It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

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A new section on my blog

I am proud to announce a new arrival on my blog – I have created a page especially for Kids’ Literature. If you know me, you will know I have an unending passion for kids’ stories and I love including them in my teaching. Yes, even with a class of grumpy seventeen year old boys !! I am pleased to be able to develop this passion further in the coming months during various training programmes and in anticipation of that, I have today started the dedicated pages on this blog. If you have a moment, check them out. You will find them by clicking right HERE.

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That life-work-life balance thing again

This seems to be a recurring theme for me – how to balance family with work and what percentage to give to what ? I know that I get it wrong most of the time. When you actually enjoy reading about educational issues and experimenting with software and tecchie stuff, this is one of the dangers. It doesn’t actually feel like work to catch up on the tweets about lastest teaching stuff, or to flick through a new textbook as it is actually interesting. But, having said that, at the end of the day, it IS still work.

This picture sums it up quite nicely for me.work life balance I feel it is important to work on those little bridges you can see which take you from life to work and from work to life in this picture. If those bridges are solidly in place, I am sure the rest kind of clicks. But the bridges are definitely the key to success, in my opinion.

On my To Do list for the weeks to come, I definitely want to read a really gripping book, one that you really don’t want tp put down and that you can get totally lost in. I also want to look after my garden. I talked a while back about dealing with the front bed before the weeds took over. Well, guess what ? The weeds did take over and I am going to have one heck of job on my hands to get that cleared !! But I will. And I want to do some furniture restoration. I love tinkering with old chairs and drawers, bringing them back to life. Those are my plans for the weeks to come.

Work-wise, as school starts to wind down for the exam season, it is time to think about the Big Tidy-Up. I haven’t cleaned out my study for years (if ever) and it was originally decorated as a nursery for my son, who is now 13. The teddies stencilled on the walls could perhaps do with an update. Maybe some funky and groovy colours, rather than the baby pastels ???

In terms of tidying, the end of year brings mountains of papers to my attention, that sit there, just getting bigger as the year progresses. They will all need to be filed away and sorted out. I dream of a paperless office – ha ha !!!

Does that sound quite balanced ? Still a little way to go yet, but I am getting there.watch this space

A giant water slide in the centre of Bristol

Thanks to my nephew, Jamie, in the UK, I have heard about this giant project in Bristol, whereby the street is going to be transformed into a giant water slide today. It sounds like such a lot of fun. You can read more about it here : Bristol Park Street water slide project

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For one day only, the giant slide will be installed the length of the main high street and the demand for tickets has been unbelievable. For 320 tickets, almost 100,000 applications were received and so only the lucky few will actually have the chance to take to the slide. The concept is part of a project to “Make Sundays Special” and I am all for that idea.

I don’t know about you, but in our household, fun on Sundays has for a long time meant washing and ironing, catching up on homework and watching the recording of Telefoot. As an avid fan of The Archers, I listen to the omnibus every Sunday morning (or nowadays, it can also very easily be a podcast), but I am the only one in our household to do this ! The idea of hurling myself down a 90 metre water slide in the city centre may not be my idea of fun, but fun it certainly is !!

The brains behind the idea set in place a “Pianos in the City” project five years ago and that certainly would grab me. public pianosAs the mother of pianist sons, I absolutely love the sound of the piano and when we were in Paris this weekend, we spent a while in St Lazare station, listening to the young girl who was playing on the piano installed there.

How else to make Sundays fun ? Personally I don’t consider housework and chores as falling into the “fun” category. A trip to the cinema, a bike ride, a lunch party – those are more fun. reading a bookAnd, as the weather improves, hopefully a spot of gardening. Not to forget, of course, the time spent in the garden chair with a good book, because the pile of books to read never seems to diminish, does it ? So much to read, so little time to do to it in !!

For anyone who hasn’t had the thought, where is Bristol ?map of bristol It is a city in South-West England, not far from where I was born and spent the first seven years of my life, in a small town called Trowbridge. Going to the big city of Bristol was a huge treat when I was a little girl !! And there were no giant water slides in my day !!!

1742px-Panorama_of_BristolTo complete this post, a panoramic view of the city and an example of work by the Bristol artist, Bansky.220px-Banksy-ps

Something for the weekend, sir

Over this weekend, I have been participating in the Virtual Round Table, a series of international on-line conferences about using technology to enhance our teaching. It has been a real thrill to exchange with like-minded souls from across the globe and I have connected with people from all sorts of places that I can hardly place on a map. It is so exciting to swap ideas and tips. It makes me realize how geeky I truly am becoming and it also reminded me of this photo I spotted on Twitter or somewhere similar over the past few days. So after my plethora of Georges, it is Geeksville International for a while.

This photo below will be featuring in one of my sequences starting when school returns. Will it be your class ???

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My Writing Jar

I really like this activity that I am going to talk about now, called “My Writing Jar”. It involves literally a jam jar, filled with random (or seemingly random) words. The students pick out a certain number per table and they have to make up a story with a beginning, a middle and an end, incorporating those words. It is such a simple idea but it works brilliantly every time. You can vary it by getting the pupils to add their own words to the jar, if you prefer.2014-04-14 20.19.51

Older generations

I wrote recently about the sadness which surrounds the death of a 25 year-old. Today I have been working on a film which caught my eye during Sport Relief on the TV a month or so ago. sport-relief-300x300On a night of campaigning and money raising, there are numerous films and clips shown, many humorous, such as the ones that invariably involve David Beckham and James Corden. david and jamesThere are also some incredibly heart-wrenching ones, usually involving starving kids. But one film in particular caught my attention this year and I have built some lesson ideas around it. The film is about a guy called Bob, who is 92 years old and who lost his wife to Altzheimer’s disease three years ago.

The aim of the film is to raise money for financing “The Silver Line”, a telephone helpline for the elderly, who can call 24/7 just for a chat, to have someone to talk toin an attempt to help to beat the loneliness of old age. bobHowever the choices I wanted to make went beyond that. I wanted to use Bob as an inspiration, as he talks of his wife and their relationship over the sixty or so years they had together. Within a chapter on LOVE, I always like to focus on the positive. This seemed to me to be to be a beautiful example of positives.

I recently worked on LOVE with a class of Premières students. As a final task to conclude the unit, I asked the kids to think of a couple they know (family or friends) and to tell their love story. I didn’t want to hear about the student’s own stories as I was looking for a longer-standing relationship and I needed the kids to be able to tell from a distance. The aim was to get the kids working on all the vocab and ideas we had included in our chapter.

To start with, I was a little nervous because I didn’t want to upset anyone and, I was warned by colleagues that it was a bit dodgy, in these politically-correct days, to ask about relationships when everyone seems to be divorcing. But after a lot of thought, I decided to forge ahead anyway and one of the major constraints placed on the pupils was that they had to tell a true story.

The majority of the students went with their grandparents’ stories. We were transported back to a time many years ago ; of military service, of love letters being written, of clapped-out old 2CV cars, of crackly phone calls … Not only did I thoroughly enjoy reading the stories, as each one was unique and interesting to read, but also, the students themselves had spent time with their grandparents, talking, asking questions and learning about things that they hadn’t previously known, in terms of family history. One girl, L, did several drafts of her essay, each time getting back to her grandmother and grandfather, to get the extra details, to take a photo or two, to make the quality of her work even better. She wanted to do her grandparents proud.

The results were, for a large majority of the class, amazing. They students uploaded their stories into their digital portfolios, so, in away, they published their work on-line, albeit in a private space. Several told me how they shared the link with those in question and how it had given a lot of pleasure within the family. One girl even told me how she spent a whole afternoon, teacing her grandmother how to go on-line so she could see and read the story in print.

generationsI am a great believer in the power of Intergenerationality (is that a word ?). Younger kids working with the older generations – it has to be a pathway to greater understanding, doesn’t it ? We have so much to learn from the older and wiser.

If you want to find out more about the “Meet Bob” films and the work we have done, click here.

A new idea

I discovered via a teachers’ forum this link. I don’t yet know how and when I will use it, but use it, I will. As I know there are English teachers across the world who check out this blog from time to time, I thought this would be a good place to share it. So much potential.