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.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Spot the errors - yes or no?

Last weekend I received via email a link to this article from Teachwire.  The image used in the email was this one, to illustrate a "find the errors" activity:

Over my 25 years in this teaching game I've been told not to do activities like this, as students will see and remember the incorrect words and not the correct ones.  I put out a tweet to gauge current thinking:

Steve Smith put more clearly than I could the main issue with this kind of activity:

My main issue with doing activities of this kind has been ensuring that all students record and correct all errors so that there is no incorrect language in their book, as you could bet your bottom dollar those would be the examples they chose to use later on as a model.  Ms Pickering on Twitter describes a way around this:

I do really like the activity because of the analysis of the language and the learning conversations that it generates.  I think Steve's point of only using well-practiced language is very valid.

Vincent Everett shared an example of a proof-reading activity, where students are finding errors but always have a correct version of the text available:

So: Spot the errors - yes or no?  What do you think?  Do you know of any research for or against it?  I look forward to your comments.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

A crowd-source resource

On Monday I posted about creating model texts for colleagues to use in their lessons.  I invited blog readers to contribute a text for inclusion in the resource to be used with beginner learners of Spanish who are learning about grammatical gender for the first time.

You can see an image of the contributed texts above, and you can download the resource here.

I introduced my two beginner Year 4 classes to the texts today.  I gave them each a glossary of the 36 nouns that are used in the texts.  Then I gave them a copy of the texts between two, and asked them to work in pairs to find the genders of each noun.  They did really well finding them, using the colours as well as everything they knew about indefinite articles and final -o and -a to help them.

I'm aiming for the children to write their own texts, ultimately.  Next I'm going to get them to help me to write what is in my teacher apron, starting with just a list then adding the starters, conjunctions and so on. When they start writing their own I might let them have an additional glossary for some funny vocabulary.  I might also get them to underline words in the colours or even write the words in colours, as suggested by Vincent Everett.

If there are any resources that you think would be useful in this format, please mention it in the comments.  Spanish or French both fine!

Monday, 4 November 2019

Crowd-sourcing model texts

I was very interested in this tweet when I saw it at lunchtime yesterday. It's from Samara Spielberg, who is a Spanish teacher in the US. She asks colleagues to write short texts which incorporate certain set phrases, verbs and structures. Then her students read and analyse them before using them as a model for their own work. 

I think this is a model we could adapt for Key Stage 2. It would be quite straightforward to provide each other with multiple model texts in this way. 

To get the ball rolling I'm going to try it out for gender in Spanish, something that I have just begun with my Year 4 new starters.

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.

I'll be seeing Year 4 on Thursday 7th, so any received before then will be most welcome!

¡Muchas gracias!  I will, of course, share any resulting resources.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Language Links

Personally, I find it difficult to teach another language (Spanish and French in my case) without comparing the words and structures in the new language with English.  For example, colours are often one of the first things that we teach new learners.  With my classes I look for clues, tips and hints that will help us to remember the words.  One of the most common ones is remembering blanco/blanc by thinking of the English word blank.  Quite often these clues, tips and hints lead us to high quality English vocabulary that I recommend to my students that they use.  In recent weeks we have mentioned azure, stupendous and phantom.  

This also links very well with the curriculum for English, where there is a big emphasis at the moment on improving and building English vocabulary.  At the beginning of July I started to make posters to formalise these links and make them available on Light Bulb Languages.  The links are designed to stimulate interest in other languages while building English vocabulary and showing links to help students to remember the new words. 

The L2 word on each poster is a translation of the first English word.  Then the second English word is linked to the L2 word (sometimes they are cognates but not always).  The two English words are always linked in some way.

I post a new link every day to the Light Bulb Languages Twitter page and Facebook page, and then every week or so I upload the new ones to the webpage.  They are available in French, Spanish, German and Italian.

There are 131 links currently on the webpage, and there is a new one ready to post for every day until 9th December so far, with plenty more in the pipeline.  If you can think of any good links, or if you come across a good one in your teaching, please leave it in the comments!