sábado, 12 de enero de 2013

Declaration of intentions - 1st Week

Over the coming weeks I shall be completing the practical part of this year’s course at Torre Barona.

I applied for this Primary school originally because it has a good reputation in the community as a wholesome and engaging Primary school. Also they take part into the Commenius Project.

My primary purpose there will be to observe and improve my teaching technique.

Within the month I am there I intend to:

  1. Professionally develop myself as a teacher. 
  2. Use my allocated teaching time to test the deployment of my planned classes. 
  3.  To build on my previous teaching experience from Kitwell Primary School and Nursery Class in Birmingham and Jacint Verdaguer Primary school in Castelldefels.

In Kitwell I’ve noticed that the teacher Mr. Davids was able to make the changes between subjects flow very naturally but taking what they have previously been talking about or studying and moving it in the direction of what he wished to study, for example, he once invented a fancy story about himself becoming a werewolf as a way to capture the students' attention before a class about the phases of the moon. 

I wish to be able to do the same. 

As it is going to be the second time I will have taught in English in a primary school I do not feel at all nervous, and instead feel only excitement.

jueves, 10 de enero de 2013

Last week - Conclusions

After all the classes we took about Didactic of the English language I still feel the same about teaching English in a Primary School classroom, even though I’ve taken some ideas, modified and merged/included them to my daily teaching life.

A total linguistic immersion in English classes is a priority for me when we talk about teaching, it has always been and for sure it will always be. But now, I think I may be also interested in trying to teach some units of other subjects in English too. Somehow, CLIL was really tempting. It lets you to use all the subjects in the school schedule to improve the students’ communicative skills and expand their vocabulary in a meaningful way (without using those ever so boring lists that they often have to memorise). Isn’t that what we all want as teachers? Well, now that we have the opportunity for our students to be able to communicate in English, we should use it in our classrooms.

Creating a CLIL unit in class helped me to realise how difficult it is to make it work. Everything counts, even when you have to say what you would do, the exact sentences, what you expect and how long it is going to take, you still need to be able to improvise, and you can never predict it all or plan for every single eventuality.

Although I feel our unit was amazing (here you can see the Prezi we created), I do not think that our microteaching went as well as it could have done. True, Mireia and I were quite ill and feeling very tired due the illness, but as we were saying afterwards, it would have been more realistic and people would have been more participative if they had been primary school children, instead of our fellow classmates.

This said, I’ll admit that I love the usage of new technologies in class. They are a really cool and simple way to engage students and make they learn in a fun way. But sharing ideas and being connected to other teachers by the internet? That was new. I mean, I can follow podcasts about ESL or a nice blog about creative ideas, but sharing my ideas and using social media to do this was something new. I did enjoy it and I’ll probably use it again in the future.

So after all those classes in university, I think I’ll introduce a more important affective side to mine, I’ll try to take much more into account the multiple intelligences and the pupil’s individual needs, to offer them the possibility to take responsibility and assess themselves with rubrics (that will always been written with positive criteria instead of negative, as any rules will be), and for sure, I’ll use the idea of Muffin Mondays to create a nice home-school connection.

martes, 18 de diciembre de 2012

Week 10 – Rubrics / Assessment for learning

                   “A scoring tool that lists the criteria or 'what counts’ for a piece of work."                                                                                                     Heidi Goodrich

Rubrics are a powerful communication tool and when shared among constituents it communicates in concrete and observable terms what we value most. Providing a means to clarify our vision of excellence and convey it to our students. It also provides a rationale for assigning grades to subjectively scored assessments.
Sharing the rubric with students is vital—and only fair—if we expect them to do their best possible work.
The advantages of using rubrics for the teachers are that they:
1. Allow evaluation and assessment to be more objective and consistent
2. Help focus on clarifying his/her criteria in specific terms
3. Provide useful feedback regarding the effectiveness of the instruction
4. Provide benchmarks against which to measure and document progress
For Students, they:
1. Help them to define "quality“
2. Promote student awareness of the criteria to use in assessing peer performance
3. Help students judge and revise their own work before handing in their assignments
4. Clearly show the student how their work will be evaluated and what is expected

*Describes levels of performance for each criterion to assess student performance on each of them.

*Assigns a level of performance by assessing performance across multiple criteria as a whole.
*Does not list separate levels of performance for each criterion.

Here is the link where you can find some interesting ones: http://www.uwstout.edu/soe/profdev/rubrics.cfm

jueves, 13 de diciembre de 2012


Do Coyle is an expert on CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) and defines it as “an umbrella term to talk about a methodology which uses a foreign language as a tool in the learning of a non-language subject in which both language and the subject have a joint role”
CLIL for me is using an L2 (non-native language, in this situation we will use English) to transmit knowledge to our students in a subject not related to language class and offer them the opportunity to learn English at the same time.
The idea of CLIL goes beyond learning new vocabulary in a foreign language. It is not an additional subject teaching and nor is it used in a less important learning unit.
Some teachers try to apply this in schools teaching a random subject in English, they put the learning of their students at risk, as some may not have a high enough level of the language to follow the instructions and they will lose important pieces of their information. It is important then, that the teacher first knows the students well in order to assist them during the whole process and to be able to offer a really useful scaffolding to make use of this methodology a great success.
Before starting, the teacher must be aware of the difficulty of the creation of these kinds of units. Have a look at this extract of the first activity in our CLIL project:
The teacher will arrive after the lunch break and will say “Oh my God! I’m starving, I’ve completely forgotten about having lunch today, so I’ve thought that it would be amazing if we could prepare a nice dish in class”. Then the teacher will include: “I love Indian food, my favourite dish is Chicken Tikka Massala”.
Now that we have introduced the structure to the class, we will ask for their favourite dishes:
“What’s your favourite dish?”  we expect the children to answer “I love...” or “My favourite dish is...” depending on if they want to use scaffolding or directly answer the question.
“Where do you usually eat it?” if they say “in a restaurant” we will ask “what kind of restaurant do you go to?” and if they say “at home” we will ask “who prepares it at home?”
Once we have this answer we will ask for the ingredients of each dish. The teacher will write on left side of the blackboard “INGREDIENTS”. The teacher will have to take into account that we will need to separate the blackboard in three big columns. Under the ingredients the teacher will write the words the students say. We expect the students to know some words in English but not all of them. If they say a word in Spanish or Catalan, ex: “arroz” we will say “Oh, rice, of course we need to write down rice” or something similar that will give them the name in English.”

It is titled “Experimental cooking” and integrates the teaching of mathematics and English language, and this is just the introduction of the subject. Hopefully I can edit this once we finish the Unit and show you it entirely.

jueves, 6 de diciembre de 2012

Week 8 – Multiple Intelligences

Today I was looking for information to show you all in my blog and I ended up taking a MI test, well, sometimes it happens so here are my results:

The scores for my eight intelligences:

(max. 5.00)
Also, they say: “Just because these five are not in your top three doesn’t mean you’re not strong in them. If your average score for any intelligence is above three, you’re probably using that intelligence quite often to help you learn. Take a look at the Practice section to see how to engage all your intelligences.”

Now, if you are interested, you can take the test to know how smart you are:

Gardner used biological as well as cultural research to formulate a list of eight intelligences. This theory states that all eight intelligences are needed to productively function in society. Teachers should therefore think of all intelligences as equally important. They should recognize and teach to a broader range of skills and talents. Another implication of this theory is that they should structure the presentation of material
in a style which engages most or all of the intelligences. Though everyone is born possessing the eight intelligences, students come into the classrooms with different sets of developed intelligences. This means that every learner has a different learning style. This theory therefore provides a theoretical
foundation for recognizing the different abilities and talents of students.

martes, 27 de noviembre de 2012

WEEK 7 – ARTICLE – Rethinking Classroom Management

In order to achieve success in teaching and learning management, it is important to focus on the organisation, the curriculum and the social issues. If we manage to combine these three important aspects for our pupils, we will achieve the perfect learning atmosphere.

Pupils should be aware that there are rules which they have to follow in society, but some rules may seem totally arbitrary for them, so if they negotiate between them, thinking why it should or should not be allowed in class for some issues, and then write them down they will interiorise them and respect them fully. If these rules are written down in a poster and are hanging on the classroom wall, they will be very visible for the students and will therefore be even more effective.

Even though, teachers should be kind to their pupils to maintain a good atmosphere, they also have to be firm in applying the rules of the class.

The curriculum is described as a way to give the children a chance to think critically, to solve problems, to become creative, innovative and to face challenges; whilst managing to engage them with the activities that are needed to be done.

And last but not least, the social issues. They enclose the affection and the understanding as well as the respect, recognition, inclusion, self-esteem, roles and responsibilities that pupils carry with them.

Knowing all this, we should be able to create a good environment around the pupils’ learning space and help them develop values and acquire knowledge as they grow up.

Here I’ve included a blog entry about rethinking classroom management that a primary school teacher wrote and her results in class. It may be interesting to read through to see other points of view and adaptations to real primary school classrooms.