Sunday, 27 November 2016

Acts of kindness Advent Calendar

I have given a lot of thought to celebrating Advent by doing an act of kindness every day, something to put other people and causes above my own day-to-day concerns. The calendar I have come up with is below. This is in no way intended to be self-congratulatory; don't mistake me for a preachy do-gooder - that's just not me at all.  If you read this and think it's a pointless idea, it doesn't bother me in the slightest. However, if you fancy doing something similar yourself, I hope it gives you some ideas of things you could do or adapt.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Making sense of 2016

I've spent the past 5 months in a state of total distress about Brexit and the far-right agenda which has been unleashed while major institutions simply stand by and bury their heads in the sand. I see intolerance and ignorance being applauded by the powerful few who seek to divide and control the masses for their own financial gain. I've woken up with nightmares, spent days sitting curled up in an exhausted heap, spent evenings emailing and tweeting companies and MPs to ask them to stop fuelling hate, but it seems the tide of bile can't be stopped. I don't go to church any more because being continually asked for money to refurbish the buildings whilst local poverty is on the increase just makes me angry and the obsession with praying for our deceased relatives (I don't need continual reminders that my parents and brother-in-law are deceased, thanks) makes me want to shout about the plight of the living. I feel like a helpless figure trying to keep my head above water. The cost of living is rising and we are struggling to make ends meet because we are paying for our two boys' university accommodation - their student loans barely cover food, let alone rent, travel and books. I worry about them leaving university saddled with £50K of debt. I worry about my extended family, some of whom are Muslim and immigrants, and I fear for the world the youngest of our relatives will inherit from us.

So I was heartened to read a blogpost yesterday by a woman who had decided to look back at 2016 and remember the good things that had happened to her. I have decided to do the same. The only way to fight darkness is with light, so I'm making a list of the good things that happened to me in 2016.
It's been a good year at work. We started by hosting a local MFL INSET day at our school in January, where I led a session on ICT skills and my HoD led a session on the new GCSE. In the same month, I also delivered training at our two local universities. I followed this with a visit to ALL Language World in March, where it was great to meet up with many good friends from the MFL world. In April I presented at #Ililc and met up with many dear friends and in June I went to an ALL London event and found out lots about the new syllabus. My GCSE results weren't too bad at all and a couple of students I really cared about came back to visit me this term and say hi. The German exchange in September was lovely; we were made really welcome and we had beautiful weather. In October I ran my first ever Teachmeet and today I have delivered more training at our local university.

At the start of the new year, my husband John and I decided we would take some trips. Having spent the best part of 19 years raising the boys, we thought it would be interesting to go some places without them! This was all booked before the university accommodation fees kicked in, needless to say. We started with a bitterly cold day at Highgrove House at Easter to find inspiration for our garden (which is the size of a postage stamp) and a couple of weeks later we had a lovely afternoon at RHS Wisley. In April we went to the Royal Albert Hall to see a friend of John's play drums for the Royal Marines and in May we spent a lovely couple of days in Bruges, despite the rain. We had a week near Royan, France, at the end of July and enjoyed visiting places we had been to with the boys when they were small. In October, we took a short trip to Copenhagen to try out my Danish, which I have been learning on Duolingo. It was an amazing place and I would love to go back some day.

Family and Friends
A milestone year - our youngest passed his driving test, sat and passed his A levels, turned 18 and started university. Our oldest transferred for his second year and now they are both at the same place, which I love. John and I celebrated 20 years of marriage in August and spent the day with the friends who collected us from Gatwick after our wedding trip all those years ago. The same friends took us on a river cruise with afternoon tea to celebrate the all-clear after I had a bit of a health scare in the summer. I also met up with a dear friend of mine who moved away a few years ago, and in the summer holidays I travelled up to Yorkshire to stay with my auntie and meet up with a very good friend of mine, where we spent a lovely sunny afternoon in York. The summer holidays finished with my eldest niece's wedding and a reception on their village green with a marquee and a summer fete atmosphere. I see my brother and his family all the time; his youngsters and their mischief are an endless source of joy to us all.

The immediate future
I'm going to ban myself from thinking about the global future for a few weeks and focus on doing good instead. It's too cold and dark to go out and we're now too skint to go anywhere in any case, so staying at home with my beloved dog, baking cakes and reading books about hygge is my latest craze. I'm filling a box with tinned goods etc to take to the local food bank at Christmas and compiling an advent calendar for myself consisting of acts of kindness.

Final thought
My mother-in-law, June, was a remarkably resilient and upbeat person, despite the many setbacks she encountered in life, most of which were not of her own making. She spent her late teens as a volunteer first-aider on the streets of London during World War II and this taught her that bad times eventually pass and a sense of humour and thankfulness would help you through. She also loved Welsh Terriers. This is what I need to hang on to when it all gets too much.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Mobile devices research

I've been doing a research project for school and chose to look at the use of mobile devices in the classroom. Unsurprisingly, there is very little published evidence to support the use of mobile devices in the classroom and it is left to those of us who are in favour to state our case.
Much more could have gone into the slideshow but I've actually ended up taking a lot of material out. It's for presentation to staff at a workshop so I have tried to reduce it to the main points for discussion.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

MFL Magic with QR Codes

I've just got back from an amazing weekend and #ililc6. Here is my presentation on QR codes. Many thanks to Helen Myers for organising such a great event.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Fasching and Mardi Gras

I can't believe it's Fasching already. Here is a selection of resources for the week ahead:- has a selection of masks and other Fasching-related things to make. has some Fasching games.

For French resources, there is a selection of links to resources here.

There are also some nice resources on

Here is a link to a Mardi Gras feature on 1jour1actu from a couple of years ago.

Have fun. :-)

Friday, 29 January 2016

Teacher Training at Portsmouth and Stubbington

Over the past couple of days, I have delivered teacher training on easy ICT tools for MFL. Thanks to everyone who took part and I hope you have found some useful ideas for your classroom practice. Here is the slideshow.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Reading and Listening skills

It's been a long time since my last blog post, not through idleness but because things have been very busy!
Today I went to Southampton University to talk to PGCE trainees about reading and listening skills. Here is a copy of the presentation, just in case anyone else might find it useful.