Rwy’n Ddigon Da – I’m Good Enough

Welsh is not one of my strengths. As a teacher in Wales, this is a problem.

Languages always were my kryptonite in school, whether it was French, German or indeed Welsh. Through my adult life this didn’t cause me any problems until, of course, I came into teaching.

The expectation in Welsh education is that I teach Welsh lessons, but also to use Welsh incidentally in the classroom. I have no issue with this, I support a bilingual education system for many reasons. My issue is with myself, and my own ability to competently play my part in the system. Upon beginning the Primary teaching course I knew that Welsh would be an area I would really have to focus on to be able to say I’m at an ‘acceptable’ level.

Not ‘good’, but good enough.

In my first school placement in 2017, I found myself teaching a Reception class, 4-5 yr olds. In terms of Welsh, this was perfect for me since they were only expected to know very simple vocabulary, such as ‘bore da‘ (good morning), ‘prynhawn da‘ (good afternoon) and simple sentence structures such as the weather – ‘mae hi’n bwrw glaw‘ (it is raining, which is often was). I could get away with lots of ‘da iawn‘ (very good) and ‘dim siarad‘ (no talking) peppered throughout my teaching, yet I still came away knowing I would have to up my game for my next placement. I’d managed to tick enough boxes to get through first placement, but I knew there would be many more boxes to tick in the future.

My KS2 placement would require a serious raising of the bar.

I wouldn’t say I was  overly confident of my Welsh speaking ability going into my KS2 placement this year, but being placed in a Year 4 class certainly made me believe I had a shot at ticking this hypothetical ‘Incidental Welsh’ box. An upper KS2 class would have made me feel very inadequate, but Year 4 I felt I could manage, just maybe. I revised my Welsh vocabulary as much as I could, and I was certainly better prepared than I had been been for the previous placement. However, I found a little trick along the way which I was to rely on for much of my placement – post it notes.

Every phrase that I planned to use went on a post it note, either in my pocket or strategically placed somewhere around the classroom. For instance, if at the start of the lesson learners would be discussing something in their groups, I’d write ‘traffodwch gyda grwp‘ on a post it and stick that near the register. When their discussion time was over, I would ask them in Welsh to look at the board by saying ‘llygaid ar y bwrdd‘ (eyes on the board). That one would be stuck to the side of the board, where I would be positioned before giving the instruction. Then, I might ask learners to stop and listen for a mid-point plenary using ‘stoppiwch a gwrandewch‘. That would go on a post-it in my pocket, because I don’t necessarily know where I’m going to be in the classroom at that particular moment.

Using this strategy I managed to get through the first few lessons, and over time something amazing happened. I actually started to remember these phrases without having to look at the post-it notes. Then I stopped writing the post-it notes altogether. Then I started accidentally using the phrases outside of the classroom (I coach football on a Saturday morning, and stopped myself at ‘llygaid’ when I wanted my class of 3 yr olds to look at me!).

I even got confident enough to take on the mother of all challenges. Every year to celebrate St David’s Day, schools in Wales hold their own Eisteddfod. This typically consists of a series of competitions and general celebration of Welsh culture. All classes in my school had to prepare a Welsh song to perform at the Eisteddfod, a task which somehow became mine. Now, I’ll let you in to a little secret here – Mr Hann can’t sing.

Not. At. All.

Worse still, our song was Calon Lân. Yes, the traditional sound of every international rugby game, sung with passion and gusto by many a patriotic, devoted supporter. You can hear the song performed the way it is intended by clicking here.

So the problem is this: Mr Hann can’t sing, Mr Hann has not idea how to teach children to sing, but Mr Hann has to prepare prepare a class of 8/9yr olds to perform something to the entire school. The answer? You don’t sing.

You teach them to rap.

And rap we did! In just two 30 minute Welsh lessons we had learned the first two verses (more or less perfectly) and we’d created our own chorus. It’s not the finished product by any means, but on the last day of my placement I recorded my class performing what we’d learned so far.

You can watch it here:

Calon Lan Performance

I am still utterly blown away by how quickly they remembered the words, and how enthusiastic they were about performing it at every opportunity. They even sung me out on my last day with ‘ooooh ahhh Mr Hann’ instead of our chorus. I will never forget that.

So my point is this: I’m not good at Welsh, or so I believed. But with a bit of focus and effort, it turns out I’m ‘digon da‘ – good enough, to achieve these results. I’m proud of that. If I can do it, so can you.

Beth fyddwch chi’n ei wneud yn dda? What will you do well?

Right, pencils down. That’s the end of our time. Until next time – hwyl fawr!



Book Creator: bringing cardboard castles to life

In my son’s school their homework policy is that every teacher sets two ‘projects’ per term. One homework is to be completed during each half term and brought into school just before the half term/end of term break. He’s had homework tasks as simple as designing a poster, as fascinating as researching the history of television, or (in the most recent case) as creative as building a castle.

Suddenly cardboard boxes and plastic bottles were being hoarded like they were made of gold.

He made his castle one rainy Sunday afternoon in November, but a little spark of inspiration gave me an idea, and this blog illustrates how this homework took on a life of its own.

From a teacher’s perspective, I had always liked the idea of constructing something and documenting the process through pictures or video, and then creating a book. This book, in my mind, would be something the learners could use to show how they had created this ‘thing’ without having to write at great length about it. Imagine how proud they would be to send this book home and show off what they’d made and how they’d made it? All I was lacking was a topic, but I knew that would come in time.

It has always been my tactic to test ideas out on my own children before taking them into the classroom, so this seemed a perfect opportunity – we were going to document the creation of this castle and make it into a book, and the app of choice had to be Book Creator.

I can’t say enough good things about Book Creator! From my experience of using it so far, it’s so easy to use, offers almost-endless opportunities for creativity and brings down many barriers that learners associate with writing (i.e. “it’s boring”, “I don’t know what to write” or even learners who struggle with physical barriers to writing).

My belief is simple: not everything has to be written on paper.

My son, Ben, had played with Book Creator before, but hadn’t properly explored its features. I didn’t feel I needed to show him either, I simply gave him my iPad and left him to be creative. He decided he wanted to include a time-lapse video of his castle being built, he wanted to show some photos of our recent trip to Chepstow Castle and he wanted to make a movie (of something?) with Coldplay as the background music.

They were his three objectives, he had decided these without any input from me, and crucially he knew exactly how he was going to do it. He was fully engaged, couldn’t wait to get started and was producing new ideas at an alarming rate!

Remember, from my perspective the point of this exercise was to test out this method before taking it to the classroom. So will I be doing this with my own learners?


Just think for a second: if I’d told him to write about how he made his castle, do you think for one second he’d have been the least bit interested? Yet here he was, taking an entire day to film the process of building his castle and edit the video clips. Then the following Sunday he couldn’t wait to get his hands on my iPad again to add pictures, voice overs and text, decide on his colour scheme and produce his finished book. He’s shown everybody how he built his cardboard castle, but his level of engagement was incomparable to writing his method on paper.

Last Page

Once the book was made, he wanted to share it with his friends, his teacher and everybody else in the family. Now, it is possible to publish a book to iBooks Store from Book Creator, but to do that you need a Mac and I only have my iPad. So we came up with a solution – I’ll host the file from my Google Drive account and we made a QR code for him to take into school.

Front Cover

I am so proud of the work he’s done to produce this castle and of course the book that goes with it, and I know he was too. But the icing on the cake was when he got called to the Headteacher’s office to receive a special award for his castle, QR code and book.

And guess what?

Now he wants to make another one. And another one. And another one.

It’s going to be a busy couple of months at Hann Publishing!

Feel free to follow this link and download Ben’s book. If you have an Apple device, it should offer you the option to open it in iBooks.

If you haven’t used Book Creator yet, you and your learners are seriously missing out!

Right, pencils down. That’s the end of our time. Until next time – hwyl fawr!


An Apple a day….

I can add the last seven days to the list of ‘good things that happened in 2017’, for this was a week in which I achieved two proud moments in my University life.

Firstly, I became an Apple Teacher.

What is an Apple Teacher? Well, to become a recognised Apple Teacher you must read through guides and complete a quiz to earn eight different badges. Each badge relates to a different app or skill, and you can complete the badges for Mac, iPad or both.

Once you’ve earned all eight badges you’ll become an Apple Teacher, and receive an email with your official Apple Teacher logo, which looks a bit like this:


I found working through the materials to be a great CPD tool, and I would encourage educators of all knowledge and experience to consider doing as I did.

If you’re still not sure, here are a few of my thoughts about the whole process:

The guides are written with a consistent structure flowing through each one, meaning you can pick up a guide on any subject, from Guitar Band to Numbers, and easily find the section you need. Finding information within each guide is not difficult, as each has a contents page with hyperlinks to take you directly to the section you need. This could be a fantastic tool for more-able learners in KS2 to use and teach themselves new skills.

The problem I often have with guides is that reading the theory alone can can make it difficult to picture how you would apply it to a real life scenario. The Apple Teacher guides address this by actually taking you through the process of creating something. For example, the Numbers Guide talks through the creation of the ‘Butterfly Investigation Lab Report’, including a simple table, checklist and pie chart. Seeing this come together makes it much easier for me to understand how I could use this in other projects in future.

The addition of interactive functions within the guides adds real value to what you are reading. For example, within the Garage Band Guide you can listen to sound clips of what you’re supposed to be creating, to check that you’re on the right lines. Many of the pages have windows you can swipe through to see the progression of the stages you are following. All of these functions add a great deal of support on just one single page.

The process of taking the test online is also very simple and easy to access, with a smooth transition between the different sections.


Having completed the Apple Teacher badges, I then looked in to further learning available on the Apple Teacher site.

Which brings me to my second achievement. I sat down yesterday determined to complete the Apple Teacher Playground Swift badges too. The Swift badges are all related to coding, a subject that is surely daunting to many teachers who have never taught this before.

However, after reading through the guides and drawing on some hazy memories of previously-forgotten A-Level Computing knowledge, I successfully completed the Apply Teacher Playground Swift badges.


Yes, it’s true I had a previous understanding of coding, and a good familiarity of Apple systems. But consider this – I last studied coding 11 years ago, and I’ve never used apps like Garage Band in my life. I was basically a beginner again. If I can do it, why can’t you?

Interested in becoming an Apple Teacher yourself? What are you waiting for? Follow this link, read the resources, take the tests and get qualified!

Right, pencils down. That’s the end of our time. Until next time – hwyl fawr!