Monday, 11 June 2018

Preparing the path for students' active engagement in Global learning

The EAThink Kit, included in the European project eathink 2015,  is a working tool including the best Global Learning Units for Primary and Secondary school teachers, global education trainers and volunteers engaged in educational activities on global learning and sustainable agriculture. You can download the different Kits developed by the EAThink partners in several languages, Basque included. 

Below the language section, you will find a series of very useful tags that you can use to search for the units that you may prefer depending on the subject you teach (Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Ethics, etc.)

In 2015,  “Eat local, think global” was the motto this three-year EU funded project chose to prepare students for facing their responsibilities as active global citizens, starting from the choice of what they eat.

Far from bidding farewell to this powerful project in 2018, you can start welcoming it into your schools if you have not known about it till now because it is being constantly updated. In fact, just some days ago I knew about a new series of activities that will be launched in 2018-2019 at Primary and Secondary schools in the Basque Country. You can find everything about the workshops and activities Euskalfondoa has organized here.

If you wish to use the classroom units in Basque, just click here. Classroom resources in Spanish can be downloaded here. Regarding the units in English, this is the link to download them.

There is no doubt that these superb resources will help educators to enhance students’ critical understanding of and active engagement in global development challenges, focusing on sustainable food systems and smallholder farming.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Fostering reading habits through reading and viewing

This post is aimed at helping teachers to foster reading habits in their classrooms. Do you find it difficult to make your students read pieces of literature? I would like to share my insight into engaging students in literature through combining printed texts and video adaptations of the texts. The following powerpoint presentation includes some practical proposals for the classroom  based on two short stories and two poems. 

Friday, 18 May 2018

Today I am writing to let you know about a very powerful platform called Europeana
Europeana is Europe's digital platform for cultural heritage. It provides free, online access to over 50 million digital records coming from over 3,700 libraries, museums, archives and galleries across Europe. Europeana features art from over 3,000 institutions across Europe, from the likes of Rijksmuseum, the British Library and the Louvre, as well as local museums from every corner of the European Union. Highlights include Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, and music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Undoubtedly, a very helpful source for those teachers implementing Art both at Primary and Secondary levels. Click here to see the Art-Europeana collection.

Europeana offers a Music collection which includes recordings, pieces of sheet music and other music items from across Europe so Music teachers will benefit from this platform too.

Teachers who wish to introduce Natural History content in their Science classes 
will have the opportunity to explore the natural world in 3,415,528 drawings, specimens, images and documents in the Natural History collection.

211,249 items on the topic of migration to, from and within Europe are thoroughly depicted in the Migration Collection. 

I am sure this platform founded by the European Commisssion in 2008 and updated with new features including a translation tool into 27 languages will enable you  to enrich your classes.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Identifying the level of difficulty of texts in any content area

Today I am writing this brief post to let you know about a tool that allows users  to obtain reliable research-based information on the lexical composition and level of any text, to help them make key decisions about their text's difficulty and its overall level in relation to the CEFR. The tool is called TextInspector and it was the  winner of the 2017 ELTons award for Digital Innovation. 

You can find it here and also included on the English Profile website, which offers another   two online tools:  English Vocabulary Profile Online and English Grammar Profile Online. We have already  talked about the usefulness of these two tools in previous seminar sessions and many of you have experienced  that  they are very helpful for  both  language  and  subject classes.

Textinspector is very easy to use: simply paste any text into the box and click on "analyse". It will give you an instant score and detailed feedback. 

Texts are limited to 500 words per document. To process larger documents and to save your data, please use the advanced site at (subscription required).

To sum up, Textinspector is another powerful tool that will enable teachers  to succeed at providing their students with comprehensible input by helping them  to identify the amount of vocabulary they have to pre-teach according to the language level of our students. For CLIL teachers, the tool will allow them to have a clear perspective on the difficulty of the text on the whole although it is obvious that they will need to focus on the  subject-specific vocabulary which is essential for their CLIL units. 

Friday, 20 April 2018


STEM Discovery Week 2018 is a joint international initiative that invites projectsorganisations and schools across Europe and around the world, to celebrate careers and studies in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). This year, Next-Lab participates in the STEM Discovery Week 2018 with a competition  meant to reward the best class implementation of the Go-Lab Inquiry Learning Spaces.

If you are organising a class implementation between February-April 2018, then you are eligible to participate in  the Next-Lab competition. 

The first thing you need to do is to submit your class implementation activity to the STEM Discovery Week activities map. In the form, and when asked to, please indicate clearly that you are taking part to the Next-Lab competition. Once you carry out your implementation, they will get back to you via email with some additional questions regarding the content of your activity, the resources you have used, and the impact on your students.

In order to enter the contest, your activity will need to fulfill the following criteria:

  • The submitted class implementation has to take place between March-April 2018
  • Create a new ILS ( Inquiry Learning Space) or adapt an existing one for your implementation
  • A minimum of 15 students need to take part to the class implementation
The winner will be invited to attend the Next-Lab Autumn School that will take place in Estonia in September 2018. Flight, hotel and subsidies will be covered entirely by the project.

I would like to encourage those schools which are already involved in STEM projects and invite any others who are ready to develop an activity that focuses on STEM subjects both at Primary and Secondary levels. Even though the deadline finishes at the end of April, you can still take part in it because a one-day activity is enough. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

e-Twinning projects that foster CLIL

Among the e-Twinning projects that received the European Quality Label 2018 for their outstanding work I am very happy to write the name of one of our CLIL Seminar participants:

 Amaya Alonso
 IES Antonio Trueba 
 Project: Anatomic@art

Country members are Tunisia, Ukraine and Spain (Leopoldo Queipo from Melilla  and Antonio Trueba High Schools ) and students who took part in it are 14-17-year olds. 

You can access the project from  here.

The project aims to study the  specific anatomy  of the human body and its relation with works of art from different subjects  (Literature, Drawing, Sculpture, Music, ...). Students work in groups  which focus on  an  organ, explain  its structure and physiology and how they have been the object of important works of art. 

The project was awarded Four European Quality labels so I must say I feel very proud that a teacher from our CLIL seminar has taken part in  such a powerful project which shows clear evidence that through e-Twinning schools can develop foreign  languages, digital skills, specific subjects like Science and creativity.

Let me finish by encouraging all of you to take part in an e-Twinning project that wil fit perfectly into your CLIL contexts and reminding you that Amaya will show us the process they followed  in our next seminar session in May.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018


Heziberri 2020 describes "taking care of our health habits to prevent possible infection risk both individually and within society" as the first of the goals for Basic Education. It is therefore essential that our students are provided with the necessary classroom  tools  so that they are cautious about antibiotic use  and learn about the importance of food safety and food hygiene. 

This is why today I would like to share a wonderful resource with both language teachers and Science teachers: e-Bug is a free educational resource that  makes learning about micro-organisms, the spread, prevention and treatment of infection fun and accessible for all students.

 The teacher  sections include: 
  • detailed lesson plans
  • fun student worksheets
  • extension activities
  • animations
  • Activity demonstrations
  • MS PowerPoint presentations to assist with the more difficult aspects of microbiology.
The student pages complement the teacher resources by providing online games, revision pages, quizzes and  fact files.

This project has been implemented in 26 European countries both at Primary and Secondary schools  and it is available in 22 languages. Evaluation of the project concluded that e-Bug teaching packs demonstrated a significant improvement in students' knowledge in all sections. Therefore, using this resource  is a goal scoring opportunity to reinforce key messages on immunity, vaccines, prudent antibiotic use and consumer behaviour around food hygiene. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

A reading strategy that works in every content area

A crucial factor for the success of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is coordination between language teachers and content teachers. A clear point of contact is, without any doubt, the one related to reading strategies. As I have described in previous entries, there is a great variety of reading strategies but today I would like to share my reflection on a specific strategy which enables students to understand   how the information within a written text is organized and, therefore, increase their comprehension of the text. In order to make the most of this strategy, coordination between language teachers and content teachers is essential.

To develop the text structure strategy, language teachers should start by introducing the idea that texts have organizational patterns called text structures.  Then, students should know why they are going to learn about this so language teachers will proceed to explain that if students identify how the text is structured, they will be able to organize the information in the text in a graphic organizer. This will help them to make connections between the text and visual representations of the text and, therefore, to understand the ideas in the text much better.

How many text types should language teachers focus on in order to facilitate reading in the content areas? Yesterday I developed a CLIL seminar session on this and content teachers agreed that a simple classification including the most common patterns of organization would be enough. My proposal includes the following patterns:

- Cause and effect
- Chronological
- Compare and contrast
- Order of importance
- Problem and solution
- Sequence
- Spatial/descriptive

To develop the text structure strategy, language teachers should:
  • Show examples of paragraphs that correspond to each text structure.  You can use this handout I presented yesterday.
  • Make students read different texts, and ask them to determine the text structure and organize the information  by using a suitable graphic organizer. We found  this worksheet  really useful. You will find it together with a broad range of reading and writing resources  on website. 
After the procedure above has been completed, content teachers will be able to ask their  students to read in their content areas and they will experience how this visual learning strategy will improve the reading comprehension of students. What is more, students will also remember and recall this information better because it has been learnt both visually and verbally.

If you are thinking of sharing the proposal above with the staff at your school, the following 5-minute video can be very helpful since it explains how to teach students to identify text structures in any subject:

Additional resources:

The RMC Research Corporation's Center on Instruction website offers  a collection of Informational text Structure Templates that language teachers can use to introduce this strategy. You can download these templates from here.

-  Click here for a collection of graphic organizers in Word format.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

PISA 2018: an opportunity to develop life skills in our classrooms

Global competence is defined in PISA as ‘the capacity to examine global and intercultural issues, to take multiple perspectives, to engage in open, appropriate and effective interactions with people from different cultures and to act for collective well-being and sustainable development’.”

It is obvious that   global competence is not only developed at school. However,  schools play a crucial role in helping young people to develop global competence and contribute to more inclusive societies. I must say that our multicultural  schools are already paying close attention to intercultural sensitivity and respect but  much more needs to be done to share internationally successful models of education that build bridges across cultural differences. 

For the first timePISA 2018 includes both assessment and background questionnaires on the Global competence.

The assessment will be based on scenario-based tasks. The tasks simulate activities that teachers can facilitate in the classroom or life situations that 15-year-olds can experience, they draw on different areas of global education (e.g. education for sustainable development, human rights education, intercultural education), have different levels of complexity, and require the activation of one or more cognitive processes.

The background questionnaires completed by students, teachers and school principals gather information about the conditions that may enable or hinder the development of students’ global competence. Students will be asked to report how familiar they are with global issues; how developed their linguistic and communication skills are; and how much they differ in attitudes such as adaptability and respect for people from different cultures. 

You can access the  file " Preparing our youth for an inclusive and sustainable world" here  and  very practical resources and case studies  are supplied by  the platform   Global Dimension.

Apart from welcoming the inclusion of the Global competence in PISA 2018, I would  like to provide teachers with some resources on all competences included in PISA 2018. Click on the links below to access the pdf files with the sample test items:

Related to this last competence, Young money platform is a very useful source of free downloadable  resources for those educators who teach topics related to Financial Education. 

Whether your school is participating in PISA 2018 or not, I believe that the resources above are a must if we wish to teach life skills and I am sure they will be very useful for CLIL teachers.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018


Fairtrade Fortnight is an annual promotional campaign which happens once every year, organized and funded by the Fairtrade Foundation to increase awareness of Fairtrade products. It is possible thanks to the work of  volunteers who support the goals of Fairtrade but who are also committed to the more general concepts of ethical trading or development issues. 

Therefore, why not enter the resources section and explore this topic further with your students?   You will  find everything you need to teach about Fairtrade in    your  school.  It is  a great opportunity to explore with learners many issues that face our global society:  where our food comes from, interconnectedness, sustainable development and the power of the individual. 

You can search for resources by location or by resource type. You can also use the interactive map if you prefer to search by region or filter by resource type, product focus or the age of your learners. Short films are also available. 

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Safer Internet Day 2018

Safer Internet Day (SID)   seeks to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile devices, especially among children and young people across the world.  SID 2018 will be celebrated on 6 February 2018 with the theme of "Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with  you".

If you visit Safer Internet Website,  you will  find a gallery of resources you can use for educational activities. All you have to do is  search by keyword, language and age  to find resources to meet your needs.

If you allow me to help you choose a very useful resource for teenage learners, have a look at  this one : it is a lesson plan on  how to make strong passwords, how to avoid malware and hacking by keeping anti-virus and software updated always, and how to detect safe web shops from online scam shops. It also  offers advice on how to take control over your digital life, and on what to and what not to share on your social media profiles. You can download the resource  ”Staying Safe Online – Youth and Digital Security” here.

(This resource is an international version of the original Danish booklet “Unge og Digital Sikkerhed”, which is used in the Danish Money Week from 2017 and beyond.  Original version was  written in corporation by a series of Danish organizations and institutions: Finance Denmark, The Danish Police, The Agency for Digitization, The e-mark, The Media Council for Children and Young People in Denmark.)

I wish to acknowledge the great help provided by the organizations and institutions above and  extend my gratitude to  the many partners that support Safer Internet Day  with awareness-raising events and educational  resources to  make the internet a safer and better place.

If you prefer to approach the topic through Music, I recommend this complete resource by the British Council  based  on " I like it", song which was  created three years ago  by members of GMCBeats rap workshops and Webwise Ireland to celebrate Safer Internet Day.  The resource  includes  both interactive exercises and   worksheets that can be downloaded.

Why not enjoy the rap song while you decide on the resource you like the best?

Tuesday, 23 January 2018


Eustat, the website that gives you access to statistical data from the Basque Country, has improved its educational section remarkably by  adding a number of units in English both for students and teachers. 

You will find a set of educational units that contain worksheets with 10 tasks and 1 test. You can download and print the worksheets. They are in pdf format and you will also find a full teacher's pack: duration, topics, difficulty, skills, resources and description. You can access all the worksheets for an educational unit or search for them individually to find the one that most meets your needs. This is the list of educational units for Secondary level:

You can download them from here.

If you are new to Eustat, you will get an idea of what it is about by watching  the following introductory video:

I reckon that by spending some time on the website, you will find the units that best suit your needs, especially if you are teaching Geography or Computer Science. .

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Reading comprehension, PISA and CLIL

PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) measures 15-year-old  students' performance in Mathematics, Reading and Science. Now that  PISA 2018 is approaching,  a lot is being said about the need to improve the   results of the last exams in 2015. 

Today I would like to focus this post on the positive impact of  CLIL programmes on the development of reading comprehension in the mother tongue. The reading skills most benefited from CLIL classrooms  are global comprehension, lexical comprehension, understanding of space-time relationships, integration of extra-textual information and identification of extra-textual relations. 

There is  recent and abundant research carried out in several European countries  on what I have stated above these lines but in this post  I would like to go a bit deeper  into  the main  reasons why CLIL affects the acquisition of reading comprehension in the mother tongue. 

First of all, no one  can deny that there is a clear transfer of strategies between L1 and L2 and vice versa but I need to go beyond that so as to explain  that if CLIL is done well, it helps students to become better readers in their mother tongue too. 

The crucial factor that makes CLIL so powerful comes from the need CLIL teachers have  to make students learn how to use reading strategies consciously and systematically. For instance, students need to know about useful  strategies to learn specific vocabulary because  only by strengthening vocabulary acquisition will students access language and  content. I wrote a previous post on the importance of working  on AWL in all content areas.  

However, direct vocabulary instruction is not enough. Experienced CLIL teachers  tell readers why and when they should use reading  strategies, what strategies to use and how to apply them. The teacher models, or demonstrates, how to apply the strategy, usually by "thinking aloud" while reading the text that the students are using.

Regarding text types, there is no doubt that reading in CLIL provides students with different text types from the ones they use in EFL classes. CLIL teachers have to choose their texts very carefully because they have to take into account the students'  language level, amount of new content, lexical load and text difficulty. Needless to say that CLIL teachers have to be strategic readers so as to teach their students about these strategies. In this sense, teaching training institutions play an essential role to support CLIL teachers with knowledge on  reading strategies and suitable reading texts for content areas.

As a teacher trainer, I try to provide  teachers with  the most useful reading strategies and scaffolding techniques  which will facilitate reading in any content area. It goes beyond the scope of a blog post to mention all of them but the following ones are, in my view, essential:

For the teacher

- spend the necessary time on the pre-lesson stage (warm-up the reading process by activating key vocabulary, previous knowledge on the topic, etc)

- work on a piece of the text, step by step, in parts 

- shorten sentences or paraphrase difficult concepts

- add images to facilitate comprehension

- use cooperative  reading techniques (jigsaw reading, unscramble texts...)

- add in sub-headings  that help students to understand the structure of the text

- encourage students to prepare their own questions about the text for other students (student-centred methodology is key to enhance motivation towards reading

For the student:

- predict

- locate key words

- annotate the text

- use on-line visual dictionaries while reading

- infer

- summarize the text by using mind-maps (different types for different text  types and subjects)

- use context clues

- make connections 

- evaluate understanding (What did I learn?)

Let me insist on the fact that  content area teachers are not language teachers so coordination between both is essential thoughout this complex process. The best results take place when language teachers help content teachers by working on the difficult words and connectors that students will find in the specific   texts (pre-lesson stage).

Last but not least, Rome was not built in a day so PISA results will not improve overnight but we are on the right track by strengthening language competence through language integration in the curriculum,  CLIL programmes and  a sound  professional development policy for both pre-and in-service teachers. 

Sunday, 10 December 2017


The United Nations' (UN) International Human Solidarity Day is annually held on December 20th to celebrate unity in diversity. It also aims to remind people of the importance of solidarity in working towards eradicating poverty.

On International Human Solidarity Day, governments are reminded of their commitments to international agreements on the need for human solidarity as an initiative to fight against poverty. People are encouraged to debate on ways to promote solidarity and find innovative methods to help eradicate poverty.

What can we do in our classrooms? I have chosen a couple of practical classroom proposals for you:

1) A  photo-teaching resource that accompanies Think Global’s 2016- 17 Global Wallplanner. The theme for this year’s wallplanner is Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). This is a movement that seeks to alleviate poverty through community empowerment, mutual benefit and economic growth. It is based on values of reciprocity and cohesion, so that people are able to work together to create sustainable models which benefit all.  You can access the resource in pdf format here. Global Dimension, the platform that offers resources on global issues, has provided us with this wonderful pedagogical tool.

2) What is inequality? If you choose this classroom proposal, students will design an infographic to depict an inequality statistics after imagining some effects of life in an unequal society.
You will find this lesson plan very useful. You will need the following slides too:

You can download the ppt from here.

Oxfam Education has got more ideas for the classroom and all of them are very suitable for our Secondary contexts.   

Let us celebrate that our well-deserved holiday break is approaching but two days before leaving our classrooms to enjoy Christmas, why not raise awareness  of the importance of solidarity in our classrooms? 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you. 

Friday, 24 November 2017

WhatsApp in the classroom to foster oral skills

Would you like to help those students of yours who prefer to work on their own when they have to prepare a presentation and take things slowly so as to overcome the anxiety they feel when they work under the pressure of having to face an audience? This is one of the reasons why you should try using  WhatsApp in your classroom.

The activity I suggest can be used in English and in any content area taught through English.


- Assign each student a topic related to your classroom purposes ( Renewable energy sources, healthy life, your favourite Music, types of plants, types of rocks, helping to protect our planet, the best inventions for humankind, advantages of tourism, etc). Tell them they will have to prepare a short presentation on the topic.

- Hand out a task  to each of the students so that they know the questions they have to answer or the information they have to include in their presentation.  

- Tell students the deadline so that they prepare their presentation and send it to The  class WhatsApp  group. 

- Share the assessment criteria with them and explain what they mean so that they know what is important in order to get a good mark. You can use this one or another one you prefer for your classroom context.

- Recommend students to use on-line pronouncing dictionaries and text-to-speech tools to help them with vocabulary and pronunciation. 

- Once every student has sent his/her recording, listen to them and mark them according to the assessment tool you have chosen.

- Prepare a handout for students with a list of questions that they will be able to answer by listening to their peers' recordings.

- When students come to class after you have done the previous tasks, let them listen to all students' recordings and ask them to answer the questions in the handout you have prepared for them. You can collect the handouts  at the end of the session and give students some feedback on them. They will be helpful revision resources for students.

What are the advantages? 

- Students enjoy listening to others' recordings and being able to listen as many times as they need in order to carry out the task. 

- They learn in a cooperative way because they may need to clarify words they do not understand by asking their peers.

- They do not feel anxious because they do not have to speak in front of everyone.

All in all, it is not a perfect tool and it has its drawbacks, which have to do with the need of a good Internet connection.  Remember to ask the school for an external phone if you do not want to use your personal mobile phone with students. It is not very expensive and you will keep your intimacy.

Last but not least, this tool should not replace the usual procedure by which students present their work in front of the peers but it will help students who feel anxious in public to relax  and it will also create an atmosphere of concentration which is key to effective listening.