“As lovers of all things British AND foreign, especially languages, the team at bsmall publishing are leading a crusade to keep foreign language learning alive in the minds of our kids and parents at home.”
Thus starts the press release from bsmall publishing, announcing their new series of books entitled Hello Languages.’
I’ve blogged about bsmall products in the past including the I can read series and their dual language books for older KS2 pupils, and I also helped them with some advice a couple of years ago, so I was really pleased to be contacted for my comments on this latest publication.
bsmall have approached the creation of these materials with the following in mind:
“Kids like cool facts and fun things to do. That’s why language learning books for kids should … take the essence of the language… [and] be bright, bold, fun and colourful..filled with practical examples of language in everyday life and [encouraging] kids to just have a go without fear of making mistakes.”
The Hello languages series is available in three languages – English, French and Spanish – and is bold, colourful and fun. It’s intended to be used independently by children rather than as a classroom resource, and comprises four books;
I was sent the Hello French! materials to have a peek before they were released.
The Beginner’s Guide is organised under 6 topics and takes one aspect for each double page; for example, in Viens chez moi there are pages on Ma famille, À la maison, La cuisine et le salon, and Ma chambre et la salle de bains. It gives vocabulary and some useful phrases as well as a very short explanation or comment in English at the start of each topic as well as for certain themes such as the weather and time. The vocabulary is supplied as labels on a vibrant illustration, in French, English and with a guide to pronunciation.* There is also a word list at the back of the book for reference.
*I’m not a great fan of this as I think it can lead to confusion – how many of you have seen children laboriously copy out the phonetic version of words from a dictionary, and also over pronounciation – grassy arse? However, given that this is a resource for children to access on their own, without phonics input or a spoken example, perhaps supported by a parent who is also unaware of how to say the words/phrases, I can see the value of including the ‘how to pronounce’ notes.
The Workbook goes alongside the Beginner’s Guide, giving children an opportunity to apply what they learn in a series of Challenges – as the front page says ‘Practice makes perfect!’ On completion, children can check their answers at the back of the book and are invited to assess how they’ve got on by colouring or circling one of three faces – Bien, Pas mal or pas super.
The Colouring Book takes some of the topics and themes from the Beginner’s Guide and offers the opportunity to colour the illustration used in the latter as the child wishes, reinforcing vocabulary which is labelled as in the Beginner’s Guide.
The French-English Picture Dictionary is organised by topic with nine vocabulary items per page, and an alphabetical word list of the 350+ vocabulary items in French-English and English-French at the end.
This is a resource that I could happily recommend to a parent who wants to encourage their child’s language learning at home. It’s suitable for younger learners with some adult support in part (the workbook is labelled 6+ due to the required level of literacy) and could be used in the language being learned at school – for my pupils, this is Spanish – or in a new language – in my case, French.
So, with thanks to Adobe Spark Video, here is Lisibo gets #sketchnotefever – the movie!
Thanks once more to Sylvia Duckworth for the inspiration and impetus to get practising and challenging myself! I’ve started trying out some new things in recent sketchnotes and think they look great. Working on how to convert some of the images that are easy to draw large into miniature now though as a image rarely takes up much space in one of my sketchnotes as I had in the above attempts; one of the disadvantages of doing my sketchnotes with pen and paper rather than on a tablet device is the inability to zoom in or out!
A couple of months ago, Clodagh from ALL contacted me and said that Teach Primary were looking for someone to write a primary languages lesson plan for their magazine, and would I be interested? I said yes and last week, the new edition came out, complete with my lesson on p76-77.
It’s a lesson that I used on World Book Day 2016 when my school went with a Roald Dahl theme. Whilst I teach Spanish, and the resources are therefore in Spanish, it’s an idea that could easily be done in French, German, or any other of the 58 languages into which Dahl’s work has been translated!
You can access the lesson and resources here on TeachWire .
And if you’ve come to my website via Teach Primary, welcome! There are lots of other ideas for lessons here, including more for World Book Day here.
At the Language Show last week, I discovered Educandy on the Linguascope stand. A free interactive activity making site and app, Richard who was running the stand assured me it was really simple to use – and he was right! I’ve just had a go at creating an activity in each of the types:Words – input a list of words and play Anagrams, Hangman or Wordsearch.
Matching Pairs – input pairs of words and play Noughts and Crosses, Crossword, Match up and Memory.
Quiz – input questions, the correct answer and three red herrings for a Multiple Choice quiz.
Below are quizzes I have created (each took about 3 minutes) around adjectives ready for Y6 next week. Once created, quizzes can be accessed via a code that you can give pupils to input here, by URL, or by embedding them in a site (as I have here.) You can also export your activities to use on similar sites e.g. Quizlet, and import from those sites too.
I’d encourage you to have a look at the site and try for yourself. It’s free after all so what do you have to lose but a few minutes of your time.
I’ve just got back form London and the Language Show at Kensington Olympia. A lovely couple of days catching up with people, finding out about university courses and qualifications for Stevens Junior, visiting stands and learning from others – and then some more catching up with people!
Below are sketchnotes of the seminars I attended – minus the EU one as I only attended half of it! I was travelling light and using my mini notebook plus a limited palette of black pen and six coloured highlighters so apologies that they are a little more squashed and monotone than normal!
My session at #PracPed18 was entitled Tell me a story! You can find the Slideshare below.
In it, I shared some ideas about the use of stories and books in the languages classroom. Beginning by discussing why you would use stories, we moved on to choosing books, and then some ideas of how you could use stories in the classroom to enhance language learning. Finally we talked about how to write your own stories; this part was a little shortened so I have added some notes below. You’ll also find links to some helpful posts and bookmarks below. I hope those that attended found the session helpful, and those that didn’t feel able to ask questions! Please feel free to leave a comment on the post if you have questions or comments!
Slide 18 – I skipped this one in my presentation as time was flying. This week, Merriam Webster shared a “time machine’ dictionary that tells you the words that were put into the dictionary during the year of your birth. I wrote a story using just nouns from my birth year, shared via tweet. This gave me the idea of giving children a list of words and challenging them to write a story with those words. A good way for more advanced pupils to practice verbs. I will share further when I have developed that thought!
GPS – grammar punctuation and spelling
PSHE – Personal, Social and Health Education
ICU – Intercultural Understanding
Key Stage 1 – children aged 5-7
Key Stage 2 – children aged 7-11 (languages are a compulsory part of the curriculum in English state schools)
With 11th November coming up, particularly with the 100th anniversary of Armistice this year, my school has had been planning whole school activities to commemorate Remembrance Day. I like to join in – it’s a good way of keeping Spanish visible and also an opportunity to be creative.
With Spain not involved in WW1 or WW2 and not celebrating Remembrance Day as a national event, this left me with a challenge. I decided to focus on peace and, having discovered that I would only be teaching Y5 and 6 this week, to share some Spanish history.
We began by discussing what Remembrance Day is about, and I asked what they thought Spain’s role was in the World Wars. It was a good opportunity to clear up some misconceptions about who was and wasn’t involved! I then went on to talk a little about the Spanish Civil War in the most basic terms. We talked about the difference between a monarchy and a republic, discussed what an economic depression is and about why the Nationalists might have revolted. I showed them Guernica by Picasso (as they are familiar with him) and told them about that particular episode. It was supposed to be a quick resume of what happened as one of the reasons why Spain weren’t involved (one of the pupils suggested ‘They had no one to send to fight; they’d all killed each other!’) but the pupils were really interested and wouldn’t stop asking questions. In the end I asked them to save the questions for when they were doing their written task, and I’d happily try to answer them then. They stuck the poem in their exercise books, and recorded a couple of sentences about what they’d learned about the Spanish Civil War or Remembrance or peace.
Poem El dia de la paz to download as PDFThe second part of the lesson was about peace; poppies help us remember those who died in conflicts, but also remind us of man’s folly, how we should learn from the past and seek a peaceful future. I found this simple poem that I read, then pupils read with me. I asked them to discuss with a partner what they thought the poem might be about and why, using all clues like the illustrations and cognates to help them. We discussed together what it meant then read it once more in groups. I’d found some poppy templates and provided some sheets of the word PEACE in a variety of languages. For example this image or this one. Pupils decorated the poppies with the word peace in languages of their choice as a demonstration of their wish for peace in our world. We discussed the meaning of different coloured poppies – the most well known red, purple for animals and white to remember all those who died in war including those who refused to fight and those who committed suicide as well as a commitment to peace. (I didn’t know about black poppies until I saw this video today!) I also mentioned that in France people wear bleuets for Remembrance Day, cornflowers which also grew in the fields of France. Pupils kept these colours in mind as they decorated.
I taught Y5 on Tuesday and you can see some of their poppies below. I really enjoyed the lesson and think that the children did too, judging by the incessant stream of questions! Y6 tomorrow.
…and do you know what? Edition 3 didn’t disappoint!
From start to finish, I laughed, nodded, puzzled and pondered. I didn’t stop for 72 hours, and am now utterly exhausted, but it’s the sort of exhaustion that comes from having had a good time, not wanting it to end and having lots to think about. It was lovely to meet ‘old’ friends and, as we discussed several times, pick up as if we’d seen each other last week rather than two or three years ago. It was also wonderful to make new friends, and deepen friendships made at previous meetings. For example, I loved having guided run home with Laura, exploring the woods and parks between school and the city and having a good chat as we ran.
As usual I sketchnoted my way through the conference. It was lovely – and also slightly weird – the number of people who greeted me with ‘oh, you’re the doodler!’ or ‘ooh! I thought it was you, I recognised your writing from Twitter!’ and also those that started to see my notes over the conference and sought me out to find out more. Below are my notes from the sessions I was able to attend. One day I’ll work out how to sketchnote my own session…
Opening keynote by Hywel Roberts – could be subtitled Let’s say… or How to teach Tyler. Via stories of teaching early years, kids in Barnsley, Vikings and an abandoned factory, Hywel shared his three words – imagineering, botheredness and phronesis – and challenged us to consider our curriculum.
After my first choice was cancelled, I attended a session on Language for Maths, a reflection on how games can be used to practice maths vocabulary. Without the necessary vocabulary, EAL students cannot enjoy success in solving maths problems, and the games we played and discussed required repetition of key words and phrases such as more than, fewer than, equal to, equivalent to, ratio, decimal and fraction. An interesting session that I’ll be feeding back to my colleagues.
My second session has not been sketchnoted as it was an immersive experience and to fully participate you have to join in rather than sit in a corner doodling, but I do have a photo of our island! Oh Brave New World; Getting to grips with Shakespeare, presented by Emma Bramley and Matt Wardle, took us on a journey through The Tempest focussing on Caliban as he is born (that was interesting acting…), loses his mother, grows, is ‘adopted’ then rejected and abused by Prospero. We considered the relationship between Prospero and Caliban, and ended considering what Caliban should do – follow Prospero and continue being ‘civilised’, stay on the island and stay ‘savage’ which raises all sorts of questions about what it means to be civilised, what isolation is, what freedom is, and what the power of language is. Was Prospero? Is Caliban? Very interesting and very challenging questions!
Session 3 saw me face another challenge – playing with LEGO whilst sketchnoting. Dominic Tremblay presented a session on Storybricks: Using LEGO for Literacy. He offered some advice on LEGO organisation as well as suggesting several ways in which LEGO can be used to provoke language sharing, reading and writing. A fascinating session in which my group and I wrote a Halloween story involving a witch, two children and a hero police officer. We were so engrossed in characters that our setting is rather sparse, but that demonstrated the need for greater coordination of effort, and perhaps reflected my preoccupation with sketchnoting… Here’s our story (imagine the children in the last picture – I didn’t take one after we’d moved them from scene 1 to scene 3!)
Two children are trick or treating on Halloween, dressed as a pirate and a ninja.
A wicked witch spies them, waves her wand and chants a magic spell. Poof! The children are turned into an owl and a spider.
Fortunately, a police man passes by and commands her to turn them back into children. The witch does as she is told and all is well once more.
Dominic was a brilliant presenter and is obviously very much in demand as he had to leave dinner that evening early to present via video link!
Last session of Day 1 was the ambitiously entitled 60 tech tools and tricks in 60 minutes – tech tips, tricks and tools you need to know as a primary teacher. Jon Kitchin whizzed his way through nearly 60 (I counted 51 but I’m sure I missed a couple!) ideas, tips and tools, all free, to make teaching and learning easier, more interesting or more effective in the primary classroom. I had heard of several of the ideas and some weren’t really relevant to me but there was plenty that was new and helpful including some music sites like SampulatorHum On and Incredibox that I’ll be trying out in Y5 music lessons!
Day 2 began with Finding quality images and media resourcesled by an old friend, Theo Kuechel who led us through how to choose images that are suitable in terms of size, quality and possibly most important in this litigious day and age, safe to sue without being sued! I now understand Creative Commons much better and Theo kindly shared a curated bank of sites that provide images – and other media – for use via CC license.
Then it was on to a session I’d been looking forward to, my only ‘languages’ session over the conference as all the others were for older pupils than I teach, and also one that I knew would be high energy and great fun. I certainly wasn’t disappointed as Laura ‘Smiley’ Riley presented Grammaté and more with such energy that I defy anyone NOT to enjoy languages if she’s your teacher! Lots of ideas for teaching grammar including human sentences, hats, Gringo, Battleships and the aforementioned Grammaté which involves combining movement to parts of speech – the title coming from grammar and karate.
Here we are in action (everyone else can actually speak German, properly!)
Great fun and a good way to test my German (made slightly easier by Laura kindly colour coding the sentences!) Another activity I loved and will ‘steal’ was her take on Tagtiv8 that involved retrieving words from the walls, firstly verbs, then pronouns to sort, match up, discuss, create sentences and so on.
And what’s more, I now understand about TMP and know that Sven who likes wenn kicks the verb to the end 😉
Session 7 concerned Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the classroom, led by Adele Bates. This session challenged us to consider what these words mean for our students. Adele gave each of us a pupil profile and took us on a Privilege Walk though a school day in their shoes. I ended up far behind others due to being a wheelchair and being EAL. I was very interested in the Pyramid of Hate, and how bias escalates into acts of prejudice and upwards. Really thought provoking. Key thoughts – Avoidance is not a neutral strategy (@r_e_e_t_a_) and sometimes you have to forget about being a “teacher” and be “human.”
I was speaking during session 8 (post to follow!) so my final sketchnote was from the closing keynote by Hywel Roberts.
And then it was time to leave St George’s and drive off into the sunset (literally!), wondering where #PracPed20 will be taking place.
Another brilliant conference, with great teaching and learning as well as opportunities to socialise in pubs, restaurants and bars. Looking forward to October 2020 and the fourth edition of Practical Pedagogies – if you want to find out where and exactly when, sign up for notifications here.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter or have ever met me will know that I like to sketchnote whenever I attend conferences or complete professional development activities. In fact, you’ll find many of them on this website too!
Sketchnotes are rich visual notes created from a mix of handwriting, drawings, hand-drawn typography, shapes, and visual elements like arrows, boxes, and lines. (Mike Rohde)
Sketchnoting, or visual note-taking, is an effective and fun way to take notes using doodles and text. It has many other benefits such as increased focus and engagement in class, improved comprehension and memory retention, helps develop creative thinking skills and allows students an alternative way to display their learning and make connections to course content. It has a calming and relaxing effect too!
You may not have met Sylvia Duckworth; perhaps you’ve never heard the name before, but I’m sure you’ve seen her sketchnotes! Recognise either of these?
Sylvia collected some of her beautiful sketchnotes in a book nearly two years ago called Sketchnotes for Educators which features 100 of her favourites in print with links to download and print them out for your classroom. Here’s the trailer!
A month or so ago I heard that Sylvia was releasing a new book entitled How to Sketchnote: A step-by-step Manual for Teacher and Students. Very exciting news! Just as exciting was news of #sketchnotefever, a 21 day sketchnote challenge. Each day from October 23rd to November 12th, Sylvia is posting a 3 minute video that shows how to draw icons, fonts, banners and bullets with the aim of building up a visual dictionary for sketchnoting.
I joined in as I like a challenge and I felt that it would do my sketchnoting a good boost in advance of the Practical Pedagogies conference in Cologne. Each day I’ve had a go at the task and posted my results on Twitter and Instagram. Sylvia loves seeing all the #sketchnotefever posts and is really good at commenting on them all! And she’s really kindly let me have a copy of her new book ahead of publication – and it’s BRILLIANT!
It explains what sketchnoting is, compares analogue (the way I do it) and digital (the way Sylvia does it, using an iPad and Procreate app) sketchnoting and then offers exercises and activities to practice ‘doodling’, build up a vocabulary of visuals, and learn how to do all the ‘other bits’ like banners, bullets and fonts. I’m particularly liking the icon section on p26-27, and will be spending lots of time on p54 practicing animals, and the stick people on p51-2. I may even start a ‘Doodle club’ using it!
So – two bits of advice!
Use #sketchnotefever as a way of giving sketchnoting a go. It’s a great introduction and by the end you’ll see that you really don’t have to be an artist to do it!
Get a copy of How to Sketchnote: A step-by-step Manual for Teacher and Students. Whether you’re planning on using it as a tool to help teach your pupils how to sketchnote, or as a personal ‘how to’ manual, it’s well worth the purchase as you get links to images for projection as well as links and QR codes to videos. And if you order before November 13th, you get bonus features too. Click here to find out about it.
PS I’ll post all of my #sketchnotefever sketchnotes at the end of the challenge in one post but check out Twitter or Instagram if you can’t wait! If you search for the hashtag you’ll find lots of other people’s sketches too!
Yesterday I was in London for the annual ALL Council meeting, this year held at the Institute of Education. I deliberately set out early so that I could visit Foyles on Charing Cross Road as it now houses Grant and Cutler on the 4th floor. To be honest I could easily have spent far longer than the 40 minutes I had on 4th floor alone, and there are several other floors that were calling to me as well, including the cafe!
However, 40 minutes was all I had and I spent it browsing books with several purposes.
Seeing if I could find anything to inspire my boys with their language learning
Looking for things for my own language development.
Looking for new and interesting materials to use in my teaching.
Given that Sohn#1 had just bought all his books for uni, and didn’t really know what he wanted as a gift, coupled with the extortionate price of Swedish and Norwegian books, I failed to find him anything. Hijo#2 has just purchased all the books on list for A level French and I couldn’t find any Spanish text books that a) we didn’t already have or b)I thought were worth buying for him to self study so I didn’t buy anything for him specifically either. However, that’s OK as it reminded me of my copy of Harry potter á l’école des sorciers as well as reminding me to look out some Spanish texts from my past to lend to #2, and #1 has just had some books for the history part of his course.
So on to purpose 2 – my language development.
I can speak 6 languages with varying success from fluency to basic conversation, but I only really use two on a regular basis at the moment, teaching Spanish and speaking English. I don’t like to neglect the others so I made some purchases, partly to motivate me and also to keep my brain in tune!
I studied Catalan at university (a loooong time ago) and, having not used it for many years, ten years ago I rediscovered my ability to speak it during a partnership between my school and a school in Barcelona. Since then I’ve not lost my love of speaking it once more, and over the summer I did a FutureLearn course on Getting to know Catalonia which reignited my need to read in Catalan.I’m eagerly awaiting for a promised FutureLearn course on Ramon Llull but in the meantime I purchased a dual language anthology of poems. I don’t read enough poetry and I find it particularly exciting to ‘hear’ the rhythm of the language as I read.
Since living in Switzerland I’ve been learning German; I’ve (nearly) stopped beating myself up about not having learned more while I was there and can certainly understand and often say far more than I think I can. Duolingo keeps me ticking over, although phrases such as Mein Kopf ist nicht aus Beton and Dies ist eine heilige Eule aren’t that useful on a day to day basis, and I’ve fortunately not had to declare that Eine Wespe ist in meiner Hose. However, I think it’s time I did some reading too. I have a collection of children’s books (see herehere and here) including Mr Men books thanks to my MFL Besties Secret Santa, and Sohn#1 has left some of his books at home but I thought I’d try something a little less challenging before I embark on Kafka and Brecht! So I chose this dual text compilation of short stories to build my confidence as I can cross reference and check my understanding. I find that sort of exercise really helpful as I pick apart how sentences are constructed; I haven’t really been taught about sentence structure and word order so it’s quite interesting finding patterns for myself!
Then I decided that I’d like a couple more PixiBuch as I love them – they’re small and also only £1.50. These overlap with my purpose 3 – to find new and interesting materials for teaching as I will use them when I start the long awaited and long postponed German club. Schneeweißchen und Rosenrot is a traditional German fairy tale and Du bist bei mir: Gute-Nacht-Gebete contains some lovely goodnight rhymes that sound marvellous in my head (where my accent is beautiful and perfectly German!)
One of the SDP objectives for both schools at which I teach is reading. At both schools, staff are being asked to ensure that there are times in each day when children can read, and also a time for the teacher to read to the pupils. Children need to be exposed to a variety of texts and their vocabulary grows the more they read and/or are read to. Therefore, I had a look for some suitable texts that I could share. I have a number of Mr Men books in Spanish and bought a couple more. The stories are familiar to the children so, in conjunction with the illustrations, they can follow. However, I’m a little concerned that they are quite wordy so was looking for something else too.
First I found this lovely book of fairytales. Each is just two pages long and starts with a page of ‘pictogramas’ that are used to tell the story in rebus form i.e. words are replaced with a picture. I’m looking forward to sharing them with Y3 – and the younger children when I get the opportunity as I’m pretty sure that they’ll soon be joining in with the story, ‘reading’ the images.
Then I found a couple of boxes of ‘100 Cuentos Cortos‘ that contain 50 cards, each with a short story on either side. The stories are very short – some only a paragraph long – so there’s little time for children to get discombobulated by not understanding every word, and there’ll be time to repeat them more slowly a second time to allow a greater chance of comprehension. The vocabulary is simple, and the illustrations are clear and give a good idea of the story. There are a variety of themes including weather, animals, different seasons and festivals, and some are based around traditional tales. I’ll probably use these with Y4 and possibly Y5.
Finally I bought another dual language book for Y6 – El Principito. After the first few chapters that set the scene which will take longer than one session, the chapters are very short meaning that one can be read each lesson. The beauty of the dual text is that I can read the Spanish version then leave the chapter in both Spanish and English for children to read before the next lesson to clarify doubts, ensure understanding and, for some, dissect the texts.
Perhaps I’m being overly hopeful about how well this will go, but they do say to Aim for the moon; even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.