Sunday, 25 November 2012

SSAT Conference 2012 (6) Helen Myers

Making the most of digital media: Helen Myers -The Ashcombe School (me!)

I have created a folder called ‘SSAT 2012’in my public dropbox.

In it there is:

  • The PowerPoint presentation
  • The list of references
  • The letter inviting you to spend a  day at The Ashcombe to experiment with ICT in the computer rooms (Weds 23rd January; Wednesday 26th June)
I selected ten things to talk about:

1)      A dedicated computer room, preferably with language management system for the ultimate in effective and efficient use of time e.g.  Sanako (classroom control, classroom monitoring, demonstration, listening, speaking, feedback, vocab testing, internet access)

2)      Subscription to Linguacope which includes access to downloadable images for making your own games.  We also subscribe to Activiscope to make ‘cool’ games like Penguin crossing

3)      TaskMagic – for very little effort of ‘input;’ you get massive ‘output’ of variety of games and activities.  Easy to differentiate within a class using the same source (e.g. contrast inserting gaps into a spaceless text and translating into TL using ‘Type’.  Note the online ‘textivate’ .. example shown with song text.. info gives link to YouTube video

4)      Use of Audacity / Cubase to produce audio  e.g. vocabulary list in French / English

5)      Facility to convert Word table (e.g. containing 2 columned list of vocab) into Powerpoint slides in 6 clicks! (separate doc available with instructions on how to do this)

6)      Facility to make ‘pictures’ of every slide in a PowerPoint the insert these into a movie

RESULT OF 4, 5 AND 6 = TeachProf video (follow link here)

7)      Vocabexpress – rigorous (!) testing of vocabulary – customisable to your text book or GCSE – offers spirit of competiton intra and inter school!

8)      CD ROMs e.g. Eurotalk – competitive element in networked version

9)      Authentic ‘soap’ e.g. ‘Plus Belle la Vie’ – quality video- - current contexts and language – suits short attention span (HEALTH WARNING : This is despised by native Marseillais delegate but I defended you, o pblv!!!! !!!!)

10)  Second Life – (a) recommend teachers can use to maintain currency of own language and learning new language skills (I demonstrated how I am learning Italain in SL and have made real friends there) (b) I invite anyone who is interested and enthusiastic to join me in a pilot project to use the 3D world to motivate pupils  to collaborate and communicate, initially with other UK schools, then eventually with our partner schools in other countries.

Feel free to email me for any further info.

SSAT Conference 2012 (5) Jane Breen

The exciting challenge of innovating language curriculum – Jane Breen, AST King Edward VI School (Boys’ Grammar, Chelmsford)

A great talk from a very accomplished teacher and presenter - and as an infrequent blogger, can I ask .... are blogs OK places to comment on the more informal aspect of hairstyle too?  If so .. well, I think your hair style is just great, Jane (and I will remove this comment if it is not appropriate!!)   I hope that we can entice her to our ALL London talks as well one day!
Jane compares the typical UK timetable organisation and allocation to languages unfavourably with other countries and sees this as an essential element to change.  She advocates intensive immersion in one language to get to a high standard in KS3 (Y7: 4 hours, Y8 4 hours Y9 3 hours, GCSE at the end of Y9) and introducing second language in Y9 (2 hours).  She likens language learning to learning an instrument: once you have learnt one instrument, it is easer and  quicker to learn another.

The raw stats she displayed for each language comparing Y9 performance to Y11 performance indicate that the strategy has worked as far as getting pupils to a higher standard, earlier.

 Key to success is

(1) the emphasis on the use of target language right form the start, reinforcing an d insisting on consistency (so not giving up on it!) (she showed videos which showed enthusiastic use of TL by pupils at a very early stage in Y7) and

(2)         explicit development of pupils as independent, resilient learners (ref  Carol Dweck – resilience, independence, self-management e.g. use of independent structures.

Her Top 8 strategies to promote ZfL (Zest for Learning)

1.      Promote fluency in the language (this is what learners expect)

To speak En in class they have to ask if they can in the TL

Translate INTO English, Discuss in TL

Language Placemats prepared based on needs for (a) High frequency transactions (peer greetings, class instructions, Teacher talk, setting up group work, directions, evaluations, routines, other)  (b)Pupil response (c) pupil/pupil interaction  ACTOON: make these mats!!!! Such a good idea . much more efficient than words around the classroom!

2.      Peer and self assessment in the TL

Speaking. Writing frames very early on. NB this is a formula for outstanding learning

Give structures for discussing e.g. evaluating a pop video

Give language for opinions and discussions (e.g, commenting on the quality of pronunciation / content / presentation.  Provide higher levels e.g. I like  / because / it could have been better if …

Typical activity: pupil/group presents, the others fill in a grid to evaluate, compare, contrast .. so student-led.  This way you can see and hear progression!

3. Assessment for learning

Collaborating / actively learning together

Use of mini whiteboards – ask a question – they are all engaged

Competitive work as a team

Double or quits activities (challenge: all class must write paragraphs perfectly – all responsible for checking – if all perfect, no hoomework; if one mistake, double homework .. pressure is on class to check not on individual who may make a mistake

4 Create an ‘interactive learning zone’ in your classroom!

Grammar hubs displayed ion classroom (video shown of a very impressive display where walls covered with useful reference)

Tasks set where pupils are ‘grammar detectives’ . give resources – they have to come up with the rules – watched video where they were truly ‘interacting’; with the display

5. Use interesting contexts

(I can’t read my writing here.. I must have been getting emotional!!)  Includes ‘Berlin

 6. Literature

  • Use fantastic stories (who can beat Faust?!!!!!_
  • perform,
  • repeat/retrieve/ remember /
  • group performance
  • reading aloud
  • choral chanting as a round (superb video of this in practice .. also reminds me how effective it is to SHOW good practice …) NB noise disguises the individual.. more confidence to speak aloud
  • Make mini books to share with other schools
  • Read aloud a story – buy ‘Reading Rugs’ (brilliant idea so much more comfortable than sitting at desks!)
8 Poetry or song

Task: match picture to text and pronunciation – superb example of der  Erlk├Ânig …tragic story read aloud dramatically with relevant pictures and text displayed – really really great idea which anyone could do at any level!
Thanks SO much Jane for an extremely well thought out presentation which really set out a challenge! – follow links to curriculum for French and German to access resources.

SSAT Conference 2012 (4) Tim Crapper & Richard O’Driscoll,

‘Ofsted outstanding in MFL 2012

Tim Crapper, Head of French  & Richard O’Driscoll, Head of Spanish, Aylesbury Grammar School for boys

Tim and Richard modestly took us through some of the elements which secured a judgement of ‘outstanding’ from a recent OFSTED inspection led by the Lead Inspector for languages, Elaine Taylor.  I thoroughly recommend people to hear them if ever they get the chance. I have already asked them to come to talk at a future ALL London event!

They started with a most encouraging comment: ‘the normal can be outstanding’.  I’m listing a summary of what they said, and although they were very open about the fact that these things worked particularly for them in their school with able boys, I am sure that many elements can be replicated in all schools.  However, I am not so sure that it would be as easy for everyone to acquire their apparently effortless and natural  understated sense of humour and appreciation of 'things random'!!  Their students are lucky to have them as teachers!
  1. Breadth of Curriculum
·         support by SMT design of a strong option model
·         push for 2 MFL at GCSE
·         encourage minority languages
·         create a virtuous circle (it is ’natural to do a language’
·         work with partners (e.g. in HE)

2.  Maintaining take-up.  Strong support and leadership from SMT
·         Options system (no competitive recruitment needed – all languages support each other)
·         Options booklet positively encourages more than one language
·         Language assistants employed
·         Subject talks done in lessons to encourage take-up
·         Deliberately and explicitly teaching way beyond the scheme of work to give a ‘taster’
·         A parents evening for Y11 to encourage support from parents
·         Displays
·         Curriculum time (3 hours per language over a 12 week period)

3. Active and productive language skills
·         Focus on writing and speaking – pupils given longer to produce language – creative, imaginative, showing progression.  Introduce structure for writing: minimum word limit.  Teacher spends longer marking fewer pieces – much ‘bigger deal’ when work returned
·         Display of good work
·         Arrange for SMT to congratulate classes working well ( a good essay as worthwhile as pleasing exam results)
·         Praise and reward with small gifts (pleasure of a 15 cm ruler …!)
·         Visualisers: to share work, encourage, leads to spontaneous rounds of applause (so genuinely ‘OK’ to do well – achievement not embarrassing)

5. Class Activities

  • Scooter game in the time it takes for the music to finish, challenge is to create a crossword across the board with words called out
  • speed-dating (produce video)
  • extended writing on topic which interests them (example of a 15-page piece on Spanish food!)
  • Sixth form: creating trailers for films etc
5. Motivating Boys

  • Speak against the clock
  • Games
  • Anything random / bizarre (yet trying to avoid the extreme and the violent (!))
  • Adopt a role (avoid talking about yourself)
  • Languages ‘Food Fair’
6        Create a ‘buzz’

  • Teacher overt as a ‘language learner’ (e.g learning a new language – sponsored – challenge to test teacher on vocab list of new language!)
  • Use Twitter – be followed on Twitter @AGSFrench @AGSSpanish
  • Assemblies about languages arousing curiosity about words and message of importance pf languages
7        Visits, events, conferences

  • KS3 Trips (Present prizes in assembly; Display authentic resources in room
  • KS4& 5 Exchanges
  • KS5 study visit
  • In-school activities for all (Visit to Spanish restaurant; Sports and languages day; Double club; Y7 Bastille celebration Day; Anything linked to food  [quote of the day for me: ‘they are just basically eating machines’ …!!!!]
  • Gifted and talented activities (Created land where three languages spoken: F/G/S); language conference; extension classes e.g. on the historic background of a period; invite lecturer of HE; film-making club – currently making a zombie/ghost film where the zombie speaks French and the ghost speaks Spanish)
An absolutely fantastic talk.  Thanks so much for sharing AGS! 

SSAT Conference 2012 (3): Steven Fawkes

Keynote 1: New wheels? Innovations in language; progress in language learning.  Steven Fawkes.

 Steven is simply a brilliant speaker.  What he has to say is also brilliant.  His intelligent and clever use of language, humour, imagery and tone means that he can communicate sometimes controversial and critical commentary in a way which is absolutely compelling for all.

It almost seems blasphemous to attempt a summary of something which is such an integrated whole and delivered with such skill, but here goes …. 

His talk used the imagery/analogy of ‘wheels’ to explore to what extent we were being required to change, reinvent or ‘tweak’ our practice in the current climate.  A great image which really worked and which I am sure I will now appropriate!

1. A response to changes ….

  • There are many changes – this is to be expected from politicians who will claim that things need to change in order to make progress.  We need to identify which things we can affect, and which things are beyond our scope
  • We are losing support mechanisms / bodies (eg. QCA/CILt/LEA/ BECTA ect)
  • We still have our ‘shared history, profession, each other, ALL!
  • We need to question whether things are really ‘new’ – (do wheels need changing?) or whether they are things we already do/know about/ have in our attic (do we need to find/tweak our old wheel?)
  • The delightful ancient image of a ‘wheel of fortune’ illustrates how things change – sometimes you may be at the top of the wheel and fortunate, sometimes at the bottom and dressed only in your underpants (-you had to be there-) sometimes you are slipping back, sometimes moving forward .. but there are essential ‘principles’ which remain over time, regardless of the ‘age’ in which you are teaching
  • Despite what politicians may claim, change does not necessarily lead to a linear, an ever upward, onward trajectory in terms of progress. 
  • Note that during periods of ‘enlightenment’, some things are thrown into the shadow. Some words can be ‘in’ [currently: grammar,, literacy. Ofsted, rigorous] and others ‘out’ [culture, compelling learning experiences, social cohesion, skills, personalisation (aside: no one could ever define this one!) skills].  A diverting ‘game’ where we were invited to define words rarely used .
Things we can affect: access interesting resources; encourage curiosity; play with language; engage with people and culture. 

  • Examples of encouraging curiosity: show photos (which are personal, authentic, contextualised, arouse curiosity) and allow for spontaneous discussion.(who are they? What is happening? What are they saying? Steven shared wedding photos of his family at this point.
2. Ofsted

 Points about OFSTED which Steven shared with us (and at which point everyone in the room started writing!!)

  • 4 areas: Achievement, T&L, B&S, L&M
  • Overall question they ask while observing ‘is this good enough for the range of children in this class?’
  • Focus on achievement of different groups within the class
  • Languages should be developed not just tested (e.g. listening exercises should not be merely ‘summative’
  • Overriding principle:

Myths about ofsted:

  • ‘You have to do it like this’ .. actually no required method
  • ‘You have to report levels’ – no, levels are not used for  planning lessons
  • ‘You have to use a certain lesson plan format’ – no, this is just useful for ‘insurance’
  • ‘You have to use plenaries for assessment for learning’ – no, if constant AfL activities are ‘clunky’ (e.g. after every few minutes you interrupt flow of lesson to check progress) it detracts from time for learning
3. Learners
Main things needed: Engagement, active learning, less teacher focus.

Learning: not just remembering the learning, but knowing how to use it and wanting to use it

Wider context: how we compare with other countries.  When asked, our learners say they have comparatively lower level of confidence in using the language independently.  French in simlar position – their analysis is that it is because they over-emphasise the need for accuracy.  (General murmurs of assent to this in the room!)

New learners?  With a focus on exam success, a risk of reductionism.  Solution: find a different wheel to add to the movement ….. it may be in the garage!

Other changes: A level reform; Russell group support for languages; decline in HE languages; decline in experience of the year abroad (costly); universities moving to saying that languages are necessary for effective research.

Overall: Things we can do:

  • Re-discover things we used to do (new word coined by Steven: in – veter-ation!) Delightful examples from work  Steven’s former pupils did ‘in the past’ e.g. writing their own versions of La Fontaine fables
  • Be aware that there is a lobby in the House of Lords for languages
  • Be aware that some students are motivated by what will get you ‘good grades’ . others need more ’off the wall’ motivation and the ‘F’ word .. Fun! (e.g. choose to walk up stairs which make the sound of a piano keyboard rather than using the escalator)
  • Have the professional confidence to do carry things out – our responsibility to the future
  • CPD more difficult to get out on courses now .. so make most of remote, social, informal opportunities
  • Be aware of elements which are always needed: (4 skills; culture, vocab, grammar) and the activities we promote (explore, acquire and USE the language)
  • Do not limit to ‘what is needed for an A grade’ .. but teach what is of the ESSSENCE

SSAT Conference 2012 (2) : Bernadette Young and Dan Belcher

Welcome and introduction – Bernadette Young, Headteacher, Royds School Specialist Language College + Dan Belcher, SSAT.
Bernadette spoke extremely highly of the languages staff at her own school and made us all feel better about ourselves through reminding us of all the very wide range of skills and attributes which teachers use on a daily basis (actor, manager, writer etc etc) and of a national context which does not make things easier for us.   Link to ppt to follow.

It is heartening to know that there are Headteachers like Bernadette, who look further afield than their own school and  join with other heads to ‘represent’ the languages perspective at a ‘higher level’.   Thanks Bernadette for the extra work you do on our behalf and for the overt support you give teachers.

Dan Belcher

Two fun and productive ‘ice-breaker’ activities.  (1): Two truths and a lie (or something like that!).  Tell your neighbour three things about yourself.  Two are true one is not.  The neighbour has to guess which is the lie.  (2) On one post-it write a resource which you would recommend to others; on the other write what your biggest challenge is at the  moment.  Pass to different sides of the room for display and eventual transferral to document.

Dan proved to be the perfect ‘host’.  Pacey, lively, supportive, and a man with an interesting lifestyle judging by the ‘truths’ he shared about himself!
Back to 'overview' and links to other posts

SSAT Conference 2012 (1): Introduction and overview!

SSAT Conference November 2012,  ‘Innovation and progress in languages’: Notes and action points!

Thanks to The SSAT team for organising the national languages conference 2012 which took place in Birmingham  22-23 November 2012.  Claire Trott did a great job of bringing it all together!

Although I had to miss some of it through setting up and clearing up after my own session, and it was just so cruel that I had to miss parallel sessions (!), I was able to really enjoy what I did experience, and I have come away brimming with thoughts and practical ideas, adn with names of potential ALL London speakers whom I had not heard previously.

Much as I love the online communities (especially the yahoomflresources group, Linguanet and various Twitter lists) through which I benefit enormously from ‘continuous (literally! – I mean, every minute!!!) professional development’,  and much as I love being part of ‘Show and Tell / Teachmeet’ sessions where people can present ideas in short bursts, I personally still appreciate and benefit from the so-called ‘traditional conferences’ where people are given time to present their practice ‘as a whole’ (often including exploring rationale / underpinning principles as well as practical outcomes) and listeners can concentrate, reflect thoughtfully, quietly and unobtrusively as they go along, following up with questions and discussion either at the end of the talk or over the coffee and lunch breaks.

I am not going to attempt to reproduce in full what people said, but while it is fresh in my mind, here are a few summaries and personal thoughts and ‘points for action’ which I have taken away from the conference.
Following Joe Dale's advice to copy Isabelle Jones and Amanda Salt (stars in the blogosphere firmament!) I will split the notes into separate pages.  Click the hyperlinks to get to the pages!
Welcome and introduction – Bernadette Young, Headteacher, Royds School Specialist Language College + Dan Belcher, SSAT.
Keynote 1: New wheels? Innovations in language; progress in language learning.  Steven Fawkes.
‘Ofsted outstanding in MFL 2012. Tim Crapper, Head of French & Richard O’Driscoll, Head of Spanish, Aylesbury Grammar School for boys
The exciting challenge of innovating language curriculum – Jane Breen, AST King Edward VI School (Boys’ Grammar, Chelmsford)

Making the most of digital media: Helen Myers -The Ashcombe School (me!)