Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Teachmeet North East 2012

Last Thursday night I attended the long awaited Teachmeet North East.

It took place in the pleasant surroundings of the Town Wall pub in Newcastle and was very well attended.

As with previous teachmeets there were an awful lot of keen teachers lurking and presenting and it was great to catch up with some old friends and some new ones.

The list of attendees and presenters can be found here.

We learned all about birds and bikes, why ICT isn't evil, lots of collaborative projects between departments,  lots of techy stuff eg. ClassDojo, a report on project based learning from High Tech High in San Diego, and all about the Northern Learning Festival, too.

I presented for 2 minutes on how I use Game Show ideas to try to improve students' thinking skills.

My presentation was a synthesis of ideas mentioned in previous blog posts and rather than regurgitate them all here I'll just post links to each one.

My first idea was to use Dave Reed's random letter generator to try to get students to find key words as in Countdown and Catchword.

Next I talked about how Clare Seccombe had blogged about the BBC television programme "Pointless" and its potential use in the classroom.

Then I talked about how I had used another BBC programme "Only Connect" after a discussion with @bonjour_miss on Twitter. I blogged about how it could be used here and my students have really enjoyed the activities we have done based on this.

I finished with links to 2 websites with brilliant sound effects to liven up these types of activity.

Firstly, the drama button and secondly, sad trombone.

These sites are really great because students don't mind giving wrong answers if they are followed by a comedy sound effect.

So, that's it.

There will be another Teachmeet in Newcastle in May and I can't wait.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Why I love Google Translate.

Some of my MFL colleagues will tell you that online translators are the bane of their lives and, to a certain extent and in certain circumstances, I agree.

There is nothing worse than a pupil handing in a piece of work which has been Googley Translated especially if it is in the wrong language.

A colleague recently received a piece of German homework written in Dutch. The child thought it said "Deutsch".

When marking students' work I have google translate open on my computer and if there is anything I'm not sure about I type it in to see what they were trying to say.

Everyone has their own google translate story and I'm sure that many of them are true.

My own personal favourite was this from a year 7 boy only this week:

"JLS sont bouffées."

I'd no idea what he was trying to say, so I used google translate to give me an idea.

It came back with the phrase "JLS are hot."

I asked him about this. He got very embarassed and turned a bright shade of red.

What he'd typed into the translator was "JLS are puffs."

Sweet revenge from the google corporation.

And that's why I love google translate.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Can we make Mothers' Day Cards?

Mothers' Day in the UK and Ireland is tomorrow, the 4th Sunday in Lent. 

This week has been assessment week. So, naturally, some of my pupils asked if they could make Mothers' Day cards instead of doing their exams.

I had anticipated this.

I remembered when I lived in France that Mothers' Day was on a different day so I had prepared myself for their pleas and did some "intercultural understanding research".

They were not impressed that I would not allow them to make cards but I told them that we'd do it when it was  La fête des Mères.

The International Mothers' Day is 13th May 2012. Most countries celebrate this annually on the second Sunday in May.

In most middle eastern countries, Mothers' Day is on the first day of Spring.

The Spanish and Portugese celebrate on the first Sunday in May.

In France, La fête des Mères takes place on the last Sunday in May unless it coincides with Pentecost and then it moves to the first Sunday in June.

So, now you know.

Happy Mother's Day. 

Friday, 9 March 2012

French new wave cinema and Benny Hill.

My A level French students are studying the work of François Truffaut, mainly the 1962 film, Jules et Jim, and the techniques used, so today I showed them a clip from the Benny Hill Show.

I know what you're thinking, but bear with me.

I don't mean the late 1970s early 1980s Benny Hill Show where our hero is chased around the streets of Teddington by scantily clad nurses, police women, nuns, and the occasional, fully clothed, old lady.

Or vicar.

Oh no.

I mean the late 1960s early 1970s Benny Hill Show which contained some very clever parodies and pastiche sketches, the likes of which we don't tend to see these days.

Unless you're me and have the DVD.

And you're not.

And don't.


So, here it is, Benny Hill as French New Wave director, Pierre de Terre, discussing his new avant garde film with Henry McGee in a brilliant parody of everything Truffaut.

(The sketch starts at 15m48)