Saturday 31 May 2014

Pirates Ahoy with Year 2

This half term with Year 2 we are exploring the theme of pirates ....linking this to the children's work on the coast and/or the seaside.
It's all going to be about "acting" and being "dramatic" and we are going to use simple well loved games and activities to do this:

Hide and Seek
Hot and Cold
Simon says (Pirate says..)
Beetle Drive
Joining in with songs

In Spanish we will learn the chorus to el pirata Barbaroja ....with actions of course!

In French we will listen and join in with "Voilà les pirates" !We will be listening out for the phrase "Voilà les pirates"...joining in and freeze framing as we hear it marching around the classroom and singing the chorus!

We will be describing pirates in games of Simon says (Pirate says), acting out the pirate's equipment and playing a good old fashioned Pirate Beetle drive. We will use this song el pirate valiente to help us with this in Spanish plus this wonderful poster of a " real " pirate from Find out more here

In French we will use the tête à modeler website pirate fancy dress picture and instructions here

We will listen to le petit matelot and listen out very carefully for the pirate's clothes and equipment on the rhyme! As we hear the items we will pretend to put them on or hold them etc! And we will use this lovely rhyme with actions (see the PDF based on the story from  la petite boule blanche si j'etais un pirate ... to become real pirates!

Once we are pirates then we need to hunt gold and collect our gold in our pirates' sacks! How will we do this ...?
Well we can hunt sounds and words.
We will hunt key nouns we have learned during the year by playing hot and cold or hide and seek ,looking for pictures on coins hidden around the classroom that represent the key words we know.And sometimes we will make this even more challenging for our pirates by hunting key sounds in the words represented by the pictures! 

Transition in a suitcase between year groups

This half term we are at the end of the year's academic study of the target language across both KS1 and KS2. 
The new DfE POS requires that substantial progress is made ..... we also need to take stock and enjoy what the children have learned and the games, songs, stories and language knowledge they have explored.
In a previous blog I shared how I was supporting a school to put together a cohesive start up programme so that KS1 can enjoy learning alongside KS2 and so that staff have shared strategies and learning tools.Here's the blog 

Transition  happens between all year groups. How effective this transition is supports how effective and successful progression for all the children will be.
As you head back to school for the final Summer half term's time to start packing those target language suitcases and sharing the strategies , learning tools and activities the children have enjoyed with the next class teacher!

Designer Suitcases
Ask the children to help you decide what your target language suitcase for the year's learning should look like?What have they learned this year?What content and contexts have you explored. Create the labels for your suitcase from this content and contexts. Your suitcase may be a folder with notes from the class to the next teacher , a virtual suitcase or a folder kept on the school VLE ...but it needs to look like you have all travelled on a language learning journey together this year- hence the labels!

Packing the suitcase!
Ask the children to share with you the games, songs and stories that have enjoyed this year.Revisit and use again some of the activities and resources and take a class vote on which to put in your class suitcase ready to set off for the next year of language learning.

Maybe it's your.....

and remember the books you have enjoyed reading too!

Don't forget those always useful items!
Discuss with the children the grammar that you may have explored. Add a noun treasure chest (facts about nouns and some key nouns from different content) and an adjective atlas (a picture on which the children can stick or add key adjectives they have met e.g colours/sizes/characteristics).Pop in a listening stick or two - so that the children with their new teacher can play some very familiar listening games and then build on these and move on!

Have you packed your phrase book?
What can the children now ask and say about themselves that means they are moving more toward independence in simple basic dialogue and conversation. Pack an example totem pole -if you made them- or create a cartoon strip or recording of a typical dialogue.
What's a totem pole? Take a look here!

Hurrah off we go! 
Celebrate with the children their success this year.Why not put on a class language exhibition to share with another class or parents what you have done this year?
Now it's time to check what's in the suitcase and pass it on to the next class they can unpack the suitcase with the class next year.

When are we there?
Once September arrives then the next class teacher has a reference point that can act as a prompt with the children and the whole class can have great fun unpacking their suitcase and explaining what they already have learned. The suitcase can come out throughout the year when content or contexts are supported by the prior learning.

What does this look like in practise?
Well the wonderful @EWoodruffe has been packing her classes suitcases this July and here is her blog all about this Let's pack our suitcases

Friday 30 May 2014

Something a bit French, fishy and fun!

Celebrating Summer with a visit to the seaside?

Every year we take our young learners to the seaside in the target language ....well on a virtual tour!
We work with Year 5 on a comparison of beaches here and abroad.
Summer is also a time when the older children can share with the younger children some of their learning in end of year assemblies etc.  

This song about "les petits poissons" allows us to combine the work we are developing with a comparison of English and French seaside with some performance fun and the practise of the target language. 

We love this authentic and traditional song for young children about fish in the sea.We can unpack with the children the use of adjectives in this song and we can create our own versions with colours or different descriptive adjectives too.Then we can have some simple Summer fun with the song and the theme of fish! 


Les petits poissons
Dans l'eau,
Nagent, nagent,
Nagent, nagent, nagent,
Les petits poissons
Dans l'eau,
Nagent aussi bien que les gros.
Les petits, les gros,
Nagent comme il faut,
Les gros, les petits,
Nagent bien aussi.

You can find wonderful clips of the song to share with your children too. Take look here!

The obvious thing to do is to teach the children the song .... and why not get the children to play the song as well perhaps on recorders ?
It will make a great independent performance for the rest of the school.
Take a look here!

Add a visual performance element too ! 
Have a go at making your own origami fish puppets so that the children can create their own puppet performances of the song 

Click here on the jedessine website to find the French instructions for your class and yourself to follow.

Finally why not each the whole class a traditional party game based on fishermen and fishes ...."pécheurs poissons"

It's a simple rhyme and a traditional early years' French playground game- great for KS2 beginner learners or just for fun with older children!
Maybe Year 5 can teach Year 3 the game ? 
Below are the simple words 

Petits poissons 

Divide the class into two groups.One group are fishes and the other group are the fishermen.
The fishermen make a circle and join hands . they lift their arms up so there are arches through which the other children (the fishes) can weave their way in and out of the circle.The fishermen decide on which number they will drop their arms and close the net and see how many fishes they have caught.The caught fishes join the fishermen for the next round.Who will be the last to be caught?

Fantasy Football Team

Sometimes the old ideas and the simplest ideas are still the best!
Many World Cups ago with a group of beginners in Year 5 I was practising numbers and how to say our names in French. It seemed a great opportunity to combine football, numbers and names. We created our own fantasy football teams and the idea has been rolled out many times and in many different ways.

All you need are templates for football shirts with the numbers printed on them. The lowest order of numbers is obviously 1-11 but you could add subs too!

The activity appealed to boys and girls because this was the creation of their own personal fantasy football team so it was amazing how many story characters, film stars, boy bands and cartoon characters made their way into these teams . However some of us took t really seriously and had to contemplate which great footballer was their goalie etc….especially when the players had to be drawn from the international pool of players taking part in the World Cup or European Cup etc that was the sporting event of the season.
So with a simple set of cards this is what we have done over the years …since 1996 to be exact!

Manager and team
A simple number sort .
The manager can’t get the numbered shirts in order!A different child holds each shirt and the scenario is a team photo 1-11- can the class help you put the shirts in order. It’s great fun misplacing the numbers in the sequence and getting the children to help you reorder the numbers and over and over again getting the order out of synch! Finally give up and let someone else be the manager and ask the class to help them count the shirts into the correct order.

Sound shirts and players from the target language country.
Who will be playing in which shirt at the match .  Introduce the children to famous players from the target language country …not necessarily playing in the specific World Cup team. Focus on key sounds in the names of the players. Add the sound as a grapheme to the reverse side of one of the numbered shirts. Blu-tac them to the board number side up .Divide your class in to two teams. Can the  children select a number, turn the card over say the sound they read on the reverse and name the correct player .Which team wins?

Colours, flags and shirts
Introduce the children to five key teams in the World Cup. Practise the names of the countries in the target language. Look at the flags for each of the countries and practise the colours in the flags. Blu-tac the flags to the board with no country names on them. In a bag or box put the names of the five countries with one of the numbers 1-11 on the cards too. Divide the class in to two teams. Can each team take it in turns to ask politely for a country. Pull out a card with that country on it and the team must then say the number and identify the correct flag. 
Can they say the colours on the flag and can one of their team members
colour in the shirt with these colours?

Fantasy Teams

Give each class member a set of smaller version team shirts with numbers on. Ask the class to decide who they would like in their fantasy team. They must create a mobile or a poster or a team layout for their fantasy team with pictures of the heads of the chosen famous people or characters attached to the shirts. The children must introduce their teams to their class mates –as if they were holding a simple greetings and question answer dialogue .

This can be done in the first and second person singular:

Hello number one. What are you called?
Hello I am called ……..

Or as third person singular question and answer dialogue

Hello ! What is player number ….called?
S/he is called …….

Or as simple presentation

In my team there are eleven players ,Number one is called ….., number two is called……. etc

Finally don’t forget to display the teams – as the children are always really proud of their own fantasy football teams ! 

Take a look at the sequence of lessons here we have already created for the World Cup celebrations

Thursday 29 May 2014

Building purposeful links with a school abroad

A week or two ago  I shared on Twitter the fact that Latchford Year 6 had gone on their annual visit to Malaga to meet their partner aged children in their link school.I wrote this blog about the school's preparations for the visit Year 6 on their way to meet their Spanish friends.

I received this email at the start of the half term from the Year 6 class teacher at Latchford St James CE Primary School and current Primary Languages Co-ordinator on her return from the school visit to their link school in Malaga. 

Hi Janet, just to let you know that we had a great trip again and our children made many new friends. They had the opportunity to visit the market in Malaga where they all bought things, using their Spanish, our food in the hotel was ordered entirely in Spanish and when two groups lost their room keys, they went to reception and asked for new ones, again in Spanish. The kiosk on the beach was a great hit and since the lady spoke no English the children had to use their Spanish. It was so nice to hear them with their new friends and we were complimented everywhere for their behaviour and use of language . A fantastic experience for them.  Tina 

What a brilliant start to my half term! It's the joined up thinking I really like. 

Why? Well Tina is supported and indeed was accompanied by the Spanish language assistant José on this visit .Thorough out the  year José and Tina have been organising language learning to prepare the children for the visit. The previous language coordinator also went on the visit to continue the teacher to teacher contacts between the schools and to support Tina.

The children have had opportunity this year to prepare for their visit.They worked with Tina and José on familiar routine language they might need on their school visit.They created their own Spanish market in their classroom.... 

...but what better way to consolidate this language and cultural understanding than to actually visit the market in Malaga! Tina tells me in her email that all the children had "the opportunity to visit the market in Malaga where they all bought things, using their Spanish".

In class they had skyped and emailed their Spanish friends to find out about what they liked to do as hobbies and pastimes.

but then they were able to spend time with their friends, speaking Spanish, supported by the teachers and of course José.Tina tells me in her email "It was so nice to hear them with their new friends and we were complimented everywhere for their behaviour and use of language."

And now they are back!

They have made new friends and have gained confidence in their ability to communicate in a foreign language! 

And in a week's time they will be able to share their world with their new Spanish friends,when they come to Warrington to visit Latchford CE for the week! Together the Spanish and English friends will explore the our local community, culture and school including the English seaside ....not sure it will be as warm and sunny as Malaga though!

The children have used their language learning to communicate.They have opened their minds to a new culture and way of life.They have been able to explore and celebrate their own knowledge of Spanish,which they have been learning  since KS1 at school and they have made new friends.

The teachers have real reason and purpose to engage  with Spanish language and culture and bring so much new knowledge and ideas back to school in England with them.

The children have participated in school life in Spain and they all went on shared excursions.They return to school with exciting stories for their younger friends at school about Spain, Spanish school and culture  and why it's so very important to be able to communicate in another language.

The school visit is a culmination of substantial progress in learning a target language over six years. It's inclusive and supportive and is an integral part of the annual calendar of both schools - an urban town centre primary school here in Warrington and a Spanish primary school by the seaside!   

Simple past tense moods swings poems

In UKS2 in Year 5 and Year 6 we investigate extended feelings- so we move on from simple characteristics such as sad, happy , bored, interested and explore other words to describe how we are feeling. 

Let's create a performance based upon these new words to describe feelings and link this to the change in moods.

The whole activity is based upon  the use of present and past tense use of the verb "to be " in the first and third person singular (I am/was and also s/he is /was) and a wider range of emotions looking for opposites in describing emotions.

  1. Introduce and practise with the children the key verbal phrases they will need to be able to say "I am / I was " and to say "s/he is and s/he was"

  1. .Ask the children to think about past and present. Stand the children in front of an imaginary line on the floor. Ask the children to listen to one of the six key phrases above that you have introduced them to. Ask them to become time travellers . Explain to the class that to go back in time they must step backwards across the line and to travel forwards they need to position themselves in front of the imaginary line.
  2. Ask the children to listen out for the phrase you say and to position themselves correctly
  3. Allow the children to work through the above activity several times with eyes open.Now can they be brave time travellers and listen with eyes shut and step forwards of backwards depending upon what they hear.This is a great way to conduct some AfL- who can really do this independently without following someone else's lead?
Throw of the dice and change the time 
  1. Divide the class in to groups of four- two boys and two girls preferably.You will need dice- one per group Each group needs a die. They roll the dice and if it lands on an odd number they must say a past tense phrase and  add an emotion word.If it lands on an even number they must say a present tense phrase and an emotion word.

Mood Swings
  1. Working in the groups of four children - provide the groups with a set of 10 emotion word cards and a bi-lingual dictionary (make sure there are five pairs of opposites e.g happy/sad). Firstly the children need to check the meaning of the key emotions using a dictionary.Can they as a group think of an action and facial expression to match the meaning of the emotion.
  2. Can the groups now divide the emotions into negative and positive emotions?
  3. Can they change the categorisation and  find the matching pairs of opposites?

Mood Swing Poems 
  1. Now can they create a simple performance poem  to depict the mood swings using the key emotion cards- one in the present tense and one in the past tense using the first person singular. Each group must think of a movement pattern that reflects past and present tense - (stepping forwards and backwards /standing back to back in pairs and turning round for past and present etc).Each group must explore ways of portraying and saying the key phrases. 
  2. Can the groups now add a past and present tense mood swing echo. This means that two people in the group are assigned the responsibility of saying  the first person singular mood swing statements (e.g I am happy / I was sad) and the other two children in the group need to echo the statements in the third person singular past or present tense using the correct third person singular "he"/"she" to reflect the speaker (e.g I am tired (girl speaking)/ she is tired , I was lively (boy speaking) /he was lively).
  3. Ask the children working in pairs or individually to create and write their own mood swing present and past tense poems.Allow the children to access and use new words for emotions in the bilingual dictionaries . 

Let's talk about it .Moving talk on

As a network we work with children in KS2 who have as yet limited spoken language skills but also we work with children who have been learning the target language for 3,4 or 5 years and even more.As a network we need to get our children talking creatively and independently!Our current target with the more advanced learners are that :
We want our children to progress in their independent use of language!
We want the children to be able to say more than just limited responses!

The intention of the first sequence of activities below – which  should be developed over a series of lessons – is   to begin to enable the class to explore pictures  , photographs and stories in more detail. The activities are transferable so that over the course of the next academic year we can revisit the languages, set up the investigations and hold interesting discussion across a range of content and contexts. The intention is that the children become empowered  to extend what they can say and to allow them to access what they want to say.

You need to first take a look at Teacher French or Spanish  Talk Prompts to deliver the activities below.You can download the PDFs below

The activities are based in the first instance around looking at famous picture and using these pictures as a stimulus for group talk.
Here are some famous works of art to explore and the content and contexts for which they could be useful  

 Possible pictures

Famous Art we like to use. Possible focuses for discussion are listed in brackets after the title of the piece of Art and the name of the artist)

·         The Boating Party  , Renoir (people, clothes , food , activities, animals)
·         Surprised : Henri Rousseau (jungle, colours, weather, actions, animals, emotions)
·         The Poet Reclining , Marc Chagall (people, countryside, animals, weather, actions, emotions)
·         The Starry Night, Van Gogh (weather , objects , town at night , colours, emotions)
·         Las Meninas, Velázquez (people, families, clothes, colours, emotions, actions , house and home)
·         La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat (parties, activities, weather , clothes , emotions, people)
·         La historia de José, Antonio di Biagio (animals, actions , clothes, colours, )
·         July , the Seaside , LS Lowry ( weather, objects , activities, actions, colours, clothes , people, family

Artcyclopedia can help you to locate the pictures you want to use.

Below are the sequence of activities which can support your young learners to practise and explore becoming more creative and independent in their use of the target language.

 A.      Word Warm up activities

To ensure that all the children can contribute to the Talk Prompt activities, start with some Word Warm Ups. Ask the children to:
  1. Name / show / find certain categories of words e.g. colours, weather phrases   , animals, clothes
  2. Give the children   talking time to complete this with a partner or a group.
  3. Take feedback   .

Ask the children to :
  1. Check the language they have found by cross referencing this language in bi-lingual dictionaries .
  2. Consolidate the knowledge through a game of charades/ an alphabetical challenge (60 seconds to say five of the words in alphabetical order etc)

B.      Class consideration
Either give out the picture to the class or show a large version of the picture on the IWB screen or flipchart.

Ask the children in their pairs or on their tables to :
  • Familiarise themselves with the picture.Spot any items from the Word Warm Up activity above.
  • Give each table a blank piece of paper and ask the children to  create “word graffiti” art of  the picture.They must write down the key items / emotions/ descriptive phrases  they have identified in the picture and the words or phrases should be positioned in a similar place on the blank piece of paper to where the item/ emotion etc is depicted or found in the picture
  • Take feedback from the groups .Which words /phrases have they been able to locate and place in their replica “word graffiti “   pictures? As the children give you their feedback , either write up or invite a child to help you write up the key language that is being suggested by each pair/ table  on a flip chart
  • Table experts .Each table becomes an expert table  . This means that each table has a theme e.g. weather phrases, animals, colours, emotions, objects, clothes, food – the categories will depend upon the picture you have chosen to use . The expert tables must firstly decide as a group which of the brainstormed words and phrases written on the flip chart are phrases that fit in their category- sometimes a phrase might match two categories e.g. a colour and an item of clothing. You should call out a phrase or word from the feedback and the expert tables must listen and if they think it’s from their category they should put up their hands. Increase the speed and quantity of language used to make the activity more challenging. Ask for volunteers to take the teacher’s role in the activity.

C.      Talk Prompt Activities, matching questions and answers
  • Give out the “Children’s stem responses “(from the Talk Prompt PDF above)  either as separate cards – one card per pair , or as groups of three stem responses to pairs . The children’s stem responses  are located on the “Teacher Talk Prompt Sheet”
  • Ask the children to read and apply their knowledge of the language to  decide how to pronounce the stem responses correctly and also the meaning of the stem response.
  • Can the children match their stem responses to the possible questions you show them and you say from your “Questions for children” on the “Teacher Talk Prompt  Sheet”
  • Swap stem responses between pairs and re-run the activity so that children familiarise themselves with a variety of stem responses and the link questions

D.      Talk time
  • Children working in pairs or groups,possibly with the support of a TA or teacher , should now investigate the picture and be encouraged to actually "be in the picture" – even if there are limited characters that they can locate.
  • They should use their imaginations to step into the picture .Guide the children into this target language activity with the key phrases from the “Let’s imagine setting up the activity” phrases on the “Teacher Talk Prompt Sheet”
  • Hold “Listen ins” and ask children to feedback the language they are developing to describe what they see and what they are doing.
  • The children may use notes to prompt them if they have jotted down information.
  • Ask one pair to share with another pair their imaginary conversations and creative descriptions that they have generated inside the picture.what they have created- as spoken inside the picture” activity.

E.      Let’s imagine
As a whole class step back into the whole picture and now ask the specific questions   from the “Questions for children” on the “Teacher Talk Prompt  Sheet”. Take responses from several groups for each  question.
Ask the children to listen carefully and to imagine the scene they are creating as a class.

F. Return to the picture
In a following lesson , return to the picture and see if the children can respond appropriately to the simple questions from “Looking at pictures together” section  on  the “Teacher Talk Prompt Sheet” and can they remember their responses to the  “Questions for children” on the “Teacher Talk Prompt  Sheet” from the previous lesson?

You will now be able to use some of these activities to explore pictures , photographs and stories in more detail with the children over the course of the year , to extend what they can say and to allow them to access what they want to say .

Thursday 22 May 2014

Transition between KS2 and KS3 in languages


Yesterday evening after the @guardian live chat on how to teach the new languages curriculum it was time to take stock and consider all the points raised and discussed.

What do we have to do?

In the new DfE POS teachers of languages are required

at KS2 
to provide the foundation for learning further languages, equipping pupils to study and work in other countries. 

and at KS3 
should build on the foundations of language learning laid at key stage 2, whether pupils continue with the same language or take up a new one. 

Local solutions and different approaches are being generated it appears. 

Keep ourselves informed!

Maybe some of these links will help to inform help to inform the learning journey

What is it looking like out there in the real World?

Well I am sure we can all share examples of transition and good primary practice and this all needs sharing too!

Here are two blog posts about two local developments to try to tackle the local challenges of transition.These are not necessarily solutions for everyone but are ways of setting off on the journey and approaching the demands of keeping continuity and building upon prior successful learning.

One high school is able to have a French learning continuum from Y3 to Y7 and is now holding meetings together with their primary colleagues to understand what the children can do.Simple projects that are easy to manage and deliver have been set up and are supporting developing dialogue about language learned and skills being developed.

The second high school has an alternate year French/Spanish Year 7 learning programme and is looking at transferable skills and links between French and Spanish that allow the pupils to access language. 

What we are learning .....

  • Share models that you create. 
  • Accept that they won't work for everyone
  • Be willing to listen, adopt and adapt 
  • Be willing to trust and have meaningful dialogue
  • It takes time!
  • It takes commitment
  • It's slowly slowly dripping tap...small steps forward and adjustments are required. 
  • Establishing networks both virtual and  face to face keep the dialogue and developments moving forward
  • Remember that when the children move to Year 7 it's a gap of six weeks in language learning but on entering secondary school the children will need time to adjust.
  • When it works, then the teachers on both the primary and secondary side of the fence feel valued and willing to go forward with the next steps.
My current conclusions?

Should we not accept perhaps many roads that lead to Rome! and maybe too this is at the moment necessary?

In our network we have schools starting off, schools who have children who have been learning to speak a new language from Nursery , schools where the children already have languages they speak well as home languages and schools where other priorities have meant that here have been staff changes etc. 

It's certainly challenging but we can address the demand of effective transition if we go step by step and support each other.