Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Tarsia news!

"Is it possible to change to a different shape puzzle without losing all your inputted data?"

This is a question I have been asked about Tarsia, and up to now I have said No.  But I have just discovered how to do it!

On your puzzle, go to File > Properties.  You will then see this dialogue box:

Click on the "Change document type" button and it'll give you all the possible formats that you can change your puzzle into.  I've just changed a Standard Rectangular Puzzle into an Extended Rectangular Puzzle and all my typed-in pairs are still there.

It's an irreversible change so I'd recommend saving your original puzzle first.

Good news!

Some notes from Language World

On Friday 22nd March I attended the first day of ALL Language World in Nottingham.  It was my first time at Language World and also my first time presenting there (on mini-books - I blogged about it here).

I attended a number of different sessions, many about the new curriculum proposals, and made quite a few notes.  I'll reproduce them here in case they are of interest.

Coming to terms with the new National Curriculum
Ann Swarbrick, Bernadette Holmes and Rachel Hawkes
The draft Programme of Study for Key Stage 2
Therese Comfort

The draft Programme of Study is brief but has rich "springboard" comments.  It has the potential to enliven the curriculum and lead to greater independence and rigour.

Its opening statement about MFL is good and provides a good vision of a language learner.  It is, however, the only mention of intercultural understanding.

Key Stage 2:

The word "Literature" in the draft Programme of Study refers to songs, stories, poems and rhymes.  The term needs to be interpreted and a solution found in the run-up to September 2014.

The phonics, patterns and sounds of the language are given even greater importance.  Children need to be able to recognise patterns and therefore reproduce language.

Children need opportunities to 

  • interact with the language (via songs and rhymes, for example)
  • explore patterns and sounds
  • form a rule
  • test their hypothesis
  • apply phonic and word knowledge to create new meanings that are motivating

There is also a new emphasis on seeking clarification and help, which should be planned for and not just incidental.

Reading and writing: What does "simple writing" mean?  Does it mean that the ideas should be simple?
The "conjugation of high-frequency verbs" has also been signposted and will unnerve many teachers, although children are likely to enjoy the challenge.

Non-specialists and even some headteachers will be flummoxed by the lack of detail in the subject content.  It needs more focus.
"key features and patterns of the language, how to apply these, for instance, to build sentences" - there is a huge amount in this but it is not helpful for all practitioners.  Support for teachers is going to be crucial to KS2 MFL succeeding.

A bit of jargon: GPCs - Grapheme Phoneme correspondences

"Technical terminology" - Therese recommends that we have a look at the Y3-Y6 information to see what they are expected know about in Literacy.

Key Stage 3:

There is a need for secondary schools to provide modern languages from the KS2 List of Seven (French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish, Latin or Ancient Greek) plus others.  Although the subject for KS3 is to be known as "Modern Languages" and therefore is not expected to include Latin or Ancient Greek.  Secondary schools should have a language learning environment and culture.

MFL is now a 7-14 curriculum, so there are huge implications for transition.  Teaching in KS3 is expected to build on KS2 not ignore it.

Differences in the draft Programme of Study include translation, transcription and the reading of literary texts, as well as an emphasis on the spontaneity and independence of the learner.

KS3 requires students to listen to a "variety of forms of spoken language" to obtain information and to respond appropriately.

"Literary texts" can be anything non-fiction.  Authentic texts are listed separately.  Some children's and young peoples' books are surprisingly accessible, for example Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which has been translated into different languages, Mafalda and Cuentos de 50 palabras.

Translation is also mentioned, and must be seen as a tool or a method but not as a methodology.  Translation is a cognitive reflex and students will translate in their heads anyway.  We need to harness this and use it constructively.  Translation both ways is recommended, as is using it as a way of exploring the links between language and grammar, or looking for the meaning behind the meaning.

Collaborating with other schools
Debbie Chrysostomou and Katie Belshaw

Tudor Grange Academy, Solihull

Students and staff working with other local secondary schools and primary schools.

"Europa Day" - A foreign street set up in the school hall to promote authentic language.  Visited by students from different cluster schools.

Lead learners - a small group of children from each school who had some input and then shared it with other children in their school.

Collaboration between different age ranges to promote KS2-KS3 transition, and to build positive attitudes towards MFL before Year 7.  Y6 and Y7 can exchange work on a common theme, which makes for appropriate reading texts, particularly for Y6.  Each can provide information that the other needs - language with a purpose.

New Perpsectives on Grammar
David Crystal

David Crystal delivered a fascinating one hour lecture without notes (as far as I could see) and with no visual aids.

He began by acknowledging that his area of expertise is the English language rather than foreign ones, but "We have one thing in common - we all hate Mr Gove equally".  

"Grammar" always meant "analyse" until the beginning of the National Curriculum, and now that is coming back with the new Year 6 SPaG test.
Grammar is not being (and was not in the past) taught alongside semantics and pragmatics.

"Meanings in dictionaries cannot succeed without the grammatical perspective"  for example, the word table needs some context so that we know which definition of table it is.

"Sentences exist to make sense of words" and sentences are the study of grammar.  Without grammar we can't make sense of words.

We need to teach structures and their use.  This was the problem with the communicative approach in MFL.

Semantics: what a sentence means
Pragmatics: the choices that you make when you use language and the effects that your choices convey

An example of semantics vs pragmatics is tu vs vous in French.  There is a straightforward difference in meaning as well as a choice that needs to be made about which one you use and when.  So much so that French even has a special verb tutoyer.

Another good example of semantics vs pragmatics is the Active vs the Passive voice.
Grammar allows you to identify them.
Semantics identifies the difference in meaning.
Pragmatics asks why there are two forms, how they are different and when you use each of them.

Children should be taught the pragmatics of grammar systematically and not just occasionally.

Grammar is the means to an end.  Vocabulary is the hard part, because there is so much of it.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Pushing the envelope

Yesterday I made the somewhat snowy and perilous journey to Nottingham for the first day of ALL Language World 2013.  One of the perks of such an event is catching up with old friends and Twitter friends.  I spent lunch shooting the breeze with @joedale, @atantot, @kec974 and @reesiepie.  Reesiepie and I were talking about the dangers of Amazon recommendations, and I mentioned that I have recently purchased from America three secondhand books about mini-books.  Just when you thought there couldn't possibly be any more kinds of mini-books to add to the ones I've already done....  Then I had the three hour drive home to think about and formulate this next mini-book, which is based on one I saw in one of my new books.

This envelope book combines pocket books with the skills used when completing Venn diagram exercises and Thinking Skills classification activities.

While I was #balletmum for the last time this term, I made some hair and eyes pictures, all of them different

and cut them into individual cards.  I then divided two A4 sheets of paper into four sections and wrote a sentence about hair and eyes on each one:

I cut these into separate cards too and stapled them together down the lefthand edge.  Then I cut two rectangles of card slightly bigger than the word cards.  Onto one I stuck the pile of word cards, and on the other I stuck a small envelope.  I stuck the two pieces of card together with a strip of coloured paper (sticky tape would also do) and put the picture cards in the envelope.

To use this, children take out the picture cards, and, for each page, find the picture cards which the sentence describes.  For example, the first page says J'ai les yeux bleus, so they need to find all the pictures which have blue eyes.

I have an idea for another one using colours and numbers, but this could in fact be used for anything for which you would use a Venn diagram or other sorting exercise.  For example, replace the picture cards with small word cards, and on each page name a grammatical term such as noun, feminine, plural, article, verb....  It would also work to highlight different tenses.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Make it with mini-books

Here is my presentation about mini-books from ALL Language World today.  I've also embedded below the video using responses from the #MFLTwitterati and which I couldn't embed in the Slideshare as well as the audio.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Silent Peer Assessment

In this guest post, Sylvie Bartlett-Rawlings describes Silent Peer Assessment and how she has used it in one of her language lessons.

This was inspired by attending a workshop presented by Paul Dix (@pivotalPaul) on Classroom Assessment and by reading The Lazy Teacher's Handbook, an excellent book by Jim Smith (@thelazyteacher) which had been recommended to me on #mfltwitterers by @MadameChatty

Silent Peer Assessment, a form of collaborative classroom assessment, worked extremely well with my small Year 6 class. The children were excited about this, as I had told them that it was done in secondary school and that I felt that as a class they were ready to try it.

This assessment was carried out as an end of topic activity. It enabled me to monitor individual progress effectively.

The children had covered: means of transport, the present of aller in all its forms, places in town (in year 5 but recapped earlier in the year), planets (year 4, but recapped orally earlier in the topic of transport with 'funky' means of transport), weather (at the start of each class) and expressing view points (worked on over the last two years orally mainly in spontaneous group speaking activities) and simple link words are posted around the classroom. 
The children had plenty of practice on this topic, orally and via reading and listening comprehensions. We had also played Cluedo using @dominic_mcg's version of the game presented at #ililc3

Today's class had a written emphasis. Last week we looked at some letters written by French children about the means of transport they use to attend school and various venues according to the weather and to where they live. They had also worked out the composition of these letters: contrasting weather, change of means of transport according to weather, change of venue, expressing viewpoint. These clear instructions were then listed on a PowerPoint for them to refer back to if needed (a tick sheet would have been fine or the original wording from last class if used on a Smartboard) and each child had their personal file to refer back to the work covered in the past if needed. 

The silent peer assessment was then explained: 
1. Reflect on task individually for 4-5 minutes (timer on screen)
2. When time is up and instructed by the teacher, with partner conduct silent conversation on Post-it notes provided (7-10 minutes) (timer on screen).
A5 Post-it notes were used. 

Comments and corrections were made by children in pairs with no other intervention.  They used different colour pens: one child writes in blue, one in black or with a pencil): 
For example: 
Add 'quand' (in front of il fait beau)
Correction on the spelling of 'je vais' by partner
Partner added other form of verb 
Some added a colour to means of transport

Then I asked the children to go round the class looking at other people's work and see if they could add more to their own writing. 

Once back in their place I asked them individually to write on a new Post-it their final sentences (referencing back to their pair work) and put them in their exercise books.  This worked really well with this particular class and I will use this method again as they gained so much from it.

Here are pictures of some of the completed pieces of work:

Sylvie is from Montpellier and trained as a 14+ teacher. After 20 years in the secondary sector teaching and examining at GCSE, AS and A2 level she became MFL coordinator in two local primary schools. She now teaches French in KS1 and KS2 but has kept an Adult French Literature class. She also teaches for the Petite Ecole Kentoise, a charity that provides a Saturday morning school to multilingual children.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Shape Game

I needed a one-off lesson today as I had two halves of classes put together, each of whom were doing different things.  Recently I purchased Anthony Browne's The Shape Game as I thought that it would make for a good lesson idea.  I have used Anthony Browne books before - Silly Billy and Bear's Magic Pencil.  I quite often use a book in English to put some language work in context, to set the scene.

The Shape Game tells the story of Browne's visit as a child to a gallery where he discovered the world of art, and after which his mother introduced him to the Shape Game.  The idea of the Shape Game is that you draw a random shape on a piece of paper, and then give it to a friend who turns that shape into something recognisable.

The Children's Laureate website has some super resources to go with the Shape Game.  I started off by showing the children the gallery of creations using Anthony Browne's first shape - I love Quentin Blake's.  Then I gave them the first shape on this resource and they set about turning it into something recognisable.  The rabbit at the top is what I did with it!

Here are some of the things that the children created:

Creating the pictures is fun enough, but take a look at the suggestions for what you can do with them afterwards.  Browne suggests giving the character a name, adding a speech bubble and something the character would say, or describing the character and any special qualities that it has.  What would happen if two of the characters met?  There are lots of possibilities for language work.  I also like the creative activities suggested for the different key stages (EYFS/KS1, KS2, KS3 and above), particularly the Drawing to Music in the KS2 activities.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

The Fat Cat

My brothers and sister and I first came across this book in the mid-seventies, and, as you can see, we read it many times after that.  Some twenty years later, when I first moved to the north-east, I lived next door to the real Fat Cat.  The real Fat Cat was a ginger tom called Lewy.  He was so fat that one day he got stuck in his cat-flap.  He pulled this way and that, and in the end pulled the cat-flap right off the door and lay in our garden wearing it like some kind of plastic belt.

This morning I had the idea of making a variation on the Lift-the-Flap mini-book theme, using The Fat Cat as a starting point.  I started off by making a Fat Cat, then made some flaps to stick on his belly, and drew some pictures to stick under the flaps:

It also gave me an idea for illustrating one of the songs that I do with Year 1 - El Pulpito - where a whale ends up eating a sardine, an octopus, a tuna and a shark.

This idea of "what have I eaten?" could be adapted in many ways.  You could use a crocodile, a dinosaur or a monster as the eater, and different foods, animals, people or household objects as the food .  You could add as much or as little description as you like.  This could even work for secondary students' Healthy Eating topic.  They could make a cardboard cut-out of themselves, add to the belly what they eat in an average day and comment on how healthy or unhealthy it is.