#Nurture 1213 was my very first blog post and having just re-read it I thought it was about time I reviewed 2013 so here goes…


1. A New Me!

2013 was the year that I reinvented myself.  I have, mainly through reading, blogs and educational literature clarified my educational philosophy.  To be fair, I always had a philosophy but it was a bit wishy washy.  These days I am fairly obsessive about students doing the work as I guide them through the linguistic pitfalls.  Creativity and learning go hand in hand for me, I want students to be able to manipulate language, to take risks, to have fun and to think big.  I applied for and gained a 1 year development post this September.  I am responsible for leading a development group who are looking a homework in our school, it has proved to be very interesting in more ways than one.  2 years ago I was so lacking in confidence that I would never have applied despite my years of experience but I came out of my interview knowing that I’d nailed it.  I spoke with passion and conviction.  I knew my subject well, I was confident and clear.  I was the new me and it showed!

2. Family

It has been a big year for us.  My youngest started school in September, he’s loving it but he loves the holidays more frankly, who can blame him.  Our daughter continues to grow in confidence, she recently took her 1st ballet exam. The week prior to her exam she practiced morning and night.  She was nervous on the day of her exam but she came out having had a great time, she enjoyed showing the examiner all she had learnt.  Given the fact that 3 years ago she was painfully shy I was and am so proud of our little girl.  My Hubs got a new job in May of this year, he is now curriculum deputy at one of the schools in Douglas.  He is loving his new job and is full of enthusiasm and passion the like of which I have not seen for a long time.  As a consequence of his new job he and I are like ships that pass in the night most days but it’s worth it and it makes our time together all the more special

3. Conferences

I have attended to teaching conferences this year.  My first was #ILILC3  in February in Southampton.  It was an amazing weekend of ideas which I have blogged about here.  It was also lovely to meet a large number of the #mfltwitterati.  October saw me back in Southampton for #TLT13.  Again another great day of CPD and also a chance to meet some of my tweeting friends…

4. Tweechers

I was lucky enough to be able to meet some tweeting heroes this year.  Some of them briefly but it’s always nice to put a face to a name.  There are t omany to mention but I’ll give it a go – sorry if I miss some of you out. @joedale (godfather of the #mfltwitterati) @amandasalt, @spanishsam, @icpjones, @valleseco @lisabo @bains_1 – one day I will be able to teach like these guys!

Thanks go to @eleanorabrahams for giving me lifts around Southampton in February

@bellalle and @mrsbellacat for allowing me to crash at theirs the night before #TLT13

@MissJLud and @davidfawcett for showing untold kindness in the run up to #TLT13

I met some tweeting heroes too; @johntomsett, @dockershoops, @Edutronic_net, @rlj1981 – lovely people I hope we get to meet again in 2014.

5. iPads

This was the year that saw me really get into technology in the classroom.  iPads I love ’em

6. Kayaking

I nailed that roll, it’s taken a year of determination but I have done it!  I circumnavigated the Isle of Man in my kayak over 3 days in July with a great bunch of people. It was a trip never to be forgotten.

7. Australia

My lovely Dad had a new knee in March of last year.  He and Mum were due to go to Australia for the christening of my niece and their Grandchild but Dad wasn’t allowed to fly so Mum invited me to go with her.  It was a fabulous trip, we were there for a week in the sunshine.  It is so rare to be able to spend quality time with your parents as you age so this was one of life’s bonuses what’s more I was asked to be a godparent which is a pretty cool thing to be if you ask me!

8. Snow

Whilst I was on the other side of the world.  The Isle of Man had its worst snow storm for 50 years.  Our village was cut off from the rest of the island for 3 days and 12 foot deep snow drifts were the norm.  Communities come together as people took to the hills to dig sheep out of drifts, check on neighbours and provide food and warmth for those who were without electricity.

9. Support

There are aspects of my working life which are fairly hideous at times.  I try to remain stoical and have a water off a ducks back approach.  I hope that I have provided support for those who also feel the dark side of our work at school.

10. 40

I turned 40 this year and so did my Hubs.  We had a great impromptu night out for his birthday, I lacked enthusiasm for mine…

11. Arran

We spent a blissful week camping on Arran in June.  The sun shone, the kids played on the beach, we kayaked, walked and had a fabulous family time

12. The Isle of Man Adventure Race

We entered a team of girls.  It was great fun.  We came 2nd in the kayaking but despite all my  training my swim didn’t go quite to plan… maybe next year

13. Results

2 years ago our results were terrible in MFL for a variety of reasons.  This year once again, saw me responsible for all of the French GCSE results.  Many students did very, very well.  One of my students was predicted a grade D but ended up with an A*.  I met her in town 2 days after results and she just ran up to me agave me the biggest ever hug this was without doubt, one of my best ever teaching moments.  On the downside, I still had a negative residual for my class – this continue to frustrate me.


In no particular order….

1.  I am presenting at #ILILC4 and am incredibly nervous but excited about it.

2. I want to ensure that iPads are implemented properly into our department not to mention the school.

3. I was lucky enough to meet the lovely @mattyhilda recently  and hopefully together we are going to organise the very 1st #TMIOM.

4. I must get back into swimming – it’s great for fitness and for kayaking

5. Speaking of kayaking, now it’s time to nail my off side roll plus rolling in rough water.

6. I am not and never have been a runner but couch to 5K does appeal to me so,  I guess this is the year

7. This year’s mantra is going to be teaching and learning, teaching and learning, teaching and learning.

8. Fontainebleau – this has been a regular family holiday haunt for many years now.  We haven’t been for 3 years but we are making a return in 2014.  I can’t wait to get climbing on the boulders in the forest not to mention watching our kids take to the rock

9. I don’t teach German at the moment as my school does not offer it.  I love the language and the country, with luck I will be able to persuade the Hubs to go there on holiday this summer.

10. I hope to attend more teach meets and conferences next year and meet more of the lovely teachers that appear on my timeline but it all depends on flights and boats!

11. Being a supportive wife and a good Mum is important to me.  It is something that I must continue to work at.

12.  I would love to attend the Hanko sea kayaking symposium in Finland in August.  I love paddling in new places and many of the Finnish sea kayakers come to the IOM to paddle at our symposium in September so I would be good to meet them on their own turf.

13.  I would like to up my blogging quotient to at least once a month

14.  Forget and forgive it helps you to live…





Our 1st Term With iPads


At the end of the last academic year it was agreed that the MFL department would get 20 iPads for use in the classroom.  As a department we were all delighted that our bid had been successful as we had perviously had 20 crummy laptops that were powered by steam and that rarely connected to the network let alone the internet, as a result we NEVER used them.  Everyone in the department can see the potential that iPads hold but we are all at different stages of learning when it comes to using iPads in the classroom.  I was asked to take a lead on embedding the use of them into our work in Languages.  It has at times been a bit of a struggle and I have had many lessons that have well and truly failed, however during the last 2 weeks I feel that myself and my students are really getting to grips with using them.  A number of my colleagues have given them a go too and are also having success which has been great to hear about.

How do you begin to embed iPads into your classroom practice?  I am no expert but these are the things that I have done, some have worked and some have failed miserably.

Once I knew that we were getting iPads I made sure I knew how to use one.  I was lucky in this respect, I had been using a single iPad in my classroom for about a year so I was fairly happy with many of its functions.  My next step was to then research apps so I  spent the summer discovering apps, reading about apps, asking questions about apps and tried to find those that I felt would work well in the classroom.  I blogged about this here.  With some apps in my back pocket I then introduced the technology to the students.

Many of us think that our students are going to know everything there is to know about technology, and certainly that is true of some but I would advise that before you launch into any sort of full on iPad lesson that you teach your class some iPad basics.  How to get photos from the internet onto the camera roll, how to easily move between 2 apps by sliding 4 fingers across the screen, how to open and close apps by double tapping the home button and then flicking the app upwards.  By teaching them some basics it will stop them pestering you during a lesson and make them feel more in control.  Next I would advise iPad rules.  I found a fabulous set of iPad rules on Pinterest and adapted them for use in my school.  It is vital that you give students some rules to work by, using iPads in learning is a privilege, they are expensive and students need to be aware of the consequences should they fail to follow the rules.

Rules noted, basics learn  and it was time for us to give them a go.  Initially we had lots of issues with our school wi-fi which seemed not to be robust enough at times and would make our apps very glitchy.  I also encountered problems with apps such as DJ Spreaker, Soundcloud and Audioboo as our network will not support them because they have a live stream attached and the bandwidth is too narrow to enable all schools on the island to use apps with live streams.  I have to say that this was a bit of a disappointment because all I really like all 3 of the aforementioned apps and I have had to find alternatives as a result of the restrictions placed on us as a school.  These were teething problems but they did teach me to try apps  out in school and not just at home so that I could eradicate any potential problems that I might face once a whole class started to use them.

I also began to realise that it is important to look at how students will get their information off the iPad, they must be able to put it somewhere, either in their Google Drive directly from the app or they must be able to email it off and then put it into their Google Drive.  It’s also essential that you teach your students how to set up  Google Drive or the equivalent so that they can start to build their own digital portfolios.  I would recommend that they create a folder and share it with you, within that folder they can have sub topics so that they can collate their work effectively.

The first app that I really used to good effect was in fact, Google Drive.  My Y10 GCSE class have trialled this for me.  They have been preparing for a controlled assessment and it was fabulous to be able to go online look at their work, mark it online and leave meaningful feedback for them.  I particularly like the comments feature in Drive as it allows you to highlight a word and comment specifically on it.  If I wanted to comment on a sentence I highlighted the first word of the sentence.  I found that it enabled to me to open a good dialogue with the students about their work and for many students in my class it worked well and they have produced some excellent controlled assessments.  For others it worked less well and we must remain aware that some students really do prefer pen and paper and find typing tough going.

With Google Drive successfully under my belt the next app I tried was whiteboard.  Students are used to using mini whiteboards in my class and it seemed a natural step to make the whiteboard electronic, it also helped them to understand that the iPad is a tool for leaning and we don’t just do “an iPad lesson”.  Whiteboard needs no real explanation it does however have a collaborative element to it which I have yet to discover.  Whiteboard worked well and it also achieved the aim of making students understand that we use iPads for one activity and then maybe we do something else that doesn’t involve them.  Whilst we are on the subject of not using iPads for a while but the students still have them on the table, my top tip is to ask students to turn the iPad off and then turn it upside down this, I have found, prevents them from being a distraction to learning especially for Y9 boys!

From this point on I slowly built up the use of the iPads so that in lessons we were using more than 1 app and students were beginning to see their potential.  In one lesson for example I might start with a whiteboard activity and then use no tech activities until the end of the lesson where I would use Socrative or Zondle.  I am now at the stage where I am trying to a number of apps in a lesson for example tomorrow Y10 are using quizlet, secretive, showme and time permitting pix n tell in 1 lesson!  My aim this term was to try and find simple apps that worked well and the results of which were easy to share.  I have had a number of lessons where it has all gone horribly wrong and if you are about to embark on the same journey as me I suggest that you always have a back up plan.  I have road tested a number of apps this term and I feel  that I can now recommend some of them to the department.  To try and help them on their way I have created how to videos using the Showme app. You can have a look at them here:

Voice record HD

Pix n Tell


Moodboard lite

To date, my apps of choice are: Socrative, Quizlet, Linguascope, Zondle, Whiteboard, Pix n Tell, Moodboard lite, Voice record HD, Infinote, Google Drive, Show me, Tellagami, Nearpod, Keynote and Book Creator.

I have found that the iPads have increased engagement with many of my students.  They enjoy having a purpose for using their language but my next step is how to showcase their digital work to the world.  I am going to a meeting next week to discuss how we, as an island, will try to do this and I will report backI am just at the beginning of my journey into using iPads in the classroom and it is without doubt an exciting one, it is not without its problems and there are always failures on the way, however both the students and I have learnt from them.  I am very fortunate that I am supported by a number of Apple Distinguished Educators here on island and also by countless people on twitter.  Special mentions must go to @joedale and @ICTEvangelist however there are many more, so if you have suggested apps or helped me to try and solve an iPad problem in any way I thank you.

Here’s a link to the iPad rules I mentioned.