2014 in review – thanks to everyone who sailed with me in 2014 !!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 22,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

A change of image

A “relooking” for my header image today as I celebrate 25,000+ hits on my humble little blog. Very excited to have passed the mark, as it was an objective I had fixed myself and kapow, here it is – been there, done that !!

I have chosen to deviate from the image of the Hampshire coastline and to go for fish and chips. There is a reason for this. I have never been a huge fan of fish and chips in recent years. It was always our Saturday night treat after swimming club as kids and they were, of course, wrapped up in newspaper. But I was somehow never able to re-create the same images as an adult. Fish was nice but could have done without the batter – and the chips, well, I guess I have developed more of a taste for allumette-style French fries these days. HOWEVER on our recent trip to England, we discovered a lovely old-fashioned pub in the heart of Chichester and their fish and chips were divine !!!

So, thanks to all who come regularly from all over the world. The list is impressive. Welcome to any new people and please keep on coming !!

The new school year begins here

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The new school year has begun. 2014-2015 will bring its share of fun and surprises. Welcome to all my new students, young and old, to my blog. You will need to visit these pages very regularly, so save me in your favourites !!! Take some time to have a look around, find things that interest you and that will be useful to you. But above all, take a moment to read, understand and reflect on my quote of the day.

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The new look Big English Blog

A while ago I mentioned I was going to give my blog a facelift, well you can now see the result. No panic – it is nothing major, just a bit of tweeking and twiddling. After two years of the Union Jacks and the tea and scones, it was time to move on. HOWEVER, as you can see, I haven’t moved very far. The tea-time theme is still there as it is very much a part of me. A lot of my students say they learn to make a cup of tea through watching me make my morning cuppa in the classroom. The click of the kettle going on signals that the lesson is almost at an end and my choice of mug is never coincidental.

keep calm tea time

For the feature image, I toyed with a number of images. To begin with, they were more of a London-based theme – Big Ben, taxis, phone boxes, letter boxes … but then I decided to change tack. When I go back home to England, that is not where I go or what I look for. I have decided therefore to feature MY England in my chosen pictures. When I go back to England, it is to the south coast essentially, where my parents are based and where my sons are for their studies. The New Forest, Southampton, Christchurch, Chichester, Bournemouth – these are the places I return to and so these are the places I shall be featuring on my blog. This is no disrespect to London at all, BUT I am sure anyone would agree that a country is not fully represented solely by its capital. There are some truly beautiful spots to be discovered in the south of the UK, as there are in all parts of the country, so I hope you will enjoy discovering this corner of my world.

Mudeford QuayTo begin with, a view of the place where my parents live : Barton-on-Sea is a small town on the coast with this superb coastline, as you can see in the feature picture. This area is as spectacular in the winter as it is in the summer. When the wind whips the sea up, it can get quite hairy. My sister and I got absolutely drenched walking along this very quay in February of this year. The storms of this winter did a lot of coastal damage. This coastline is gradually eroding, but for the moment, it is a joy to behold. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWatch this space for images of the New Forest with its ponies which live in the wild. The light shining through the trees on a Spring morning has an almost magical quality. Here is a taster.

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On-line play tools

I have been playing with language apps over the weekend. As you may know, if you have been on training courses with me, or in my classroom, I am an unconditional fan of Triptico.triptico I use it in virtually every lesson, for creating groups, for designating students, for modifying seating plans in the classroom, for testing vocabulary, for practising questions … the list is endless. I am still discovering the full potential of the package. I have also introduced it to many fellow teachers and also to our English language assistants on our training programmes. I hope that through the use of this tool, kids will be having more and more fun as they learn.

I have been playing with Quizlet over the weekend and discovering what I can do with this tool too, in ways that will be complementary to my use of Triptico. quizletQuizlet is a vocabulary learning tool and it basically creates virtual flashcards which can then be accessed by others to practice the vocabulary in game form. Teachers can create card sets but also students. They can share them among themselves and when they play games, they are given a score. these scores can be collated into a table, with classifications.

There is a free version of Quizlet and a paying version. I have actually opted for the paying version because I wanted to explore the potential of the voice function, which is available in the paid version only. But that is my personal choice. If you want to know more about Quizlet, you can find some examples that I have prepared for my students HERE as part of our e-book project. If you are interested in the e-book project itself, you can click HERE. You would be welcome to visit and any feedback before I go live with the kids next week would be appreciated.

For more information on using Triptico and other tools in the classroom, you might like to check out my “Technology in the Classroom” pages HERE.

 

Another goal to reach

As I am writing, the number of hits on this blog is 18,374. With three and a half weeks until the Easter holidays, my goal is to reach 20,000 hits before Easter. Can we do it ? Yes, we can !! I know we can. How do I know this ? Because I am confident in the knowledge that my pupils are working hard and using this blog to do so. I can see it on the stats as I follow who is doing what. I see it in their work in the classroom as they re-invest what they have been doing at home.

I know we can do it because I see also the countries that are following my blog too. I check my stats page every day to see which countries are there and I smile to myself as I realize that people around the world are checking out what I have to offer. It is very exciting being part of the blogosphere and to know I am being read around the world.

So, we’re on the road to 20,000 before April 19th. Let’s see how quickly we can get there, everyone.

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Blogging evolves into more blogging

I am becoming more and more interested in the role of blogging in teaching and have been enjoying reading a number of teacher blogs over this holiday period. It is actually quite addictive as everyone seems to do things quite differently and yet, at the same time, there is an echo of familiarity within the teacher blog. For me, as an English person living and teaching within the French school system, I appreciate this link with things back home and to be able to keep up to date.

The blogpost from @teachertoolkit Addiction to blogging was a true eye-opener for me this Saturday morning. Just clicking on my Twitter feed, to see what’s occurring, as they say, I got dragged into the article, thinking it looked like a good read. However, about a third of the way in, this paragraph hit me :

“If you are reading this. I am assuming the chances are, that you could be a cynosural-blogger with an addiction to social-media of sorts. Note the time you are reading this? Who are you with? Where are you you? What else could/should you be doing?”

It brought me up with a shock, making me take stock and remembering that my youngest son was waiting for me in the kitchen, with a mug of tea (in my favourite mug), some toast and the plan to make chocolate brownies together. So to answer the question “what else should you be doing ?”, well, I should be spending quality time with my youngest and not spending the time reading about blogging and blogging addiction.

I often talk about the “work-life balance thingy” and I find it one of the hardest parts of my life. Being married to a non-teacher, the time I spend preparing, marking and planning is time that I am not spending with my hubby, who is as free as a bird at weekends. I am not suggesting I am the only one who has to deal with this problem, but as the years go by, I am beginning to resent the pulls on my time more and more.

So, now the chocolate brownies are made,  the Xmas tree has been taken down. the fish tank has been cleaned out and the lunch is done and dusted, here is a bit of “me time”, a window for my blogging.Chocolate brwonies This blog is having visits from all over the globe – Malaysia and Indonesia today, Greece yesterday. I feel very proud to have such varied visitors – and of course, my students from school are popping in and out.

Blogging leads to more blogging – this post will lead to another and to another. I hope you will keep reading. And I hope I will be able to keep my eye on the ball, professionally but also, the “what is truly important” ball !! Let’s not forget what that really is.