It’s been a while

Timehop today reminded me that I started to write this blog 12 years ago yet unfortunately I haven’t blogged for a long time. There are multiple reasons for this:

  • lack of time – my authoring work in the last year or two has just been crazy. And then when it finally calms down A Level marking starts or family life needs me.
  • lack of ideas – I feel that have not been very creative in the last couple of years. I think that the role I was in previously stifled me and as so much needed to be ‘sorted out’ it left very little time for creativity. Things were quite prescriptive in that role, so I didn’t/couldn’t spread my wings very much at all, but I’ve moved on now and I’m slowly getting my mojo back
  • Blogging isn’t at the forefront of my mind any more. I’m not sure if it’s a time thing as I am a full time working mum, or whether the people who started blogging around the same time as me feel the same, but the blogosphere is just saturated these days. And if I’ve got nothing interesting to write, why would I want to add to the chatter?

I’m grateful for the opportunities that this blog and my website have afforded me. My authoring work makes me very proud and I have also been able to get involved with delivering national CPD, inevitably because of people googling me and the things I have done such as flipped learning.

My new role takes me to a new school, with a different ethos. I love the fact that we offer not only Spanish and French, but also German, Latin and Classics and I’m Head of our Faculty. As with any new job, there’s lots to do and lots to learn plus colleagues and kids to get to know, but I am excited again and enjoying this challenge. I have already been involved in teaching and learning whole school activities (discussing the book Teaching Backwards) and I have been working on developing the use of technology within the faculty. In addition, recently I have begun to use qwiqr to help me with my marking which has been game changing as it’s so much faster to give valuable feedback. I hope to be back blogging more as my creative juices flow again, but if I’m quiet, know that I’m still here, working hard, as always.

Knowledge Organisers

Today I posted a question in the MFL Secondary Matters facebook group, as I wanted to get some opinions from other teachers, and wondered if anyone used Knowledge Organisers.

I have seen examples of Knowledge Organisers (KOs) from Michaela, examples that are a sort of vocabulary list – with questions and verb conjugations included-presented on quizlet/memrise  and an example that is like the second one but presented as a single sheet.

The general consensus seemed to be that they are a sort of language mat, something which linguists have done regularly for years. The version used by Michaela is very specific, in that it doesn’t provide the sorts of lists I would expect to see in my languages classroom, they use chunks of phrases, which they then work with repeatedly in lessons. I applaud their approach and recognise that it works for the style of teaching that they use in their MFL classrooms, but I have my own pedagogical approach and I have spent a lot of today think about how best I would expect to use them in my department.

I would not want to give the KOs out until we are a few weeks into the topic being taught, or else we would end up giving the students the language before going through the process of teaching them the new words, and I believe that helping students to understand new words through introducing new language using a variety of techniques is an essential part of an MFL teacher’s arsenal, therefore I would prefer the KOs to be given out towards the end of the topic. Weaker students may receive them sooner, and digital versions will also be available online on quizlet.

If you want to read my thoughts that I will be discussing with my department then please have a read of this document, and here are the KOs I have spent some time making this evening.

Ma Ville – Year 8

Intro to Spanish Year 7

Intro to French Year 7

They are all in Google Drive. If you wish to make a copy, please feel free.

 

Hyperdocs

I know I’ve not been blogging as much lately but life has been busy, as always. Plus I really only like to blog when I actually have something to say! I’ve not been enthused by that much recently either, what with lots of text book writing, exam marking and new spec planning, but this has got my juices going! Hyperdocs! 

My school has recently turned to Google and we now use Classroom across the school along with all the other tools which G Suite offers. Now I used Google in my last school but just 18 months on and the tools have improved massively. Hyperdocs are typically constructed in Google Docs (although I’ve seen examples in Google Slides) with a full lesson plan, which is student focused and student friendly, allowing them to move at their own speed through a lesson, documenting their learning at different stages by filling in a Google Form or completing a page of their own Google Doc or Slide.  There’s some great examples of lesson plans here, and I really recommend looking at this site and this book.

I have tried to make my first hyperdoc ready for my Year 10s after half term. As my Year 10s don’t all bring their devices into school I’ve booked a computer room for two lessons to really get this way of working off the ground. Here’s a snapshot and I’ll let you know how it goes!

Shelterbox Challenge

Thanks to Chris Fuller, I am running a SoW this term with year 8 based around his Shelterbox Challenge series of lessons.

Due to a change in staffing for a short period of time we decided to make the teaching and learning more project based, so have designed a series of lessons around what students would want , need and feel in the aftermath of a natural disaster. The lessons build in the opportunity to look at the conditional  tense, daily routine, ideal houses and opinions and feelings. Pupils will then have to create their multi media presentations ready for the competition.

Tomorrow we have a volunteer from Shelterbox coming in to talk to the year 8 pupils so we can try to make the whole project feel worthwhile and purposeful. 

Pupils have begun to develop their language skills making use of language mats to support them.

Lead Practitioner

Today I’ve been at a Lead Practitioner meeting, with a focus on effective teaching, ensuring progress and coaching. I really enjoyed creating a sketchnote for the first time. I only had a handful of biros, but I will certainly remember key elements now. I never though this way of note taking would suit me, but as I’ve become more aware of my own learning styles I’ve learnt a few things: I prefer to listen than make copious notes, I like to do something with my hands whilst I’m listening (crocheting whilst marking A Level speaking exams for example) and also using different colours.

Here’s my attempt.

May and the inevitable sigh of relief…

Spanish_tests_and_quizzes_logo_assessment-335x228

On Friday many teachers up and down the country breathed an audible sigh of relief as they posted off their controlled assessments and waved goodbye to the last few years’  work as they wing their way to their examiner.

For the last few weeks I have felt like Year 11 take me on a roller coaster ride every lesson. I read amazing ideas online about what I could try with Year 11 to keep them engaged in the revision process and really get them to understand what they still need to do, and its definitely been harder for me this term as I only took over as HoD at this school in January so I have been getting to know these new students since then. I’ve had the challenge of completing the syllabus (and hoping that we’ve managed to cover everything), ensuring that the final CA was completed and moping up any that remained from previous runs, as well as encouraging those with poor grades to give up their time to commit to working on an extra task with me. Challenging at the best of times and I have felt quite worried at moments when I look at the data in front of me, and how they achieved overall in CAs and then with the Listening and Reading exams added in. Then today, I decided to simply give them a full reading past paper. They haven’t done one since March as they had also done them in February and January and I felt that it was getting too much for them, and they hadn’t yet gone through the full array of topics. Well.By George. I think they’ve got it. I was pleasantly surprised (and I think so were they) that the majority of them were achieving a C grade or higher. Even those who are going to be entered for Foundation. It gave them (and me!) a much needed boost! I use a tracking spreadsheet so that simply by entering their marks it calculates the UMS for the exam and then pulls all the UMS into an overall front page so I can see what grade each child is on for each exam. It is very useful and I highly recommend using something similar. I have a tab for each of the different skills and tiers, and I also log exactly what they get on each question so that if there is a pattern of difficulty emerging, I can see exactly where they are having problems.

With just over a week to go until the exam I will be doing two more listenings and one more reading paper, and hopefully the students will begin to see that a) they CAN do this b) they need to revise certain topic areas and c) spending 8 minutes on a half an hour exam is NOT sufficient.

Good luck to all of you working so hard at the moment to help our students get the best grades they can and fingers crossed for the summer!

 

Literary texts in MFL

The new GCSE that’s due to be examined for the first time in Summer 2018 is making teachers consider more authentic resources and lots of us are beginning to source new materials to support this side and of teaching and learning (especially if you have a 3 year KS4 like me!).

So far I have found or been told about the following resources (textbooks aside):

Lightbulb Languages 

Edexcel – French, German & Spanish 

Edexcel have also produced this guidance document which is worth a read.

Frenchteacher.net‘s Steve Smith has said he will be producing some new materials.

Español-Extra has new stuff in the pipeline too.

ALL Literature Project 

What else have you come across?