Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Writing in Key Stage 2 Languages

The grey shading took ages, and, having done it, I'm glad I scanned it without first!

Still learning.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Language World 2015

Ever since #ililc5 I had been looking forward to Language World (#LW2015) for several reasons.  First, it was held at Newcastle University, only 8 miles from my house.  It made such a refreshing change to be able to hop on the Tyne and Wear Metro to get to a top-class conference, rather than have to make a trek of several hours.  Secondly, I was looking forward to catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.  Thirdly, it was an opportunity to find out new things and refresh my knowledge of things that maybe I had forgotten.  And finally, as you may have read here before, it was an opportunity to practise live Sketchnoting.

Here are the sketchnotes of the talks that I attended.  Those with multiple pages I have stitched together using PhotoJoiner.net.  If you go to the ALL website, you can download many of the presentations from the conference.  I gave my presentation Be a crafty Languages teacher, which you can find here.

1.  Bertram Richter - Planning for progress at Key Stage 2

2.  Vicky Cooke - Teaching reading in Key Stage 2: leading learners towards independence

3.  Bernadette Holmes - Interculturalism and the power of three

4. Louise Courtney - Primary to Secondary Transition in French: Insights from research

5.  Rachel Hawkes - ALL Connect

6.  Wendy Adeniji - How can your teaching be consistently good or outstanding?

7.  Nadine Chadier - It's all about the code

8.  Carol Hughes - 25 ideas for creativity from Language World

9.  Rachel Hawkes - Memory and Thought: why we can't have one without the other

10.  Steven Fawkes - Now we are 25

See you in Rugby next year!

Friday, 20 March 2015

Craft and creativity

Below you will find the Slideshare of the presentation "Be a crafty Languages teacher" that I gave at #ililc5 on February 28th and at Language World on 20th March.

I thought a lot about the meaning of the word creativity while researching and writing this presentation.  The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that there is no one simple definition.  I believe that there are four types of creativity at play in the Languages classroom.

1.  Creativity in the curriculum:  Creativity in education, generally speaking, is about letting children be inventive and be discoverers.  It’s about imaginative thinking and behaving which is purposeful and directed towards achieving an objective.  When children are creative in this sense, they question and challenge, they explore ideas, they make connections and they reflect critically on ideas, actions and outcomes.  This kind of creativity can improve children’s self-esteem, motivation and achievement while developing the talent of the individual and developing skills for their adult lives.  This kind of creativity is perhaps not always possible in the primary languages classroom because of time constraints and the necessary amount of teacher input. 

Creative teaching methods:  There is no one-size-fits-all method for language teaching.  We often adapt our methodology to the children that we have in front of us, to their likes, dislikes and interests, incorporating things that they like to engage and motivate them, to make the learning more relevant.  We often devise creative and imaginative ways of presenting the language, and new contexts in which to put it.   These more imaginative approaches are a way of reaching out to the very diverse cognitive and emotional needs of the children in the room.  These creative teaching methods probably make language learning a very different experience to the one you yourself had at school.

Creative use of language: Creative use of language relates to using pre-learned vocabulary and structures, and adapting them to create something new and original, and often personal. Language use is a creative act.  We transform our thoughts into language that can be heard or seen.  Indeed the new Programme of Study for Key Stage 2 requires children to “write phrases from memory, and adapt these to create new sentences”.  The word “create” suggests something new and original, but it is also a recreation and redefinition.  It is this stage that we strive for our learners to reach.  We want them to use what they know, and adapt it to say what they want to say.  In the early stages of language learning, in KS2, language use is often reproduction and practice.  Language is governed by rules but there is still great scope for creativity and originality.
“Creativity lies in the ability to construct meaningful language from the building blocks available and to express ideas using the resources available”  Margaret Anne Clarke,
University of Portsmouth

Craft and creativity: There is certainly a place for artistic creativity in the languages classroom.  Designing and making things motivates children and often, if we choose the activity carefully, gives them a window onto the culture of the country or countries whose language they are learning.  It has to be said that many see this kind of creativity as the “bells and whistles” approach, as time-wasting activities which take up time that could be better spent on listening and reading, for example.  We need to strike the right balance of activities.  Craft activities cater for different learning styles in the classroom.
Of course in the primary context, creativity of this kind is an ideal opportunity for cross-curricular work.  The new Programme of Study for KS2 Art and Design says “A high-quality art and design education should engage, inspire and challenge pupils, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to experiment, invent and create their own works of art, craft and design."  No part of the Programme of Study says that this creative work has to be produced in a dedicated art and design lesson, or that it can’t incorporate aspects of other subjects.
The craft shouldn’t be the end of the learning cycle in the languages lesson – they should ideally be able to use the product in a meaningful way.
Artistic creativity will motivate children and will inspire linguistic creativity. Artistic and “crafty” creativity like this breeds linguistic creativity, and motivates children to be more creative all round.  Artistic creativity also allows an audience for the work.  It can be shared with the wider school community and it also makes for great displays!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Sketchnoting 2 - Experimenting

Since I last wrote about Sketchnoting I have been reading and experimenting.  I have collected links and examples on my Pinterest page and read Mike Rohde's Sketchnote Handbook, which I would really recommend.

I have also bought some new kit:

I have a Moleskine cahier (mauve one on the left) which has tall, narrower pages, an A5 blank notebook from Paperchase (white one in the middle) and some cheap exercise books for writing and drawing ideas and "things that I like".

I also have some Maped Graph'Peps (on the left) for writing and drawing in different colours and some Tombow brush pens in grey shades (on the right) for adding shade and shadows.  For the main writing I have been using Pilot fineliners.  I also have a pack of Crayola Mini Supertips in my pack for colouring in larger areas.

These are the sketchnotes that I am pleased with:

I am not so pleased with these two.  I'm not entirely sure why, but they were better and more useful in my head:

I have been persevering with SketchBook+ on my tablet, and have got the hang of zooming in and out.  However I still can't make on my tablet anything like I can draw by hand, and it takes a lot longer.

I'm looking forward to the Language World conference at the end of this week, to be able to do some "live" sketchnoting.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Building Bridges

Here is my presentation on cross-curricular learning from #ililc5.  We also had a look at an overview of the new curriculum for Year 4 and thought about opportunities for incorporating Languages into other subjects.  I have added this overview below.  It's copied and pasted from the new curriculum document, and reformatted.

Mayans + Aztecs = Maths

Here is my presentation from the #ililc5 Show and Tell.  It's about the Mayan counting system and the Aztecs' use of cocoa beans as currency.  Both enable you to bring cross-curricular maths, history and intercultural understanding into Spanish lessons.

You can also read my earlier blogpost about the Aztecs and their cocoa beans.

Monday, 2 March 2015


If you are a tweeting teacher and you ventured onto Twitter over the weekend, you can't have failed to notice the hashtag #ililc5, which was, frankly, on fire from the evening of Friday 27th February until last night, Sunday 1st March.  Now home from Southampton, I, like most other delegates, am mulling over all the information that I brought home with me after such a language-packed weekend.

The conference began with Joe Dale's keynote - "Capturing the zeitgeist: What's new in the world of technology and languages", in which Joe took us through the some of the ways that things have changed for us in recent years.  He mentioned one thing that I hadn't heard of before: Sketchnoting.  This is where you present notes in a pictorial, doodling form.  The doodling aspect helps to improve memory and the understanding of concepts.  Joe described is as "old wine in new bottles".

I liked the look of the examples that Joe showed us, and accepted Joe's challenge of sketchnoting and tweeting the workshops that I went to during #ililc5.  I am a very visual learner (I discovered this while revising Virgil for Latin O'level), a prolific doodler and OK at drawing simple images.  The examples that Joe showed us had been created on tablets using a stylus, so I decided to try this way first.  On my Sony Xperia tablet I have SketchBookX and Notepad+.  My daughters and I enjoy drawing with SketchBookX; I have tried using a stylus but have mostly used just my finger.  Here are Reading Rabbit and a flower:
I encountered a problem straightaway.  I couldn't write with my finger, and writing with my stylus (just a cheap £4.99 one from Ryman) didn't really work either.  I couldn't get the hang of zooming in and out, which I'm sure would make things easier.  Here are a couple of my efforts, the first using SketchBookX and the second Notepad+:

For the next session I decided to resort to paper and my favourite pen.  I had only brought a lined pad with me, and on Sunday my lovely sister @elvisrunner gave me some of her stash of plain A5 paper, which was even better still.

So here are the sketchnotes that I made during the conference, and also the ones I have (re)made since I returned.  I hope you find some useful little nuggets in there to inspire you.

 Managing change: from good to great - @SenoraCT

Adding drama to Language Learning - @janetlloydnet

Standing out or outstanding? - @dominic_mcg

Show and Tell

Primary Language Learning: 1+2 - @SenoraCT

Google Apps for Education - @jowinchester

Techno-Phonics - @PrinceLanguages

Cooking on gas - keynote address by @lisibo

And here are two sketchnotes of my first session "Be a crafty languages teacher".  @lancslassrach used her fancy stylus on her iPad, and @simonehaughey used pen and paper.

I am definitely going to be persevering with sketchnoting, and will be attending two more conferences over the next few weeks.  I will practise some more with my tablet, as well as with some nice paper and my significant collection of felt-tips, and read the pins that I have on my new Sketchnotes Pinterest board to help me to develop further what I can do.  I have lots of fusty dusty notebooks full of notes I have taken at conferences and which I rarely look at.  This technique makes consulting them and therefore learning from them so much easier.

Thanks, Joe, for putting me on to this!