Year 6 at WCPS are currently working on the unit Mi pueblo and are working towards writing a paragraph about what there is and isn’t in their town/local area.
In the first lesson, they were given a set of pictures and words for places in the town and asked to match them up without any help. They used their knowledge of English (and French and Polish!) plus their skills of deduction to work out the majority and then the last was decided upon by process of elimination! We discussed their tactics and then recapped the definite and indefinite article that we’d covered before Christmas when talking about sport. In the same lesson, pupils were given a further sheet of images and words to match up.
In the second lesson we used hay and no hay to talk about what there is and isn’t in our town. We joined sentences with simple conjunctions such as yand pero before moving on to use sin embargo, también, tampoco and además.
Last week we moved on to extending our sentences by 1. using singular and plural nouns, 2. using muchos/muchas and 3. adding adjectives as well as using reference materials to find more places in the town. This meant that we reviewed the position and behaviour of adjectives in Spanish, something that we’ve ‘done’ lots of times.
Some of the work is below:
These two boys really impressed me with their grasp of adjectival agreements.
This was written by a native Spanish speaker – imaginative but with some interesting spelling mistakes.
And these two young ladies amused me with their use of adjectives!
(Someone else suggested ‘en mi pueblo hay un castillo joven y una pastelería ocupada’)
This is in preparation for creating a town triarama over the next two lesson based on their paragraphs. I’ll post some examples when they’re finished. A bit of carrot and stick as well as a good way of producing work for display…
My school decided that this year we’d have a Roald Dahl theme for World Book Day on March 3rd. Children came to school dressed as characters from Roald Dahl books – so lots of Oompa Loompas, Matildas, BFGs and Willy Wonkas not to mention a Fantastic Mr Fox appearing around every corner – and lessons were to have a similar theme. Serendipitiously I had purchased a copy of La Maravillosa Medicina de Jorge during my recent trip to Mexico so a plan began to form.
I had originally thought about a dictionary lesson in which children looked up ingredients for there own ‘medicine’ and wrote a list. Suitably purposeful and fun at the same time. Looking at the timetable I realised that I had Year 5 and 6 on WBD so thought I would ‘up’ the challenge. So I did. And I’m really pleased that they rose to said challenge!
Below are details of what we did. There was too much for one lesson; in fact, to do each activity justice I’d say you’d need at least two and a half hours, if not three. One class had 30 minutes…
The lesson began with me reading a chapter of the book – in Spanish of course. The chapter, entitled El maravilloso plan, is near the start of the book and is the one in which Jorge/George considers what to do about his intolerable grandma. He toys with the idea of blowing her up or using snakes or rats to scare her but, realising that he doesn’t have the means to do that, he spies her medicine and hatches a plan. It concludes with a rhyme in which he excitedly shares his plan. It lends itself well to dramatic reading and has illustrations that help with understanding, plus there are quite a few cognates. Additionally, it’s three pages long so manageable!
1. Listen to and follow a chapter
I copied the text* so that children (in pairs) could follow as I read and also displayed the appropriate image for the section on the whiteboard. I stopped after each section to ensure that they were following the story, and also used lots of actions and acting to ‘animate’ the story. It certainly engaged the classes as there was no chatting during the reading, and they were so engrossed that when I reached the part where Jorge/George jumps on the table and actually did it, they were rather shocked. Did get a few cheers afterwards!
If we’d had more time… I’d have done a ‘find the word for..’ activity, both in English and Spanish.
2. Read aloud a rhyming section
I read the last section then we went back and looked at it again. I decided that the first section was all we could attempt in the time we had. I read each line and the class repeated, then we read it again together. Then the class read it to each other in pairs or threes. It was a real test of their phonic knowledge as they’d only heard it three times, and had four minutes to rehearse before I asked if anyone wanted to have a go at reading it aloud to the class. There were between three and eight volunteers in each class who bravely stood and read it together, some with incredibly good pronunciation that made me want to jump up and down and squeal! I think the children were impressed too, especially as two of the classes had heard their native speaking classmate reading it aloud and hearing that it’s quite tricky to get your mouth around it even when it’s your first language!
If we’d had more time… I’d have worked on more of the rhyme and had groups rehearsing a section for a whole class poem recitation! Fits well with the school literacy policy and current focus on poetry.
3. Listen to a recipe and put it in order
Moving on, I’d created my own ‘maravillosa medicina‘. I cut the instructions into strips and gave each group (threes) a set. As they listened to me reading the recipe, they put the recipe into order. They did this very successfully without much problem. Before we checked our answers using the PPT, I asked children if they could guess any of the ingredients. They were successful with shampoo and got close to engine oil (¾ said petrol), understood that paper was included and knew that ‘comida de gatos’ had something to do with cats! We went through the recipe and discussed what the instructions meant.
If we’d had more time… we could have done another sorting activity with pictures of the ingredients as an extra challenge, or a ‘fill the gap’ activity with the text if we were feeling extra adventurous.
4. Write your own ‘maravillosa medicina’
Using some of the vocabulary from my ‘receta’, I made some colour coded cards to guide recipe writing. Green = ingredients orange = quantities and blue = instructions/verbs. Each table had a pack of words and we discussed how to form phrases using an orange and a green card, or a sentence using a blue, then orange then green card. Children then made up their own recipes for ‘una maravillosa medicina’ on a copy of the final slide. Some chose to work in pairs but others preferred to write their own recipe although they formed sentences together. They worked at a variety of levels: the minimum was to write a list of ingredients. Next level was to specify quantities as well as ingredients. The next level was to give instructions by adding a verb. Some children decided to aim even higher and add sequencing words such as primero, después, entonces etc. I was really pleased to see that the dictionaries were used very intelligently by which I mean, there were very few children who tried to look up every single word. That’s progress as I find that some pupils are so eager to please that they try to write overly complicated phrases rather than following the structure and adding ‘glittery bits’ as I call them!
We ran out of time in the lesson to do this part – most classes had about 20 minutes but the vast majority went for it and there was some great work. I asked everyone to finish their medicine for next lesson and I’ve promised to award prizes for the best entry in each class. To help, we looked at how to use wordreference.com
If we’d had more time… we’d have spent time making and sharing phrases with the cards before starting to write the recipes. We’d also have spent more time in class on writing the recipes. It’s always risky letting children take work home to finish…
Next week I will share the completed medicines but I hope that you get a feel for what we did in this post. I enjoyed the lesson and I’m pretty sure that the pupils did too as there was no one off task in any of the four classes, and there was a buzz of discussion about ingredients and how to construct correct sentences throughout the day. I only wish we’d had more time.
So, I wonder what the theme will be next year?
* As I photocopied one chapter of the book only, this was not a breach of copyright. Schools have a CLA license and, as I own the book, it is acceptable as detailed below. The illustrations in the presentation come from that chapter too. For more information see http://www.copyrightandschools.org
PS I did dress up as a Roald Dahl character, but not from George’s Marvellous Medicine. Can you work out who I am? (I’m the one in mortal danger!)
An exciting opportunity for anyone whose primary school teaches Spanish.
If you’re interested, please respond to Vicky Gough at the address below.
Support for Spanish in your primary school!
The British Council has lots of positive experience in delivering language lessons to pupils remotely. We are planning to pilot a programme that would enable schools to have a native speaker teacher live from one of our teaching centres in Argentina for one or two sessions a week to support the school in the teaching of Spanish.
For this pilot we are looking for two or three primary schools, preferably at different stages in their development of languages at primary level, to help us develop this offer for schools in the UK. This is likely to involve one or two weekly sessions for a 5 or 6 week period in the Spring term.
If you are interested and can meet the requirements below, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 14, giving details about how Spanish is taught in your school.
· Videoconferencing equipment which works on H323 or SIP protocol and can connect with external equipment via a SIP or public IP address
· Videoconferencing equipment must be connected to a projector or display that is big enough for the whole class to see
· 2MB dedicated upload/download speed, preferably on a fibre optic dedicated connection
· Support of the Head teacher
· A teacher who can be present in the classroom during sessions (either a Spanish teacher or the class teacher)
· Spanish teacher/class teacher to be available for a 20-minute weekly coordination meeting outside the regular session/s
· A school representative to attend a planning meeting at the start of the pilot and an evaluation meeting at the close
I 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 keynotes, 70+ 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!
My session will be about using ICT in the Primary Language Classroom:
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);
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?;
CAS (Creativity, action, service) and TOK (theory of knowledge);
and of course
Languages that features people I know like Isabelle Jones (@icpjones) and 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
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!
On May 6th I made the trip across Birmingham in rush hour traffic to attend TeachMeetWM organised by the irrepressible and absolutely bonkers Simone Haughey at her school Robin Hood Primary. I sadly missed the choir singing and the start of proceedings thanks to a staff meeting and the traffic, but I arrived in the end to be greeted by delicious Chinese food saved for me by Sim and lots of friendly faces including John Rolfe and AnaPaula Booth from the British Council, and the staff of Robin Hood who are obviously well used to Simone as they didn’t bat an eyelid when I asked if they had a couple of hula hoops I could borrow!
There were many great presentations on the night including a couple via video, and you can see what you missed by looking at the Storify of the tweets at the end of the post. However, my presentation is below as promised for those who were there. How I managed to explain it all in 7 minutes I do not know but I avoided being attacked with a cuddly toy! Do leave a comment if you have questions!
My second session was all about cross curricular language learning; how languages support other areas of the curriculum like literacy and maths as well as how languages can be taught in conjunction with and through other subjects and vice versa.
I mentioned my Pinterest pages; here’s the link to my Roman resources for Spanish. And if you click through the presentation, you’ll find links to things like the music for The Carnival of the Animals, a slideshare of Querido Zoo, links to BuildyourWildself and Switchzoo for making hybrid animals and that cheesy song in Spanish about the planets.
Introducing Pacca Alpaca, a language learning app for little people!
I’ve been working with Anamil Tech on the Spanish dimension of this app and am pleased to say that it is now available in the iTunes and GooglePlay stores where it has already received a review!
It was lovely to work with Nicole again after the success of The Lingo Show which she created and produced (I did the Spanish on that too!) as I knew that the concept would be fun and interactive.
Pacca is a funny quirky and very inquisitive alpaca who travels on a magical carousel from his home in the Andes to explore, learning languages on the way as well as exploring his new environment. In this first instalment, he pops off to Australia!
Here’s what the ‘blurb’ says:
Pacca Alpaca – Australia!
Pacca Alpaca – Australia is a multilingual app aimed at children aged two to six and designed to encourage them to learn new languages and understand the world around them as they embark on an Australian adventure with Pacca the alpaca.
Pacca’s adventure unfolds in his home in the Andes Mountains, as he spots a new destination from afar and flies off in his magical carousel to investigate. When he lands with a bump in Australia, a local host greets him and takes him on a tour of the country. Along the way, the two play games, meet other animals and learn about shapes, colours and numbers. While they play, children can earn rewards as they complete challenges and learn new words in their chosen language – French, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic or English.
The app is the first in a series of adventure apps following Pacca and his friends on their travels across the globe, so watch this space for the next installment!
Things I like about it:
Pacca is a lovely character; very friendly and fun
you can complete the activities in several languages using the same app
there are no advertisements/pop ups/in app purchases
the language is clearly spoken by a child (the Spanish voice actor was a delight; a really sweet little girl from Canarias and it was a shame I didn’t actually get to meet her!) which I think is important in an app aimed at little ones
it’s fun to play the games and you are rewarded with souvenirs for the carousel
all the vocabulary you’ve learned is stored in your suitcase and can be reviewed when you wish
you can start again and recollect all the souvenirs when you’ve finished – and in another language if you want
you discover a new country/culture as you learn e.g. aboriginal style artwork is used for the colours, famous landmarks are shown
there’s the promise of more adventures to different places!
It’s not a free app – it costs £2.49 – so having it on a class set of iPads would need some negotiation but I’ll definitely add it to my list of apps that I recommend to parents/grandparents who want ideas for engaging children in learning outside of the classroom as well as putting it on my iPad for individual/paired play.
I’ve just received an email from the British Council Schools Online sharing these two resources (as well as mentioning the benefits of hosting/sharing a native language assistant) for primary language learning.
Our free Sharing lives, sharing languages activity packs are aimed at children aged 7-11 who are new to learning languages. They can be used in the classroom or with your partner school.
The activities are very simple and there plans are mostly language agnostic so you can decide on the language to be used dependent on skills or the language of a partner school. I’ll be suggesting to staff at WCPS that they use these activities as part of our whole school project through eLanguages in which each class has a different country on which to focus in the lead up to the World Cup finals in June.
“A lot of teachers would appreciate a bit more guidance and practical help, whether it’s schemes of work or things they might be able to read,” adds Board. (Kathryn Board of CfBT)”That’s obviously not what the government wants to do – they want to provide big headlines and how you get there is up to you. But it’s quite tricky because we must not forget this is a new subject, it’s never been compulsory at key stage two before.”
Driscoll (Patricia Driscoll, reader in education at Canterbury Christchurch University) fears the draft curriculum does not place enough emphasis on developing children’s cultural understanding. “In ‘purpose of study’ the draft curriculum says: ‘Learning a foreign language is liberation from insularity and provides an opening to other cultures.’ But then when you come to the ‘curriculum aims’ and ‘subject content’ there’s nothing about culture.”
“Languages are taught through interactive methods but also through cultural identity and understanding,” she says.
I wonder what’ll be up tomorrow? There’s certainly a web chat planned so if you’re free between 6 and 8pm tomorrow evening (Thursday 16th) join in with your ideas about creative lessons and teaching tips!
Reading Los mellizos del tiempo got me thinking about integrating language learning in the Primary curriculum. As I mentioned in my previous post, it links so well with the ‘topic’ of Egyptians, or under the ‘learning journey’ of Treasure taken in Year 4 at WCPS. So I had a bit of a look around and came up with the following ideas, resources and links that might be of use to anyone who wants to do just that!
Egipto para niños – collection of fairly simple texts on a number of areas of Egyptian life including the Pyramids, food, manners and mummies as well as a bit of geography. This text is in fairly short chunks too. And Blog de los Niños has some short chunks of information, particularly about Egyptian gods and the meanings of the various crowns.
Here are some longer texts about various Egyptian ‘misterios’ including the Mummy of Pyramid KV22.
Historia Simple has some short-ish historical summaries of the various phases of the 2500 year long Egyptian era including a section on the Pyramids. There’s also some information on El Historiador.
And of course there’s Wikipedia – you can translate the pages back and forth between languages so you could have some fun with picking out key items of vocabulary.
Slideshare has some presentations for ideas and information including this lovely one from some young learners which is beautifully simple and asks some good questions on slide 4 that could be used for investigation.
And this blog has two simple presentations by Dora la Exploradora and friends, and Hello Kitty covering some of the basics of Egyptian geography and history in words and image.
However, my favourite find is from Junta de Andalucia. This site is a one stop shop about Egyptians, written in simple language and presented in short paragraphs with lots of visuals, making it really accessible. There is a dictionary of key terms as well as the facility to click on highlighted words for an immediate ‘pop up’ definition. Lots of interactive maps and also a hieroglyphics maker within the site also make it a great place for young learners to find out about Egypt. There’s also a webquest that guides learners through the site, posing questions that can be explored and investigated. (There’s another more complex webquest here along with other Egyptian resources shared on the Tiching site.)
A close second goes to a resource from Gobierno de Canarias that takes an interactive look at the Pyramids with extra information, again simply presented, appearing as you click on specific areas of the pyramid.
Videos are another source of information that can often be more accesible than just text.
And then there are these cartoons, the first from a series called Érase una vez.. and the second from a series called Martín Martín.
And here’s another I’ve just found which is a short video about the Egyptian pyramids:
You might also like to try the Barrio Sésamo approach with this video in which Lola visits the Pyramids or this video which presents images and name of the animals of Egypt before moving on to images of buildings and then some short snippets of information about Egyptian life.
You know how I love a good kitschy song! Here’s one called Momias de colores by Rockolate. When my hand is feeling better, I might try to subtitle the video using Amara or at least write them down!
(see also Fátima una momia responsable below under Stories for another song)
(see also Stories below!)
Perhaps with older, more advanced learners you could use some of the definitions from this ‘Glosario’ for a match the word to the definition. You could choose key words like Faraon, Esfinge, Obelisco, Momia, Papiro, Sarcófagos, Vasos canopos and so on.
And this vocabulary list gives you the Spanish word with the Arabic equivalent. Could provide an interesting language comparison activity.
And here’s an online hieroglyphics tool. Would be fun to write some words in hieroglyphics and ask learners to decode before they write their names. Or they could write key Egyptian vocabulary in hieroglyphics for display as well as in Spanish for a multi lingual display!
The Egyptian system of counting and adding etc was very developed and you can find out all about it here (in more detail than I think I need to know but if you like Maths…)
This site has lots of writing at the top (useful information!) but the really ‘useful’ part for learners is the chart with the Egyptian number glyphs and the puzzles underneath, both for whole numbers and also for fractions. I foresee lots of fun with setting maths problems for each other… There are a few more maths problems here.
A document explaining that Egyptian numbers are not positional so you can write the units, tens, hundreds etc in any order! Un sistema aditivo – el egipcio
And of course there are all sorts of things you can do at a very simple level such as sequencing and using geometrical shapes when making Egyptian jewellery, and making pyramids.
I found this free video story about Egypt called El pendiente de la princess: Cuento de Egipto. Sadly it doesn’t go full screen but the man telling the story speaks clearly and fairly slowly so it could be used for a true/false activity or perhaps a multiple choice activity.
However, I found two more promising possibilities!
2. This PDF (rita_ladrones) has links to useful sites (some I’d already highlighted above before I found this!) and also some activity worksheets. Whilst the middle sheet on characters in the book would be hard without reading it, the first sheet (matching words with images and writing your name in hieroglyphics) needs no knowledge of the book, and I think that the third sheet which is a sequencing activity could also be done without reading the story, and actually gives a very simple synopsis of what happens!
3.Then I discovered that there is an online version of the CD rom of activities about the book, complete with Teachers Notes (in Spanish!) There are various activities including finding synonyms and antonyms, sequencing text and a wordsearch – see below image for contents. Some activities are quite challenging for primary learners; however, a bit of challenge can be a good thing!
Fátima, una momia muy responsable
Fátima una momia muy responsable is a lovely story about an Egyptian mummy called Fátima who wants to be a tour guide and keeps scaring people! She builds up a great collection of hats and torches by doing it, but one day…
It’s a narrated version of a book that has been used in many Spanish primary schools.
Some ideas for using the story –
act out the story
talk about colours and sizes describing the hats that Fátima collected / was gifted
pretend to be Fátima and give a tour of a pyramid
one of the class blogs I discovered had a song on it about how Fátima dances which would be great fun, whatever your age! You can access the words here or here, and here is a recording of young learners singing it!
I love ‘being a magpie’ and collecting ideas, and here are some classes in Spanish primaries that have done an Egyptian topic and shared their ideas.
Mis cosillas de Educación Infantil – this link takes you to the posts for the entire project. I particularly like the concept map that they made which includes lots of important vocabulary organised systematically. I think that having a map of what is already known that is added to as time passes and more information is gathered is a great way of documenting learning and progress, especially if learners post questions that they’d like to investigate and see them answered as they explore and investigate!
E.I. 5 años Carlos Ruiz have been doing an Egyptian topic too and this is the first of a number of posts on what they have done. If look in the archive, there are further posts documenting their work throughout noviembre and diciembre 2012 including the sequencing activity referenced in the Maths section above and an interesting post giving instructions on making ‘papiros’.
La Clase de la Bruja Maruja have done a project on Egyptians too and have published some of their work as well as links on their blog. Of particular use I think are the simple worksheets they used that could easily be used in the primary language classroom. I also love the fact that they’ve been using the wonderful Woodlands site by Mandy Barrow using GoogleTranslate to put it into Spanish!
So, I hope you’ve find the above useful. I know that there are many more things that could be done; for example, I haven’t even started on the possibilities for art projects! If you have any ideas or resources, please leave a comment – it’s good to share! And even if you haven’t, leave a comment! Its good to know that people are reading!