Thursday, 26 June 2014

Carousel Lesson

For my observation yesterday I decided to do a carousel lesson. I normally play it safe for these lessons but for once I thought I’d take a bit of a risk. Having done a few of these before, although not with this class, I knew they involved a lot of planning and that it would need to be well structured for it to work.

Overall I was pleased with how the lesson went but felt it lacked a bit of pace at the start. The students all worked really well and I received some really positive feedback from the colleague who was observing me. He’s asked me to share what I did with the department so I might as well share it with you as well.

The class was a Year 7 Spanish set 2 - nice group, very well behaved but quite quiet so I wanted to make sure they were doing something active. The lesson was Wednesday period 1 which was nice as it meant I could set up the night before and not have to worry about it too much the next morning.

I’m lucky enough to have a nice spacious classroom so I decided to have 4 areas: reading table, speaking area, writing table and listening table. I split the class into 4 ability groups with about 7 or 8 pupils in each: One group who were working at Level 3-4, two groups who were working at Level 4 and another who were working at Level 5. I had planned to give them 12 minutes per activity and thanks to Megan Mog’s response to my plea on the #mfltwitterati for a countdown timer that I could put onto a PowerPoint slide, this worked quite well. Unfortunately quite a few students (for the first time ever with this class) were late at the start, so we only managed to complete 3 of the activities but it didn’t matter too much.

Students entered to the sound of Kevin y Karla’s Spanish rendition of a lively One Direction song. On the board I had the names of the students in each group and, in each one, a student’s name in bold. These would be the group leaders who would be in charge of reading out the laminated instructions which were stuck to each desk. I told them they had until the end of the song to find their table. This didn’t quite work on this occasion due to students being let out of tutor time late. These things happen.

Once they had all found their tables and I’d done the register, I went through the lesson objectives and asked them to choose which of the differentiated outcomes they would be capable of. Some of them needed a bit of guidance with this. I then explained in the TL what we would be doing today and had some instructions in English up on the PowerPoint.

On each table I had put one of these signs (but obviously in Spanish) so it was clear which skills they were developing on each. I made the inserts myself and bought the frames in Ikea for £1 each…yes another fantastic idea I stole from Pinterest. As I said before, each table had a laminated sheet of instructions, as well as the sheets needed for that activity.

Reading table:
Students were given 3 worksheets to choose from, depending on the level they chose at the start: green (Level 3+), yellow (Level 4+) and pink (Level 5C+). Here’s an example of one:

I also put a couple of iPads on this table. The aim was for students to scan the QR code once they had finished, find the answers and then mark their own work. Unfortunately the QR codes on these sheets didn’t work for some reason but I’d printed off a back up answer sheet just in case.

Speaking area:
In our department we have pronunciation posters up on the walls in each classroom, so I decided to put the speaking area next to these. Again, students were given 3 coloured tasks to choose from, depending on their ability. Here is an example of one:

This was the activity I was least happy with and I know quite a few students struggled with it. Perhaps my instructions could have been a bit clearer. My observer suggested incorporating some sort of peer assessment, just to get them motivated to talk. He also said 12 minutes is a long time for a Year 7 student to talk about their hobbies, even if they are in pairs/groups. Good, constructive criticism I felt. 

Writing table:
Students were given the choice of 3 coloured sheets with translations on. Here are the sheets I gave them:

I was quite happy with these and think I differentiated them well, with each sheet providing less support as you move up to Level 5, and with extension tasks for in case they found the translations too easy. If I were to do this again, I’d definitely make these sheets smaller, as they didn’t get time to finish them. Luckily the QR codes worked on these ones though!

Listening table:
Jigsaw Reading: Students were given 2 versions of the same text which had different words missing and were asked to read this out to their partner while they filled in the gaps. I also gave them a sheet with the missing words all jumbled up for those who felt they needed it. Most of the students I spoke to said it was easy so I'd need to have a think about that for next time.

At the end of the lesson I put the objectives back up on the board and asked them to translate the sentence underneath the target they chose at the start. Then I asked 3 of them to share their answers. The level 3 and 4 students got it but the level 5 struggled with the future tense part so I need to go over that a bit more with them.

Thursday, 19 June 2014


Kahoot is one of my all-time favourite teaching websites and is a great plenary activity.

Kahoot is a free website which allows you to make your own quiz which the students can play using their own devices (smartphones, laptops, iPads can all be used).


 Once you have created and launched your quiz, some instructions will appear on the screen. Students are invited to visit where they are asked to input the pin number and their nickname. Be careful with this one as the student names appear on the main screen, and I’ve had a couple of inappropriate ones in the past! This shouldn’t be a problem though as I received this email from Kahoot not so long ago…

‘Following on from last week's rich text editor release, we have a new update for you - you can now instantly "kick" inappropriate nicknames from the 'lobby' screen.’

As soon as all of the students have joined the game (their names will have appeared on the screen) you can click Play. It will then display the questions on the screen, as well as 4 possible answers which are colour-coded and have a symbol. The students will be able to see the colours and symbols on their device and are asked to select the correct one. Kahoot allows you to set time limits for each question and students can get more points the quicker they answer. After each question, the number of students who have chosen each option is displayed on the teacher's screen, along with the correct answer and a leader board of scores so far. 
Here are a couple of tutorials which might explain it a bit better:

YouTube Tutorial

And another blog by Miss McLachlan which you may find useful:

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.


Sunday, 15 June 2014


Snowballs is another one to try when they’re lacking motivation and is a great plenary activity. Be careful with this one though as it can be absolute chaos if not structured properly.

1. Each student has a piece of scrap paper.
     2. Ask them to write a time phrase….Chaque jour
     3. Get them to roll their paper up into a ball.
     4. When you say so, the students then throw the paper across the room.
     5. Students then go and pick up a snowball from the floor.
     6. Now they write a verb phrase….je joue au foot
     7. Repeat actions 3-5.
     8. They add extra details such as…avec mes copains/dans le jardin
     9. Repeat actions 3-5.
    10. Now they could add a justified opinion.
    11. Repeat actions 3-5.
    12. Now ask them to translate the sentence on their paper into English.

At the end I normally stand by the door with the bin and ask them to bring their piece of paper to me to check. That way you don’t end up with paper all over the floor at the end and you can make sure that they have all understood the task.


  • You may need to give them the vocabulary for each section otherwise you could end up with sentences that don’t make sense!
  • A variation on this could be to make paper airplanes out of them instead of snowballs.
  • Make sure you give clear instructions at the start (Don’t throw the snowballs at each other / Don’t throw them until I say so - it’s important that they all do each section at the same time, otherwise the activity won’t work) otherwise it’s just mayhem, trust me.