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Showing posts from November, 2013


I have been taking a look at Kahoot!, a phone/tablet-friendly app which allows teachers to create multi-choice quizzes, polls and surveys.

The Edshelf site describes it thus:

Using a simple and speedy ‘drag n drop’ creation tool, educators create and manage ‘Kahoots’ in the form of quizzes, surveys or polls related to the topics they're teaching; either asking quick questions ‘on the go’ to get feedback or opinion, or more in depth questions for formative assessment. Content can be shared with learners, colleagues or fellow educators globally.

Educators launch their Kahoots on the screen at the front of the class to their learners, who join through their personal devices. In real-time and with gaming elements to increase engagement and motivation, learners answer questions through their personal devices. Educators get an overview of the current knowledge levels of everyone in the room, and can adapt their teaching accordingly.
I had a go with the multi-choice quiz functio…

Silly jokes to translate

Here are some Tommy Cooper (UK comic, no longer with us) jokes translated into French. What were they originally?

Je suis allé chez le médecin l'autre jour. J'ai allongé le bras en disant: «ça fait mal quand je fais ça ». Il a dit: «Eh bien, ne le faites pas».

Je suis monté dans le grenier et j’ai trouvé un Stradivarius et un Rembrandt. Malheureusement Stradivarius était une peintre nul et Rembrandt a fait des violons moches.

Nous allions atterrir en avion et ça fait mal aux oreilles, n'est-ce pas? L'hôtesse m'a donné du chewing-gum. Je l'ai mis dans les oreilles. Il a fallu deux jours pour le faire sortir.

Un policier m'a arrêté, l'autre soir, il a tapé sur la fenêtre de la voiture et m’a dit: «Voulez-vous souffler dans ce sac, Monsieur. J'ai dit: «Pourquoi, monsieur l'agent?" Il a dit: «Mes frites sont trop chaudes».

Un homme entre dans une épicerie et il dit, je veux cinq livres de pommes de terre s'il vous plaît. L'épicier dit «…

A fun way to teach daily routine

I came across this on the Teaching English site (BBC/British Council). It was an idea submitted by Jo Adkin and Jeff Fowler. I have adapted it considerably for a French class.

You need a list of 15 sentences on the whiteboard (out of order). These would be fine:

Je me réveille à 7 heures
Je me lève à 7 heures et quart
Je me brosse les dents
Je m'habille
Je prends le petit déjeuner à 7h 30
Je quitte la maison et je vais au collège
Je travaille en cours
Je déjeune à la cantine avec mes amis à une heure
Je rentre chez mois en bus à 17 heures
Je goûte
Je regarde la télé un peu
Je fais mes devoirs
Je prends le dîner avec mes parents à 20 heures
Je joue à la console
Je me couche à 10 heures

1.Teacher mimes the day in order . Pupils choose a sentence from the board.
2.Get a pupil up to the front to mime any of the day's events. This time pupils adapt the sentences to say "tu...." Watch out for the reflexive verbs where the prono…

Boy-girl seating plans

About 20 years ago at the school I taught in, Ripon Grammar School, in the MFL department we introduced a boy-girl seating pattern in Y7 and Y8. We did not extend it beyond Y8 because setting usually meant there was an imbalance of the sexes, so it was not possible for every table to have a boy and a girl.

At the time we justified it with two main reasons: the more important one was that would discourage chatting and silliness between boys, thus creating a more civilised atmosphere in the classroom; the second, less plausible, reason was to do with the idea that boys and girls may have different approaches to learning, boys being on average more competitive and greater risk-takers, girls being more conscientious and worried about getting things right. In MFL lessons, where pair work plays such an important role, who you work with is important.
Apart from that we did not have a seating plan policy in the department as such. I would let children sit where they wanted, occasionally movin…

Implications of new accountability measures

I wonder whether we have all taken on board the possible implications of the DfE's new accountability measures due to come into force in 2016.

I quote from my ALL newsletter:

There is an additional new measure which will be the floor standard, and which will be published in league tables. This records the percentage of pupils receiving a ‘pass’ in English and mathematics, along with pupils’ average scores across a suite of eight qualifications consisting of English and mathematics; three further English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects; and three other high value qualifications: EBacc, other academic, arts or vocational.

The original EBacc attainment measure remains unchanged as a soft accountability measure, and will be reported in performance tables. This consists of A*-C grades in each of: English, mathematics, two science subjects, history/geography, a foreign language. 

Now, there is no doubt that the EBacc accountability measure had a positive effect on the numbers taking…

frenchteacher updates

It's been reasonably busy at Frenchteacher Towers recently, though not quite as frenzied as at the start of the academic year.

Recent additions to the site include the following (in no particular order - can you tell I watch Strictly?).

A gap fill based on a simple little song sung by Laurent Voulzy. It's called Derniers Baisers and is an alternative version of Sealed with a Kiss. Nice little tune and captures teenage holidays rather well. This would be a good 20 minute filler activity for a lower sixth class (low advanced for non England-Wales readers)A film review of Gravity which I am quite excited about seeing soon. I have heavily adapted an online review, added vocabulary, true/false/not mentioned, oral activities and a grammar task. Again, this would suit a Y12 group.An article and exercises on homelessness in France. This is the story of a homeless woman. I wonder if stories of real people are more motivating for students than discursive articles.A homework task on the i…

Homework idea to practise the imperfect tense

This is a simple one. Maybe you have already done it.

Give your class at least a week to do this for a good, chunky and hopefully enjoyable double homework. Tell them they are going to interview a grand-parent or parent. Provide them with a list of questions in French. They will have to ask these questions, take notes, then write up the answers in French. It should produce some real-life use of the imperfect tense as well as enable children to talk to their parents or grand-parents about the old days. the write up can take the form of a dialogue/interview with questions, or it could just be a summary e.g. for a mock news feature.

An amusing alternative would be to ask them if a teacher will give them 15 minutes to be interviewed. Others could guess the teacher. I actually prefer the parent/grand-parent version in this case since it seems a good conversation to have in a family anyway, therefore more authentic.

How about these questions?

A quelle école allais-tu quand tu avais 10 ans?

How did schools measure progress before levels?

This may be of interest to younger teachers in England and Wales who have only known national curriculum levels and who may be curious about the era before.

Wikipedia reminds me that following the Education reform Act of 1988, national curriculum tests were introduced for 7-year-olds for the academic year ending July 1991, and for 11-year-olds in the academic year ending July 1995. Attainment levels had to be recorded for tests and levels awarded by teachers in both core (maths, English, science) and non-core subjects. Sometime after 2000 schools began to refine level measurement by using sub-levels, which were never defined.

So how did schools measure progress from 1944 to around 1990?

GCSE O-level, A-level and CSE were the main indicators of performance for a whole school, even though these results were never advertised to the public. In addition schools would set internal examinations at least once a year. These would produce data in the form of percentages. At my first school I r…