mY first Teachmeet

On the evening of Monday 29th June, over 60 people gathered together and gave up their time to support my first ever Teachmeet @FHSBristol. 
The attendees included Primary & Secondary teachers, support staff, Senior Leaders and Governors. The aim of the event was to share best practice and demonstrate ideas and activities which could be used in the classroom. Also present, were representatives from @Matific (Bruce Seymour), Into Film (@rico_intofilm) and the Watershed (Hannah Brady) all of whom were very keen to share how their products can help to enthuse students in the classroom.
The evening started with a welcome speech from our Principal, Ms Catriona Mangham. This was followed by our key note speaker, @Crista Hazell (Severn Vale School) who shared with us her fabulous ideas on creativity in the classroom. 

 We were then treated to a lot of fantastic presentations, some of which included audience participation. I @SJBarnes81 demonstrated websites and apps that can be used as an alternative to PowerPoint presentations including, Powtoon (an online presentation website), Kahoot (an interactive quiz where students respond using mobile phones or tablet devices), Quizlet (an online site that allows teachers/students to create quizzes to practice key subject vocabulary) and also GoNoodle (a fun brain break website). We were also taken back in time to the 1980s with our “Superman” dance.
Cameron Parker @CamParkerHUD (Elite Motivator) gave a motivational speech, Candida Gould @candidagould (Cotham School) spoke about taking control of your CPD (slides here) and Hayley Yelland @Miss_Yelland (Fairfield High School) explained how to ensure successful collaborative learning. 

Jasmine Williams @Miss_JFWilliams (Hansprice School) demonstrated her marking and feedback policy and Rose Hooke @MissHooke (Fairfield High School) clarified the difference between “English” and “Literacy” and demonstrated how we can ensure Literacy is used successfully across the curriculum.

Ben Davey @el_davooo (Bridge Learning campus) told us about his Challenge board and Tower of Power and Said Benchama @SaidBenchama (Bristol Met) spoke about using Bloom’s Taxonomy in lessons to encourage students to progress and challenge themselves. 

Keziah Featherstone @BLC_Head34 (Headteacher at Bridge Learning Campus) delivered the closing speech on the theme of @WomenEd which encourages Females to put themselves forward for leadership roles. She also asked us to save the date of a special Women Ed event on 3rd October 2015.

The twitter feed for #FHSTM can be viewed here #FHSTM

There is also a dropbox folder with the presentations. Please add your presentation from the evening, if it's not in the folder.

Everyone went away at the end of the evening very happy, enthused and laden with goodie bag. Some lucky attendees also took home a raffle prize including a T-shirt from either Quizlet or Kahoot, a £25 iTunes voucher from Matific and a Teacher subscription to Biteslide. Fairfield’s very own Mrs Lamming was the luck winner of the tips2teaching.co.uk classroom resources. I’d like to thank everyone who presented, attended, sponsored and supported the Teachmeet. Let it be the start of many more to come.
Sharon Barnes @SJBarnes81


Grammar Gate

I often find that despite numerous hours spent teaching grammar that students still muddle up their tenses and produce very interesting word order in their sentences which seem to combine the rules to all 3 tenses.

I decided to create something that would allow them to have all the key information in one place but that wasn't a worksheet that they'd put into their folder and forget about.

The result was a "Grammar gate" It's a flap book style resource that allows students to see the basic rules for the past, present and future tense.

This is our first version and so far, it's working very well. I tried it with Year 11 who loved it and it's made teaching tenses to Year 10 much easier.

Marking in MFL

Trying to find a system that involves students reflecting on their learning with minimum impact from the teacher can be tricky to do. I teach 16 classes across 4 subjects and I often find myself trying to climb a constant marking mountain. 
I've read lots of blog posts on triple marking and DIRT time which I think are fantastic but I feel that they don't always lend themselves to MFL. In Citizenship, it seems easier to ask students questions which encourage reflection and answer development and I've had great feedback on my marking but in MFL it's a different story.

I developed a marking code for the department (based on a resource from a fellow #mfltwitterati teacher) which allows us to use symbols to show students what needs to be changed/improved. We use this alongside stickers that contain the next steps.

This was working well, or at least I thought, until a book scrutiny was done and it was felt that compared to other departments, MFL wasn't encouraging enough student reflection 
I decided to come up with a system that used the target language and would be quick and easier to do.

After completing a piece of work, I ask the students 2 questions "Was it easy/okay/difficult?" "Why?"
I do this in the target language and after asking it a couple of times, I shorten it to a code.

French- C'était facile/ bon/ difficile? Pourquoi? (Shortened to C'était f/b/d?)
German- War es einfach/okay/schwierig? Warum? (Shortened to War es e/o/s?)
Spanish- ¿Fue fácil/vale/difícil? ¿Por qué? (Shortened to ¿Fue f/v/d?)

Students are now able to reflect on their work at the end of the lesson by using this system.
The lower years respond in English but I am working with year 9 and KS4 to encourage a response in the TL.

I now have a clearer picture of who is finding the work hard and who needs more challenge. 

This is very much work in progress and is the 2nd year I have used it. I have had good feedback from lesson observations and book scrutiny since introducing it. 


Using Vokis

Use Voki's as a different way to do a listening task or just to grab attention at the start of the lesson.

Here's one I made.


Apps for the classroom

I've been experimenting with apps in order to try and use mobiles in a positive way. We all know that most students have mobiles which they mainly use for snapchat and Instagram. If they're bringing them into school then why not try and incorporate them into your lesson in an engaging way.
Of course there are students who don't have mobiles but I've not yet met a class where there wasn't enough mobiles for one between two.


also available online at www.edmodo.com

Edmodo is a place to connect with your students and even set up links outside the classroom.
It's great for the flipped classroom as students can view material before the lesson and even be set tasks to complete.
I also use it to allow students to review lesson material and for absent students to catch up.
There is a function to set up polls and quizzes which my students enjoy.
All material is secure as you need to create the group and then give the access code to your students . The code has a limited validity and may need to be reset for any students who are late joining the group. 

There is also a great network of teachers on Edmodo who share resources and advice with each other. You need to request access to the groups by selecting a group and then choosing "join". 


On the PC/Interactive board, Teachers need to go to create.kahoot.it and create an account. You can then either choose a pre-made game or create your own.

When you are ready, select play. A random pin will be generated for your students.

Students need to either download the kahoot app or open their web browsers on their mobiles or tablets and type in kahoot.it

They will then be asked to enter the pin which is shown on the teacher's screen. 
They will need to enter a username so you can keep track of who is winning.

Students will be shown the questions on the interactive board and they need to answer by using their kahoot keypad on their phones or tablets. 

After each question has been answered, the results are shown on the board, followed by the leader board so that students can track their progress.


This is great for creating short animated video clips. I play them to students and ask them to come up with responses.
I've also used them as a listening exercise with students noting down key words or phrases.
You can also get students to make their own videos. Perfect for building up confidence before speaking exams.

Also available on the web;  www.memrise.com
Students need to create an account and then select a language course. They are shown a word or phrase as well as a picture. The picture links to the word/phrase and should help students to remember the vocabulary. Students are able to choose from a variety of pictures or even add their own.
For every word/phrase they guess correctly, they earn points. Their score is shown on a leaderboard. Students can follow each others' progress.


Useful websites for the MFL classroom.

I am constantly looking for new websites to keep my students enthused and engaged in their learning.
Here are some of my most used sites.

Brilliant for helping vocabulary to stick. Students are shown the word/phrase in the target language as well as a picture which links to the word/phrase. Students can choose from a selection of photographs or add their own. The pictures act as a memory aid to help the students to remember the words/phrases. Students build up points for every question they get right. Their points then build up and are shown on the leaderboard. 
Students can also follow each other's progress and compete on the leaderboard for extra motivation.
Each student needs to create an account and then select the language they are learning. It's also available as an app.


This website is great for helping students to learn their controlled assessments. They need to type in their text and then click memorize. Words will be omitted and they have to try and remember what is missing. There is also a flashcard function which checks they understand each word.

In addition to this, there is the function to only show the first letter of each word, therefore challenging students to remember exactly what they wrote.

My students absolutely love www.lerndeutsch.org.uk  There is a wide range of topics for both KS3 and GCSE German and a great selection of games including "penalty shoot out" and "Fling the teacher". Also on the site, are links to Polish and Spanish resources.

www.quizlet.com  is another great website for vocabulary learning. You can create your own games as well as using pre-made ones.  There is the option to use flashcards, scatter match-up or spell out the word. It's also available as an app.

As well as having a languages site www.bbc.co.uk/languages  which itself is brilliant, the BBC also offer short video clips which are perfect for the classroom as well as for homework. There are clips in a variety of subjects across primary and secondary levels. 

Each clip has a list of keywords which you can link to your lesson as well as the duration of the clip. To get the most out of the clips, I give students a list of words to listen out for and as a challenge, a list of questions to answer. 



One of our CPD focuses this year was "Engagement". This need not involve teachers becoming "Entertainers" or "Magicians" and feeling like they have to put on a  "Variety Show" lesson. Student engagement can be increased through the simplest of ideas. Often, it can be the way in which something is presented to the group.
I like to mix things up every now and then just to keep students on their toes, so-to-speak.
Here are some of my ideas, I must admit they are probably not original but they are popular and have great results in my classroom so please feel free to use them/ adapt them.

1. What's in the bag?
This works better for the younger classes. It basically involves a bag inside which you need to put an object/objects relating to the lesson. Students then have a limited number of guesses to work out what is in the bag and ultimately, how it links to the lesson. I recently did this with year 7, the lesson was pets and I hid a toy rabbit inside the bag.
You can vary the questions from open to closed. For the older students you may wish to only allow questions in the target language.

2. Secret Mission.
Write out the lesson objective or learning outcome on paper or card, using 1 piece per word. Jumble up the words and put them in an envelope. Write "top secret" on the envelope and hide it under a student's chair.

When students arrive, tell them that you need to recruit a "Secret Agent" to help with your mission. Students should check under their seats to see if they are the "Secret Agent". The student with the envelope may recruit 3 sub-agents to help them. They should then open the envelope and re-arrange the words to crack the code and reveal the learning objective/ outcome.

3. Golden Ticket.
For this you'll need a book of raffle tickets (3 for £1 in the pound shop) and some self- made golden tickets.
When I launched this with students, I played a clip of "celebration" by Cool and the Gang as students arrived in my room. This got their attention straight away. I explained that during the lesson I would be rewarding good behaviour and great work with raffle tickets. At the end of the 2 week cycle, I would draw a raffle ticket and the winning student would get a golden ticket.
The ticket can be redeemed for a number of things including, hot drinks, cake, a magazine and the permission to listen to music during 1 lesson.
I found that student engagement increased almost immediately. All year groups are very keen to get their hands on a golden ticket.

4. Graffiti Wall.
For this you'll need active inspire on the interactive board. Insert the wall background. This can be found by clicking view, browser, background, textured.

This is a great way to review key words/ terms or find out how much students already know about a new topic.
I give them a few minutes to think about the words and then I ask them to come up and write their word on the board. Students seem to enjoy choosing different colours and fonts.


Question Time

As part of our Whole School CPD, I have been focusing on "Questioning".
Rather than looking at scaffolding questions and use of Blooms or Solo taxonomy, my focus was more on my questioning patterns.
As Teachers we are constantly reflecting on our practise and striving to make our best better. One thing I am guilty of is choosing the same students to answer questions. We've probably all called on our "reliable" students during observations to answer questions as we know they will and there won't be any awkward silences.
I have tried a variety of methods when it comes to choosing students to answer questions. I have a random name Powerpoint as well as the random function on Class Dojo. These are good for varying the students who are chosen to answer but still do not guarantee that all students are taking part.

I decided to trial a "tick sheet". One student is nominated as the "Question Monitor" and during the lesson they put a tick next to the name of students who answer questions. Half way through the lesson, I check the sheet and I am then able to see which students have not been chosen. This then enables me to focus my questions on those students. 

Alongside this, I have introduced "Catch and throw" questions. I ask a question and a student "catches" it. If they cannot answer then they can "throw" it to another student. They must then "catch" the question back and say whether they agree/disagree and try to answer the question for themselves.

It's early days but so far I have found this to be very effective in my lessons. The students also enjoy the competition element to try and get a tick next to their name.