As I explained on the day, when you have to submit your idea so far in advance and aren’t entirely sure how your idea will pan out, it is quite tricky to come up with a witty/apposite title. My choice of Something old Something new was mainly because I envisaged sharing some old ideas and some new ones plus some borrowed from others. However, as I came to think in more detail I began to think more about weddings!
Primary languages have had a bit of a torrid love life, being loved and then rejected by the primary curriculum, nearly getting up the aisle in 2010 but being jilted at the last moment when all was going so well. So I set out to explore the ‘prenuptial agreement’ (or Languages Programmes of Study at KS2), how we can make this ‘marriage’ work, how to convince those that are nervous about married life and how we’ll keep the spark alive.
So I began by looking at the Programmes of Study, highlighting parts of the document that I found interesting.
Purpose of study – Intercultural Understanding is still really important – it’s a vital part of language learning. Providing learners with building blocks AND mortar is key if they are to be able to express what they want in the foreign language. And ‘great works of literature’ doesn’t mean Don Quijote de la Mancha, A la recherché du temps perdu or Mein Kampf at Year 3; poetry is great literature and we regularly use an extract tom Machado in Year 5 as stimulus for writing.
Aims – It’s about a balance and variety of things; a breadth of experience that leads to progression. No arguments there!
The lack of detail in the Attainment target section could be seen as a bit disconcerting but doesn’t give much guidance. However, I’m hanging on to my Key Stage 2 Framework which is still a great document; follow that and you can’t go far wrong. Measuring progress in terms of I can statements is also helpful, and there’s been a great discussion on Primary languages forum this week on what we should be looking for in terms of skills progression. (Want to join in? Join the forum or ask to join the Sharing Primary Languages wikispace)
Subject content – I highlighted that whilst it says ‘substantial progress in one language’, this does not mean that looking at other languages is precluded; in fact, I’d positively encourage it as making links between languages is a vital language learning skill. We discussed how a balance of skills can be achieved when some are more comfortable with speaking activities than the written word which seems more ‘serious’ and permanent. And we mentioned ‘the grammar question’ – it’s not such a bad thing! Nor is looking at languages such as Greek and Latin; very useful for understanding the formation of languages as I discovered on my year abroad at Universitat de les Illes Balears. Finally in this section we thought about laying those foundations for KS3. I referred back to a presentation I’d made at Language World called Bricklaying for Beginners and how bricks need mortar, and how it’s not a wall that needs demolishing at KS3; reinforcing but not knocking down!
I then took each ‘pupils should be taught to..’ statement and split them into listening, speaking, reading, writing and grammar, suggesting ideas and activities that might meet them.
There are lots of links on the wiki to many of the ideas but here are some comments:
‘joining in’ is very important and builds confidence as does repetition e.g storytelling, reciting rhymes and poems
making links between graphemes and phonemes is important to enable increased fluency e.g. listening out for phonemes in songs/rhymes, sorting words, reading with your Spanish/French/German glasses so you view graphemes not as you would in your own language
confidence with phonics is vital to teacher and learner; syllables and stress patterns too – hence my pupils’ love of stress punching! (a post about this and ‘animal symphony’ will follow shortly)
books are brilliant – not just fiction though! Non fiction is very popular with boys and also is great for linking to other curricular areas: going back to my analogy, this ‘marriage’ is about give and take! If you can’t find suitable books, make your own as with my Storybird ¿De dónde viene el yak?
learners can decode more complex texts without knowing every word if you provide them with the confidence to do so, embed language learning skills and discuss how languages work from the very start.
writing doesn’t have to be in a book; whiteboards, post-it notes, mini books, Padlet, labels, paper chains, posters, your partner’s hand; they all count!
structuring and scaffolding is fine – trapdoors are great as starters as is making human sentences and physically rearranging words. The Human Fruit machine with 3+ learners holding a large dice with 6 images of nouns/adjectives/verbs etc on them and spin is a great way of making make random sentences and exploring how you can substitute words in existing sentences to make new ones!
I loved grammar at school; I liked the logic of it all and the patterns. So why not exploit that and make verb flowers, grammar songs and raps, dice games and so on. Use highlighters/colour to clarify grammar ( I lived by my red=accusative, green=nominative and blue=dative when learning German) be it nouns, adjectival placement, verb endings/groupings or spelling.
Use activities that are used in other areas of the primary curriculum; learners up level sentences in Literacy all the time so why not in the foreign language? Word pyramids starting with a word and extending to a complex sentence at the base? And card sorting activities too.
So that’s the session in a (pretty big) nutshell!
(Written whilst lying flat on my back in pain so please excuse typos!)
After looking at some of the pedagogy behind using iPads in the classroom, we watched a video from Cedars School that outlined some of the reasons that such technology is so helpful. And then it was on to the iPad itself.
We talked about how to take screen shots (hold down on/off switch and home key) how to add websites to your iPad as a bookmark and also with an icon so they appear as an app (use ‘box with arrow coming out of it’ icon and Add to home screen) as well as how to add images to the camera roll (hold finger and Save image) as well as copy and paste images and text (hold finger and Copy; hold finger where you wish to put it and Paste) I also explained how to add accents to letters by holding the letter until a popup menu of accented letters appear and then sliding to the option you want, and how to add different keyboards in General – International – Keyboards – add new keyboard then scroll between them using the globe icon next to the space bar when typing thus avoiding auto correction of your Spanish into English for example.
I shared how you might project the iPad in the classroom using Apple TV, Reflector / AirServer or a VGA/HDMI adaptor, and we discussed the advantages/disadvantages of each (I demonstrated the importance of having two options as Reflector wasn’t working so my adaptor was essential!) I also explained a variety of ways to get things off your iPad using email, Dropbox and Foldr for example. We might also have discussed Showbie but it was for beginners!
Then we talked apps – we looked at some specific language apps like Mindsnacks French for French vocabulary learning, Lectura Mágica for phonics in Spanish and Wortzauberer for German spelling/phonics. There are lists on the wikispace of specific language apps.
I made my love of generic apps very clear however as they are so much more versatile and can be used across the curriculum so it’s easier to justify any cost.
We looked at Popplet as a mind mapping tool, useful for vocabulary lists, sharing plans for units, mapping ideas, planning work. We discussed how you can add images from the camera roll or take a picture as well as text, and how to change the colour of the bubbles, and then how to export it as a jpg or pdf via email or to the camera roll as a jpg.
Then we explored Tellagami (which was behaving contrary to reports that morning and unlike Popplet which kept crashing!) an app that allows you to make an talking avatar using text to speech (not so good for languages other than English) or by making up a recording of up to 30 seconds. I explained how I use it in the classroom to record pupils speaking as it allows me to record their task and review it later, and is also very motivating for them, allowing them to rehearse and refine their speaking. I also warned that it is quite addictive making Tellagami avatars so to make sure that the objective of the exercise is clear to learners – to speak Spanish (in my case) not to make a beautiful avatar! We also had a quick look at Morfo Booth, another tool that encourages speaking, and I demonstrated how you could animate a picture – the result was rather scary I have to say!
Then I shared my favourite app, BookCreator. So versatile and useful, not just for writing stories but for all kinds of writing – making speaking word books, dictionaries and glossaries, information books, stories, explanations and so on. The ability to add text, sound, videos (directly from the camera roll), hyperlinks to URLs and also the ability to merge books to make a collaborative book makes it a really powerful tool, not just for language learning. And in BookCreator version 3 you can even draw and write on your book using the pen tool! I’ve talked about how I’ve used this app with Year 3 to write their own ebooks previously, and I’ll be sharing more at Language World in April in Lancaster in a session with Joe Dale and Helen Bates. Books can be shared in a variety of ways and can be easily shared as a PDF. However, this does not allow for audio/video to function and you need either an i-device or Chrome and the app Readium to read the books as fully functional eBooks at present.
And that was it as it was time for tea!
I also wanted to share Pic Collage, Puppet Pals HD and Sock puppets but we ran out of time so here are a few notes!
I’ve used Pic Collage a lot recently to encourage learners to write in Spanish; some of my pupils have only had 6 weeks of Spanish so far and their repertoire to write is limited. They used PicCollage to make a poster using what they knew (and bits that they’d found in the front of their exercise books – impressed me!) They enjoyed it and felt confident, and they were proud to see their work projected onto the IWB.
Puppet Pals HD (with Director’s Pass) and are great digital storytelling apps, taking my use of puppets to a different level. Both allows you to make ‘puppet shows’, SockPuppets with socks and Puppet Pals HD with characters within the app. In Puppet Pals you can also add your own characters from images from camera roll, cutting them out as well as backgrounds. In SockPuppets you can change your voice, higher or lower according to the level you set for each puppet.
And the final slide said – it’s not the technology that’s important, it’s what you do with it as this video demonstrates!
“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!
EDUtalk is organised by David Noble (@parslad) and John Johnston (@johnjohnston) and encourages people to talk about education, using mobile and web technologies.
I was really honoured to be asked and enjoyed the talking about my experiences and thoughts on education. We talked about my background, how I came to be in Switzerland and what I’ve been doing here before going on to talk about creativity and technology in education.
My summary of “the important bits”!
Be patient – things don’t happen overnight.
Lead by example. And if learners enjoy it, they’ll be your greatest help!
Technology is just another tool that can be used to enhance and transform learning – it’s not THE answer.
Before using technology ask “why?” – it should suit the task rather than the task being made to match the technology.
When starting out using new tools, don’t try to do everything at once. You’ll end up with too many plates spinning. Start with one or two ideas and “practise” for a bit before adding something else.
Learning should be celebrated. Loudly. And I love doing it.
Twitter is wonderful for keeping in touch and feeling connected.
We need to support one another, especially as other support, such as advisory teams, is being decimated.
Thanks to David and John for the opportunity. Great to talk to you again! You can listen to the programme here.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ll be in the UK in February to attend ILILC3 or to give its full name, the ICT Link into Language conference taking place at the University of Southampton on 9th and 10th February.
The theme of the conference is Jailbreaking the MFL classroom and there are sessions on
Mobile technologies Social Media Making the most of Web 2.0 Technologies The Global classroom Developing Speaking Closing the gap (SEN, SOLO, supporting learning etc)
In I want to break free we’ll be looking at ways to break away from ‘chalk and talk’ and involve learners, encouraging them to interact with and demonstrate their understanding as they learn using (mobile) technology. We’ll investigate some ways of doing this using tools such as Nearpod, Socrative and Memrise and whilst I’ll be using my iPad and Mac to present, that doesn’t mean you need a fruity device to join in as some tools are web based and others are both Android and iOS. And on top of that, we’re a friendly bunch so I’m sure people will share!
Let out for good behaviour? refers to leaving the classroom being (often) seen as a treat. There are many ways to ‘break free’ of the walls of your classroom, both physical and virtual, and this session will involve both. Participation is required as we explore activities and games, that will enhance teaching and learning whilst bringing a breath of free air to a stuffy classroom. Technology will be involved but you don’t need anything but your imagination and sense of adventure to enjoy the activities.
On top of the conference, there’s the Show and Tell on Saturday night at which ANYONE is encouraged to share a snippet sized piece of good practice, song or activity. Everyone has a good idea and has something to say so it’s great to hear from new people each year. You can sign up for it here.
Why should you attend?
it’s excellent value CPD
the speakers are excellent
you’ll learn so much
it’s the friendliest funn-est conference you are ever likely to attend
you’ll learn as much from conversations as from the sessions
And, back to the song at the start. Whilst I’m sure not everyone is at the end of their tether (at least I hope not!), it’s good sometimes to ‘breakout’ from things that are just not working for you, or your learners, look at things from another perspective and find a new ‘way’. Come to ILILC3 and you might just find the inspiration, support and encouragement that you need!
I couldn’t be at BETT this year which made me sad. I can do without the exhibition in itself; what I missed was the interaction with others and particularly the TeachMeet and TeachMeetTakeovers from which I have learned so much.
Not to be beaten, I recorded a 2 minute nano-presentation in case my name came up on the ‘MagicFruitMachine‘. It didn’t, but all is not lost as a)a list of URLs and links to presentations and blogs was given to every attendee and b)I’ve recorded it so you get it anyway!
Here it is – entitled Be patient – it’ll happen, it’s my encouragement to those who feel that their “drop in the ocean” won’t make a difference.
I’m pleased to say that before I leave these shores, I will be speaking for one last time (for now!) on October 1st in London. Details are below, including the programme and the application form to complete. Great value for money at £25!
Talleres de formación de la Consejería de Educación
Sábado 1 de octubre de 2011: talleres para profesores de primaria
Sábado 8 de octubre de 2011: talleres para profesorado de secundaria
Lugar: Colegio Español Vicente Cañada Blanch, 317 Portobello Road, London W105SZ
Los programas y hojas de inscripción están publicados en nuestra página WEB: http://www.educacion.gob.es/reinounido/convocatorias-programas/formacion-profesorado.html
Plazo de inscripción: hasta el 26 de septiembre.
Coste de la inscripción, incluido almuerzo y materiales: 25 libras por persona
The Consejería de Educación are organizing their Spanish Workshops.
Saturday October 1st: Spanish workshops for Primary teachers
Saturday October 8th: Spanish workshops for Secondary teachers
Venue: Colegio Español Vicente Cañada Blanch, 317 Portobello road, London W105SZ
Programmes and application forms are available at: http://www.educacion.gob.es/reinounido/convocatorias-programas/formacion-profesorado.html
Registration will take place until September 26th
Cost: 25 pounds, including lunch and materials
We look forward to welcoming you
The third of a trio of presentations that I should have posted earlier (and I’ve still got a day of Language World to finish blogging too!)
My presentation at Language World this year took it’s theme from the fact that Primary language learning is an entitlement rather than statutory as we had expected a year ago. In it I explored what an entitlement meant and shared some ideas of how it might look and what it should include. Thanks to the people who attended on a hot Friday afternoon in the 6th session of a long and exciting day. I’ll put the audio with the Slideshare once I have time to edit it!