Sunday, 8 December 2013

Adapting Pie Corbett's Talk for Writing for MFL or What we can learn from primary schools

In many of the wonderful teachmeet /show and tell/ pedagoo events I have attended in the last 12 months, I have been reminded of the great work that primary schools do with their pupils, and how little awareness I have of them as a secondary school teacher.

At #pedagoowonderland I was lucky enough to be able to attend a workshop led by @RachelOrr about Pie Corbett's Talk 4 Writing and how she used it in her primary school, and there were a lot of great ideas. This is the first time I've hear of Pie Corbett, and this website explains it in more detail.  The aspects of it which caught my attention were the following:

Using actions to help pupils think about punctuation and connectives.  My favourites? Salute the capital letter, the finger click for a comma, a karate chop and clap for an exclamation mark.  There are some pupils in secondary school for whom these kinaesthetic shortcuts in MFL could really benefit. If I have understood it correctly, the approach is about internalising the language, and embedding the language in a fun, memorable way.  I liked the actions for certain storytelling words or connectives.  Teaching these with an action would enable the class to stay in the target language.

The approach had 3 stages:
Imitate - the pupils learn the story with actions, internalising the language
Innovate - whilst "hugging" the original, changing certain aspects
Invent - using the starters and connectives for their own story

The pupils would use storytelling "maps" with pictures and symbols.  I liked this idea as well.

Whilst we do this to a certain extent in MFL, I have never tried to do a whole story like this, and I would worry about spending so long on imitation.  However, this has a real impact on literacy in primary school.  Why shouldn't it help some of our pupils who really struggle with MFL?  Food for thought, maybe?

Many thanks again to @RachelOrr for a thought-provoking session.

#pedagoo wonderland differentiation

This year I have 2 sets where I have some real high-fliers biting my hand off for new and challenging language, who are in the same class as some kids who find learning a language a bit of a mystery.  Differentiation is therefore VERY close to my heart, and occupying a lot of my time.  Here are some of the ideas from the fabulous #pedagoowonderland.  I'm sharing the ideas that I found interesting and this is my first step in processing them.

What I liked about this idea was that it very much starts from where the pupils are. 

This picture above is Rebecca from the Science dept at Joseph Swan demonstrating her idea for tic-tac-toe stylee homework.  Design a grid with tasks at different levels.  The core task, which everyone has to do is in the centre.  The pupils then have a choice of tasks to finish off their "line".  I thought this was a lovely idea.

Differentiated challenge cards -I'm thinking of using this for connectives and how to extend your language.

I agree with the thinking behind this.  It becomes too easy for pupils simply to lean on the support sheet crutch.

I'm not crazy about the idea of giving out more pens just to be able to show outsiders where improvements have been made, but the idea of having extension tasks where you ask them to reflect, for example, on the connectives they have used and to improve them is a nice one.

I really liked the tip about using laminated strips rather than lollipops so that pupils can set themselves a target for next lesson, which means that you can then tailor your question to the target the pupil has set themselves.  I'm a big fan of exit passes, and this combines exit passes with lollipop sticks.

I liked the idea of having cards which you can colour code to support the types of differentiation you need for that particular lesson without having to provide another handout.

Teaching different roles, and getting the passengers to take on more of a leadership role can be a powerful way to develop their learning skills.

These ideas will help, but they are certainly not the whole story.  I also went to @teamtait's workshop on flipped learning.  Our school has recently got its act together and got a VTLE, a decade after the rest of the country. I think this has real potential for my classes, but I will blog about this in the New Year, as that needs a lot more processing.

A big thank you to Andrea Kirton who ran this differentiation workshop, and to all at Joseph Swan Academy who worked so hard to put on such a thought-provoking, mojo-boosting day.