Wednesday, 23 November 2016

International Day for the elimination of violence against women November 25th 2016

Even though decades of mobilizing by civil society and women’s movements have put ending gender-based violence high on national and international agendas, not enough is done to prevent violence as we still witness  too many cases of domestic violence, sexual assault and other forms of violence. From these lines I would like to suggest some activities and lesson plans which can help us to arise awareness on the topic in our classrooms. 

The first classroom proposal  I would like to suggest is based on an empowerment song by Katy Perry called "Roar": 

You can find some activities I have developed to work on this song here. The lyrics of the song can be downloaded from this link.

My second proposal is based on the huge impact celebrities have on our students. Therefore,  we can choose some celebrities that have taken a stand and support the cause to end violence against women. You can ask them to read this handout in pairs and vote for their favourite. Then, in groups of four they will have to reach an agreement and later report to the rest of the students giving reasons for their choice. 

If you like quotations, you can make students read  the ones here , which were said by famous people belonging to different fields in life. Ask them to work in pairs and print their favourite one  on a sticky note. You can find an easy tutorial that describes how to print onto sticky notes directly from your computer. Students can then leave inspiring quotes either created by them or said by a celebrity they admire  around the school. 

If you wish to develop a deeper approach on the topic, this lesson plan  from Amnesty  International is a very good option since it offers a range of activities for use in different curriculum areas  for 11-18 year old students. 

I hope that our classroom practice on November 25th can  contribute  to a faster solution to the  social scourge of violence against women. 

Thursday, 3 November 2016


UNESCO encourages us to celebrate the World Science  Day  for Peace and Development.  It  is annually held on November 10 and its purpose is to  renew the international commitment to science for peace and development and to stress the responsible use of science for the benefit of society. The World Science Day for Peace and Development also aims at raising public awareness of the importance of science and to bridge the gap between science and societies.

The WSDPD's objectives are :
  • To strengthen public awareness on the role of science for peaceful and sustainable societies
  • To promote national and international solidarity for a shared science between countries
  • To renew national and international commitment for the use of science for the benefit of societies
  • To draw attention to the challenges faced by science and raise support for the scientific endeavour
In order to raise your students' awareness on the topic, you can place the official poster on your classroom walls  and develop an activity that highlights the important role of  Science in society.  If you wish, you can use   this reading comprehension  activity that describes   how researchers from Virginia Tech attempted to reforest post-mined soil using biochar.  Teacher's notes and answers can be downloaded here. This activity is an example from, an excellent website to improve students' reading comprehension skills.

I cannot  end this post without sharing   the UNESCO Science report towards 2030 with you. It provides more country-level information than ever before. The trends and developments in Science, Technology,  innovation policy and governance between 2009 and mid-2015 described here provide essential baseline information on the concerns and priorities of countries that should orient the implementation and drive the assessment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the years to come. Therefore, a must-read for Science and Technology teachers.

Happy WSDPD and let us hope that our young students become aware of the essential relation between Science and Peace and Development and fight actively for it. 

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

One! Two! Three! CLIL-to-go!

Next Tuesday I will have the pleasure of meeting a new group of Secondary teachers  and develop the first seminar session of eight that willl take place during the year course 2016-2017. It is always an inspiring challenge for me because I will have to cater for what they need for their classroom practice and they belong to different schools, teach a variety of subjects through English and different levels too. Therefore,  the beginning of a new CLIL seminar is a type of cooperative game that allows all of us to develop our problem solving skills  as a team and is awarded with the best prize for a teacher: increase learner's motivation.

As I have  just introduced the concept of games, In this first entry I would like to encourage CLIL teachers to make their students take part in healthy competitions - those that  will  help them develop important skills they'll use well into adulthood, like taking turns, developing empathy and tenacity.

Let me provide you with three of them for different subjects: 

- "We are different, not indifferent" is a contest to fight against bullying and it is organized by the ONCE. All students from Spanish public, private and government-subsidised schools can participate. The contest is open to all groups of non-university  students: Special Education, Primary (years 3 to 6), Secondary, Basic Vocational Training, Baccalaureate and Vocational Training (intermediate and higher levels).

- The European journal for Science teachers Science in Schools organizes a  writing competition on the strangest species on Earth. (If you are a Science teacher and you do  not know about this magazine, please have a look at it because it is really worthwhile: the contents include teaching materials and projects in Science education, up-to-date information on cutting-edge Science, interviews with inspiring scientists and teachers, reviews of books and many other useful resources for Science teachers. Online articles are published in many European languages and you can download them for free)

- For Math teachers, Math counts  Foundation  organizes a series of competitions but this time you have to pay if you want your students to take part in them. However, the resources section of the website provides you with a huge variety of problems and the video library offers a collection of videos that pose very interesting topics for Maths. 

We will develop the topic of healthy competition in length in our seminar session, among other essential  topics  for our CLIL contexts: classroom language, planning a CLIL lesson, developing the 4 Cs, task types in CLIL, etc. 

Therefore, One! Two! Three! CLIL-to-go!

Friday, 27 May 2016

The language of Mathematics in Science

The Association for Science Education (ASE) is the largest subject association in the UK. As the professional body for all those involved in Science education from pre-school to higher education, the ASE provides a national network supported by a dedicated staff team. Members include teachers, technicians and advisers. The Association plays a significant role in promoting excellence in teaching and learning of science in schools and colleges. Working closely with the science professional bodies, industry and business, the ASE provides a UK-wide network bringing together individuals and organisations to share ideas and tackle challenges in science teaching. The ASE is an independent and open forum for debating science education, with unique benefits for members. It provides a unique range of services to promote high quality Science education by developing resources and fostering high quality Continuing Professional Development.

From these lines, I am very pleased to inform you that The Language of Mathematics in Science: A Guide for Teachers of 11-16 Science is now available to download from the ASE website . The aim of this guide is to enable teachers, publishers, awarding bodies and others to achieve a common understanding of important terms and techniques related to the use of Mathematics in the Science curriculum for pupils aged 11-16.

This publication provides an overview of relevant ideas in Secondary school Mathematics and where they are used in Science. It aims to clarify terminology, and indicate where there may be problems in student understanding. The publication includes explanations of key ideas and terminology in Mathematics, guidance about good practice in applying mathematical ideas in Science, along with a glossary of terms.
The main part of the guide consists of ten chapters, organised around the "kinds of things we do in Science":

  1. Collecting data
  2. Doing calculations and representing values
  3. Choosing how to represent data
  4. Drawing charts and graphs
  5. Working with proportionality and ratio
  6. Dealing with variability
  7. Looking for relationships: line graphs
  8. Looking for relationships: batches and scatter graphs
  9. Scientific models and mathematical equations
  10. Mathematics in the real world

You can download the publication directly from here.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your active participation  in the CLIL seminar in Getxo and to remind you that I will let you know about  the new seminar sessions for 2016-2017 next September. Meanwhile, we will go on meeting through the diverse virtual learning spaces we share. 

Last but not least, let me wish you a very well-deserved summer break and remember that  “ rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” (John Lubbock, The Use Of Life)

Monday, 9 May 2016

Developing thinking skills: what Socrates would say to Bloom

I do not know whether you have read a superb book that was awarded the Espasa Essay prize in 2003: "Lo que Sócrates diría a Woody Allen", by Juan Antonio Rivera. Each of the chapters of this book focuses on a film that arises an ethical issue/dilemma and the reader is offered several possibilities to make him/her take a stand on it.

Why am I  writing about this book today? We started our seminar sessions last October and it is time to reflect on the work we have carried out to contribute to develop the so-called "thinking skills" in our students. For instance, have we used the Socratic method  and exploited  its benefits by questioning our students to help them  develop their own understanding? Let me give you an example for a Geography class. 

Why are questions so important in teaching? 

Research  leaves no doubt that instruction which includes posing questions during lessons is more effective in producing achievement gains than instruction carried out without questioning students.

When we  think about the nature of our questions,  we also need to consider the purpose of those questions, that is, what are we trying to achieve in questioning students at any particular point in our teaching time?

There are a number of purposes in asking questions, among which I would highlight: 

  • to determine the level of knowledge students bring to the lesson to help activate prior learning
  • to encourage motivation through active, democratic participation in the classroom
  • to demonstrate  that we (teachers) have an interest in students' thoughts
  • to foster cooperative learning, by helping  students learn from one another
  • to help us (teachers) with classroom management since students get so involved with the task that behaviour issues are reduced significantly 
We cannot ignore the huge difference between "skinny" questions and "fat" questions, i.e. LOTS (Lower Order Thinking Skills) and HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills. The following video summarizes Bloom's everlasting theory  in a very visual  way:

Tomorrow I  will deepen on the use of  "fat" questions that stimulate critical thinking in our students  and I will show you some activity types that are bound to fulfill the same purpose of strengthening thinking skills. For an appetizer, click here to see an example on  a Technology lesson on  batteries.

Friday, 15 April 2016

eTwining projects which are great examples of CLIL developed by one of our CLIL seminar members

It is a true privilege to share several eTwinning projects in which one of our seminar members, Amaya Alonso Cabria,  has taken part and has achieved high standards of performance as you will see when you look into the projects.

"Los misterios del bosque"  was chosen among the 12 best projects in Europe and was awarded the European Quality Label in 2015.  The aim of the project is to let students know about the legends of different places and countries by following the forests paths. Really original, isn't it?  It is indeed impressive when you see that the teachers who take part in it are a Biology teacher from Barakaldo (Amaya Alonso), a Spanish teacher form Ukraine ( Olena Baluba) and a Spanish language and Literature teacher from Melilla ( José Antonio Sánchez)

Amaya is currently taking part in Science Timeline. This project is for 16-17-year-old students and the countries that are taking part in it are Italy and Spain (Basque Country, Antonio Trueba, Barakaldo).  The aim of this project is the study of the progress of Science in human History. Students from different countries are  working  together in order to research the scientific developments from the prehistoric times (discovery of fire, stone axes, etc) to current progresses (new materials, smart cars, artificial intelligence, etc). The pupils are going to create a timeline of Science in different formats (Power point, calaméo, thinglink, etc) in mixed teamworks. Then they are going to show their results in their own schools to spread the project. Besides, they are going to take into account more intensively the advances in Science made by different scientists or researchers from their countries.

Go, look in the mirror is another project developed by Amaya and another colleague from her school,  together with  other members from Ukraine, Melilla and Tunisia. The project is in English, Spanish and French. It is aimed at 12-16-year-old students and they research  about the basic emotions (fear, sadness, hatred, astonishment, disgust, anger) and the secondary ones (embarrassment, love, anxiety…), how they affect  teenagers and how  they are reflected in our cultures (traditions and different artistic expressions).

Amaya, our heartfelt congrats on having successfully demonstrated that languages are a  fantastic vehicle to develop projects related to very diverse areas and  cultures while developing students' basic competences such as the interpersonal competence or the ICT competence. 

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The best eTwinning project in English 2016


Today I would like to write about an eTwinning project that has been awarded a "special category prize": the best project in  the area of teaching a curriculum subject through the medium of English. This prize  has been awarded to the project entitled AIMS Alternatives for Innovative Math Study"

AIMS is an eTwinning project involving 7 Secondary schools from Romania, France, Holland, Italy, Poland, Greece and Spain. 
I have chosen to write about this project because those of you who attend my CLIL seminar know I am a firm believer in the theory of Multiple Intelligences and  the participant teachers in this project use the MI theory to discover and develop each student's particular skills, needs and interests, differentiate and adapt the teaching methods to them. 

Besides, AIMS uses cooperative learning methods, which is not so common in Maths classes, fosters autonomous learning and promotes mutual respect, tolerance and understanding for students with different abilities.

Last but not least,  students who have taken part in this project   create their own learning materials for each type of MI  by using motivating ICT tools or modelling real-life situations so that mathematical contents become relevant for them.

Below you can find  an example of the use of mind maps, developed by the Greek team:


It is, indeed, an ideal project for our CLIL classes. It focuses on Maths and it aims  mainly at making 11-16-year-old students see the connection between Maths and real life but it covers many other subjects:  Design and Technology, European Studies, Foreign Languages, History, / ICT, Mathematics / Geometry, Natural Sciences, Physics. 

You can access the teaching guide below:


You can download the publication above in pdf format from here.
My heartfelt congratulations to the participants and my deepest gratitude for having shared their activites and outcomes  on the Twinspace and on their blog