Wednesday, 22 March 2017

2017 International Essay Contest on "Learning from Nature"

Based in Japan, the Goi Peace Foundation is a public benefit organization supported by members around the world working together to create a culture of peace.  Every year they organize an  annual essay contest in an effort to harness the energy, creativity and initiative of the world's youth in promoting a culture of peace and sustainable development. It also aims to inspire society to learn from the young minds and to think about how each of us can make a difference in the world.

The theme of the contest 2017  is ‘Learning from nature’, so your students will have a great opportunity to take full advantage of everything they have learned in their Natural Science lessons. I would like to encourage you to develop this essay writing skill with your students and ask them to take part in this exciting  essay-writing contest.

There are two categories: a) children (ages up to 14) and b) youth (ages 15-25).  Essays must be 700 words or less and can be written in Spanish, English, German or Japanese. 

If you are interested in helping your students to take part in  this contest, I have developed a simple document which includes some basic tips on essay writing, a list of connectors in English  and a checklist for students that will help them to see if they can improve their essay  before sending it. 

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Art competitions for children and teenagers

Look and Learn is a London-based picture library specialising in educational images and a member of BAPLA (the British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies).
Since 2006 they have run monthly online children’s art competitions with the explicit objective of creating the world’s best gallery of children’s art. All entries appear in their online gallery, and children and their sponsors (teachers or parents) get their own personal online galleries. 
There are two main choices for your Art classrooms: 
1) Enter the Art gallery, just  click on any picture to enlarge it, download it or  send an e-card of it to friends and family. 
2) Take part in monthly competitions (entry to the competitions and gallery is free). 
Competitions focus on a different theme each month and  entries are  divided into three age groups (0-7, 8-11 and 12-18). Entry to the competitions and gallery is free so I am sure you will be interested in taking part in the next competitions  with your students. 
From these lines,  I would like to thank  Look and learn for offering children and teenagers this great opportunity to enjoy Art. 

Monday, 27 February 2017

International Women's Day 2017

In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. In doing so, UN Member States took a historic step in accelerating the Organization’s goals on gender equality and the empowerment of women. Over many decades, the UN has made significant progress in advancing gender equality and on every March 8th they focus on a theme to keep on advancing towards achieving gender equality. 

The theme for International Women’s Day, 8 March, 2017, focuses on “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”. The website is, as usual, a superb source for educators but I would like to recommend the section called "From where I stand", a collection of stories of women around the world who are bringing real change regarding gender equality.

I wanted to contribute to the celebration of March 8th in our classrooms through a lesson plan based on a film. Why? I would say that sometimes the names and deeds of the heroes in  films are known to all. However,  there are those films that shine the spotlight on those whose names were known to only a few, but whose stories deserve to be told. This is the case with "Hidden figures", which tells the story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program.

One of these women,  98-year-old Katherine Johnson,  is a true hero who was totally hidden until this film was released and I would like to pay my humble tribute to her and to all hidden women whose deeds should be known to all. The starting point of the lesson I have developed is Katherine's biography  but let me suggest using the uplifting Gospel song from the film as a warm-up:

If you wish, you can ask students to carry out a  fill in the gaps activity while they listen to the song. The complete version of the lyrics can be downloaded from here.

After listening to the song you will have created the environment to start this lesson plan on "Empowering Women in the changing world of work".

I hope my proposal will help your students to reflect on the need for gender equality regarding acknowledgement of work achievement. 

Downloadable resources for the lesson plan:

Handout for the student: Katherine's biography

Handout for the teacher: Katherine Johnson's biography

Handout for the student: biography writing frame

Handout for the student: feedback on peers'  presentations

Handout for the teacher: oral presentation rubrics for a biography

Handout for the student: listening activity

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Using newspaper and magazine articles in the content areas

Needless to say that we do not have to supply students with physical newspapers. We are very lucky to have online versions of most newspapers, some of which with lesson plans that can be very helpful when you like the article but you lack the necessary time to prepare some activities for students to carry out while and after reading. The Guardian includes a series of free  lesson plans for different content areas. The New York Times also offers a learning section with lesson plans. 

Next seminar I will present some of my favourite activities to make the most of using newspaper and magazine  articles in the  classroom but before we meet let me share some of them with you.  You can find them here

To help students with summarizing skills and  new vocabulary when reading newspaper articles, you can use this template  provided by Readwritethink.

Most newspapers are included here:

You can find some worksheets that relate to newspaper articles here:

The following is a collection of online magazines on very different topics:

For Science topics:

For History content:

Spanish El País can be read in English:

More student-friendly  websites you can use:

Thursday, 2 February 2017


Multicultural classrooms are a growing phenomenon as migrants flows are increasing exponentially. Classrooms now host students from  diverse nationalities and cultures and  teachers have  to acquire new skills, competences and materials to work effectively with culturally diverse students. 

Multicultural Schools project is a valuable bank of resources that will help all of  you who want to foster integration among different cultures and languages within your classrooms. 

The repository will give you free access  different types of ready-to-use materials for students of both Primary and Secondary levels. The materials are available in six different languages corresponding to the partner countries taking part in the project. 

I would like to suggest making students  listen to  and watch Marla Lewis' wonderful song and video "We all laugh in the same language"  as a way to celebrate unity within diversity in our multicultural school contexts:

You can download the lyrics of the song here

Please remember that the partners who are taking part in this project need our feedback to keep on working on the project and improving it. Therefore, let me know about your classroom experience after putting some activities into practice with your students.

Finally, but no less importantly, thank you very much for your immeasurable support towards cultural integration in our classrooms. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2017


La Mar de Ciencia” is a competition for young artists interested in Science and the sea. Students of Primary and Secondary grade levels from Spain can present their videos, drawings and stories through the website until March 10, 2017. “La Mar de Ciencia” is an initiative of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the Balearic Islands Coastal Observing and Forecasting System (SOCIB) and "la Caixa" Banking Foundation and its aim is to bring the marine sciences closer to the students and raise awareness about the importance of improving our knowledge on the sustainable management of the oceans.

As a novelty, this edition, entitled "Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet", allows group participation in the video mode and the contributions can be presented in Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician and English. The winners will enjoy a scientific weekend in the Balearic Islands to learn more about the research carried out at the CSIC centres, participate in a SOCIB oceanographic campaign and visit the Marine-Terrestrial National Park of the Cabrera Archipelago. The classroom with the best video will be awarded with a digital whiteboard.

I reckon that this is a great opportunity to develop  students' awareness on the  enormous impacts that humans have  on marine ecosystems and resources.

If your students choose to focus on the Mediterranean sea, the program "Medclic: the Mediterranean in one click"  can be of great help.

For students aged 14-18, National Geographic offers a great amount of lesson plans on the threat which is being inflicted on our oceans.   I would  recommend the following one:

Let me finish by  stepping  back into the 17th century to pay my humble tribute to  Blaise Pascal, great mathematician, physicist and philosopher, who  warned us about the threats oceans have to face.

Among so many home truths, he said:

"The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble". 

Therefore, we can and we must do our best to protect our oceans and today we can start by encouraging our students to take part in the competition I suggested above these lines. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

ICT tools that help teachers of any content area

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Our seminar session on January 10th will aim at  presenting some ICT tools that will be very useful for our CLIL practice:

The first one we will focus on is, which allows you to enter text and then use a variety of devices to help you commit it to memory. You can read the text as it is, reduce it to reminder letters—filling in the additional letters to complete the words as necessary to help you remember the passage—and display the passages you've entered in a flashcard style system.

The second tool we will see in our session will be  This tool is a free service for teachers who want to create online tests for their students. Registration is for free and teachers who register  receive complete record-keeping of their student grades.  They have access to more precise test-generation tools, can create single tests with questions from different categories, can create matching and multiple choice questions, and can access a public test library.

Another tool which is bound to faclitate your teaching practice is This site  enables you to create and save your own questions and tests. Their library of pre-made tests, worksheets, and activities covers all K-12 subjects.

I hope to provide seminar members with plenty of examples on the usefulness of the websites above  and from these lines I would like to invite all teachers to try these very easy to use and time-saving tools. 

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Let's start eTwinning!

Last month, a total of 2644 eTwinning projects received the European Quality Label 2016 for their outstanding work and I am very happy to write the names of the teachers and projects from the Basque Country below these lines:

- Amaya Alonso
  IES Antonio Trueba 
  Project: Go look in the mirror

Amaya is one of our CLIL Seminar participants and she has kindly shared their project with us. You can access it from here.

Another three teachers whose projects have been awarded the European Quality Label are the following:

- Idoia Ajuria
 Artxandako Trueba Ikastetxea
 Project: IC what UC

- Maite Elejalde
  CEP Virgen de la Guia
  Project: Our eTwin diary

- Izaskun Insausti
 Txingudi BHI
 Project: My grandmother's stories

I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to these teachers and encourage all of you to start taking part in eTwinning.  How can you start? I will gladfully spend some time in our next seminar session on this challenging project but in the meantime, I am sure that   the following video will be highly clarifying:

 Therefore, you can  start   joining the eTwinning Community by  registering on Then, you can   catch  a glimpse at  the  eTwinning Europe  youtube channel so that you check how eTwinning is perfect for CLIL contexts because it can be carried out in different languages and it  can be applied to any content area.

To be continued in January 2017…

Meanwhile, please let me say to all and each of you:

“You are a dreamer, and you are an achiever. May you dream and achieve bigger feats, with every passing year. Merry Christmas  and Happy New year 2017.