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Tag: poems

A visit to Foyles

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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.

  1. Seeing if I could find anything to inspire my boys with their language learning
  2. Looking for things for my own language development.
  3. 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 here  here 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.

I’ve just come back from a lovely holiday in Bayern during which I tried hard to use my German – with some success including a heated discussion with a woman in Königssee about passports and plenty of food discussions.

As usual I found myself drawn to bookshops (and dirndls but I resisted those!) and made a few purchases as you can see:

Elefanten-Sommer is a lovely PixiBuch about a little girl called Lina and her elephant, Rufus. They ‘trumpet’ together and are happy until Rufus does something naughty…

And Kasper Mütze is a PixiBuch that contains two stories about Kasper Mütze – Kasper Mütze hat Geburtstag and Kasper Mütze hat Besuch. Each page is very simple and rhymes, the phrases are quite repetitive which is great for me – and for my planned German club who will all be beginners.

Und heut ist Montag – I love Eric Carle books and I’m familiar with this one in English and Spanish so when I saw it in the bargain bin for 2€50 I snapped it up! Days of the week, food and animals – lots of possibilities. And it can be sung too!

And then I saw this book Ich bin das ganze Jahr vergnügt in Salzburg when I was sheltering from torrential rain in a Buchhändlung. Lots of rhymes and songs for different times of the year, some with actions (like In dem Walde steht ein Haus) and others with music. I particularly liked the two above; on the left, a poem with the days of the week, and on the right a poem I could use to introduce a Christmas tradition from Switzerland  called Räbechilbi.

Finally, at the airport I found two magazines that I thought might be interesting to children – and me!

National Geographic Kids is very colourful and has a variety of lengths of text in it as well as quizzes and interesting facts. I particularly like the bilingual facts signalled with the two flags which allow you to compare German and English, and also Check diese kuriosen Fakten. I’m very tempted to enter the competition too – think I might need to find a child to enter for me though…

And Dein Spiegel is the children’s version of the famous Der Spiegel. It’s more complex than National Geographic Kids but there are short news items like the one about the boys in England wearing skirts to school as well as longer articles about Sport, Natur, Kultur, Menschen, Wirtschaft and Politik. I’m hoping that I might learn something about the upcoming elections by reading the section below right. And then there’s the jokes page. Some are a bit complex for me but I like the two below left – my trumpet playing son particularly likes the one about the violin and cello!

I might have spent far more money but tried to restrain myself!

Another post about books I bought in Bilbao.

I’ve long been a fan of Gloria Fuertes, in particular her poem Doña Pito Piturra which I’ve written about before and so has Erzsi Culshaw.

The National Curriculum Language programme requires learners to:

  • discover and develop an appreciation of a range of writing in the language studied

and the KS2 section specifically states that pupils should be taught to:

  • explore the patterns and sounds of language through songs and rhymes and link the spelling, sound and meaning of words
  • appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language

I’m trying to include more whole class poems that we read and recite together in light of this and also as a way of supporting the English curriculum which requires learners to recite poetry.

So when I saw a series of books called Lee con Gloria Fuertes I decided to purchase a couple. It was hard to decide which to choose but I settled for one on nature and one on weather.


Below are my favourite poems from the books. The first is a list of wishes entitled Todos contra la contaminación which fits well with the eco focus at both my schools and would work well as a reading/drawing activity with learners choosing a line or two to illustrate. The second poem is called Gatos constipados and is about two poorly cats who get thrown out for coughing too much!

There are lots more books in the series so I may well purchase more in the future.

You can find more poems specifically for children by Gloria Fuertes here and others here. In this post there are a number of downloads of her poems along with links to other Gloria Fuertes poems including here (poems about time) and here (poems about professions). You can find a PDF of more of her work here plus here which also has a reading guide.

 

My second session at #ililc4 was entitled Something old, something new and concerned the new 2014 curriculum.

My presentation is below, and I’ll explain briefly what I said as I couldn’t attach the notes without making the Slideshare look ugly!

And there are lots of links ideas and resources at bit.ly/oldlisibo (should have thought out that URL more carefully!)

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.

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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!)

I’m planning a lesson as part of Unit 17 Las cuatro estaciones unit of the QCDA schemes all about seasons and months.

The focus this week is describing the seasons and months using adjectives and making up short poems or possibly calligrams to show what we have learned.

I found these two resources that i think will be very useful to me!

Firstly a lovely wikispace http://springcolours.wikispaces.com/ which has photographs of the seasons and suggetsions of colours – not in Spanish but good collection of pictures.

And secondly, this clip from Youtube that not only talks baout months and seasons in Spanish, but also looks at how the seasons vary according to the Hemisphere in which you live.

I will of course post the results of our lesson if it turns out well! And if it doesn’t, I’ll tell you what went wrong!

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