Monday, 26 November 2012

An idea for Christmas

This is a variation on the theme of concertina books that is just right for Christmas time.  

To make this one I used a sheet of A4 paper cut in half lengthways (to make a strip about 30cm by 10.5cm).  I folded it into a concertina of 8 equal sections.  It's important that your concertina has an even number of sections so that your present will lie flat.

Next I cut a rectangle of red card (other colours are available of course) 13cm by 10.5 cm and decorated it  with Christmassy patterns and a metallic-tape bow.  Then I cut the parcel in half and stuck on half on each end of the concertina.

I haven't put any writing on the concertina yet, but I have some ideas:

  • Use dictionaries to find the Spanish words for presents and write these on the concertina.
  • As above, plus the children add some adjectives.
  • Children write things that they are going to do for their parents as a Christmas present (lots of good ideas here)
  • Write a Christmas recipe.
  • Write and illustrate Christmas vocabulary.
  • Write a Christmas poem.
Many thanks to everyone who has been tweeting me pictures of the mini-books that they have been making at school.  It's lovely to see all the different ways that they can be used.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

More Primary Languages news

At the end of September the consultation on the proposal to make languages a compulsory subject in Key Stage 2 ended.  Today the report was published.

There were 318 responses (perhaps because the consultation took place over the summer?) and "the vast majority" (91%) of those who responded agreed with the Government's proposal.  Because of this strong support, the Government has decided to proceed with making the learning of a language statutory in Key Stage 2 from September 2014.

The responses were, gladly, as anticipated.  Younger children are more open and receptive to learning another language, learning in primary lays the foundation for Key Stage 3 and, hopefully, Key Stage 4, it is vital for intercultural learning and plays a fundamental part in cross-curricular learning.  And so on.  

Respondents have also made it clear that if compulsory primary languages is to succeed, there will have to be significant investment of money and time in teacher training and support networks.  Many of the classroom teachers who are currently teaching the language are non-specialist, other schools are not teaching a language at all and will need to start from scratch. 

The second part of the report is dedicated to the language or languages that primary children should learn.  Respondents were asked which language their school would be likely to teach, and, not surprisingly, French comes top of the list followed by Spanish and German.  Community languages, Italian and Mandarin are a lot lower on the list.  A quarter of respondents said that "primary schools should teach the same language as their local secondary or partner schools......(to) ensure that coherent programmes of learning were available to children to continue their study of a specific language across all key stages."  This is where the main difficulty lies.

The CofE primary school where I teach Spanish feeds to the local CofE secondary school, who chose Spanish as their first foreign language when they opened.  Out of last year's 27 Year 6 children, seventeen of them went to this secondary school and are therefore continuing with Spanish.  However, when they got there, they were in the same classes as children from other primary schools who had done French to very varying levels and no Spanish at all.  In addition, the ten children who didn't go to the CofE secondary school went to various other schools in the city, and most of them have ended up doing French and not Spanish.  Now Sunderland is a small city and a small local authority.  The problems that we encounter here are much worse in other parts of the country.  It just isn't as simple as "teaching the same language as your local secondary school".  I have written before about a possible solution to this problem and a couple of years ago worked on a transition project which tried to find some ways of overcoming this significant obstacle to primary languages' success.

The Government is now consulting on a new proposal: "to require primary schools to teach one or more of the following languages at Key Stage 2: French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish or a classical language (Latin or ancient Greek). Schools would, of course, be free to teach other languages in addition to one of these."  The draft of the Order by which languages will be made statutory at Key Stage 2 is also published as part of this new consultation.  They say that they will also "consider the points made about workforce training and support" and that there will be a further consultation in early 2013 on the proposed content for the Programmes of Study.  

The consultation opened yesterday (16th November) and we only have until 16th December to register our views.  Every response counts!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

What's that in your pocket?

Pocket books!  They're a bit more tricky to make than some of the other mini-books but well worth it.  The finished book has eight pages with pockets and covers front and back that can be decorated.  There are all sorts of things that can be put in the pockets - my sample above is just one idea.  The yellow cards have descriptions of the people whose pictures are stuck on the pages.  Students could make these merely as a writing exercise, or they could make their own and then exchange with a partner for a reading and matching exercise.

They a bit like an enhanced version of the original mini-book.  If you can make one of those, you'll be able to see how these go together.  In these instructions I've used a piece of paper which is a different colour on each side, to make things clearer.

1. Fold the paper into eight equal
sections, as for the original mini-book.

2. Fold the two longer edges
over.  These will form the

3. Cut along the centre fold as far
asthe final two sections.

4. Refold the paper lengthways.

5. Hold the two ends and push
them together.
This will form the pages.

6. The two flaps at the open
end form the covers.

7. Glue together the backs of the pages
as well as the edges of the open pockets.

8. If you have made your pocket book with paper,
you could add a card cover to make it
more sturdy.
Then fill the pockets!

Monday, 5 November 2012

I'm a bit of a fan

Fan books.  I found these while looking for something else.  As usual.

I made six identical shapes using the autoshape function in Publisher and copy-and-paste.  Then I cut them out, put them in a pile and punched a hole in them all.  Finally I fastened them together with a butterfly clip.  Simple.

I mentioned on Twitter the other night that I had thought of using these for House and Home.  Make house shapes, fasten them together and each house shape can house the description of a different room.  I'm sure you can think of lots of other ways of exploiting them.

PS Congrats to Blogger for importing the top photo the wrong way round.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

A concertina-ed effort

photo courtesy of cheeky @elvisrunner

A few weeks ago I mentioned on Twitter that I would be taking part in a short presentation at Language Show Live.  One of the cheeky #MFLTwitterati (yes, Prim, I'm talking about you!) asked if it would involve paper folding.  I suppose if you look back on my more recent posts, it does appear that I am particularly keen on the art of papiroflexia.  

And here is another one - the concertina book.  Here's how to make it:

2. Fold it into a concertina.
1. Halve a piece of A4 paper lengthways
3. Write or draw on each section of the concertina
except the very top one and the very bottom one.
4. Stick something at the top and the bottom sections of your concertina.

These mini-books are ideal for anything that requires a sequence, as they provide ready-made 'steps' on which to write.  So you could use them for recipes, and have foodstuffs or utensils at the top and bottom, or even for a more formal piece of writing which requires the use of time sequencing phrases:

Another variation on the theme is the accordion book.  In this example I have stuck together two zig-zag folds and shaped them.

Concertina books and accordion books are small, non-threatening and easy to store and display.  Why not have a go?

UPDATE 2.3.13:

Here is a variation on the concertina book which was invented by Rachel Smith.  The concertina forms the the steps up which the animals climb into the Ark.  My Year 2 class loved this!

UPDATE 14.5.13:

I have been doing Les Planètes with Year 5 this half term, and was after some kind of writing activity to show off our extended sentences.  Enter the concertina book!