Sunday, 25 November 2012

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  Erlkönig …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.

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