for many reasons :-).

In the morning we normally had two kinds of lessons. Paolo Pettinari was talking about using ICT in teaching, preparing materials for our lessons, about some web 2.0 applications and about the method of webquests during the lessons.
Costanza Cabras taught us Italian Grammar. It was very useful, because in the Italian language there are some structures, what we don't have for example in Hungarian, and for this reason sometimes it's difficult to explain or use them in the classroom, . (Just an example: we have only one tense of verbs for present, one for past and one for future). Now I have some new materials, and I think, I will use them.

It was very nice - besides morning activities, the school organised some other ones. I really enjoyed visiting the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, or The Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore Museum with a History Art teacher. was the first time during a course that I had the chance to spend an afternoonabout how to teach Italian languague for young learners. Francesca Lo Re teached Italian languague in France, and prepared many activities. She proposed websites, where we can find exercises, games, poems or colouring pages.

I read through my notes during the course, and tried to pick the most useful sites proposed by our teachers.
I hope, there are some, which could be useful for you too, so I would like to share them.)

First of all, I didn't know It is a free software. We used it to download audio or video files from youtube. It is very simple to use (yuppiiiiee:). You just copy the link of video on keepvid, and choose, if you would like to have an audio or video file, and you can download it even to your computer.

There are many other useful sources for teaching Italian. If you wish more of them, feel free to tell me. I don't know, if you teach Italian..?

I took a look the websites proposed from Francesca Lo Re. I found a webside, where there are materials for English too. If you teach or study English, it could be useful, I suppose.
The link is:

I also would like to share one more link with you... during the school year I often need drawings. I find them good for example to help children's vocabulary, and practise the words. In every language we have lessons about family, sports, I would like to propose the link:
you can find a lot of drawings there.)

I hope you'll find them useful. When I find new ones, I will share them as well.

Hugs, Mónika

Monday, 1 August 2011

Characteristics of successful bilingual teaching

Here I am again... and with plenty of time, since doctors told me I have to stay perfectly still not to worsen my ankle's problem. What an exciting summer vacation :(

Back to CLIL. Here are the points Dr Diana Hicks considered to be the basis of successful bilingual teaching (as usual, I'm adding my reflections as well):

1) boundaries: teachers and pupils have to know what they're expected to do - who does what
2) balance of languages: what can we do in MT and what in FL? decide before, please.
3) all skills should be integrated in tasks: as we already said, CLIL lessons are about thinking how, not knowing what
4) content knowledge targets should be clear: that was great! we are not supposed to lower our standars - or our lessons' contents - just because using two languages. A CLIL lesson is not an easier, summed-up subject lesson. We just have to be careful in how to choose the content, and how to have the students work on it.
5) prior understanding of grammar needs: another great point. Language structures are like tools in a box - Dr Diana Hicks said. You never need all of them at the same time. So, once chosen the subject, be sure to know which linguistic tools your students will need to work on it (past simple? passive form? etc.). The Language teacher will have to provide the students with this tools. The Subject teacher will have to deal with the content.
6) three times as many visuals than in momolingual classes: images play an important role in any lesson. Much more in a CLIL lesson, where we can't leave everything to words.
7) different learners' styles should be catered for (already examined this point)
8) prior awareness of lexical needs: don't be dictionary-dependent, and don't obsess your pupils into being. You've to plan your activities so that your pupils gradually acquire what they need.
9) intention of tasks should be clear to students: this is not anything special of a CLIL lesson. Students always need to know why they're doing something. Anyway, I do agree CLIL lessons, if not properly structured and explained, could be quite mixing up for pupils, more than a traditional monolingual lesson.

(note: there could have been a number 10, but I'm afraid I didn't have time to copy it down...)

Now, what do you think of these points?
Mariella, looks like there's plenty of collaboration needed, and plenty of time. No idea of when and how the Language teacher and the Subject teacher(s) will find the time to meet, share ideas, and actually be on the same page so as to structure a successful project. But obviously they'll have to.

I promise I'll upload all materials as well. Dr Diana Hicks gave us some interesting sheets for the planning. I'm just considering how I could upload them, and the activities as well. Maybe I'll create a public folder in one of my eTwinning project, and just put a link here. We'll see.

Meanwhile, does any of you know anything about the CLIL eTwinning Group? I'll be interested in getting to know something about it. I just didn't join as I'm not supposed to be an "official" CLIL teacher. At least not for now :)

Well, enjoy your summer everydody... and to the next episode!