Monday, 13 January 2020

Teaching with Europeana

First of all,  I would like to start this first blog post in 2020  by wishing  all of you a  very Happy New Year loaded with love,  joy and health. 

A new year always makes us reflect on the importance of  finding new ways to face the essential  challenges in our lives, both personally and professionally. As I write this blog to try and help you on the latter, let me start by reminding you of Europeana, a wonderful platform I wrote about in a previous post you can read here.  

March 2019 marked the official launch of the Teaching with Europeana blog. Since then, the Europeana Education Community has grown and shared numerous inspirational learning scenarios and creative stories of implementation. But are you aware of all the possibilities the blog offers?

In  the  video below these lines,  teachers share their experiences using the blog and explain how its resources  can be very helpful for a variety of content areas. 

From this blog,   I would like to extend my congratulations to the  people and networks behind Europeana   for  making cultural heritage available to a very global audience.  

I am looking forward to meeting you in our next  seminar session on January 21st. Apart from focusing on  supporting students' written and spoken output,  we will enter the Europeana  platform and  blog to choose the most suitable resources for our  CLIL contexts. 

Thursday, 12 December 2019

In this post I would lke to make you aware of a website for 8-to 18-year-old students created by a group of teachers who hope to foster and  develop a love for learning the subject of Geography. 

From the home page, you can browse through the many project types to:
  • Create geography models of globes, volcanoes, earthquakes, rivers, settlements, weather, mountains, coasts, and more.

  • Use paper craft templates to make printable models, animals, international theme models, and flags to color.

  • Build 3D maps.

  • Make volcano models with great ideas for exploring the world of volcanoes.

  • Construct pop up models of a river drainage basin, the Beaufort Wind force scale, and population density.
They also offer teachers the chance to let them know about  some other Geography topics which would lend themselves well to being made into models. If you wish, you can get in touch with them through this form and help the authors to increase the appeal of learning Geography. 

May I offer my  heartiest congratulations to the teachers who maintain 3D geography site. 

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery 2 December

One may hear comments such as : "Why do we still  have International Day for the Abolition of Slavery? Slavery ended a long time ago". Please, read below and draw a conclusion on this issue: 

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) more than 40 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery, an umbrella term covering practices such as forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, and human trafficking. 
In addition, more than 150 million children are subject to child labour, accounting for almost one in ten children around the world.

Facts and figures:

  • An estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage.
  • There are 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world.
  • 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children.
  • Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labour, 16 million people are exploited in the private sector such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 4.8 million people in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million people in forced labour imposed by state authorities.
  • Women and girls are disproportionately affected by forced labour, accounting for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry, and 58% in other sectors.
We can, therefore, state that slavery has evolved and manifested itself in different ways throughout history. Today some traditional forms of slavery still persist in their earlier forms, while others have been transformed into new ones.

As educators, we cannot fail to raise awareness among our students on the fact that modern slavery is all around us. Fortunately, there are several non-profit organizations that make our work easier by providing us with a variety of classroom resources. Today I would like to recommend The No Project. This award-winning anti-slavery campaign includes animationsmusic videosfilms and nine free downloadable lesson plans on different themes related to modern slavery. 

I am sure I will hear about the positive outcomes of these teaching units in our next seminar session. Meanwhile, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the partners and sponsors of The No Project for their superb campaign against modern slavery. 

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Free United Nations (UN) course on Climate Change

UN Climate Change Learning Partnership and Harwood Education have launched the UN Climate Change Learn Teacher Academy to support and inspire teachers worldwide to bring innovative forms of climate change education into classrooms. 

They provide you with information on a range of related topics so that you will feel confident to deal with them in class.  The topics are:
  1.  Climate change Science
  2.  International Legal and Policy Framework to address Climate Change
  3.  Climate change adaptation
  4.  Climate change mitigation
  5.  Climate change Finance
  6.  Planning for Climate Change 

 These short courses can be done at your own pace and after completing them you can receive a UN CC:Learn Accredited Teacher badge. You can access further information about the course here. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Academic language and task analysis for CLIL

In our first seminar session,  I will try to give an  overview of how to use language objectives in content-area instruction for  Secondary students.  The session will cover the following topics:

     -  What is academic language?  Why is it a must in any content area?

     -   How can you explicitly teach the academic language that fits your content area?

    -  What are language objectives?

    -  How can we integrate language objectives in our content areas?

        ( We will work on this tool  "Task analysis for production"  provided          by )

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

End of the year activities

Dear seminar members /readers

Our last seminar session took place last week and we talked in depth about assessment in CLIL so I am not going to write about that today.  I would  like to suggest  just 3 ideas  that you can put into practice to try and make the last month of school a memorable one. Needless to say this is my personal choice based on long-term  feedback from my  teenage students.

 Therefore, I hope these proposals will be effective and memorable  for your students  too, regardless your content area. Here are my 3 favourite end of the year activities:

Make a Class Video: 

Use pictures taken throughout the year to make a video. Ask  students to add captions and music. Add in live footage of students talking about their favorite parts of the lesson.

Ask students to write letters to your future students. 

Have your current students write letters of advice for the new students you will teach next year. What advice would they give on how to “survive” or do well in your classroom? What are the hardest parts of the course?  If you have any special activities you don’t want students to spoil, make sure to tell them ahead of time.

Help students to reflect on their learning process by asking them some reflection questions:
  1. What is something we did this year  that you think you will remember because it is meaningful to you ?
  2. What is something you accomplished this year that you are proud of?
  3. What was the most helpful  thing someone in our class did for you this year?
  4. What was the most challenging part of this subject  for you?
  5. What is something the teacher could have done to make this year better?
Last but not least, would you like to take the survey "How CLIL are you?"   you took when we started working together in October 2018? I am sure you will be very proud of your accomplishments. 

It was an honor and a privilege to work with you so as to make the most of our CLIL practice in our schools. 

Wishing you all a fabulous summer break and looking forward to meeting you all again in September 2019.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Under one roof: considerations on integrating content and language

IATEFL held  its 53rd Annual Conference in Liverpool from 2  to 5 April  and those of us who could not attend this unique event can now access recorded sessions from the Conference through IATEFL Online, supported by their Strategic Partner, the British Council. 

One of the plenary speakers was Aleksandra ZaparuchaShe is a Geography and English teacher from Poland, with 30 years of experience in Geography and EFL teaching, including 15 years of engagement in CLIL.  

Alexandra  pinpointed 10 characteristics of CLIL, arguing they should be adopted to any other situation where content and language are integrated, be it at primary, secondary or tertiary education level. The most important notion she conveyed throughout her talk was that  every CLIL lesson should adequately ‘tune in’ the procedure through which the relevant content is offered to students. I reckon that all of you who have been attending seminars on CLIL   for several years now will be happy to see that you are doing things the right way. You will also be happy to listen to her say that  CLIL is here to stay.

Before we start enjoying our well-deserved Easter break, may I share her superb reflection on CLIL with you:

On May 7th we will meet again for our  CLIL seminar session and besides sharing  our CLIL units as we had scheduled, we will comment on  Alexandra’s inspiring conference. 

My heartfelt thanks to you, Alexandra, for encouraging us to continue developing CLIL  as we have been doing for more than twenty years now. The same as you,  we also believe that  CLIL is  here to stay because it enables us to bring  the real school curriculum into our classrooms.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Plurilliteracies development in CLIL

If this is the first time you read about Pluriliteracies, I suggest that you should read the previous post I wrote on this topic in 2016. You can access it here

After more than seven years of conceptual development, the ECML training and consultancy team “A pluriliteracies approach to teaching for learning” revised and fully animated their model of Pluriliteracies Teaching for Deeper Learning. This video is now available on the ECML website

This new model is  a really innovative approach  for plurilliteracies progression in CLIL  - mapping learner progressions in knowledge construction and meaning-making.
Therefore, congratulations to the Graz Group  on  this impressive contribution.  We will analyze what  this new model means in our next seminar session. For those of you who are not familiar with the superb work this team is developing, you can start by having  a look at the learning resources for different content areas they have published on their website. 

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

World Water Day 2019 on March 22nd

What is World Water Day?  World Water Day serves to raise awareness about water issues such as sanitation problems and water shortages in many parts of the world today.

What can we do in our classrooms to foster this awareness among our students?

I would suggest spending at least a session to watch the following video and reflect on this serious issue:

While  students are watching the video, you can ask them to take notes using this Cornell note-taking template.

If you wish to develop a gap-fill activity, click here.

You can access the complete video transcript from this link.

In any of the choices above, I would start by pre-teaching vocabulary.  First, you can create a word cloud with the essential words and interact with students to see if they know the words. This is a word cloud I have created. If students need further  help and you want to provide them with  definitions of the words, you can use this worksheet I have prepared. 

After working on the essential vocabulary as we described above, you can ask students to work in pairs and retell the content of the video using at least  5  key  words from the list. Finally, some pairs would read their versions of the story  aloud to their peers. By doing this final activity students will be developing their listening and speaking skills as they are used in real-life, that is, combining them as speakers of a language do. 

Monday, 25 February 2019

abpi resources for Science/Biology/Chemistry/PSHE, Citizenship and Physics

 This site  is supported by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry. It provides teachers and students with high quality, free, curriculum-related, interactive resources containing animations and diagrams which can be downloaded as long as you accept their terms and conditions, which involve using the resources for educational purposes in the original form they are downloaded. Fair enough, I reckon.  

In order to see the topics you may find, you should visit the  list you can access from here . As you can notice, there are resources for all age ranges, from 5-year-olds  till 16+.  

The resources also include  diagrams and animations you can use in your lesson plans  by downloading them. Some topics  have additional worksheets both for teachers and students. These can all be accessed through the Download library

In the International Year of the Periodic table, may I suggest that you should try out  this great lesson plan ? 

The  resource above  includes an interactive game and so do many other topics. For instance, you can ask your students to find out about the properties of various materials by carrying out this interactive activity. 

Do you need any diagrams, posters  or animations to embed in your unit? Enter the download-library and filter the type of resource, age range and topic you are searching for. 
I am sure you will agree with me that this is a superb site so on behalf of all CLIL teachers I work with,  I would like to express our gratitude to the  Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry  for  the high-quality resources they provide for free and, above all, for their fight against disease.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Teacher talk in CLIL contexts

One of the most recent topics of debate among educators is related to the amount of talking time teachers should spend in their lessons. There is considerable agreement that teachers should make  an effort to reduce their talking time in order to enable students to communicate and, thus, learn. 

However, reducing teacher's talking time and increasing students' choices to communicate becomes a true challenge when we are implementing our subject through the medium of English. The CLIL teacher's speech has to be extra-comprehensible so it needs to have certain specfic features. 

I will focus on this issue in our February seminar session but I will try to arise your curiosity before attending the session by pinpointing the strategies a CLIL teacher can use to reduce his/her talk and make it more effective: 

1) Collegiality is a must if we want to achieve a successful delivery of CLIL lessons.  Collegiality can be defined as collaboration between subject teachers and language teachers. Ask the English teacher of your school to work on the language demands of your content lesson and your students will be able to express what they know about the unit you are focusing on.

 In my view, collegiality also includes working in cooperation with teacher trainers. After having worked with a high number of CLIL teachers for fifteen years now, I can say that anticipating the language demands of  CLIL units and helping teachers by preparing the worksheets on language support students would need has always been very useful to enhance both  understanding and students' output.

(For example, in our seminar session I will provide you with language support on the language for predictions and the language for comparison based on a plan on climate change. 

2) Interactive talk: give your discourse a clear structure (now today we are going to learn three things; we’re going to learn firstly this, secondly this and thirdly this). Interact with students throughout your delivery. Use students' names and help them by letting them enough time to respond and also by allowing linguistically simple answers - at least at the beginning of the process. In CLIL lessons you have to help your learners in a way that is different from the help you would give then if you implemented your subject in L1. This extra-comprehensible aid kit will include being aware of students' difficulties when they speak in the target language and finishing their sentences by providing them with the words they lack, for instance. 

3) Visual support :  charts, diagrams, posters that support learners when they listen to you but also when they have to speak about the contents of the lesson.

4) Make the language for learning explicit: students know the language to classify, compare, contrast, summarize, define, hypothesize... in L1 but not in L2 or L3. Therefore, make it explicit for them. 

Using English for Academic Purposes platform can be very helpful to support students' output across the curriculum. By clicking on "functions" on the left menu, you will acess examples of texts and language for the most common functions used in academic writing. 

5) Use different mechanisms for repetition of basic concepts, be redundant: this does not mean that you have to be boring. What you should do is rephrase, say things in different ways to facilitate comprehension. 

6) Allow silence to be part of your class: students need time to think and this time increases if they are asked to give an answer in a foreign language.  Therefore, allow them to be in silence before they respond. 

To sum up, try to reduce  your talking time and make it more effective by following the clues above. 

For those of you who are working on climate change, may I ask you to listen to what this wonderful girl said in such a convincing way a couple of months ago. You can also carry out the tasks offers or create your own lesson plan. 

Monday, 28 January 2019

QUILLIONZ: an AI-powered question generator that creates reading activites

Educators are hearing more and more about Artificial Intelligence and its benefits to help us save time and effort. Today, I would like to present an AI-powered question generator that allows you to choose a text from any content area in English and create a set of comprehension questions around it. Its name is Quillionz, created by Harbinger AI, a part of Harbinger Group. Harbinger Group is a global leader in eLearning and software product engineering.

What do you have to do to  stop spending long hours on creating questions on the texts your students need to understand? All you have to do is register and find the text you want to use. I would like to point out that Quillionz works best with content that is structured and factual. At the moment, it does not generate higher-order implicit questions but they state it is part of their roadmap so we should keep an eye on the development of this tool. 

Quillionz is perfect if you are looking for questions that ask your learners to identify and recall specific entities, key words, and phrases, define key terms, and describe key ideas encountered in the content. Quillionz also creates questions that evaluate your learners’ ability to explain causal relationships based on explicitly stated reasoning and cite examples of general ideas expressed in the content.

 Would you like to see how  Quillionz  works? Just follow the tutorial below:

I reckon we need tools like this and I am sure that you will find how to make a personalized use of it that suits your classroom purposes. For instance, why not let students choose texts they are interested in and prepare questions they can ask their peers? 

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Science, Technology and Math coming alive through Engineering Design

TeachEngineering is a  digital collection of  hands-on activities for teaching Science, Engineering Design and Maths  at both Primary and Secondary levels.

The TeachEngineering collection provides educators with free access to a  wide range of  videos  which include a thorough description of the activities you can carry out as well as the materials list and the cost of it.

Sprinkles (shortened versions of the most popular activities)  are described both in English and Spanish, which will be very helpful for  some students  in our school contexts. This is a good example of it.

How do you  get access? From any page, enter your search terms into the top right search box or use the Find Curriculum search on the home page to find what you want for your classroom. You can also use the monthly  editor's pickmost popular and recently added features to examine the lessons and activities - all available from the home page.

Membership is not required.  An optional MyTE workspace allows you to keep track of your favorite lessons and activities, or to share your experiences. 

No doubt, our heartfelt  thanks should be given to the University of Colorado  for their great contribution to our STEM classrooms. 

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Two key elements to writing across the curriculum: language support and peer feedback

Writing is an essential skill  which  equips you with the communication and thinking skils you need in society. You are judged by the way you speak but also by  your ability to express your ideas in writing. Therefore, teachers at all levels are very concerned about this skill and ask students to write different pieces of writing across the curriculum. 

How can we engage students into writing in different content areas? In my view, there are two key ingredients to successful writing practice:

1) Language support has to be provided if we want our students to write about specific topics which require specific vocabulary and language patterns. 

Let me give you an example: a Biology teacher wants his/her students to write an essay on "Genetics influence on our personality". This is the final outcome of a unit which he/she has developed on Genetics. The specific vocabulary has been presented throughout the unit but students should  be told about the need to include it in their essay. They will also need some help with specific sentence starters/collocations/ linking devices ... You can find an example I have written for this topic here. The final essay could be similar to this model (taken from

2) Peer editing  in the classroom: I think it is worthwhile trying it. By no means does this involve  replacing  teacher's feedback. I suggest carrying out peer revision once in a while and combining it with self-assessment and teacher's assessment.  Through  peer feedback,  students will be more engaged because they will know they are writing for a larger audience, not only for their teacher. Besides, it is easier for them to accept comments from someone who is similar in age. 

 If you wish, you can start with a very simple template like this one I have included content-related items and form-related items on purpose so that both content and language are taken into account by students. I would not include all items the first time you start with peer editing. Just choose two or three items and always  ask students  to emphasize positive comments. The peer editing checklist will gradually include more items , which  will obviously depend on  the language  level, text type and topic you are developing with your students. 

After asking students to give feedback on their peers' pieces of writing,  I recommend you to give your own feedback on each student's essay. I reckon it is very positive to tell the student that you also share one or more of the positive comments the student made about his/her peer's written task - whenever possible. 

I hope the suggestions above will be useful for you. I also hope your students will develop a fondness for  writing. It would be wonderful if they felt  the same way as Anne Frank did:  "I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn"

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

A great platform with over 12,000 resources on STEM subjects

This is a brief post which I hope will be very useful for all of you who teach STEM subjects both at Primary and Secondary levels. I developed a seminar session on STEM resources last academic year and I recommended you to register  on the National STEM Centre website. If you have not registered yet, this is a great moment to do so because there have been very powerful developments on the website. Among them, right now I would like to suggest that you should enter the resources section  and start having a look at the collections that best suit your teaching objectives.

If you enter this link, you will be able to filter the resources you need by subject, age, key stage, type and publication year. All pdf files are downloadable for free but there are other resources which may be interesting for you too: videos, simulations, lectures, games, and many others.

This website also gives you the chance to share your work and find helpful teacher-made resources to use in your teaching. You can see these resources made by other teachers here

Needless to say that this powerful platform I am writing about needs a deep analysis and that is one of the topics I will develop in our next seminar session on January 8th 2019.

Therefore, I would like to finish this post   by  telling you that it was a pleasure to work with you in 2018 and I promise to continue helping you to develop your content areas through English in 2019.