Sunday, 31 August 2014

European Day of Languages! A Grand Day Out 2014

Every year we try to think of a new theme for European Day of Languages .Last year for example we celebrated the day with kites and linked this to launching our learning aspirations for the year and we sourced a marvellous video clip of the international kite flying competition at Berck sur plage .It was an immensely creative and lively day with games, songs and making activities all based around simple language such as greetings, colours, numbers and with the older children instructional text . We translated the chorus of "let's go fly a kite into French, found a clip on the internet and one school had a grand class by class sing off in assembly! You can see examples of our kites here on Network News (just scroll down to the start and have a look at the pictures and descriptions from local schools and colleagues).You will also find lots of other wonderful ways that schools in the local area and in the network found to celebrate the day!

This year we are planning a "grand day out" .The resources are on the network website and if you are a network member then you can access them via the "grand day out" link from the home page .Look for this picture !

We are basing the activities on a day in a target language city and we have chosen  : Paris, Sevilla and Berlin. The core theme is a day out at a street festival.
Here is the itinerary of the "Grand Day Out"

Setting Off! .......Find the country on a globe
  1. Search a map for the city we are going to visit
  2. Find the city on Google Maps
  3. Now pretend to go to our local airport 
  4. Play games of "air hostess instructions " mimes,charades  and Simon Says on our imaginary flight
  5. As we step off the plane , immerse ourselves in the city we are visiting and take in some of the specific target language video clip below:

With our older children with more advanced language skills ,we could set up activities based on previous blogs such as:

With most of the children though we are going to go to an imaginary street festival and join in with the fun and games in the target language! 
This clip will be really useful to set the scene- for all the target language cities as it just gives the flavour of an outdoor festival with jugglers, strongmen, musicians, mime artists, puppeteers etc etc ...oh and don't forget the street snacks too! Just a brief tyaste of the clip though set the scene ....

because now our children are going to become :

KS1  :puppeteers with finger puppets of clowns,strongmen and acrobats. (They will use simple greetings and personal information language in the style of these entertainers and share their creations with the class)

LKS2 will be:
 jugglers with colours and actions ( take a look at this blog to see how we can develop colour and word association mimes colour and mime associations)
strong men with numbers: how many items can one child hold and can we count up with them intil the pile topples over?
mime artists with feelings , greetings and days of the week and months of the year
food tasting , simple cafe roleplays and food street sellers (selling their gaufres, their churros and their Bretzel)

UKS2 will be:
our street musicians,learning the song I am the music man and added actions and getting to taste some food too!   

There are opportunities for photos along the way and of course we will need to write our postcards home too and then all we need to do is fly home ( with a quick game of the air hostess simon says ) and remember to put up the whole school display in the foyer or corridor where everyone can see the "Grand Day Out"!

Text tracking language learning tools

At the start of this academic year I am looking for more  transferable tools to support language learning and to build bridges between year groups and across Key Stages. 

Thanks to Twitter this morning I saw this tweet from @Primary_Ed “Ideas for students to annotate text as they read”  and it reminded me very much of primary school classroom Literacy and Maths working wall annotations and it got me thinking about how we can adapt this already familiar tool for primary languages and beyond into secondary languages……! First take a look at the picture:

For my purposes I am going to call my applications of the  idea  “Text tracking tools”

1. Modern Day Hieroglyphics

We need to remember that in the first instance we are teaching key language understanding with young primary language learners so  let’s ask the children to annotate the text with their own hieroglyphics to share the meaning of the words visually – so for example the simple text

“Ich sehe eine grüne Katze” (I see a green cat)

could have above the key language the drawings of  an eye (ich sehe) a green cat (eine grüne Katze).

Imagine how creative the children could be with a description of presents in a Christmas sack , a witch’s potion, directions to visit different places in the town ….etc, etc ?
It could very easily be a drag and drop activity on the IWB for a whole class reading activity too!

We could ask the children to add “honesty spots” ! Simple coloured spots above the drawings that denote where the children had to use a bi-lingual dictionary to ascertain meanings etc. A skill we need to encourage not deter so the “ honesty spot” needs to have a positive spin!

2. Running commentaries

With our more advanced primary language learners and certainly in Year 7 and beyond we can use and add to the annotation  “codes” in the Twitter picture at the start of the blog.
It will work in my opinion in KS2 especially with our moving on and advanced Y4,5 and 6 learners to allow them to share with us how much they can not only  decode but also comprehend and appreciate of the texts using and revisiting familiar target language themes  in different text types( stories, songs, menus, postcards, letters, poems, rhymes, instructions, posters, emails).

3. Structure running commentaries

Finally with our more advanced learners why not ask the children to annotate the text to indicate where they find an adjective, a verb , a noun, a pronoun, a definite article etc….All you and the class need are agreed symbols for each structure that they can identify . Send them on structure hunts in the texts you give them as individuals, pairs and groups. 

4.AfL opportunities
Looking at individual children’s annotated texts will also allow us as teachers to see where there are gaps in knowledge or just how much the children understand and also how they can empathise with the text and spot the funny bits (a green cat !!!) etc.
This transferable learning tool can start in Spring Year 3 and run right through a young linguists language learning career. 
For Jo, up in  Year 7, it’s will be a  familiar  learning tool for the children which she can adapt as a series of reading  games and activities and a tool which could allow her as class teacher to see what the children do understand in a target language when they arrive in school. 

Saturday, 30 August 2014

How does your garden grow? Children's language learning records

Looking for a way to record language learning progress?
Well what about how does your garden grow?
(Even if you don't create these physical records with your class,I think for me it's a good image of what we hope to achieve with the children. Strong healthy language learners who have a bright,colourful, diverse and successful language learning career with us in primary school)

I know that quite a few of my colleagues like to keep a physical paper copy of the learning experience of their children in their own individual classes. I know that children too like a record of what they have learned, where they are going to do next and what success they are achieving throughout the school year. This simple graphic record will be something that the language associate assistants/teachers and myself will trial with some of our Year 3 children this coming academic year. Maybe this idea is something that you may like to use too…..?

Basically it’s a garden scene- flowers, a tree, sunshine with lots of rays and a flowerbed of weeds! Each child will have an A4 landscape piece of card, kept in their trays/ drawers etc. When they receive the card there will be a tree trunk (divided into sections), a flower stem (broad and long enough for children to write along the length of it) and an empty area on the right-hand side which is the flowerbed for our weeds.

Our flowers? 
Well every child will have a sunflower- the centre will be their faces (a drawing, cartoon or photo) and the stems will contain their own simple target language writing of a greeting and their name phrase. The petals will contain our exploration of content as we progress through the year e.g foods, days, months, numbers etc. Each petal will be added as a glued on petal as we progress and the children can add examples of the language from the specific focus in their own preferred style.

The tree.. where we will show the links we make .The stem will be big and strong and will be filled in over the four years we use the record. Here we will record the language structures we encounter, practise and grow more confident with e.g questions, answers nouns, adjectives, verbs: commands/present tense/near future/personal pronouns……the stems of my trees will be coloured in – colour coded and containing a title such as “nouns” to represent the different language structures we will meet. The children will add examples in written target language to remind them of what they have used, practised, mastered. The branches and twigs will be all the conversations and spoken language practise we have over the course of the four years – e.g. getting to know you talk, café talk,likes and dislikes etc, etc.

The sunshine?
This is where we will share all the wonderful opportunities we will have had to explore stories, songs, poems, games  ,drama, culture, links with schools abroad etc  and each ray will be another wonderful opportunity  that the children want to remember and record- written in English as a descriptive sentence .The middle of the  sun will be made up by a cut out circle of the globe – just reminding them how learning a language offers you so many world-wide opportunities and adventures!

Finally what about those weeds? 
Well the weeds are temporary and will all be kept in a list in a flowerbed to the right of the main pictures. Children can record at the end of a language focus something that they are not sure about or want to know more about and as we resolve these problems or find out more, then they can bit by bit colour the written statement in until it becomes a colourful stripy flowerbed of resolved questions about language learning.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Power and dynamics of poetry in a target language

Last term I spent time considering ways to introduce and use poetry in language learning. It's an area that I have always enjoyed with young learners (and as an English and Drama  teacher in a former life) I am always delighted when children realise the power of poetry!

This academic year I am keen to focus on the "power of poetry " to bring words to life! Not just to look for images or to play matching and rhyming games but to engage the young learners with the power and sound scapes behind a poet's words.

Let's look for the dynamics of the poetry!
The  cadence, the pictures created by the sound- scapes ,the beat and rhythm of the syllables and the words chosen and the mysterious world that the poet has encapsulated in a confined use of language.

How do I think we can achieve this during a year of primary language learning...?
Well ...nursery rhymes and songs enable us to encourage young language learners to join in, participate, create actions, move around .... so let's look at poetry in KS2 in a similar way.

Build opportunities to explore poetry across KS2, where you engage the children with:
  • listening for the beat, 
  • the rhythm, 
  • drawing the shape of the sounds they hear in the air or on white boards,
  • creating actions that interpret the story of the poem or song,
  • creating physical performances of the poems 
  • taking an original text and making it up to date and modern e.g. generating a rap
  • using APPS to add dynamics such as drumbeats and music to a class recording of thew spoken poem.

Let's consider what opportunities already exist in the work I know is being planned for within the network this Autumn term. 
We will be working with the children on Autumn poems in October  - based on the sounds and the smells and surprises of an Autumn walk.We will create Halloween poems and explore authentic poetry and songs about witches such as la sorciere grabouilla. Here's a You tube clip of the French song...  

In November we work on firework poems both  as reading and writing activities and we explore the shapes, sounds and colours of a firework display. In UKS2 some teachers will be generating wizard's potion poems after exploring a written simple potion to create a wizard. In December we will be getting ready for our Christmas activities and with KS2 children we might be preparing the poem and now song  le bonhomme de neige by Jacques Prévert.

Inspired ?
Well then why not get started in September with one of this back to school theme poem blog for both French and Spanish called Physical Pop Up Poems Daily Routine and Back to School,where you will find that I have suggested activities that will allow you to explore the dynamics of the poems hopefully to enable you to generate memorable learning occasions for the children and yourself!

You may also find some of my blogs on poetry from last year useful too. I have included opportunities for you children to explore the role of the poet and use limited language to great effect in creating their own poetry too! Hope the blogs,the ideas are useful and the possible transfer of activities to poetry in other languages is useful too!  

Spanish  KS1 rhyme based on the bear hunt Bear Hunt Rhyme
French, Spanish, German : The verb to have and a wizard's potion
French : simple Easter movie based on un petit lapin rhyme
All languages : Creating our own simple past tense mood swing poems
All languages : Using video clips  to generate poems Eye in the sky
 French and Spanish writing our own sandcastle poems to perform
French :using an authentic comptine to explore the skills of  listening,speaking,reading,writing , drama and phonics Dame tartine
French sept couleurs magiques
French painting a poem of a Summer's Day
French writing our own poems about the seaside based on authentic poetry
French emotions and doodle sense poems based on authentic poem mon cartable
French Drama and mystery in the cafe dejeuner du matin

The washing machine grammar device

It's almost time to go back to school - some people may already be there!
Twitter continues to throw up wonderful ideas and yesterday I found this brilliant young primary teacher's tweet,sharing his creation of a "prize box/super wish-wash miracle machine" Thanks Craig Birch for your great idea and look forward to following you on twitter  @TheMrBirch

So how do I think we can use this idea during the course of the year. 
Firstly I love it when there is a tool or device that can be used over and over again to explore a specific concept or to use a familiar tool or device to explore new ideas. Children love the familiarity too - it gives them something to hold on to!

Here is the "prize box/super wish-wash miracle machine" that Craig Birch shared......

It's a cardboard box that looks like a washing machine  and it's going to be a "super wish-wash word miracle machine" that can be used in lots of different ways to help UKS2 children  create sentences and texts in primary languages
It's a different device to practice age old sentence construction in a target language. The activities aren't ground breaking but the device adds a new dimension! 

Why do I want to try this? Well so often in my opinion children are fine at taking in and recalling words but when the "moving on and mixing up content elements" take place i.e.the construction of target language sentences or texts with an element of the unknown thrown in for good measure  then a lot of children (indeed adults!) panic.Perhaps that's why I like the idea of the washing machine - it's a different approach.It's entertaining and purposeful and it may perhaps help to stop some of those mental blocks..............

Here are my ideas:

  1. Putting  the washing in...simply going on a washing hunt,where just like you only put in the "whites" or "woollens" when washing,we only want to put in the adjectives or the nouns we can find in a text.All the children need to do is read a text,locate the key component(s) as defined by the teacher e.g verbs,write them on pieces of paper fold them up and add them to the washing.
  2. Taking the washing out - well then we can take out the washing and check if any "nouns etc" got in our "verbs" wash.
  3. Sorting the washing- maybe the activity is based on a basket of cards with words written on them and the children have to sort the washing . Only put nouns and adjectives in the awash or only put in verbs and personal pronouns. when the washing is complete, can the children create pairs (just like pairs of socks) but this time it will be matching adjectives to nouns or personal pronouns to parts of verbs   
  4. Sentence making - ask children to find and bring to you key parts of a sentence that you have pinned or blu-tacked around the room e.g. ask the children to find for you the nouns/ the adjectives/ the verbs/ the personal pronouns.Invite children to add the individual components to the "wish wash machine" and hang up your washing line- an item most primary classrooms already possesses! Count to ten and then one by one bring out the cards and ask the children to help you to create a sentence or sentences on your washing order so that it makes sense.
  5. Programme the washing machine- why not have a menu of programmes (simply written on the front of the machine)- sentences/ verbs/ imperatives/adjectives and nouns/ tenses (present, near future)? You can bring the washing machine out and add words, select the programme cycle and then challenge groups of children to take out the "washing" and put the washing together so that it matches the selected programme.  
  6. Miracle theme washing powder! Craig's name for his machine has an element of surprise to it I feel and so I think we can add miracle washing powder to our wash?!Whatever we have put in the machine when we hang out the washing to dry, the miracle washing powder gives us the confidence to be able to reconstruct a dialogue with punctuation pegs or put together a poem that rhymes- just using the word cards that we put into our washing machine!
So thanks to Craig and his brilliant tweet... I now have a new approach to reinforcing grammatical points, to sentence and text construction in the target language and a simple cardboard box that has become my re-usable and fun focus device the  "super wish-wash word miracle machine"!