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.

 

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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…

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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?

Joining a department 

My blog has taken a back seat a lot recently as life, work and everything in between has gotten in the way. Maternity leave, juggling school, authoring and marking/planning has meant that I haven’t felt particularly innovative recently, but, having just started at a new school as HoD, I thought I’d give some insight into my thought processes at the moment.

Starting somewhere new is always a challenge, but starting in January is tough! The kids have settled into their academic year and probably feel a bit wrong footed by their original teacher leaving, so the first tasks have to be getting to know the kids and where each of them are at. 

My current priority is Year 11 (and Year 13) as their exams are imminent. Getting to grips with their data, understanding where each of them is at in their controlled assessment journey and what sort of grades they are getting on mock papers is essential. It’s worth having a conversation with each student in your class to discuss where you think each one has been and where you feel they need to go: not only does this show them that you care about them, but that you understand what they are doing and you are available to support them through the last part of their exam journey. It also helps them if they can see that you know what you are talking about too. Build up trust and build up relationships.

Relationships with the other teachers is also important. Get to know your new department, both professionally and to some extent personally (cake always goes down well), and speak to people beyond the MFL corridor too. Could you go find a member of staff, rather than send an email about a quick question? It’ll be worth it in the long run. Get to know support staff too, whether that’s the technicians or TAs, they are all invaluable.

Prioritise what you need to do-I’m HoD so a lot of my role at the minute is looking at current exam data and understanding where the whole cohort is at. I moderating CAs, I’m dropping in on colleagues, I’m providing behaviour support and, of course, I’m planning and delivering lessons and schemes for learning. I have a list that I am slowly making my way through!

It is also important to make time for you. I’m a big believer in a work life balance, and with a young family it’s even more important to me to keep this, but for now, needs must, and there are some things that I’d just rather do in the peace and quiet of my own home, but I’m still getting out to the gym and no computer comes out until little man is in bed!

My last piece of advice is to enjoy what you’re doing. You’ve changed jobs for a reason and probably for more challenge, so embrace it, enjoy it and when in doubt ask someone!