Sunday, 4 February 2018

Safer Internet Day 2018

Safer Internet Day (SID)   seeks to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile devices, especially among children and young people across the world.  SID 2018 will be celebrated on 6 February 2018 with the theme of "Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with  you".

If you visit Safer Internet Website,  you will  find a gallery of resources you can use for educational activities. All you have to do is  search by keyword, language and age  to find resources to meet your needs.

If you allow me to help you choose a very useful resource for teenage learners, have a look at  this one : it is a lesson plan on  how to make strong passwords, how to avoid malware and hacking by keeping anti-virus and software updated always, and how to detect safe web shops from online scam shops. It also  offers advice on how to take control over your digital life, and on what to and what not to share on your social media profiles. You can download the resource  ”Staying Safe Online – Youth and Digital Security” here.

(This resource is an international version of the original Danish booklet “Unge og Digital Sikkerhed”, which is used in the Danish Money Week from 2017 and beyond.  Original version was  written in corporation by a series of Danish organizations and institutions: Finance Denmark, The Danish Police, The Agency for Digitization, The e-mark, The Media Council for Children and Young People in Denmark.)

I wish to acknowledge the great help provided by the organizations and institutions above and  extend my gratitude to  the many partners that support Safer Internet Day  with awareness-raising events and educational  resources to  make the internet a safer and better place.

If you prefer to approach the topic through Music, I recommend this complete resource by the British Council  based  on " I like it", song which was  created three years ago  by members of GMCBeats rap workshops and Webwise Ireland to celebrate Safer Internet Day.  The resource  includes  both interactive exercises and   worksheets that can be downloaded.

Why not enjoy the rap song while you decide on the resource you like the best?

Tuesday, 23 January 2018


Eustat, the website that gives you access to statistical data from the Basque Country, has improved its educational section remarkably by  adding a number of units in English both for students and teachers. 

You will find a set of educational units that contain worksheets with 10 tasks and 1 test. You can download and print the worksheets. They are in pdf format and you will also find a full teacher's pack: duration, topics, difficulty, skills, resources and description. You can access all the worksheets for an educational unit or search for them individually to find the one that most meets your needs. This is the list of educational units for Secondary level:

You can download them from here.

If you are new to Eustat, you will get an idea of what it is about by watching  the following introductory video:

I reckon that by spending some time on the website, you will find the units that best suit your needs, especially if you are teaching Geography or Computer Science. .

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Reading comprehension, PISA and CLIL

PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) measures 15-year-old  students' performance in Mathematics, Reading and Science. Now that  PISA 2018 is approaching,  a lot is being said about the need to improve the   results of the last exams in 2015. 

Today I would like to focus this post on the positive impact of  CLIL programmes on the development of reading comprehension in the mother tongue. The reading skills most benefited from CLIL classrooms  are global comprehension, lexical comprehension, understanding of space-time relationships, integration of extra-textual information and identification of extra-textual relations. 

There is  recent and abundant research carried out in several European countries  on what I have stated above these lines but in this post  I would like to go a bit deeper  into  the main  reasons why CLIL affects the acquisition of reading comprehension in the mother tongue. 

First of all, no one  can deny that there is a clear transfer of strategies between L1 and L2 and vice versa but I need to go beyond that so as to explain  that if CLIL is done well, it helps students to become better readers in their mother tongue too. 

The crucial factor that makes CLIL so powerful comes from the need CLIL teachers have  to make students learn how to use reading strategies consciously and systematically. For instance, students need to know about useful  strategies to learn specific vocabulary because  only by strengthening vocabulary acquisition will students access language and  content. I wrote a previous post on the importance of working  on AWL in all content areas.  

However, direct vocabulary instruction is not enough. Experienced CLIL teachers  tell readers why and when they should use reading  strategies, what strategies to use and how to apply them. The teacher models, or demonstrates, how to apply the strategy, usually by "thinking aloud" while reading the text that the students are using.

Regarding text types, there is no doubt that reading in CLIL provides students with different text types from the ones they use in EFL classes. CLIL teachers have to choose their texts very carefully because they have to take into account the students'  language level, amount of new content, lexical load and text difficulty. Needless to say that CLIL teachers have to be strategic readers so as to teach their students about these strategies. In this sense, teaching training institutions play an essential role to support CLIL teachers with knowledge on  reading strategies and suitable reading texts for content areas.

As a teacher trainer, I try to provide  teachers with  the most useful reading strategies and scaffolding techniques  which will facilitate reading in any content area. It goes beyond the scope of a blog post to mention all of them but the following ones are, in my view, essential:

For the teacher

- spend the necessary time on the pre-lesson stage (warm-up the reading process by activating key vocabulary, previous knowledge on the topic, etc)

- work on a piece of the text, step by step, in parts 

- shorten sentences or paraphrase difficult concepts

- add images to facilitate comprehension

- use cooperative  reading techniques (jigsaw reading, unscramble texts...)

- add in sub-headings  that help students to understand the structure of the text

- encourage students to prepare their own questions about the text for other students (student-centred methodology is key to enhance motivation towards reading

For the student:

- predict

- locate key words

- annotate the text

- use on-line visual dictionaries while reading

- infer

- summarize the text by using mind-maps (different types for different text  types and subjects)

- use context clues

- make connections 

- evaluate understanding (What did I learn?)

Let me insist on the fact that  content area teachers are not language teachers so coordination between both is essential thoughout this complex process. The best results take place when language teachers help content teachers by working on the difficult words and connectors that students will find in the specific   texts (pre-lesson stage).

Last but not least, Rome was not built in a day so PISA results will not improve overnight but we are on the right track by strengthening language competence through language integration in the curriculum,  CLIL programmes and  a sound  professional development policy for both pre-and in-service teachers. 

Sunday, 10 December 2017


The United Nations' (UN) International Human Solidarity Day is annually held on December 20th to celebrate unity in diversity. It also aims to remind people of the importance of solidarity in working towards eradicating poverty.

On International Human Solidarity Day, governments are reminded of their commitments to international agreements on the need for human solidarity as an initiative to fight against poverty. People are encouraged to debate on ways to promote solidarity and find innovative methods to help eradicate poverty.

What can we do in our classrooms? I have chosen a couple of practical classroom proposals for you:

1) A  photo-teaching resource that accompanies Think Global’s 2016- 17 Global Wallplanner. The theme for this year’s wallplanner is Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). This is a movement that seeks to alleviate poverty through community empowerment, mutual benefit and economic growth. It is based on values of reciprocity and cohesion, so that people are able to work together to create sustainable models which benefit all.  You can access the resource in pdf format here. Global Dimension, the platform that offers resources on global issues, has provided us with this wonderful pedagogical tool.

2) What is inequality? If you choose this classroom proposal, students will design an infographic to depict an inequality statistics after imagining some effects of life in an unequal society.
You will find this lesson plan very useful. You will need the following slides too:

You can download the ppt from here.

Oxfam Education has got more ideas for the classroom and all of them are very suitable for our Secondary contexts.   

Let us celebrate that our well-deserved holiday break is approaching but two days before leaving our classrooms to enjoy Christmas, why not raise awareness  of the importance of solidarity in our classrooms? 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you. 

Friday, 24 November 2017

WhatsApp in the classroom to foster oral skills

Would you like to help those students of yours who prefer to work on their own when they have to prepare a presentation and take things slowly so as to overcome the anxiety they feel when they work under the pressure of having to face an audience? This is one of the reasons why you should try using  WhatsApp in your classroom.

The activity I suggest can be used in English and in any content area taught through English.


- Assign each student a topic related to your classroom purposes ( Renewable energy sources, healthy life, your favourite Music, types of plants, types of rocks, helping to protect our planet, the best inventions for humankind, advantages of tourism, etc). Tell them they will have to prepare a short presentation on the topic.

- Hand out a task  to each of the students so that they know the questions they have to answer or the information they have to include in their presentation.  

- Tell students the deadline so that they prepare their presentation and send it to The  class WhatsApp  group. 

- Share the assessment criteria with them and explain what they mean so that they know what is important in order to get a good mark. You can use this one or another one you prefer for your classroom context.

- Recommend students to use on-line pronouncing dictionaries and text-to-speech tools to help them with vocabulary and pronunciation. 

- Once every student has sent his/her recording, listen to them and mark them according to the assessment tool you have chosen.

- Prepare a handout for students with a list of questions that they will be able to answer by listening to their peers' recordings.

- When students come to class after you have done the previous tasks, let them listen to all students' recordings and ask them to answer the questions in the handout you have prepared for them. You can collect the handouts  at the end of the session and give students some feedback on them. They will be helpful revision resources for students.

What are the advantages? 

- Students enjoy listening to others' recordings and being able to listen as many times as they need in order to carry out the task. 

- They learn in a cooperative way because they may need to clarify words they do not understand by asking their peers.

- They do not feel anxious because they do not have to speak in front of everyone.

All in all, it is not a perfect tool and it has its drawbacks, which have to do with the need of a good Internet connection.  Remember to ask the school for an external phone if you do not want to use your personal mobile phone with students. It is not very expensive and you will keep your intimacy.

Last but not least, this tool should not replace the usual procedure by which students present their work in front of the peers but it will help students who feel anxious in public to relax  and it will also create an atmosphere of concentration which is key to effective listening. 

Sunday, 19 November 2017

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 25 November

In 1999 the United Nations General Assembly designated 25 November  as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and invited governments, international organizations and NGOs to organize on that day activities designed to raise public awareness of the problem. 

Two years before, in 1997 "How come, how long" song was written, produced and performed by Babyface as a duet with American singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder, who also co-wrote the song. The lyrics deal with domestic violence and is inspired by  Nicole Brown Simpson's  case. The music video for this song, directed by F. Gary Gray, shows several people in the same building ignoring the shouts and screams and multiple fights between a married couple, ending with a twist, showing that the woman killed her abusive husband, ending with her being arrested. This video received a nomination for Best R&B Video at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards. 

Unfortunately, twenty years later, one in three women and girls experience violence in their lifetime. It happens in every country and every society. It happens at home, in schools, on the streets, at work and  on the internet. 

What can teachers do? My proposal  to collaborate to stop the cycle of violence against girls and women is based on this beautiful song and the high-quality video story F. Gary Gray directed:

You will need to download the handout for your students  and the lyrics of the song.  

(The handout above includes a writing task which you may choose to collect from students for correction  after the classroom session is over)

The first step to ending violence is to break the silence. I hope this meaningful song will help all of us to take this first step. 

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

World Science day for peace and development in our classrooms

Celebrated every 10 November, World Science Day for Peace and Development highlights the important role of science in society and the need to engage the wider public in debates on emerging scientific issues. It also underlines the importance and relevance of science in our daily lives.The 2017 theme is “Science for Global Understanding”. Global Understanding is key to peace and sustainable development in that it promotes the commitment of individuals and local communities in sharing knowledge for actions and behavioral change. Science is thus central to global understanding as it not only helps understand the world but also it assists in designing, developing and implementing the change we aim for. 

UNESCO strongly encourages all to join them  in celebrating World Science Day for Peace and Development by scheduling something special for that date. 

My proposal for your  Secondary classrooms needs three sessions and is based on the following video:
Before starting viewing the video above, prepare a handout for students with the most difficult words which are key to understanding and check they know those words.

While watching the video, ask students to write down the name of each of the scientists who,  according to the author of this video, changed the world. They should also try to understand  the reason why he/she  was essential for mankind. (Students  can use this  simple table to take notes while they listen).

Let students watch  the video twice and after watching the video for a second time,  ask them to  share their notes in pairs for about 15 minutes. After that,  proceed to check their understanding  of the contents of the video by asking different pairs to tell you what they have written. 

In the second session, group students in threes /fours and ask them to think about a  STEM discovery/ theory that   exemplifies the important role of  Science in our society. Each group  will have to write a paragraph about their favourite discovery and the reasons for their choice. This language support document will help them to express their opinion, agree and disagree with their partner. You can prepare copies of it and hand them out to students before  they  start talking in pairs. They will need about 45 minutes for this second task. 

Help students with websites they can use to carry out this task:

The third session that wraps up this micro-unit on the importance of Science and its impact on society will be aimed at listening to the different groups. Allow students to read their paragraph aloud for other  students to listen  and, if you feel like it, after all groups have been heard,  you can ask  students to vote for the "most important" discovery/theory/development. 

I hope this simple proposal will raise awareness of the importance  of Science in and for society. 

Monday, 30 October 2017


Today I would like to share with CLIL practitioners in Secondary schools a project which was developed with the support of the Erasmus + Programme of the European Union. Participant countries were Bulgaria, Ireland, Romania, Turkey and Spain and their project mainly aims at providing learners with skills in 3 key competences:

  • social entrepreneurship skills;
  • foreign language skills;
  • ICT skills.
The project was thought for the field of Vocational Education and Training but when you see the intellectual outputs, you will find it really useful for your Secondary classrooms too. Before proceeding to describe what this project consists in, I would like to  insist that  all users of the SET2CLIL materials should refer to the project when using those materials. The reference source will be the SET2CLIL website.

The trainers' guide will provide you with an overview of the project so that you can figure out  the magnitude of the materials and the way they have been organized. 

The e-repository  offers   5 modules which contain 30 KITs with over 150 activities and resources. A KIT contains suggested teaching activities as described in its corresponding lesson plan at the end of the trainer’s guide. Most KITs offer activities related to real-life cases. Apart from these modules, the repository also provides you with 30 case studies from the five countries that have taken part in the project. 

As you have probably guessed by now, the range of teaching units which can be used in our CLIL classrooms is enormous. I am sure that teachers who implement Economics, Citizenship, Ethical  Values, Tutorials and Global issues will find an invaluable source of teaching materials. I would like to encourage you to contact the team who has developed the project and also to let them know what you think about it through the evaluation form provided on the website.  

Once again, I would like to express my most  heartfelt  congratulations on this project to all participants. Your hard work has truly paid off.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

CV- Historical Europass

Have you ever wondered what Galileo's curriculum would have been like? Or Marie Curie's? Or Napoleon's? Europass has thought of an original way to make students between 14 and 18 learn how to write a CV while deepening on the aptitudes and biography of a historical character they admire. 

The jury will consider both creativity and historical coherence. Therefore, accuracy regarding both the biodata of the chosen character and  the different sections of the CV within Europass platform will be taken into account.

You can download the template of the European CV and a series of video tutorials from here.

If your students decide to take part, they have to send their CVs in pdf format together with the registration template (Anexo 1) to the following e-mail address: (Asunto: CV histórico

If students' CVs are chosen, they will be invited to Infoday Europass in Madrid and they will also enjoy public acknowledgement of their work. 

Everything you need to know in order to take part in Historical Europass can be found in this document.

Sooner than later, our students will have to create a real CV when they start searching for a job so we may as well start teaching them how to write this document to present their skills and qualifications effectively and clearly. Why not start with what this  historical CV Europass suggests ? 

Friday, 29 September 2017

A school for all of us

UNESCO defines inclusive education as the process of identifying and responding to the diversity of needs of all students through greater participation in learning, cultures and communities, reducing exclusion in education. It involves changes and modifications to teaching contents, approaches, structures and strategies, with a common vision that includes all boys and girls.

It is based on the principle that every student has unique learning characteristics, interests, capacities and needs, as well as the fact that educational systems and programmes must be adapted and designed by bearing in mind the extreme diversity of these characteristics and needs. Now it is the school that must adapt itself  to the needs of the students, not vice versa.

Fortunately, educators are not alone in this process. ONCE was created over 80 years ago to obtain social inclusion for people with visual impairments and, later, for people with other types of disabilities. The purpose of this 34th School Contest by ONCE and its Foundation is to raise awareness among students, parents, teachers and society as a whole on the importance of creating a school where there is space for everybody, dynamically and via teamwork, joining forces and ideas to build it together.

How can you participate? Click here and you will find how to take part in the contest as well as teaching materials you can use in your classroom. Scrolling down the page you will find the project your students will have to create and the criteria the jury will take into account.  Deadline to submit projects finishes on February 4th.

Winners will be awarded with interesting prizes although the best prize will be the chance to actively collaborate in offering   quality educational responses for every student. Do you also want a school for all? Then, join in and sign up your class by filling in this form. Small actions like this are the ones that transform a school into a place where boys and girls learn together how to build a more fair and inclusive society. 

Friday, 15 September 2017

Scientix 3: Scientix Ambassadors Training Course 3rd edition

Another school year has started and with renewed energies and promising projects ahead, all of us will go on "CLIL-ing" in our diverse educational contexts. From these lines, I wish to welcome all of you to take part in our first seminar session on October 10th and I would also like to encourage you to enrol in the third Scientix Ambassadors Training Course to become a  Scientix Ambassador.

Just in case you have never heard of Scientix, I will start by letting you know that Scientix is  the Community for Science Education in Europe. It offers a superb network for Science Education Projects and it  has just published a new call for teachers who would like to become Scientix Ambassadors and a part of its fast growing Scientix Teachers' Panel.  

What do you have to do if you want to join this community of STEM teachers across Europe? You would have to apply for the on-line course they are offering for free. The current  edition of the course will run between 2 October and 4 December 2017. Places are limited to 300 participants per edition. 

Participants will be chosen from among those that apply through this  form  before September 20th  taking into account the order of application and a fair country distribution.

The main goal of the course is to introduce teachers to the Scientix tools and practice, but also to help STEM teachers from across Europe and beyond to get the information and develop skills and competencies that can contribute to their professional development.

Further details on the contents and aims of the course can be found here.

I hope you will not miss this opportunity if you are a STEM teacher and I would like to end this first post by thanking all of  you, STEM and non-STEM teachers, for having registered for our CLIL seminar at Secondary 2017-2018. 

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Factworld Journal 17: Sustainability Education

Keith Kelly, Hristina Bancheva, Dilyanka Bezlova, Lyubov Dombeva  and  Rod Holmes have dedicated Factworld Journal 17 to issues related to Sustainability Education. (You can download the entire pdf version of Journal 17 at the foot of the page).  Their reports offer really accurate insights into sustainable development and if you have encouraged your students to take part in the competition I mentioned in my last entry, I am sure they will find plenty of support and evidence for their ideas. The journal also includes  students' feedback on the classes in Sofia. This feedback  is the best proof that eco-schools that embrace education for sustainability are also schools that succeed and do really well.

Last but not least, all of you who are working on  sustainable education with students are encouraged to send  Keith Kelly and Stefka Kitanova  your own work, classroom materials and articles for publication . Requirements and details are described in the inside cover of the journal. 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Youth citizen entrepreneurship competition

      Resultado de imagen de youth citizen entrepreneurship competition
Encourage your students to participate in the UNESCO Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition.  In their own words, young people aged 15+ can demonstrate all their STEAMS (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics, Sports) skills by submitting their innovative ideas and projects with a societal impact, which champion and implement one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 related targets address the most important social, economic, environmental, health and governance challenges of our time.

First of all, register and create an account.  If you have an innovative idea on one of the  17 SDGs, you can send your entry until the entry deadline (31 July 2017).  You may also support your entry by submitting a video presentation of your idea or project (up to 3 minutes).
Entries will be posted on the competition website and are subject to online commenting and public voting. From among the finalists, the judges will make the final selection of three winners (Grand Prize, 2nd Prize and 3rd Prize) in each category.

Entries will be evaluated based on their entrepreneurial vision, feasibility,   innovation, leadership, social impact, and sustainability, among other factors.
The People's Choice Prize will be given to the entry with the largest number of votes in each of  the two categories.

In addition, an Entrepreneurship Campus Prize will be given to three entrants who have  demonstrated outstanding ‘entrepreneurship spirit’ by actively taking part in the Entrepreneurship  Campus.

I reckon this is a great opportunity to  empower young entrepreneurs to create a sustainable world so I would like to thank Stiftung Entrepreneurship and Goi Peace Foundation for organizing this competition. Good luck to all the young entrepreneurs ready to take part in it!

Friday, 2 June 2017

Debates in the classroom to help students handle the 4Cs

In addition to providing meaningful listening, speaking and writing practice, debate is also highly effective for developing argumentation skills for persuasive speech and writing. Debating is, indeed, an essential thinking skill that our students have to practise in order  not to be afraid to express their opinions when they are not the same as others’ . Equally important is the ability they will acquire to respect others’ opinions.

I would like to share a  lesson plan  that any teacher can use either for English language or for any subject which is implemented through English.  It includes some guidelines for the chairperson, the timekeeper and the audience. You will also find a very simple assessment tool so that the students who act as the audience can take an active part throughout the debating process. I reckon this peer assessment tool would be an effective way to engage students and foster their critical thinking skills  by asking them to assess their peers. 

Apart from the lesson plan above, teachers will also need   a tool to assess their students debating skills. 
(With permission from:

I believe that the 4 Cs which have become a must in our English classrooms can be developed in a natural way by setting  up debates in our lessons throughout the academic year. We can also use debates  as a tool to review argumentative language  and specific vocabulary before the exam period we  are immersed in right now.

Finally, I would like to recommend, a website which will help you to develop debates with your students on a huge range of topics. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics, Sport). Just brow subjects by A-Z here.

I hope that  this article provides those of you who are interested in debate with enough to get started. Then, you will need to adapt the resources to suit your educational  context  needs . The best argument to defend debates is to keep in mind that they bring creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking together. Therefore, let’s debate in our classrooms and  help students to become well-practiced critical thinkers.