Monday, 20 April 2015

Story Towers

My Year 6 Spaniards are coming to the end of our "Then and Now" unit, which finishes with an extended piece of writing describing a place now and in the past.  I asked them before the Easter holidays if they had any ideas for how we could present this writing.  One of the girls suggested a cube, another two doors which open to see the two pictures.  They also suggested a leaflet or an advert.  All good ideas.

During the holidays I saw this on Pinterest and thought it might work, especially as it is a variation on the theme of a cube.  This afternoon I purchased some blank postcards from (Poundland £1 for 50) and made the trial run that you can see above.

To slot the cards together I measured 2cm in from the corner and cut a 2cm slot.  I found it was more stable if both cards have a slot.

I'm sure there are possibilities for decorating the inside as well, which would disguise the "Postcard".

Thursday, 16 April 2015

How should we assess KS2 Languages?

It's a question often asked, and a question to which there is no simple and straightforward answer.  Unfortunately, as the image above suggests, there is no magic wand that can be waved to say "this is what we should all do".  What we can do, though, is to look into some of the background and at some useful documents, and investigate what practising teachers really do.  This will stimulate discussion about what is most suitable for each teacher's individual setting and will inform them of the information that we need to record and why.  This is a discussion that should be held by secondary teachers as well as primary, if we are to ensure a successful 7-14 continuum.

I put together the information that follows for the most recent meeting of the Sunderland ALL Primary Languages Hub, and I thought it would be useful to share it more widely.

First of all, the new Programme of Study for KS2 Languages does not specify the exact level that children should reach by the end of Year 6.  However, the professional opinion is that this level should be A1 on the Common European Framework (CEF).  So when we are designing our schemes of work we need to bear this level in mind. This is the "substantial progress" to which the Programme of Study refers.  Fortunately the KS2 Framework for Languages is targeted at the same level and so continues to be of great help and support.

We also need to consider what secondary teachers are looking for in their new Year 7 students.  I asked secondary languages teachers on Twitter what they wanted their new KS3 students to have done in KS2.    Here are the answers in descending order of popularity:

- Phonics
- Present tense of high-frequency verbs
- Understanding of different parts of speech
- Ability to put sentences together, using connectives
- Ability to adapt sentences
- Knowledge about Language (KAL), Language Learning Skills (LLS), from the KS2 Framework
- A love of language and a willingness to have a go

It was clear from some responses that many secondary teachers are not familiar with the new KS2 requirements.  Those who are familiar with the new programme of study for KS2 appear to be those who are actively involved in teaching it.

I also asked what information they would like to have about the Year 6s coming to them.  Here are the responses:

-          Which language have they studied ?
-          How long have they studied it for ?
-          How frequent and how long are their lessons ?
-          What have they covered ?
-          Balance of skills
-          What activities do they enjoy ?
-          Basic assessment of individuals’ competence

It is important that, in this time of no levels and of different schools assessing in different ways, that we give this information to secondary schools in a format that can be easily understood and therefore used.  Secondary colleagues at the Hub meeting said that “I can” statements were the most helpful.

The topic of assessment has been discussed frequently and at length by the members of the Languages in Primary Schools Facebook group.  I have made a note of some of the methods that people have mentioned:

       Post-its – used to record self-assessment and peer assessment quickly and easily
       I can statements. Children can stick a copy in their books and also record their achievement on them.  The statements will also inform planning and help with objectives for the lesson.
       Photograph evidence – if children do some writing on their mini whiteboard, take a picture to keep for evidence.
       Children self-assess using a red-amber-green method.  This shows their view of their own competence in a certain area.  They could also use smiley faces.
       Teachers use the iDoceo app (iPad only) to record quickly and easily who can do what.
       Take brief notes about who can do what.  Lessons are usually too short and there are too many children to write a lot down.
       It may be possible to fit Languages assessment in to the same structure as the other subjects.  However do we know, for example, what the emerging, expecting and excelling levels are for each year group?!

Sue Cave has produced a tool which breaks down each of the statements in the Programme of Study into four progressive levels.  It's well worth a look.

Another document that is well worth a read is from the Expert Subject Advisory Group for Languages.  It is a very comprehensive and very useful overview.  This link takes you to the pdf document.  

So, as I said, no definite answers, but hopefully some useful information.