Link love: Delia’s Silk Road

I am really enjoying reading Delia Monk’s travelogue.

I met Delia when she was a reporter on the Nottingham Evening Post, but right now she is months into an epic journey across the world.

She’s travelling the Silk Road, taking pictures, and having the most awfully big adventure.

Her recent post about Georgia is a good recent one, but there is huge variety in her topics, and she’s travelling through Europe at quite a speed, so who knows where she will be next week?

She’s definitely contributing to my growing sense of wanderlust.


Eurovision bingo

We’re not able to watch Eurovision tonight as we’re out at a wine tasting slash concert, but I’m sure someone will be taping it and we will watch it later.

For the last few years we have been using Meg Pickard’s awesome Euro-bonga-bingo cards and we’d wholeheartedly recommend them as part of the entertainment at any Eurovision party.

I really haven’t been paying attention this year and haven’t even heard our own entry yet. These things don’t come up much on Radio 4 during my commute to and from school. But for a pithy four line smackdown of every song contention, you could do worse than Will Howells.

And we can’t conclude this little look at Eurovision 2013 without a namecheck to this tweet:


Since January I’ve been doing the Couch to 5K running programme, using an app on my iPod.

I’ve been running indoors on a treadmill, being one of those people who hogs resources in a gym. It takes me around 40 mins to run/walk a 5k indoors and the time is coming down every week.

I’ve not found the time to turn up the 3 times a week the programme demands so my progress is way less than it could be. I realised the other day it’s taken me five months to get to Week 6!

And yet I am making slow and steady progress. I think I can run now for longer than I have ever been able to do so in my life, as I have never been one for exercise. My latest stint got me to run for 10 minutes, walk for three, and then run another 10. Next time I give it a go, it’s up to 22 minutes total.

I’m definitely getting fitter. My breathing is much easier and I can keep running for times I never thought I would be able to. This is in part due to the running, and also due to working with an excellent personal trainer. There are some scary milestones in the programme ahead of me, but within a few weeks it wants me to run for 30 minutes without stopping. Eek.

A few weeks ago, the thought occurred to me that I ought to be considering some sort of race or event outdoors to have a goal to work towards, and I googled 5k races in Nottingham. Nothing really came up.

Then purely by chance a friend posted to Facebook about Parkrun. It’s a weekly event, run around the country, to do a timed 5k run in a park, at 9am on a Saturday morning. My friend posted about Mansfield, and I found out there was also one at Colwick Park in Nottingham. In the last few weeks, one has started up on the Forest Rec as well.

Reading about the event on its website makes it seem complicated. Barcodes! Funnels! Volunteers! Pacekeepers! It will be a few more weeks before I try and take part. But it’s good to know there are so many opportunities to have a go.

Teaching through the medium of paper planes

A blogpost on compelling starters suggests getting kids to make paper planes with three facts from the last lesson on it.

Making paper planes is definitely an activity that is very popular with students. One of my own strong memories of school was my last ever geography lesson, which coincided with the last lesson that teacher would teach, as she was retiring. By the end of the lesson, we were in two teams hiding behind desk fortresses throwing planes at each other. And our retiring teaching was flinging them with the best of us.

I have used them to teach past tense in French – and have been really chuffed with answers to the question “what does paper planes have to do with the past tense?” “because we THREW them not THROW them.” The activity came from a “diverse ways of teaching new language” session on PGCE and leads the children through a target language sequence, with overblown gestures so they get what activities to do:

Je prends une feuille de papier >> J’ai pris une feuille de papier
Je signe mon nom >> J’ai signé mon nom
Je dessine une maison >> J’ai dessiné une maison
Je plie un avion >> J’ai plié un avion
Je lance mon avion >> J’ai lancé mon avion
Je ramasse un avion >> J’ai ramassé un avion

This was less than perfectly successful. My students do not have enough of a culture of target language, so activities out of the blue lead to vocal complaining. Also, unbelievably, not all students know how to make a paper plane. (“If you don’t know how, I’m not going to teach you. Make a paper ball instead.”) But the biggest problem using this as a starter is that it winds them up something chronic and it is then very hard to calm them down sufficiently that you can even talk to them, let alone task them with something constructive.

Despite the difficulties I repeated the activity with three different classes and by the end I had a killer top tip for using paper planes.

Since I had heard reports that the planes were leaving my classroom and then getting students into trouble elsewhere in school, the last instruction related to planes that I gave was “throw the planes at me.” (Met with incredulity. Seriously sir? Are you sure? And we’re not going to get in trouble?”)

The reason for doing this is this: one, they are itching to do it anyway, so you might as well give them an excuse. But two, it means all the planes end up at your end of the room and out of their hands, all the better for moving on to the next activity.