No nonsense, no trouble

12th May 2006 at 01:00
No Nonsense Notebooks. pound;50 single user, pound;90 site licence. For a free sample send an email marked "French CD sample" to

No Nonsense Notebooks is a new resource for the SMART Board interactive whiteboard designed for secondary teachers of French. The CD-Rom contains a collection of differentiated SMART Notebook files, video tutorials and supporting written instructions on how to use the materials.

The digital exercises have been created by experienced teacher Peter Dawes, an independent consultant in languages and ICT, who runs a course for Dragonfly Training called "Teaching MFL with any brand of interactive whiteboard". It is clear Peter doesn't take himself too seriously, subtitling his work, "An e-smoothie for discerning French teachers with a SMART board," naming one of his folders "woffle" and even describing his own CD as "shambolic"!

The 300 slides of ready-to-use content are organised by topic and grammar category for easy referencing. Exercise types include blockbusters, drag and drop, graded texts, grammar transformers, interactive vocabulary tests, multiple-choice, noughts and crosses, pelmanism, sequencing, speedverb and Venn diagrams.

The 14 video tutorials are particularly helpful in describing how each exercise type can be used and adapted in class. The audio track is informal and engages the listener with teacher-to-teacher tips. We are also reminded that Windows Media Player or QuickTime is required to view the clips.

In the author's "Omission" statement he says: "Empowering students, AfL, NC levels, attainment targets, SoWs, higher-order thinking skills, pedagogic approaches, the Framework, emotional intelligence, GT strands and thinking outside the box are just a few of the many terms you won't see anywhere on this CD. I'll leave that sort of thing to the experts - someone who knows more and more about less and less."

These resources are indisputably jargon-free and cater for the needs of everyday teachers. The 20 topics presented are those typically found in the first three years of most French courses. The exercises have all been tried and tested on real pupils and Peter has even provided templates for teachers wanting to adapt the materials and make them more versatile. What more could you ask for?

Joe Dale

* Joe Dale teaches French at Nodehill Middle School, Newport, Isle of Wight

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