Saturday, 29 November 2014

Our Students Meet the Animals on the Underground

Yesterday Animals on the Underground, the hidden world of animals within the iconic London underground map, were introduced to the current 4th Year ESO students at Cardenal Spínola School. 

Two days before the students had been given a closed envelope with a gift and a secret message within. They had been told not to open the envelopes until they were at home and not to speak to each other about the message. The present was a London tube map and the message asked them to bring the map to the next English class with an animal inside.

On Friday the students brought the maps with lovely drawings and pictures of several animals. First they showed each other their animals. Next I told them the story of Paul Middlewick, a man who found an elephant within the London underground map while he was waiting for the train on the platform and staring at a large tube map. I said the elephant was the first in a long list of animals  within the map, the Animals on the Underground.

Finally I displayed the Animals's website on the classroom's screen and let the students check out all the animals. I am pretty sure our friends Nick and Paul will love to know the students were more than excited and started a joyful applause as they were watching the animals without blinking their eyes. When I told the pupils it was great they had enjoyed the Animals so, they said "Thanks teacher for this wonderful activity. We have never heard such a beautiful story as Paul's"

If you want to see more pics with the animals that the students brought within their tube maps, browse our Flickr site.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Remembrance Day at the school

The 11th of November is a very important date across United Kingdom; it is a day to remember and honour all the soldiers who died in World War 1. Ceremonies and silences at 11am are held everywhere: people are asked to stop what they are doing to remember. The day is called Remembrance Day.

Poppy Day is a nickname for Remembrance Day since poppies are used to represent the soldiers dead in the war. The moat in the Tower of London becomes a beautiful and powerful display of poppies: each one echoes a soldier lost and the scale is scary.

This year marks the centenary of the beginning of World War 1 and hundreds of events are being held around UK and overseas. In the 4th ESO English class earlier today we also did a special activity. First the students made their own lovely craft poppies; then they put the poppies on the wall of the corridor; finally, we remembered the fallen with a 2 minute silence.

The pictures above and below show the lovely displays on the corridor. Browse our Flickr page for more photos on the activity.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Mind Mapping Emily Fry

The first unit at English 1st year ESO let the students find out about a few teenagers around the world. First they read two texts on Piret, a girl from Estonia, and Emiliano, a boy from Argentina. Then they discovered about Susan, who is from Liverpool, and Kevin, who is from Manchester -both cities are in the north of England-. Finally the students read an e-mail from Emily Fry, a 14 years old girl from Brighton: it's a city in the south of England.

After reading and working with Emily's e-mail the students worked in teams and made mind maps on her. They used different resources to show all kinds of ideas on Emily Fry.

First the pupils placed the topic -Emily Fry- in the centre of the map. Then, they made branches off the topic: each brach showed some ideas and it had its own colour and lots of picturesWhen the students finished their mind maps they prepared and gave their presentations. The students spoke about Emily Fry and also about the design of their mind maps.

Browse our Flicker page and see many pics on this activity. You will like them!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Natural History Museum, online

Our first online journey this school year let the students discover about a very beautiful place of interest in London, the Natural History Museum. A few exercises were designed so that they could browse the Museum's website in order to find out key information about how to get there and opening times; about its history and architecture; and about its exhibits

Choosing the right answers; true or false statements; answering questions and matching items in two columns were the tasks that the pupils had to perform. The activity allowed them to improve their reading and writing skills, to learn a lot of new words and phrases, and to develop their ability to browse English webpages. 

Finally, the students described the picture above, which depicts Undergrounding London's mascot, Uly, in front of the Museum's building, also known as the Waterhouse building after Alfred Waterhouse, the young architect from Liverpool who designed it.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Mind Mapping London 2

The 1st workshop within the project Workshop Undergrounding London is Introducing London. The students at 4th year ESO find out lots of interesting facts about the capital city of the UK while doing a wide range of activities, from a starting quiz on the city to planning a young couple's honeymoon trip in London.

For the second year in a row the students have also worked in teams in order to make mind maps on London. They have used several resources to visually outline all kinds of ideas on the city. 

First the pupils placed its topic in the centre of the map -the name of the city, a picture which identifies it, or both-. Then, they drew branches off the topic, each one displaying a main idea, in a different colour and with its own visual representation. Finally, every main branch expanded in sub-branches, adding more ideas and concepts to the mind map.

Once the mind maps were finished the students presented them in class: they did not only speak about London but also told their classmates how their maps had been created and what resources they had chosen to make them.

Browse our Flicker page for a few pics of the mind maps in progress and complete. I'm sure you will like them!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Our friend Pilar Torres

Workshop Undergrounding London is so lucky to have wonderful friends across Spain and in England alike. Current and old students; teachers and teacher trainers; curators and other museum staff; or traditional and graphic artists, they are all lovely people whom we have met and shared with nice journeys towards new and better ELT approaches. And we just love posting on these friends. The post today is meant to be a name day greeting to Pilar Torres, one of our best friends.

We met Pilar in April 2012 when our workshop was invited to hold a session at CETA English Teaching Conference at the University of Córdoba. She was then working at Córdoba's CEP Luisa Revuelta, successfully leading all kinds of activities aimed at improving the level of language classes and teaching. Pilar has kept in touch ever since: her views and encouragement always fostering our vision and projects.

After 8 years at Córdoba's CEP Pilar is now back in the classroom: an English teacher at Ángel de Saavedra High School in Córdoba. We are sure she is doing a wonderful job, helping her students develop all learning skills into their best. Just like the motto on her blog reads, sometimes teaching, always learning, Pilar is an evolving teacher whose style we should definitely all follow.

Pilar, we hope you have a wonderful day with your family and close friends. Happy Name Day from Workshop Undergrounding London!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

New school year, new journeys

Hello everybody and welcome to a new school year at Workshop Undergrounding London! We hope you had a nice summer holiday and now are ready for several amazing learning and teaching adventures.

Workshop Undergrounding London and its two mascots, Uly and Bus, will be important resources on the ESO English lessons at Cardenal Spínola School. The oldest students will get on board for a virtual trip to London, which will help them improve their English language skills in a fun and creative way. Uly, their London host, will take them to many places of interest in his city. He will also send the students lots of tweets displaying interesting facts on London and scores of new words and phrases.

The students at 1st Year ESO will also have a London friend in the English lessons: the lovely red double-decker Bus. He will be our assistant and will make every class fun enough to appeal the students and will help them feel good when speaking English. Bus also has his own twitter account and will  tweet messages to let the pupils make their English better.

Finally, a brand new project, called My Little Map of London, will let the littlest children start learning English with a resource like no other. Featuring a beautiful map and four wonderful double-decker buses, the project will allow the youngest ones to live plenty of unforgettable stories and to go on their first journeys towards the magic of learning a language.

Here we go!

PS: For updated info on everything above, follow @uly_ulondon, @bus_ulondon and @mylittlemap on Twitter.

Monday, 26 May 2014

In May Volleyball Goes Orange

Volleyball is the most popular sport at Cardenal Spínola School. Our club is called Spínola Sanlúcar. The pupils start playing it when they are 6 years old and keep on playing until their last year at the school when they are 16. There is also a senior team with old students from the school. Our History teacher, Alfonso Sánchez-Palencia, is the head coach: he has been training and planning everything regarding volleyball at the school for over 20 years and we are all proud to have several teams among the top ones in our area. For more info on the club visit its website at

Every year Alfonso organizes one of the major volleyball competitions in Andalusia: it is called Volleyball Marathon and is held in late May. Both male and females teams, from all ages, come to our hometown and meet at the sport centre for an amazing event. The competition usually starts on Friday after school and closes on Sunday afternoon when everyone tries a huge and delicious paella after the final matches. Most of the participants come together with friends and families and so the weekend becomes an enjoyable celebration of people and sport.

This year the Marathon was held last weekend and it was really successful. It was the 14th meeting in a row and hundreds of players and attendants were able to enjoy plenty of wonderful moments. From Workshop Undergrounding London we want to congratulate Alfonso and all who helped him with such a great sport party. Chapeau!

PS: Our teams' kit is orange! 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Happy 450th Birthday, William Shakespeare!

This year marks the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare, perhaps the best writer ever. The author of  lots of literature landmarks like Hamlet, King Lear, Othello or Macbeth was born in late April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, a small and beautiful town in central England. In the next months hundreds of events will be happening mainly in Stratford and London but also across the UK and all over the world to commemorate his birthday.

William Shakespeare is really important within Workshop Undergrounding London. The 5th workshop in the project focuses on him with plenty of activities: from reading texts and poems to browsing through The Globe Theatre's website. Our pupils are given the chance to find out about his life and work while they improve their English. And their feedback is good: they really enjoy the workshop and admit they are glad to learn about such an icon of worldwide culture. Our artwork designer, Carmen Teresa Hidalgo, created a few wonderful drawings to illustrate the different activities. One of them is the picture above: don't you think it is pretty nice?

Let me finish this post with a couple of the most beautiful lines ever written in a poem. They definitely portray what happens to Shakespeare, who will live forever through his works, which are read and versioned again and again by all kinds of artists. Happy birthday, William!

"So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
so long lives this, and this gives life to thee"

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Workshop Undergrounding London at CEP Luisa Revuelta in Córdoba

On the 13th, 20th and 27th of March a really interesting course on Project Based Learning was held at CEP Luisa Revuelta in the beautiful city of Córdoba and Workshop Undergrounding London was present on the second and third days of the course. Over 25 wonderful and friendly teachers attended our sessions: they were really looking forward to learning about how to work with projects in the English class and tried their best to make the most of the course. Congratulations to them all!

On Thursday the 20th I scheduled a funny workshop and the teachers found out about the way Undergrounding London is designed and works. They were divided into several teams and each one was given a task from the project. First the teachers prepared their task and then they acted them out so that every group could check and know each other's activity. They all performed amazing shows which made everyone laugh and enjoy a lot. Before the session finished I gave the teachers a closed envelope with a London tube map and a secret message: they had to bring the maps back on the following session with several animals inside!

On Thursday the 27th we all met again and mainly focused on how to assess the students when working with projects. As I spoke about evaluation I presented the sample workshop from our project which they will be able to use with their students. Some of the teachers also told us their own ideas on projects and activities inspired by Undergrounding London -once created they will be all available at And finally... they showed all the animals that they had brought within the London tube maps: it was time then to introduce Animals on the Underground, which was a great ending to this unforgettable course: thanks to everyone who took part!

PS: If you want to see more beautiful pics from the course please visit our Flickr page

Friday, 7 March 2014

A herd of elephants meets... Elephant & Castle

Every school year the 4th Year ESO students at Cardenal Spínola School find out about the hidden world of animals within the iconic London underground map.

Last week each of the students was given a closed envelope with a gift inside. They were told not to open the envelope until they were at home. Besides the present they would find a secret message. The pupils should not speak to each other about the instructions in the message but only follow them. The gift was a London tube map and the message asked them to bring the map back to school with an elephant inside.

This week the students have brought the maps with beautiful pictures and drawings of elephants inside. First we enjoyed all of them and then I displayed the webpage of Animals on the Underground and the first animal that Paul Middlewick discovered in the map, a lovely elephant called Elephant & Castle, alongside other of his nice friends. The students also read about Paul and when and how his wonderful story started while waiting for the tube on the platform and staring at a London tube map.

We just love the Animals and are really happy of having Paul and his colleague Nick as friends of our English project.

Monday, 17 February 2014


Twitter is an appealing resource that we use in the English class to let the students enjoy while they improve their English. Uly, Undergrounding London's mascot has his own Twitter account and he usually sends about five messages every week. He always tweets about London people, organizations, places or events and about the activities that we are doing in class. He always uses new words and phrases so that his followers can learn a lot with his tweets.

The students follow him on Twitter and they each have a notebook where they copy Uly's messages. After writing them down the students must focus on the meaning of the tweets, review the vocabulary that they already know and check what is new for them. Then, on Fridays, we work with those tweets in class: we read them aloud, make sure they are all understood, focus on new words and phrases, review grammar, and find out lots of interesting facts on London. The students sometimes bring their mobile phones to class and they also tweet messages back to Uly, when he asks them questions.

Last week we worked with the conditional sentences on the lessons from Monday to Thursday. Then, on Friday, we used Twitter to put everything that we had learnt on the days before into practise. The students were really appealed and had fun while texting their tweets and reading each other's. Besides, just like every Friday, they made their English a bit better. And Uly, of course, wished us all #HappyValentinesDay and tweeted the picture above displaying the beautiful statue of Eros at London's Piccadilly Circus.

For more info on these activities follow @uly_ulondon on Twitter. 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Imagine all the people ...

Last Thursday, January 30th, we celebrated the School Day of Peace in the English class. And we did it with a resource like no other, the song Imagine by John Lennon. Written in the early 1970's, at a critical time during the Cold War, the lyrics of the song portray the dreams of a whole generation of young people looking forward to living in peace.

First, the students were handed out the lyrics with a few blanks to fill in while listening to the song. Next we focused on the meanings of the different parts and the right pronunciation of words, phrases and messages. We also used the lyrics to introduce new grammar items such as the modal auxiliary may and review others like the future with will

The pupils really enjoyed the activity and loved the song: the just couldn't stop singing and humming to it. We will definitely use it again next year and will try to design new tasks to make the most of it.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Mind Mapping London

The topic of the 2nd workshop within the project Workshop Undergrounding London is London. The students at 4th year ESO find out all kind of information about the capital city of the UK while doing a wide range of activities, from a starting quiz to planning a young couple's wedding trip.

Right now the students are working in teams in order to make mind maps on London. They are using several resources to visually outline all the ideas on the city that they now know. From the word London, placed in the centre of the diagram, they are adding main ideas and concepts, and then from the latter sub-branches radiate.

Once the mind maps are finished the students will present them in class: they will not only speak about London but will also show how their maps were created and what resources they chose to make them.

Visit our Flicker page on the following days for pics of the mind maps in progress and complete. I'm sure you will like them!