Storyboards for MFL or literacy

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Just a quickie today, as it’s 5:30 and I’m just about to leave work, using the (free) Storyboard App is a good way to engage younger pupils in reading and writing through the use of new technology. It’s very child friendly in that you use your fingers to select drag and drop images and text into the slide provided by the app to create a comic book style scenario.


Students can have a lot of creative fun by adding in scenery, weather, props and changing the orientation of the characters as well as adding in the quotes as easily as you might use Keynote or PowerPoint, but with the tips of your fingers in iPad, which I feel would be more user friendly for younger children especially.

From an MFL point of view, students are able to create conversations that are larger than they might be able to produce ‘off the cuff’ and so students are able to practice the functional aspects of conversation, whilst maximising the amount of information given in order to create a script which will be easy to follow for pupils and from which pupils can practice with the view of replicating the storyboard on iMovie (a resource which deserves its own mention on another post) to play in front of the the rest of the class as a student created listening activity or for peer assessment.

Currently, I’m focusing on increasing the quantity and quality of student speaking within the classroom and I think this application will greatly increase target language use.


Google drive and Read It

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This is going to be an odd article, it’s sort of three in one, but all things mentioned I think you may find useful. It all starts with an article that I read by Daniel Edwards on Read.It! (Not sure if it’s pronounced ‘red it’ or ‘reed it’, either way it is a useful and interesting application). Firstly, Read.It! is an Internet based magazine where experts can post articles about your favourite interests which you can follow via an App (I believe the iPhone version is called! Or it may have changed names). It has been a good source to find resources and ideas for using new technology in the classroom and I highly recommend it. So, part one done.

Part two, on Read.It!, writers ‘curate’ topics (group similar articles together) which you can follow and you’ll be updated when new articles are written by a given writer. One particular writer I’d like to introduce to you is Daniel Edwards, his curated topics tend to focus on new technology in the classroom and I’ve found the following article (click here) particularly interesting.

Now, during my PGCE, I used to use a USB stick, which often I’d leave in the staff room, or at home, meaning that the hours of preparation carried out the day (…evening) before almost a waste of time. Google drives solves the problem of my particular case of absentmindedness and can make your life easier too. All you need is a google account and you have access to 15gb of free cloud (online) disk space (I pay £2/3 a month and get up to 25gb and there is more that you can pay for should you wish). All you need do when a resource is created is log on to google drive and save your work. You can also create folders, I have one for each class, CPD, my form etc just to ate things easier to store.


However, what makes things even easier is that you are able to download a google drive folder onto your computer where all of your work is saved offline and then synced automatically into the google drive cloud when linked to the internet (which I believe, but yet to test as I’m waiting for the go ahead to download a google drive folder onto my work laptop, that you can have a folder at work and thus would be synced when connected to that same folder on your home PC).

For 7-step explanation of how to use google drive, take a look at this article by Chris Hoffman (click link) and never be caught out by missing USB sticks ever again.


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One free iPad app that effectively supports student centered learning is ShowMe.

ShowMe is essentially a digital mini white board, on which the user can draw using a range of colours; add in pictures to be annotated and even record their voice. However, this has many possibilities to enhance Teaching and Learning and here are those which I’ve used.

Firstly, ShowMe can be used as a replacement for mini white boards for plenary activities. This replaces the need to hand out mini white boards, pens and erasers, which can be time consuming, especially as pens have to be check regularly and exchanging them can really slow down the pace of the lesson. Pupils can then peer assess each other’s answers by choosing a different colour (green is available, in keeping with the FHS pupil marking policy). Students could then link their answers to the Interactive White Board using the iPad’s mirroring application via AirServer.

 ShowMe Colour   

Secondly, pictures can be imported (including PDFs of exam questions) from the iPad by selecting the ‘choose photo’ icon. Work can then be shared via email/Google drive/mirroring and assessed by others. Pupils will need to sign up and make an account, which is free, but once they have it, they can use it for all subjects.

ShowMe pics

Finally, pupils and teachers alike can record any processes that they have created on ShowMe (much like Jing – a screenshot and screencast software). Pupils could use the app to create a ShowMe video to show what they have learnt in a given lesson. Furthermore, teachers could use ShowMe to input information, that could potentially be personalised to each pupil’s learning or even serve as an extension activity that explains further information on a learning point from the lesson (this could be linked up via QR code posted on the wall that pupils simply have to scan with the iPad to access the content).

ShowMe VoiceShowMe erase

ShowMe is available for free on the Apple App Store, click here to see and iTunes preview.

Further Reading:

AirServer –

Jing –

The potential of QR codes

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I’m spending a lot of this half term looking for new ways to use the iPad in the classroom and easily the best thing I’ve seen this week is a free app called, simply, QR Code Maker (click here to link to the app).

Code patterns can be created easily and quickly for URL links, SMS, text and even a phone number to link the user to the information from a poster or wherever the QR code may be posted. The user simply needs a code reader (again, found for free on the App Store) on their tablet or smart phone to scan the picture which will quickly link to the desired content.

What really excites me about this technology is the endless possibilities for its use in schools. From pupils being able to scan codes in order to reach specific online content, texts on a purpose made Weebly website, homework assignments created on class specific blogs to codes being placed on posters around the school for open days for parents or information for Ofsted inspectors or even the possibility of sticking the codes into pupils books that link to an online video that explains any corrections made.

I’ll be testing it during a year 8, curriculum day lesson whereby pupils have to find clues to solve language riddles; I’ll post the results as soon as I can but for now, scan the link below to link to our Spanish Weebly website.


Cookery within MFL

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As is required of all teaching staff,when joining FHS, I was charged with the task of running an extra curricular club. “Something to enthuse young people”, I was told. I tried to run the Arsenal Double Club, which is in fact a fantastic initiative with engaging resources, however due to various technical difficulties, it simply wasn’t possible to run. So, I turned my attentions to the idea of running a cookery club (a subject area that is already very popular at our school) but 100% in the target language (as Ofsted wills…).

So the cookery teacher and I began to run a club for Key Stage 3 pupils, that ran after school for what was supposed to be a forty five minute session (this fact is key…). We’d cook Hispanic food using only Spanish as the medium of communication (of which the cookery teacher knew very little in the beginning).

After several revisions of the way in which the club would run, we found that the following format was best. The pupils would come into the room with only my instruction in the target language to guide them. We start with the preparation (cleaning their hands, putting on an apron etc) which I could act out as I spoke; the reliance on the actions became less and less as the sessions went on as pupils began to understand phrases that had been repeated over and over again.

I would then introduce the dish with a description in the target language which the pupils loved to attempt to translate. I also have the ingredients placed on the table in front of me and would hold them up and ask pupils to listen to my pronunciation and repeat. Great; they were learning vocabulary and repeating the target language!

Each stage of the cookery would be explained and acted out in the target language, to which the pupils would follow along and after a while, key phrases like “quita la piel” would be understood well. Of course, whilst the actual cookery went on, there would be some use of English in order to engage with the pupils, fostering good relationships is a huge part of extra curricular activity and pupils would often ask questions about the variety of Hispanic dishes that there are anyway and I’d go around and ask them target language based questions as well, things like “¿Cómo son las enchilladas, ricas? o asquerosas?

The session, would end with the pupils describing their dishes as best they can, using opinions and adjectives and I’d often help them by giving them an example of how I thought my dish was (I always cooked…which may explain my slight weight gain since the beginning of the club).

Was it successful? Well, the numbers of pupils taking part has increased from two or three from Spanish to ten from other languages as well. Some sessions have also lasted and hour and a half (double the forty five minutes after school that the pupils didn’t have to be there for) and those pupils came back the following week. Honestly, the idea of cross-curricular activities are nothing new, but I thought I’d share the success of this one particular idea that I feel has really enthused pupils to engage in languages and with the importance of MFL having been reinforced over the past few years, it really deserves to be used as a medium with which to teach other subjects.

Typically, I’d ask myself how I could make the club even better next year. I’d like to extend it to more languages next year. We teach Punjabi as a mainstream subject at FHS and obviously the possibilities of producing a wide range of dishes from Indian cuisine, as well as French or any other language, are huge. Huge and delicious.