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I’m a Primary Language Teacher; help me out here!

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

babcockOn Wednesday I took part in the Babcock 4S conference at Horsley Park in Surrey. My presentation entitled I’m a Primary Language Teacher; help me out here! was well received and can be found below.

The main points were:

  • primary language learning lays important foundations
  • language learning is cyclical with topics being revisited but it is a continuum; it shouldn’t start again from scratch at Ks3.
  • teaching primary languages can be lonely but there is support out there.
  • PoS objectives need to be split into manageable chunks or stepping stones.
  • pupils need to become increasingly independent; phonics and language learning skills from comparing and contrasting languages help this.
  • it’s not just about vocabulary; grammar is needed (receptive and later productive) as cement otherwise it’s just a pile of bricks.
  • intercultural understanding is vital.
I’m a Primary Language Teacher – help me out here! from Lisa Stevens
I sketch noted the other sessions and will share them as soon as I have a moment to tidy them up a bit!

Building firm foundations for strong buildings #ALLMFLSW16

Monday, February 29th, 2016

IMG_8436On Saturday 27th February, I delivered a workshop at the #ALLMFLSW16 conference in Bristol. I’d been asked by Marie-France Perkins if I could talk about primary languages in the context of the new curriculum which is planned as a continuum from KS2 through KS3 and onto Ks4 and hopefully KS5. I called my session Building Firm Foundations for Strong Buildings, harking back to a talk I did a number of years ago called Bricklaying for Beginners!

Below is my presentation, and under that I’ve written a brief summary of what I said.

I hope you find it useful. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment or send a message via the contact form. 

Firm foundations for strong buildings – the importance of Primary Language Learning. from Lisa Stevens
I began by talking about the importance of foundations, and the role they place in keeping buildings upright and stable. Although they are often unseen, they are the last things that are destroyed by time and erosion; I shared my own experience of primary language learning and how my 4 years of middle school French have stayed with me. We moved on to considering why starting language learning at primary is so important before considering what should be taught/covered at KS2, referencing a survey by Clare Seccombe and also a document compiled by the ESAGMFL group.
Looking directly at the Programmes of Study, we used Rachel Hawkes’ helpful “KS2 and KS3 side by side” document to look at the progression of skills and I shared the document below with participants, acknowledging the source as Rachel’s website.
Handout_1_Curriculum14_Overview
For me, my most important task as a primary language teacher is to nurture a passion for languages and an excitement about learning and communicating in other languages. That, however, does not mean that it’s all  ‘fun and funky singing, dancing, cutting and sticking ‘ with no substance. There is a clear rationale to what I teach and I shared some ideas linked to each of the four skills as well as grammar.
Listening
  • animal symphonies – clapping the syllables of words to encourage listening and awareness of word patterns
  • using rhymes to listen out for phonics and respond physically
  • using songs as a way of introducing topics e.g. ¿Cuántos años tienes?
  • stories as a way of encouraging listening carefully and responding – ‘safe’ due the familiarity and repetition
  • branching listenings or minimal pairs (slide24)- I first encountered these last year at ILILC in a session by Julie Prince, and I shared two examples from LightBulbLanguages – colours (Spanish)  and jobs (French) Learners listen to a series of words – or phrases – and at each step choose between two alternatives until they arrive at the bottom line and give the number they reached.
Speaking
  • PHONICS! So important! The keystones of the foundations as they enable understanding of the spoken word, pronunciation, enable learners to read effectively and also spell. Rachel Hawkes once more had burning ears!
  • vowels and setting them to DISCO by Ottawan
  • phonic islands and mats, referencing Sounds and Words by Lynne Erler and Julie Prince
  • “stress punching” to demonstrate intonation and stress patterns
  • “Spanish glasses” to read Spanish – chocolate is spelt the same in English and Spanish but pronounced differently (slide 30 ) also false friends like gift and Gift in German.
  • tongue twisters to practice ‘getting your mouth around’ certain sounds
  • using Trapdoors to practice sentences – learners will play long after you’d think they’d be fed up!
  • using board games to practice the question form (I shared a Snakes and ladders board game worksheet from Eurostars with learners asking a question when they land on a square rather than giving an opinion)

Reading

  • using poems like Doña Pitu Piturra that have a rhythm and a rhyme, and a pattern that can be followed – and the example also shows handwriting which fascinates and is worth discussion
  • using Tarsia and dominoes
  • using storybooks isn’t a bad thing – even Y6 like a story, especially if you link it to reading to younger pupils or making something to be shared.
  • books don’t have to be fiction – non fiction is important too. Books on e.g. planets can be accessed as learners have learned the facts in Science and can therefore make deductions about vocabulary etc. Plus there are diagrams and images to support.
  • the importance of making mistakes and discussing WHY you thought something
  • instilling the idea that you don’t need to understand every word, and linking in to literacy skills of comprehension: where will I find the answer? what are my clues? what’s the context? is there a word in the question that helps me?
  • making your own texts using storybird.com – I shared ¿De dónde viene el yak? There are other MFL Storybirds shared on the wikispace both fiction and nonfiction. Well worth a look.
  • dictionaries can be glossaries, picture dictionaries and encyclopaedia/thematic type ones as well as the ‘tradition’ bilingual ones. I shared an activity linked to a colour poem which Y3 had rewritten using a combination of picture dictionaries and bilingual dictionaries.

Writing

  • writing texts from other texts e.g. rewriting stories by substituting nouns and or adjectives (El bicho hambriento), or writing a story in the style of another (rewriting El Nabo Gigante to feature a teacher stuck in the PE cupboard who calls for help to pull him out!)
  • the value of whiteboards and technology to allow for quick correction without committing it to their book – rehearsing and making mistakes
  • giving structures using card, human sentences to physically demonstrate word order e.g. making sentences negative, or the noun-adjective order in Spanish compared to adjective-noun in English
  • scaffolding
  • memorisation – I shared another activity from LightBulbLanguages to demonstrate a way of supporting learners in memorising spellings by giving them the shape of the word

Grammar

  • Grammar is the cement that holds all the bricks together!
  • link it to English – and/or other languages e.g. making plurals
  • using songs is quite effective e.g. ¿Por qué es mi mochila tan pesada? introduces Es+ singular noun and Son+plural noun – learners picked it up without me saying a word!
  • I also shared songs for verbs in Spanish, German and French
  • using parallel texts to compare language
  • making verb spiders or flowers – if you teach South American Spanish you can use a hand!
  • verb drilling isn’t wrong – Y6 quite enjoyed it last year and treated it like a code or game that they conquered as they did it more!IMG_8437

I then talked about the importance of promoting language learning in general and that no one language is an island – let’s celebrate the multilingual nature of our schools and draw out the experiences of our EAL learners. Comparing and contrasting languages is one of the things my learners enjoy more than anything else, and it’s language learning skills that are going to be key for their future success, especially as most of my learners will start a new language at KS3. I briefly highlighted the importance of including culture in whatever you do as languages need a context and it’s jot just about words!

Finally we considered that not all foundations are the same – some are more basic than others i.e. some pupils will arrive at KS3 with less language learning, or perhaps with gaps in the expected knowledge (whatever that may be!) Some may have experienced lots of vocabulary and not much structure, some may have had a very sporadic language input, some may have encountered several languages and some only one. Whatever the experience, and however many ‘cracks’ there may be, my plea was to not destroy what has gone before but repair it, and shore it up.

 

The final part of my presentation (which I admit we don’t reach due to overrunning previous sessions) considered the need for Ks2 and KS3 to communicate. KS2 can’t moan about what happens at KS3 if they don’t tell their secondary colleagues what has been done, and KS3 can’t throw their hands up and say it’s impossible to deal with all these children if they don’t talk to KS2 and give an idea of what would be helpful to them. On p69 of Language Trends survey  it says:

“The need to promote effective transition in languages between Key Stages 2 and 3 is not yet high on the agendas of either primary or secondary schools….the introduction of compulsory language learning has not yet stimulated increased contact between language teachers in state primary and secondary schools.”

That has to change!

My final thought was from an article about building foundations:

“The three most important purposes of foundations are to bear the load of the building, anchor it against natural forces such as earthquakes, and to isolate it from ground moisture.”

I’d categorise those three things as future learning at KS3 and beyond, wavering confidence as ‘it gets a bit serious’ and the ‘rising damp’ of adolescence! Ultimately, we want learners to ride those storms and sit proudly atop their magnificent linguistic skyscrapers, not falling like Humpty Dumpty never to be put together again!

 

 

 

#PracPed15 – Using technology to enhance Primary Language Learning

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Evernote Snapshot 20151016 104158My session at the wonderful Practical Pedagogies conference centred around the use of technology to enhance Primary Language Learning.

Key points I made included:

  • technology is not  just for the pupils but also for the teacher;
  • it is just one tool we have to use;
  • it is not always the best tool for the job.

I went on to suggest online tools as well as apps that might be useful in a range of contexts and situations.

My presentation is below and there is wiki with links to tutorials, examples and ideas that accompanies it. Feel free to ask questions via the contact form or @lisibo on Twitter.

Using technology to enhance Primary Language Learning from Lisa Stevens
And thanks to Marisa for sharing her notes (and photographs!) here.

#pracped15 – impressions and sketchnotes

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

IMG_5969Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 15.40.04I had the joy and pleasure of going to France last week for the Practical Pedagogies conference at International School of Toulouse. It’s not every day you get to go on a course that involves a ‘plane journey, and I was wondering about the wisdom of my exploits as I sprinted from one side of Brussels Airport to the other with 20 minutes to make my connecting flight thanks to high winds delaying my incoming flight… I made it, and it was well worth the travel and the late night.

What a conference! Why? Well, there were many reasons!

    1. The welcome received at IST was wonderful. The staff went out of their way to help us. For example, I tweeted that I was having plug adaptor woes (mine didn’t have a ‘top hole’ so wouldn’t go in the socket, the one loaned by the hotel wouldn’t work either as my plug wouldn’t go into it…) and within minutes I was presented with a working adaptor and was able to charge my ‘phone (thanks also to Chris Mayoh who seemed to have a case full of adaptors that he was lending out!)
    2. The organisation. Never have I been to such a well organised conference. Things ran to schedule, the gaps between sessions meant that you always had time for coffee even if you stayed behind to ask a question at the end of the previous one, and I never felt the vertigo I often feel as I rush from one place to another without breathing.
    3. The company. What a great bunch of people! I laughed until I cried at points and enjoyed the friendship offered by those I already knew, those who I’d only previously known online, and those who were completely new acquaintances. Fun and games involving hats, Lycra, yards of beer and bowling alleys spring to mind.
    4. Ewan McIntosh. That man has been so pivotal in my thinking and development as a teacher and learner, right from when he was still a language teacher and spoke at Language World at Oxford Uni. He will forever be known in my house as ‘the man who made Mum buy a Nintendo DS’ for which my sons are very grateful. Every time I hear him speak or read his blog he challenges me to think and consider what I do, how I teach and how I can best facilitate learning. And he is also very human and it’s great to talk to him. Loved this description of him:

And  5. The variety of sessions was amazing! Covering any subject you could name plus cross curricular ones as well as technology and even ukelele playing. It was very hard to select just 7 (I was told I had to choose my own session) but I did.
To sum it up in a tweet:

  I tried to sketch note all the sessions I attended, only failing twice as I couldn’t draw during the Drama workshop and it was hard during the AIM one as I needed to use my hands to gesture (and I’m also rubbish at drawing hands!) Anyway, I’ve uploaded my notes below.

Ewan McIntosh - opening keynote @ewanmcintosh @notosh

Ewan McIntosh – opening keynote @ewanmcintosh @notosh

 

Novel departures - Estelle Ash and Isobel Patrick (IST) @estelleash @isobel_patrick

Novel departures – Estelle Ash and Isobel Patrick (IST) @estelleash @isobel_patrick

 

Boosting language acquisition through a FUN reading program - Patricia Burgaud and Joanne Allcock

Boosting language acquisition through a FUN reading program – Patricia Burgaud and Joanne Allcock

 

Stimulating writing using technology to encourage reluctant readers - Julian Wood @Ideas_Factory

Stimulating writing using technology to encourage reluctant readers – Julian Wood @Ideas_Factory

 

Immersive Learning - Ewan McIntosh @ewanmcintosh @notosh

Immersive Learning – Ewan McIntosh @ewanmcintosh @notosh

 

Practical Straegies for teaching EAL students - Nick Fretwell (IST) @Nick_Fretwell

Practical Straegies for teaching EAL students – Nick Fretwell (IST) @Nick_Fretwell

All in all, an amazing time during which I’ve learned a lot and laughed a lot too. I hope there’s a #PracPed16 – or 17 if Russel needs longer to recover 😉 – already planning what I might offer to present! (This year’s offering is in the next post!)

If you want to find out more, check out Russel Tarr’s reflections on the event, and notes etc are here

PS I think that every good school needs a ‘crime scene’ in the foyer complete with police tape, forensics suit and evidence. Talk about capturing the imagination!

Practical Pedagogies Conference 2015

Saturday, September 5th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 15.38.53I always get excited when people invite me to speak at conferences but I was very excited when Russel Tarr (created Classtools.net and was famously attacked by Gove for using Mr Men to help teach History resulting in a mass Mr Men Twitter avatar protest in solidarity!) asked me if I’d like to speak at a conference he was planning in Toulouse. A trip to France? Don’t mind if I do! And when he told me who else was speaking, I was even more excited and also perhaps a little daunted when I saw who else was speaking!

Practical Pedagogies takes place at the International School of Toulouse on October 15th and 16th and is

A high-impact training conference for classroom teachers by classroom teachers.
Two days of inspiring keynotes70+ workshops and networking activities: only 150 Euros!

 

I’m very much looking forward to the conference as there are so many different sessions under the umbrella theme of “Creativity, internationalism and innovation in the classroom” that it was very hard to choose which I’d like to attend. The programme is packed with goodies as you can see! And Ewan McIntosh @ewanmcintosh @notosh  who is keynoting and also delivering workshops always inspires and challenges!

Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 15.40.04

My session will be about using ICT in the Primary Language Classroom:

Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 15.08.09

There are threads for

  • Pedagogy, Personal and Professional development including sessions by Miles Berry (@mberry), David Rogers (@daviderogers), Bill Lord (@Joga5) and Marisa Constantinides (@marisa_c);             
  • Computing including sessions by Miles Berry (@mberry) and Chris Mayoh (@chrismayoh);
  • Drama, Music and Design and technology including a session that I want to attend on Using drama games and activities across the curriculum led by G. Fearnehough (@gfearnehough), Curriculum Leader for Drama at IST, and E. Renou (@emmanuelrenou31), Modern Foreign Languages teacher at IST;
  • History including a session about collaboration between History and Geography (and beyond!) led by Russel Tarr, author of ActiveHistory, and Matthew Podbury, author of GeographyPods.
  • Science which offers diverse sessions on data logging, helping EAL learners and using SOLO taxonomy;
  • English and Literacy with sessions led by Julian Wood (@ideas_factory), and staff from IST about using picture and story books to work creatively and cross curricularly (hopefully I’ll get to attend one or both);
  • Mathematics with sessions on using Lego and Geogebra;
  • Assessment and reporting with a session entitles Marking:Is it really worth it?;
  • Tech tools including sessions by Dave Stacey @davestacey and John Sutton @HGJohn;
  • CAS (Creativity, action, service) and TOK (theory of knowledge);

and of course

  • Languages that features people I know like Isabelle Jones (@icpjonesand those who I have yet to meet like Dico Krommenhoek (@dico_kr). Oh, and me! I’m very much looking forward to finding out more about AIM and how IST use a FUN reading programme to boost comprehension and expression with their upper primary language learners.

There’s still time to register if you’d like to attend. It costs 150 euros (very reasonable) and if you can get a cheap flight it’s not much more expensive than two days of INSET!

And if you can’t attend in person, you can follow on Twitter! You can follow the Twitter account @pedagogies and the conference hashtag is

 

#pracped15

 

It’d be great to see some of you there and if not, converse via Twitter. And of course I’ll share my thoughts (and sketch notes!) on my return!

 

UnderstandingModernGov conference – June 16th 2015

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

IMG_4621A little bit delayed by end of term madness…

On June 16th I travelled to London for a day long conference organised by UnderstandingModernGov on the subject of Primary Languages – “Successfully implement the new Primary Modern Foreign Languages curriculum”. It was great to see Janet, Sylvie, Nadine and Julie, and to meet all the delegates to spend a day exploring how we can effectively plan, manage and deliver languages to primary aged pupils.

My part of the day was all about using technology; you can see the presentation below, and you can also access links to tutorials etc here.

I sketch noted all the sessions as you can see below.

FullSizeRender-1

Policy to practicality – Janet Lloyd

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Phonics and Literacy – Julie Prince

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Develop an innovative approach to Primary Language Teaching – Sylvie Barlett-Rawlings with Nadine Chadier


Additionally, you can see what Janet said on her blog.

And here’s the Storify of tweets from the day!

Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching #FLdyslexia Week 4

Sunday, May 10th, 2015
Image from www.dyslexialincs.co.uk

Image from www.dyslexialincs.co.uk

I’ve just completed the final week of the FutureLearn MOOC, Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching. A little early but I wanted to get it done as I need to concentrate on report writing 🙁

This week focussed on phonological and orthographic awareness, skills that are needed for successful spelling, reading and comprehension. It underlined the need to move from word level to text level, and the value of shared reading, pre-reading/pre-teaching, and of constant checking of comprehension to avoid gaps in understanding being left unplugged.

Below are my sketch notes. I hope they’re useful!

4.3 - Developing phonological and phonemic awareness (Professor Joanna Nijawska)

4.3 – Developing phonological and phonemic awareness (Professor Joanna Nijawska)

4.6 - Multisensory tasks to teach spelling

4.6 – Multisensory tasks to teach spelling

4.8 - Helping children with reading comprehension difficulties (Professor Kate Cain)

4.8 – Helping children with reading comprehension difficulties (Professor Kate Cain)

4.10 - Developing dyslexic learners' reading skills (Dr Anne Margaret Smith)

4.10 – Developing dyslexic learners’ reading skills (Dr Anne Margaret Smith)

4.11 - Final advice

4.11 – Final advice

Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching #FLdyslexia – Week 3

Thursday, May 7th, 2015
Image from www.dyslexialincs.co.uk

Image from www.dyslexialincs.co.uk

I’ve just completed Week 3 of the Dyslexia and Foreign Language Learning course. This week focussed on teaching grammar and vocabulary to learners with dyslexia. Some dyslexic learners explained the techniques that did and didn’t work for them and how their learning environment affects their learning, some language teachers explained how they might teach grammar and vocabulary to dyslexic learners and we were challenged to mind map out learning and also design a task based on our learning so far.

Below are my sketch notes once more. I hope you find them helpful. I shared them in the comments section of the task on mind mapping as I think that sketch notes could be seen as mind maps with pictures. I certainly find them very helpful!

3.2 Dyslexic learners talk about learning strategies.

3.2 Dyslexic learners talk about learning strategies.

3.5 Teaching vocabulary and grammar (Dr Anne Margaret Smith)

3.5 Teaching vocabulary and grammar (Dr Anne Margaret Smith)

3.7 Multi sensory tasks for teaching grammar

3.7 Multi sensory tasks for teaching grammar

3.8 Multi sensory tasks for teaching vocabulary

3.8 Multi sensory tasks for teaching vocabulary

Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching #FLdyslexia – Week 2

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

 

Image from www.dyslexialincs.co.uk

Image from www.dyslexialincs.co.uk

Week 2 of the course focussed on understanding what aspects of language learning dyslexic students might find difficult and how we can assist in making language learning more enjoyable and less challenging for these students by making accommodations.

Below are my sketch notes of the videos; I’m enjoying sketch noting and finding that my own ‘style’ is starting to develop. (Still not happy with my drawings but I’m getting better!)

2.2 - Dyslexic students talk about their experiences

2.2 – Dyslexic students talk about their experiences

2.3 - Foreign language learning and dyslexia (Margaret Crombie)

2.3 – Foreign language learning and dyslexia (Dr Margaret Crombie)

2.6 - Accommodating dyslexic learners in the classroom (Dr Anne Margaret Smith)

2.6 – Accommodating dyslexic learners in the classroom (Dr Anne Margaret Smith)

2.10 - Using IT to teach students with dyslexia (Dr Margaret Crombie)

2.10 – Using IT to teach students with dyslexia (Dr Margaret Crombie)

 

I’ve now caught up with posts from the last two weeks so the next post will be a few days on coming whilst I finish week 3!

If you follow me on Twitter, you can get a sneak preview as I post each sketch note as I complete it. Otherwise, ¡hasta pronto!

 

Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching #FLdyslexia – Week 1

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015
Image from www.dyslexialincs.co.uk

Image from www.dyslexialincs.co.uk

I’m currently doing a MOOC (massive open online course) with FutureLearn called Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching. It’s a four week course and is free to do. I know that quite a few people from my PLN, whether on Twitter or Facebook, are doing it too, and the participants represent a range of languages as well as phases.

It’s proving very interesting and I’m discovering that, whilst I do many of the things that are suggested as being helpful, I also do some unhelpful things that I thought would help.

To help me internalise things, I am sketch noting each video I watch and, whilst I have shared them on Twitter and in the Language in Primary Schools Facebook group, I thought at the end of each week I should share them here too.

So, here’s week 1 which started by considering some common assumptions and beliefs before looking at the theoretical concepts and issues related to dyslexia and other specific learning differences (SLD); I prefer differences (UK) instead of difficulties or disorders (US).

1.5 - Students with dyslexia talk about some difficulties that they face

1.5 – Students with dyslexia talk about some difficulties that they face

1.8 - The effect of dyslexia on language learning (Dr Judit Kormos)

1.8 – The effect of dyslexia on language learning (Dr Judit Kormos)

1.10 - The nature of reading difficulties (Professor Kate Cain)

1.10 – The nature of reading difficulties (Professor Kate Cain)

During one of the modules for this week we were asked to use our non dominant hand to copy out a text in 3 minutes, with the lined paper on its side and substituting certain vowels for symbols in order to discover what it might be like for a dyslexic student to write under pressure. Oh, and to stand up too whilst we did it. Below is my attempt. It was very hard and very frustrating!

IMG_4250

 

Week 2 follows soon!