Last night at 8.30pm I arrived home after driving back from the Primary Languages Show, which started at the ACC in Liverpool yesterday, 12th March, and continues today, 13th March. Despite a 3.5 hour journey and White Van Man trying to drive me off the road on the M62, I was still buzzing with the presentations that I had seen and the ideas they had given me.
The day began with an introduction from Therese Comfort from CILT, and a keynote address from Dr Dan Tierney, who spoke about his philosophy for Primary Languages and research that he has been carrying out.
The first workshop I attended was Language Upskilling, led by Carmel O'Hagan from CILT. I wasn't able to attend the meeting about this in Newcastle last week, and so used this as an opportunity to learn about the new specification for Upskilling for primary teachers. We have identified Upskilling as a training need in Sunderland, and it was useful to gain an insight into the new specification.
After this workshop, I walked briskly round to the other side of the ACC, hoping to catch Helen Myers, who had been leading a workshop and with whom I have been corresponding virtually for many years. Despite texting each other with what we were wearing (!) and our locations in the building, we missed each other. We'll meet one day, Helen ! It was just after this that I bumped into Joe Dale, with whom I enjoyed coffee, and lunch later on. Speaking of virtual friends who I finally got to meet, I had a long chat with Martin Lapworth of Task Magic fame, Jan Lewandowski, who said some very nice things about MFL Sunderland, and I finally got to meet Lisa Stevens. I also caught up with fellow north-easterner Steve Mulgrew, who was showing off his new primary French materials.
The second workshop I went to was "Exploring non-fiction: All about animals", presented by Louise Harty, languages adviser for Northumberland. She took us through the sequence of activities for the latest materials from Northumberland - "Tout à propos des Animaux". It is a series of thinking skills lessons which enables pupils to discover and manipulate both basic and more complex French. It's aimed Y6 and Y7 and would make an excellent transition unit. It would give those Y7s who have done French before a new focus and some new challenges, while enabling those new to the language to find out about gender, adjectival agreement, regular verb paradigms.... I really enjoyed Louise's presentation, and being able to actually do all the activities !
After lunch (a tasty chicken tagine) I went to "Podcasting to upskill primary teachers", presented by Phil Wood from Lancashire LA. He described the programme of podcasts that they have made to help classroom teachers to become more confident in their use of French and in their MFL teaching methodology. Primary teachers are able to study in small, 5-minute chunks in their own time and at their own pace. Sunderland teachers are very keen to have some help with their own skills in French, and I am very interested in looking at this as a way forward. It would certainly be pretty easy for me to put together using the sound files that we already have on MFL Sunderland and which were recorded by our FLAs. Anything is easier than trying to get them all in the same room at the same time, and we are a much smaller LA than Lancashire !
I finished my day with "La main dans la bouche - using puppets for teaching French", which was presented by Stephen Novy. We found out how to make basic rod and sock puppets, and how best to operate them so as to make them the focus of the lesson. I use a puppet with Reception and Nursery, and I got some good ideas for how to use him and develop his character.
I had a fantastic time at the Primary Languages Show, and am looking forward to trying out all the new things I learnt and saw. Next year I will have to save up and go for both days !