Almost there !!!

As I open up the front page of my blog today, I see the number of hits is 44,982. That means that in just 18 more hits, I will have reached 45,000 hits on my humble little blog. I am truly gobsmacked (and anyone who knows me will know that it takes a lot to render me speechless !!!). This blog venture began about seven years ago, when I created my first googlesite to be able to share mp3 files with my students to prolong their listening work out of the classroom and to stop me from having to copy onto USB flashdrives countless times. How things have moved on !! In that time, I have moved over to wordpress and I have even become a “dotcom” in my own right !! It was reported back to me recently that some teachers think I am mad to have created this blog. “Elle est folle” were the exact words. I believe they were referring to the sheer size of the blog today and the quantity of resources that are contained herein. I like to tell myself they weren’t referring to my mental state !!! This blog has actually existed in its current form since July 4th 2012, so it is fast approaching its 3rd birthday. Of course, over the course of those three years, it has grown and grown and will continue to grow. It didn’t start immediately in its current form, of course. It was a much smaller and less ambitious proposition then.

To everyone who visits me here, I thank you wholeheartedly for your support. I hope you continue to find useful stuff here and also on my sister blogs, on Funology, on British pronunciation and on general musings about teaching and teacher training.

So, hold on your hats for when we reach 45,000 !!!


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

The 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.

St Philip Howard School, Barnham – well done !

This article tells how a group of young people delivered a powerful message to 10 Downing Street today, insisting on the right to education for children across the world. Two of the kids selected to go to Downing Street were from our former partner school, St Philip Howard School in Barnham, West Sussex. For almost ten years, we ran an exchange between our school and theirs and I know my former pupils maintain links with some of their partners still today.

A special hello to Mrs Alison Baker, Assistant Head Teacher, who is behind this initiative and who ran the exchange with me – and who also happens to be one of my best friends and who helped me in my early years of teaching, back in 1989, when I was a rooky teacher in Angmering.

Click on the link to read the full article. Great job, guys.

So proud

Today three groups of my students from Terminale STI2D came along to one of my training courses to present in English their final year projects to those present. I was truly astounded at how good tehy were and how well they did it. Even R, a student who doesn’t always want to go along with what is being done in class was a star. And quiet, retiring W was full of explanations in clear and comprehensible English. A was totally at ease, drawing us diagrams on the board and explaining at the same time. I was so proud of what they achieved today and I hope they realize how much I respect their attitude.

The aim of inviting them was to give a starting point to our training. All too often, we get bogged down in the theory and forget the kids who should be at the heart of everything. By starting off with the kids, we gave the afternoon a direction that it would have been hard to achieve without them. It also showed what I firmly believe – my students have a better level in English than we give them credit for. Give them a bit of leeway and off they will go – but in the most positive way possible, as they proved today.

The teachers said that they admired their ease, how comfortable they were with the language and how motivated they seemed by their projects. I would agree with that. Hats off to my colleagues who run the projects, who dream them up and who put it all in place. And hats off to the pupils in question. A second group next week – let’s hope they will do as good a job as those today.

hats off

The Cup Song

A special dedication to Akhésa and Cécilia from my L classes at school this year, who introduced me to the  “Cup Song”. Congratulations to the pupils from the Collège Racinay and to my colleague and Twitter friend, Elisa for putting this together. I would so have loved to be part of it. I promised my girls to post on this topic and so here we are, with a little extra, a special tap dancing version too as a bonus.

Happy Birthday

My wonderful son is 18 years old today.

birthday_graphics_31It makes me feel old to think I have two adult sons now. How is that possible ? I still feel like a quite a kid myself. But hey ho – what goes around comes around, as they say. So a big big big birthday hug to my T, and to all sons (and daughters everywhere). They keep us young.


A photo that made me smile

I just came across this photo that really made me smile. Anyone who knows me will know I have a bit of a Royal Family thing going on, but I also love spoofs of any kind. I particularly liked the mock-up film of the wedding a few years ago :

I actually managed to convice a class of 1ère (well, some gullible students at  least) that I had received an invite to the Royal Wedding. A mother crossed me in the supermarket and asked me about it, so I knew some had believed my story.

And now, several years on, this photo which I dedicate to my students who love tatoos and to one student in particular, with her red/purple hair and tatoos – who knows where she will go in life ???


Fifty ways to recycle a plastic bottle

Alexandre 1

My fabulous 1STI2D1 students have really gone to town with their entries for my “Fifty ways to recycle a plastic bottle” project. Here are their entries, assembled in one picture by Alexandre (thanks to him and to Ghislain who did me some other photos). The idea was to find creative uses for the two plastic bottles that I gave to them over the Xmas holidays, photograph the entries and post them on a virtual wall with an explanation in English of how they went about making their creation.The language objective was to practice the past tense (I chose / I cut / I made / I wanted to etc etc).

The ideas were presented to a panel of six Technology teachers and entries have been nominated in different categories :

The most creative

The most innovative

The craziest idea

The most useful idea

The most stylish idea

The sustainable development prize

I then put together a team of non-Technoloy teacher to choose The Teachers’ Choice Prize.

Finally there will be The Overall Winner of the Fifty Ways to Recycle a Plastic Bottle Project 2014.

My Technology colleague, Claire Boucher, has made the trophies for the prize-giving ceremony which will take place on Thursday 30th January. We announced the nominated prizes in class on Wednesday and each student will be working on his acceptance speech, in the case of victory. And of course, the speech will be in English.

The objects will be displayed during our Open Day at school on March 22nd 2014.

I am truly delighted at how the students have entered into the spirit of this project. It came at the end of a long chapter on PLASTIC – making plastic bottles, the injection moulding process, recycling plastic and inventive uses for plastic bottles. We studied a project in Guatemala where plastic bottles, stuffed with trash, have been used as blocks to build a community school. This then led us to think about ways to use a plastic bottle for us and the project was born.

The Ceremony will take place on January 30th in the presence of Mr Fraboulet, our Headmaster, Mr Furst and Mme Renault-Chatton, our Deputy Heads and a selection of class teachers. The French teacher is going to work on writing an article for the school website and for the local rag with groups of the students.

It has been an absolute pleasure working on this project and seeing my boys develop their creativity and imagination. My conviction that students need to have a creative side has been strengthened by this project and their participation has shown me that I am right to believe in them and their talents. Up to me to dream up more challenges as they have set the bar very high with their offerings.

The winners will be announced here after Thursday’s ceremony.

UPDATE : We are proud to announce the winners of our 2014 Fifty Ways to Recycle a Plastic Bottle Competition.


The most creative : Bastien and his Sweets Cup and Bracelet

The most innovative : Léo and his Magazine Rack

The craziest idea : Antoine and his Millipede Sponge Support

The most useful idea : Valentin and his Bike Fender

The most stylish idea : Vincent and his Phone Dock / Dimitri with his Christmas Decoration

The sustainable development prize : Johnnathan with his Water Recycling system

The non-STI2D teachers’ prize : Ghislain and his Remote Control Holder / Mathieu and his Pirate Ship

And the overall winner of the Grand prize 2014 is Antoine and the Millipede, nominated in the most categories.

Congratulations once again to all particpants. Thanks to the lycée for organising a tea party for the awards ceremony, to Mr Fraboulet, the Head, for his presence at the ceremony and to Mr Paquet, our “Chef des Travaux” for the cinema ticket prizes for the winners. All participants received a souvenir keyring, made by Claire Boucher along the same lines as the trophies (thanks to her and to Eliane for the technical support) and a good time was had by all.

All that remains now is to organise our exhibition of the project for the Lycée Les Fontenelles Open Day on March 22nd 2014, where the creations will be on display with explanations in English, of course.

Amazing all the things you can do with a plastic bottle, isn’t it ?

Silver Jubilee

jubilee 3

I began my career as a classroom teacher twenty-five years ago this year. 1989 saw me as a green, naive, young languages teacher in the UK, rigid with nerves and yet full of eager anticipation and excitement at having my own classroom and most importantly, a real teacher’s red pen and register to mark every morning !!

I am still going strong, twenty-five years down the road. No longer so green, naive or young, BUT still getting a buzz from it all and still loving the contact with the students. I am finding it hard to believe it has been twenty-five years, especially as I also find it hard to believe sometimes  I am not still in my twenties !!

Learned a lot along the way; am still learning every day and whilst I continue to feel that way, I guess I must be doing something right. The day I stop feeling like this is the day to put that red pen away for good.

Happy Jubilee to me !!