Sunday, 29 December 2019

Your top 10 reads of 2019

Here are the top ten most-read posts on this blog during 2019:

10.  #LW2019 Goosebump Learning - my presentation from Language World 2019.  Don't know what goosebump learning is?  Have a read!

9.  Languages in the news - From the end of February / beginning of March when languages were all over the news thanks to a BBC report.  I also wrote a second news post in July, following the publication of the Language Trends 2019 report.

8.  Spirals and waves (updated) - a post from 2017 all about how to use Festisite to make word spirals, waves, eggs, hearts....  Have a go!

7.  Primary Writing magazine - next steps

6.  Primary Languages Writing Celebration magazine5.  Write Away Paperwork - these three blogposts all deal with the inception, development and publication of Write Away! magazine, of which there are now 3 issues available to read.  Do you fancy seeing what primary children write in their language lessons?  Take a look!

4.  A concertina-ed effort - a post from 2012 which tells you how to make concertina books.

3.  Primary Languages White Paper - a post about the recommendations of the Primary Languages White Paper, which was published in March this year.

2.  Wheel Decide - about the app Wheel Decide, which you can use to make spinning random word or sentence generators for use in class.

1.  #LW2019 Sketchnotes - a post containing my sketchnotes from this year's Language World.  I suspect its popularity is due to the inclusion of a sketchnote about the new Ofsted framework!

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Everything you need to know about Tarsia, calligrams and minibooks

Recently I have added some more free resources to my online shop.  They are a series of pdf "Everything you need to know about..." guides.

You can choose from:
Each resource is a compilation of posts from this blog and other documents that I have made to support these topics.  I thought it would help you to have everything in one place instead of having to search through various sites.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Curriculum map and overhaul

At the end of last month I attended the 4th annual Northern Primary Languages Show (#NPLS19) in York.  The session I was particularly looking forward to was by Dr Rachel Hawkes, who was talking about vocabulary.  This is my sketchnote from her thought-provoking session:

My main takeaways from Rachel's session were:
  1. It's generally acknowledged that by the end of Year 6 children will have reached level A1 on the Common European Framework.  This requires knowledge of 500 items of vocabulary.
  2. The vocabulary taught should be informed by the words' frequency in the language. (I blogged before about high-frequency language in Spanish and in French.)
  3. Key verbs are crucial.
  4. Vocabulary needs to be revisited frequently is it is to stick.
This persuaded me to take a closer look at my curriculum for KS2 Spanish.  I had a feeling that it included considerably more than 500 words, and wanted to look at the inclusion of key verb forms and the thread of the grammar and structures.

I got some pieces of A1 paper and my new Paperchase markers and set to examining my curriculum.


First observations:

  • The red numbers at the bottom of each sheet are the numbers of new words.  I was interested and surprised to see that once I had added up each year group's totals, it only came to 417 words, 472 if you include the music man unit, which I don't always do.  Children may exceed 500 words by using their dictionaries to personalise their work.
  • There is a good coverage of the verb tener (to have) but with the verb ser (one of the verbs to be) I really only cover the third person singular.
  • The grammar and structures are a bit haphazard now I look at them like this.  For a better 'thread' I'm thinking of moving family and pets from Year 5 into Year 3 to replace food and opinions.  This will help to reinforce gender and to introduce plurals, as well as revisiting tener and llamarse.  The food unit is a big jump into some complex concepts.
  • Weather would be better suited to Year 4, as the language involved is much simpler than other Year 5 topics.
  • There aren't enough question forms.
  • The only time I look at regular verb conjugation is in the music man unit, but, as I said earlier, I don't always do this unit - it's one I keep in my pocket just in case. I need to build in a regular -AR verb earlier on.
This is something I'll continue to mull over during the Christmas holidays.  If you use my scheme and resources, I'd love to hear your ideas and comments.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Post-It grids with a twist

Last week I saw this tweet from the Twitter account @Geog_HA:

It occurred to me that this great activity is a twist on Post-It grids, that I've blogged about before and which I use often in the classroom.  In fact today I did the weather one with a Year 5 class.

I had a go at doing this activity with a languages twist with one of my Year 6 classes this morning.

We've been working on infinitives in Spanish - what they are, how to identify them and how to use them.  We read them in school rules, using the book Ya voy a la escuela, sang them in a song ('Ahora vamos a cantar' from Diez Deditos) and last week used them in opinion sentences.

This morning I gave each pair of students a copy of the crowd-sourced texts using opinions and infinitives:
On the board there were 12 questions in a grid:

I gave each pair 12 post-it tabs.  I asked them to read the texts, work out the answers to the questions (using prior knowledge, their books and knowledge of cognates), write their answer (person 1-5) on their post-it tab and stick it on the question.  The board in that classroom is one of the ones like a giant TV, and one of the boys reminded me that it's very sensitive, so instead I drew a big grid on the ordinary whiteboard and we stuck the post-it tabs on there.  This turned out well as the questions weren't obscured.

I stopped the activity when all the groups had done most of them and we went through the answers.  I looked at the range of answers in each square on the board while we were going through.

Afterwards I explained to the children that this was the first time doing this activity for me, and asked them if they had enjoyed it.  They said they had - many said, "It was fun!" and added, "It was different!"  One of the boys said that he enjoyed it because he got to be out of his seat.  They were certainly all very engaged with finding the answers, and I overheard some good learning conversations about the answers.

When I do this kind of activity again, I'll find some stickier post-its (these ones had a tendency to flutter off the board!) and will also try having questions that need to be answered with a phrase or sentence rather than a number.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Crowd-sourcing model texts for French

Following the success of the Spanish crowd-source and resulting resource, I'm now crowd-sourcing for French.

I would be very grateful if you could write a sentence or couple of sentences using the highlighted language that you can see at the top of this post.  You can see my example to start you off.  Don't worry about colour highlighting, as I can do that.  If you don't want to add your real name, a pseudonym or nickname would be fine.

You can add your sentences here in a comment, or email them to me.

Merci!  I will, of course, share any resulting resources.