fruit-tree concept

– motivation in the EFL classroom

Leave a comment

Evaluation Criteria for Art-CLIL – getting us on the same page


Above, you will find a document intended to aid structuring evaluation. You will see that there is no evaluation of language. In higher classes,however, when presentations etc. may become part of the evaluation, the language becomes important if the content cannot be communicated adequately. However, if the message is clear and it is only a question of grammar and misspelling, there should not be any noticeable deduction, although misspelling could be seen as a lack of care in the preparation.

Leave a comment

Back in the Art-CLIL Classroom

Doesn’t time fly? In the last couple of years (!) I have been taking ownership of my new post at a school and am actually able to put my money where my mouth is. I have taken over 5 classes from year 4 to year 9 in Art-CLIL, as well as English classes.

Meanwhile, I have been collecting a lot of experience, developing material and adjusting it accordingly but haven’t had any time to document it here.

Working in a small school, where there is little to no teamwork within the art department because I am the Art department and have a colleague in the primary school who teaches Art in years 1-3, I am collaborating with colleagues from sister-schools with an aim to standardize – at least within our schools – for example, our evaluation criteria. As there is very little material on the market, we shall also be developing and sharing our resources.

It isn’t always necessary to reinvent the wheel. There is age-appropriate material available but it does have to be translated or adapted accordingly  (scaffolding) which takes time and effort. This is what I have been up to in the last couple of years! We also have to take the language aspect into consideration. Art-CLIL is not just Art in English, neither is it EFL with painting. It is a regular Art class but more thought is put into working with and incorporating {English] text/language than perhaps in an L1 Art class, but without this becoming an elephant in the room. I am misusing this metaphor a little: not only should the language not become an embarrassing element which should be there but is ignored by everyone, neither should it steal so much space and attention that it stifles the main aim of nurturing creativity within the classroom situation.

The Art classroom becomes a space of opportunity for the students to experience the language in action. However, most importantly, the enjoyment and enthusiasm of being creative and solving problems (because that is actually why Art is so important in the curriculum) should always be in the forefront.

I have very interesting, if disparate, learning groups: year 4 is used to 60% of all lessons being held in English and they have absolutely no problem interacting with me or content in English. We can take a story, for example, which they listen to and then use as a basis for their own picture, either as an illustration or just inspiration. Year 5s, start at grammar level. Some may come from our primary school and are quite fluent but others come from other schools and are still quite reticent. Year 6 is similar but it starts to become apparent who is more confident and developing their skills and who is developing avoidance strategies. Year 7 is a Realschulklasse and they may try and avoid speaking English – especially those who are new in year 7 and were not used to a higher level of English usage outside of the EFL-classroom. Year 9 is also still in the Realschulsystem but the students accept the use of English outside of the EFL-classroom and the newer students seem to embrace the challenge. Of course, by year 9, the students have chosen their roles, either as the diligent worker, willing to take on a challenge or as the avoider, who claims not to be good at anything.


This week, we had the chance to visit an exhibition “Niki de Saint Phalle und das Theater – At Last I found the Treasure”.

img_1285 This was treasure for me: an exhibition nearby and the guided tours of the exhibition were held in English! This exhibition has been a wonderful resource inspiring us to form Nanas from salt dough, reliefs from papier mâché, print monsters and snakes, paint dream friezes, create a theatre in a shoe box.img_1351

As a preparation for the exhibition, I watched a BBC TV documentary about artists from 1966-1993, in which many artists, in original footage, spoke about their works. Niki de Saint Phalle was briefly mentioned, but, at least, it served to put her work into an art historical context. I nearly always show films with the English subtitles as this aids understanding.



Leave a comment

Me and my geccos

Foto (2)

This was one of those “take a deep breath” moments and quite liked the repetition of the red shoes and the zebra cushion with the gerbera/zebra stripes painting on the wall…but that is not what this post is supposed to be about!

I really love the iconic gecco shape and I have various types adorning my house and patio: made of glass pearls, an old fanta can, on the wall, around the lamp…all over the place. So it should be no surprise that I took this as a motiv for my mini project.
Since going to South Africa and seeing the stuff they make out of old aluminium cans – I think I posted a pic a few months ago but if not I’ll do that – I have been wondering what I could do. Another idea which has been floating around my head is origami: I have the feeling that there is some kind of origami renaissance – I used to do loads of that when I went to primary school but nothing since or maybe I am just picking up on the ideas because I am interested again. Anyway, I have my recycling idea, the soft printed metal of soft-drink cans, my gecco motiv and the origami idea. Now what came out isn’t exactly origami but the 2D material has been transformed  into a 3D figure. I would really like to work on this theme with sheet metal but unfortunately I have neither the tools nor possibly the know-how…yet.

transcultural gecco love

transcultural gecco

my gecco

my gecco


I really liked the idea of the coke can which incidentally came from France. You have to pay a deposit on a lot of the cans here in Germany so I collect them whereever I can which makes them all the more interesting for me. Part of this recycling business is about incorporating a story into the object. Now, whenever I see this gecco, I will be reminded that I was in France in the Olympic year 2012 and am reminded of all those memories.

Leave a comment

going back to the basics

This week I went to the didacta, the education fair, in Cologne. One of the things that really struck us when chatting on the bus home, was that there was so much nice stuff for the primary schools, be it the interior architecture or the available learning materials. My colleague enthused about how fantastic her son’s school was and, as much as we value our school, we wondered how come it is deemed necessary for 8 or 9 year olds to need “nice stuff” but less so when they are 10 or 11. Anybody who had seen how happy the 14 year old boys were to get a marble for a good vocab test would surely not think that they were out of the age for playing! Joking aside, however, my colleague also talked about the kids not learning anything in English: there was no grammar or formal writing excercises, she said – I must add that this was a Maths teacher. Teaching English in primary schools is still a bit of a problem here in Germany. It has been part of the curriculum since the late 1990s but there often weren’t the qualified teachers for the task and often teachers were just “put on the job” perhaps with a little “extra training”. This will mean that you will have good teachers who are enthusiastic and others who may not feel so sure about the language themselves and I believe that these people are really setting foundations for the future.

It isn’t as if the kids have no experience of the English language – they are probably not aware that they have seen or heard so much. I challenge anyone in Germany to find someone under 20 who cannot say “I love to entertain you”, the motto of Pro7, a popular TV channel. So the English lessons don’t start at school but what should start is the focusing and making the kids aware of what is around them.

My next thought was that it is then no wonder that a lot of kids experience the total culture shock when they leave their organically formed primary school envirnonment for year 5 in the “big school” – and it usually is in comparison.

Storytelling is, in actual fact, one of the methods championed in the primary didactics, as is painting and singing – all very expressive. So why are we supposed to stop after year 4? There does seem to be a slight change in mindsets, if we consider the thoughts voiced by the New London Group about the development of multiliteracies but a lot of the literature pertains to primary education.

Being creative means being productive and if we can pack language into that haptic package then it can’t be wrong, can it? Especially if the language can be connected to a successful project (be it a pretty picture or a more sophisticated film).2013-02-22 13.31.58

1 Comment

recycling ideas about recycling…

As much as I love new, shiny things, I draw an incredible amount of satisfaction out of ‘making new out of old’; I can’t stand too much clutter but don’t like waste and I am not keen on throwing stuff out. Sometimes I (fleetingly) have a guilty conscience about producing more material stuff than the world needs – but isn’t that what Art is about to a certain extent? However, some of my best paintings have been produced by recycling old paintings and I really quite like the idea that only I know the real story (literally) behind that particular picture unless I choose to share it.

I think it is particularly important to think about these things these days and try and consider how we can reduce the amount of waste we produce or how we can use the materials we have around us to be creative or even produce something useful. For this reason, it is one aspect I try to incorporate into my Art-CLIL ideas.

Just recently I created the MacBook leather sleeve below with a friend who had the sewing expertise and a good machine, from leftover leather pieces which can be bought fairly cheaply or you can sometimes get pieces for nothing from furniture shops. This got me thinking further and now I am the proud owner of about half a cubic metre of high quality furniture covering samples and feel a little overwhelmed!Image But no matter, it means that I am well-equipped if any students want to try something similar. I reckon my next step will be a sewing machine.

Many kids would never have the opportunity to even try sewing on a sewing machine if they don’t try it at school.

I have some more ‘new from old’ ideas but I’ll report about those another day!