Thursday, 30 May 2013

Katzenjammer musings

So today is my last work day of the half term. I have returned back to school on the previous two "first day back" feeling overwhelmed by the unpreparedness. Or ratehr the feeling of treading water as soon as the term starts.

I purposely didn't book myself up for this half term, such was the need for rest. (Oh, and such was the state of the bank account, but that is neither here nor there!). So I have spent the last couple of days marking, planning revision lessons for our KS3 classes and more CA lessons for Year 10. The good thing with Year 10s is that they are my guinea pig year group - I have two groups, and they are so positive and responsive to new ideas that I can trial anything with them and we can work out what works and what doesn't.

While I have been glued to my desk, I have listened to my music. It makes working so much more relaxing. I love my music. I was sat on Brighton beach in the sun on Sunday (how apt) with a friend, and she asked me, "If you had to live without either music or laughter, which would you choose?". To anyone who knows me, you will know that this is a very tricky one. I think I went for no music. My reasoning: "Laughter is like sun on your face".

"Alright, there's no need to get poetic on me!"

Yesterday I started listening to my choons in alphabetical order, as I was less inspired by what Dr Shuffle was offering me. I worked all day yesterday and didn't make it out of songs beginning with A... Today I have nudged into the B songs. One song that I have had to play over and over is today's choon, by Katzenjammer.

Which got me thinking about the German language and cats. The German language doesn't seem to hold cats in high esteem.

Here are my examples....

Katze = cat. A harmless word, and close to the English for our learners to grab hold of.

Kätzchen = kitten. Still no harm there, and a good example for learners to see that the addition of -chen to a noun puts it into a derivative form. (eg Brot (bread) -> Brötchen (bread roll)...)

So far so good.

Kater = tomcat. Oh, and hangover. Is that because tomcats behave in a hangover way? Or do people with hangovers behave like tomcats?

Katzenjammer - another word for a hangover. Jammer means misery or wailing. My questions above apply again!

A Katzenbuckel is a hunched back. Literally meaning "cat hump". Why involve the cats in that? All I can think of is when a cat is on your back, you hunch to prevent it from falling off (and to prevent it from digging those claws in!). Alternatively it could come from the arching of a cat's back when they are being scary!

"Das ist für die Katze" = "that is a waste of time". Poor cat.

Interesting that cats form and influence the language so.



Wednesday, 29 May 2013

So what's new?

So much has happened since April, since I last posted half a post!

Predominantly it has been the experimenting of Ililc3 ideas and spreading the word. As a result of one of the sessions I went to, a number of EP teachers are now on Twitter and the students have jumped on board. I have been asked to be part of the redesigning of the school website, and I have run a twilight on using Twitter in and outside the classroom.

I have upped the game with Jenga by ordering Connect 4 - all of differing sizes. I plan to use it in a similar way to Jenga, and I will, as ever, trial it with Year 10s, as they build up to their written CA. I have numbered the counters, and the students will be asked to carry out spoken tasks as they play and a writing task at the end of the game/time.

(I would insert a photo, but it won't upload. This is why I have been frustrated with this blog site since the demise of Posterous! Damn you, Posterous...)

I have also enjoyed the challenge of coming up with new and inspiring ideas for revising with Year 11s. My favourite was the Question Treasure Hunt.
  1. Hand out (differentiated) past paper exam texts (without the questions)
  2. Students have to write a number of exam-style questions for the text
  3. Students swap texts and answer each other's questions
  4. The actual questions for the texts are scattered around the room, hidden. Students have to search for the questions that they think match their text. Then answer them.
They responded well to it and I managed to coax the laziest boy out of his seat to get his questions (there wasn't much searching involved, his sheet was the only one left on the wall!).

Followers of Elvisrunner will appreciate the ultra-marathon experience I have had with the group since I took over. I see it as success that, by the end of the course, only *one* student was still saying "I didn't choose German". Given a year ago it was the majority, I think I have done alright! To make matters even better, during their last hour in classes on Friday, a good number of them asked me to sign their shirts. Non-school folk may see this as an irrelevant measure. But for teachers it is a silent "you're alright, Miss".

As they left my room to go to the leavers' assembly, lots of them said thank you. That also goes miles and miles. It is amazing how much better the relationship gets when you aren't hammering them for Controlled Assessments. We had to do all four in 3 terms. In retrospect, I say never again!!!!

So the exams are done, both French and German. The higher listening papers seem to have been the challenge in both, but all we can do now is wait.

I needed half term to come. As well as CAs for Year 10 and exam paperwork *yawn*, we have been interviewing for a full-time member of the department. Interviews are just as exhausting the other side of the table!!!! The great news is that we have appointed, and I am looking forward to welcoming Geraldine from Mayo to the team in September. (If anyone knows her, get her on Twitter!!!).

With the final half term looming, all students will be sitting an end-of-year exam in the middle of June. So we are spending the first two weeks of June revising, then after the exams we are delivering German to the French learners and French to my Year 9 German group. With greater flexibility in the MFL department from September, I hope that students will be able to choose between French and German at the end of year 8, and/or have French AND German lessons throughout KS3. Lots of ideas but, as ever, it will rely on the timetable.

Big plans, big progress, let's do this thing!

Onto the choon of the day, that I know you have all missed in your lives deeply.... My fave song of the moment...