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Issue 19: July 2015
Subscribe by email for free at ukedchat.com/emails Subscribe to the print edition at ukedchat.com/magazine 4 Ten Tips for Primary Language Learning
Lisa Stevens explores a range of practical and fun ideas for teaching languages at the primary level.
6 The Future of Religious Education
With the relationship of religion in schools under the spotlight in the media, Andy Lewis writes an overview of the situation now and ideas for the future.
8 Digital Technology with Prowise screens
Using your classroom technology effectively is a priority for many teachers, and Prowise showcases have their range of products may help.
From the Editor Communication is key. Without clear communication between professionals, pupils and the community, a school will find it very difficult to function.
11 On Closer Inspection
This becomes even harder when people speak different languages, and many schools of a wonderful mix of cultural backgrounds, languages and ideas.
12 Progress in MFL
To begin to understand a culture deeply, learning the language is vital. In this issue of UKED Magazine we are celebrating the diversity of communication and the teaching of modern foreign languages, which is often the first experience our pupils have of exploring different cultures. Bon voyage.
Martin Burrett proposes a radical change to how schools are inspected, by extending the good relationships already being fostered between schools. Jake Hunton explores what is, and what is not progress in the MFL classroom.
14 Hitting the Target Language
Rebecca Wylie discusses her own personal journey in to language teaching and how using target language benefits students.
16 Meaningful Manageable Assessment
Pennie Parry shares an innovative, active phonic game to try with young learners.
17 Getting Started with Mandarin
Xiong Fu introduces the basics of Mandarin Chinese and shares the best Mandarin vocabulary to get started in your class.
20 Shall I Behave For My Teacher? A Musical Playlist
Ben Erskine offers his greatest hits for ensuring pupilsâ€™ behaviour is at its best in your class.
22 ICTmagic EdTech Resources 23 Quotes from the Festival of Education
Highlighters of UKEdChatâ€™s coverage of the Festival of Education at Wellington College, with Sir Ken Robinson, Carol Dweck and more.
24 UKED Resource
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Top Ten Tips for
Primary Language Learning
By Lisa Stevens A wide variety of people teach languages in Primary schools, probably more than in any other ‘subject’. Whether you’re a class teacher with or without language skills, a reluctant language coordinator or a visiting language specialist (to name but a few possibilities) here are my top ten tips for primary language teaching and learning. 1.
Phonics are vital
It doesn’t matter which language you teach, making the correct sounds of that language is key. Working on phonics from the start builds a strong foundation on which learners can build, enabling them to see new words and say them accurately. Have a look at Rachel Hawkes’ website (bit.ly/ uked15jul01) where there are links to free resources covering French Spanish German and Italian. 2.
Songs and rhymes motivate and teach
A good way to increase confidence in reading and speaking the language is by sharing songs, poems and rhymes. This is also a good way to reinforce phonic knowledge and explore the rhythms of the language. MamaLisa.com has songs and rhymes in many languages, often with a sound file giving the correct pronunciation and a translation into English so you know what you’re saying. There are also many songs and rhymes on Youtube on channels such as Basho and Friends bit.ly/uked15jul02 or by searching for artists, such as Alain le lait bit.ly/uked15jul03. 3.
Using stories – in translation or original language - is another great tool for language learning as they are familiar and often very repetitive. My favourites include Oso pardo, ¿qué ves?, Le navet enorme and Kleiner weisser Fisch as they lend themselves to acting out (even Y6 like acting!) and are easy for learners to adapt into their own stories. For example, Y5 invented stories based on Le navet enorme that included a child who didn’t want to get in the bath and had to be pulled to the bathroom, a teacher stuck in the PE cupboard and a car that broke down and needed to be pushed. 4.
Technology has its place
There are many opportunities for using technology to enhance language learning such as recording, reviewing and refining speaking activities using Audacity or an app like VoiceRecordPro bit.ly/uked15jul04, or performing speeches
04 UKED Magazine
and role plays using tellagami.com/edu, YakitKids bit.ly/ uked15jul05, or Puppet Pals bit.ly/uked15jul06. BookCreator app bit.ly/uked15jul07 is an excellent tool for creating multimedia books including text, sound, video, hyperlinks, doodles and pictures; incredibly easy to use and suitable for young children as well as those who are less confident with technology. And why not use BuildYourWildSelf.com or switchzoo.com to create hybrid animals then describe them in the language. 5. Share! Using technology is also a great way to enable sharing of the great things that go on in language learning. Whether it is via the school website or VLE, tweeted or shared on a class/ school blog, celebrating language learning gives it status and also provides an audience and a purpose for learning. Additionally, learners are able to take their learning home with them digitally; the excitement of pupils when we made our first podcast nine or ten years ago was great. “I’m on my Gran’s iPod!” was my favourite comment. 6.
Use anything you can get your hands on
The primary classroom is full of things that can be used and adapted for language learning. Number fans are great for counting and also giving feedback with numbered images for example. Mini whiteboards allow learners to write and correct without committing it to paper as well as drawing images to show understanding of vocabulary or instructions. Unifix cubes can be used for ordering ideas or vocabulary and cushions make great impromptu puppets for speaking or islands for phoneme sorting! 7.
Grammar isn’t a dirty word
Primary learners are very familiar with grammatical terms and enjoy comparing the grammar of other languages, making links and finding differences. Sorting words into boxes according to gender, making human sentences to explore word order and creating verb flowers or spiders are just some ways of making grammar fun and memorable. 8.
Integrate language learning into the curriculum
Language learning shouldn’t be seen as a standalone but, as much as possible, integrated into the primary curriculum. As there is no prescribed content in the KS2 PoS, it’s possible to teach the skills through whatever topic if you use a little
Don’t just make cross curricular links, but also cross country and cross cultural links. Making contact with children that speak the language you’re learning is very motivating and gives a real purpose to learning. It also increases learners’ understanding of other cultures as well as considering their own in new ways. The British Council SchoolsOnline bit.ly/ uked15jul08 is a good place to start the search for partners. 10.
Celebrate all languages
Most of all, celebrate all languages. Many learners already speak more than one language which is a valuable skill. Encourage them to share how to say things in their languages; comparing and contrasting numbers or colours in a variety of languages is a fun activity as learners try to group similar words together.
Lisa @lisibo is an educator and consultant with experience of teaching languages from EYFS to adults. Currently coordinating language learning at 2 Birmingham Primary schools, Lisa has consulted on the BBC Primary Languages website and the Lingo Show and is an advocate of creativity and imagination in languages, an innovator in using technology to enhance language learning and a believer in the value of international links.
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imagination. And where full integration is tricky or where a specialist delivers the lesson, a class teacher can always build language into routines such as PE warm-ups, lining up, the register and so on, even if their knowledge of the language is limited.
Talking to Strangers
This year, I have been reaching out beyond my classroom and even beyond my school in order to provide the children with experiences to enhance their learning. Teaming up with Eat Happy Project and Digital explorers we went on virtual field trips to farms and farflung lands, respectively. The children were engaged with the professionals who spoke enthusiastically about their work; they were able to ask questions and received answers that I could only dream of providing. Seeing the farmers and biologists in their locations via the Google hangouts and Skype added that extra dimension of excitement and fascination! Upon discovering that our classes were studying the same topic of rivers, I joined forces with a secondary school teacher to give our children a real purpose to their learning. His Year 10 class used revision resources that my Y6 class created and, in return, they presented a case study for us to use. Through the power of Twitter, we shared work, videos and photos to show their work being used. All of these external links have enthused the children and motivated them to produce fantastic work. My advice? Have a look at what’s out there and speak to (appropriate) strangers! @Leah_moo Brighton - Year 6 Class Teacher
Get out an about to teach angles in a practical way. Ask the Geography department for their OS Maps and make sure you’re teaching consistency between departments. Then get hold of some compasses and rulers and you’re off! We started by going outside and learning bearings. Students then created a scale map of the school and worked out a treasure hunt for other students to complete. We also planned an expedition in the local area using the OS Maps and the Duke of Edinburgh expedition route card bit.ly/uked15jul09. This was followed up with a round robin activity in the classroom of bearings questions to apply directly and rigorously in the classroom. Altogether a great series of four lessons and students enjoyed and learned a lot. Lessons later on included using school trip websites to budget and plan holidays. @AllThingsMaths South London - Ex-Head of Maths
Building up Teaching Strategies
I’ve read a number of inspection reports in recent weeks which stated that the School or College in question needed to improve teaching strategies across the curriculum. One thing they fail to mention is how to do this, which is particularly challenging when we are increasing faced with students of varying levels of literacy levels, SEN needs and a myriad of micro cohorts. I often find it difficult to ensure that all of my students meet their learning objective, but plastic building blocks have become my life-line. The use of these blocks in lessons has transformed the way I teach and the outcomes of the students which I teach. They are a great tool for learners to show their ideas without the confines of traditional learning activities. For instance, Year 8s with poor numeracy or motor skills have used the bricks to create population graphs. Year 7s who enjoy kinaesthetic learning tasks designed their own research stations adapted to Antarctica with building bricks. This can also be extended to other age groups; Year 11s have made waterfall formation models to help with revision. Hopefully this can help you too. @geogteachmillie Devon - Teacher of Geography ukedchat.com/magazine 05
The Future of
Religious Education By Andy Lewis
Religious Education really is that odd peculiarity in the education system. It is part of the Basic Curriculum alongside The National Curriculum and Sex and Relationships Education. It is determined locally by SACREs (Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education) who produce Locally Agreed Syllabuses (LAS); there are nearly 150 different ones in operation in England. It is different in schools that have a religious character; they opt out of the LASs and teach their own distinct syllabuses. Academies and Free Schools, by law, must provide Religious Education, but do not have to follow the LAS; they can construct their own syllabus in accordance with government guidance. RE is inspected by Ofsted (Section 5), or inspectors from an appropriate religious authority for schools with religious character (Section 48). Historically, there has been few consequences for inadequate RE provision under Section 5 inspections.
Surely it’s either good enough for both, or not good enough for either? Some have suggested that the time is right for SACREs to take on a different role; supporting schools, providing INSET and training for teachers and putting forward faith members as guest speakers. There are numerous good, knowledgeable and willing people involved in SACREs who have served the RE community since the 1944 Education Act. However many are faith representatives rather than experts in education. Some ask the how beneficial, or potentially determinantal, this is to primary aims of RE? It is nonetheless important that their generous contribution does not get forgotten. So what next? What is needed? Freedom to pick and determine your own syllabus sounds liberating and a fantastic opportunity. Those teachers in non-Academies, in subjects tied to the National Curriculum, would be envious of such a position. However, is the reality as positive as the potential? Do students get the best possible RE as a result? Some have suggested that a move to ‘join’ the National Curriculum would be of benefit and assist in getting RE recognised as an EBacc subject. It would raise the profile,
Is it any wonder that this system has lead to great fragmentation in the world of RE? Historically people spoke of a ‘Dual System’ of faith schools and community schools. Now we have a diverse and hugely varied provision of the subject across schools. There is great difference in RE quality, purpose, quantity and perception. There has been discussion and reflection about the role and need for SACREs of late. 152 Local Education Authorities produce a new, revamped or just reviewed, Locally Agreed Syllabus every 5 years. This requires a great deal of energy, effort, time and money. It is also pertinent to ask whether it is right that someone studying RE in Norwich learns something potentially very different from someone in Liverpool? Especially when they may move for employment or university. London further highlights the problem with its 32 Boroughs; Havering and Redbridge are working on a joint LAS, but don’t get a job in neighbouring Barking and Dagenham as you’ll have to have to teach something very different! Over 20% of schools in England already do not follow the LASs as they are schools with a religious character; there is also an increasing number of Academies and Free Schools in every LEA who again may be opting out. It is also unclear how many schools who should be using the LASs actually are; it is telling when you ask a teacher about their LAS and they look blankly at you. Some have suggested that there needs to be an urgent undertaking of research into this. Potentially local determination has served the education system well historically. It has kept funding in RE and allowed a number of excellent LASs to be created which reflect the local area in which they are written, ensuring relevance to students and schools. On the flip side, if the Nottinghamshire LAS is suitable, and good enough, for the students there, why is it not good enough for the students in Birmingham? 06 UKED Magazine
clear up any misunderstanding, and give a clear framework and status for all. Others have suggested a ‘Core Curriculum’ that sets out required knowledge for each Key Stage. A document was produced by the DfE for the new RE GCSEs and these knowledge filled ‘annexes’ could be transposed to KS3, 2 and 1. Or is there another way? A third option has been suggested of a ‘Nationally Defined Minimum Entitlement’. This could be compulsory for all schools, including schools with a religious character, who could build confessional and instructional components around it with the extra curricular time allocated. None of these could be forced upon academies or free schools under current law, but again there has been suggestion that if they were good enough, they would appeal to these schools as a solution to their legal requirement to deliver RE. There would be huge scepticism from schools with a religious character who would see this as a further threat to their existence and control over RE. However it is worth noting that this is the case at Key Stage 4 (GCSE) and 5 (A-Level) already. Image credit: flickr.com/photos/priyamn/7177827960/ by Priyambada Nath used under Commercial Creative Commons 2.0 License. flickr.com/photos/dexxus/4779229303/ by Paul Bica used under Commercial Creative Commons 2.0 License. commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Religious_symbols-4x4.svg used under Creative Commons 2.0 License.
It is also worth remembering that in 2004 a ‘Non-Statutory National Framework’ was launched and ‘A Curriculum Framework for RE’ was produced in 2013. These have influenced many LASs, but many would argue that they did not ultimately have the desired effect. A primary criticism of these documents is that they do not set out any notion of knowledge or curriculum content. LASs also don’t set out a full curriculum. This is the distinct difference to new proposals and discussion. RE & The Law A few further peculiarities exist in the Law. Firstly RE is linked into the part of the law on Collective Worship, which should still be ‘broadly Christian’. Students, and teachers, may withdraw from RE (although parents would need to provide an alternative curriculum provision for their child). It is also a legal requirement to study RE until the end of compulsory education; although this is often flaunted and rarely highlighted as a weakness by OFSTED. Again some are now asking, do these laws, part of the 1944 Education Act, reformed but not removed in the 1988 Act, need change?
There is a big question here about numbers, and there would significant resistance to removing this part of the law for this reason; numbers for GCSE RS could drop hugely after previously rising year on year. Why are some suggesting we need changes to the law and an introduction of prescribed knowledge into a form of national or core curriculum, or minimum entitlement for RE? 1) Less Freedom - Teachers searching for relevance and engagement include activities that do not always facilitate best learning. In very limited and precious time teachers must focus on the deeply fascinating world of religion and belief. It generates enough questions, controversy and debate in itself. Some teachers end up teaching a personal curriculum, with a personal agenda, that would be unacceptable in any other area of the school. 2) Greater Support and Resource Sharing - If everyone was following a similar structure CPD and collaborative working would be simplified. It would also give teachers greater freedom to move further in a geographical area without fear of having to start all over. 3) Savings - Of time, money, effort and energy. There is scarce money in education, and quite simply, it is hard to justify LASs in this context. 4) Improving RE - Weak structures lead to low status and consequently poor quality RE. Even many headteachers do not understand the complexities of RE and the law and as such, mix it with PHSE, collapse to ‘RE days’, or merge into a general humanities subject. Would strong structures lead to a higher status and therefore improved quality in RE? Many believe so. Everyone would be clear on what is needed, there would be a greater parity with other subjects, and this would no doubt raise standards. Problem Solved?
Collective Worship perhaps needs redefining to ensure that assemblies are reflective of the school community. Many would argue that in an increasingly secular society, this is no longer appropriate. The law is also widely ignored; schools just often do their own thing anyway. Schools that apply for a ‘determination’, trying to follow the law, can find themselves in difficultly, as seen with the Trojan Horse schools. See more at bit.ly/uked15jul10. The right to withdrawal from RE lesson (for students) and from teaching RE (for teachers) also seems very odd given the subject is now vastly different to Religious Instruction. No other subject has one; imagine if students or parents could dictate this in other subject areas? Very few withdrawals from RE actually take place. Many would suggest that a parent wanting to withdraw a child does not understand what modern RE entails or due to family prejudices, should be exactly the person who needs some good RE! Would the removal of compulsory RE at Key Stage 4 improve the standards of teaching? As there is a legal requirement for RE, many schools opt to do at least a short course GCSE in Religious Studies. If this obligation was removed, only those who wanted to do the subject at KS4 would elect to do it as one of their options. Many would suggest students would naturally be more engaged and teachers would have smaller numbers enabling them to provide more specialised resources and lessons rather than having to manage an entire cohort of varying enthusiasm and ability.
RE is one of the few subjects that has been rebranded beyond recognition: Philosophy and Ethics (P&E), Books and Beliefs (B&B), Ethics and Religion (ER), Culture, Religion and Philosophy (CRP), Society, Theology And Religious Studies (STARS). This shows something of the subject communities lack of shared vision, aims and objectives. This is not entirely unique, but many suggest RE is the most fragmented of all school subjects; to get all on board would be incredibly difficult. There are many vested interests in RE, perhaps most significantly, the faith communities. They still carry much power, especially where politics and law change are concerned. There is a real desire to make RE better including some recent RE Thinking Days facilitated by the Culham St Gabriel’s’ Trust (bit.ly/uked15jul11). Teachers of the subject go “beyond the ordinary”, as the new recruitment campaign highlights (bit. ly/uked15jul12) every day, but there needs to be careful reflection about our place in the curriculum and the future we want for the subject. Andy recently discussed this at the Teach First RE ‘Curriculum and Controversy’ Conference: bit.ly/uked15jul13 Join the debate on RE: www.BlogSyncRE.org.uk
Andy Lewis @iTeachRE is Head of Year 10 and Assistant Subject Leader in RE at a girls’ Catholic school in the London Borough of Havering. He runs BlogSyncRE.org.uk and blogs via MrLewisRE.co.uk. ukedchat.com/magazine 07
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that we don’t all agree on everything. We all come with different ideas; expectations and values that make a ‘one size fits all’ approach to learning impossible to subscribe to. Making learning accessible to all isn’t about making it more complex, it’s not about more bells and whistles - it’s about flexibility. No individual piece of hardware represents the future, it’s the ‘solutions’ that the technology offers for learning that’s vital. Is it accessible to all? Does it promote interaction? Does it reflect the world we live in? Can it be personalised? Prowise isn’t just hardware or software, it’s both, working together in synergy. On face value Prowise gives you a beautiful, robust, antireflective touch screen in your classroom (anything between 42” and 96”). But before you have nightmare flashbacks of trying to tune in your TV, the Prowise Touchscreen is simple to operate because it’s designed with the end user experience in mind. One plug, one power button, auto calibrating, USB sockets, 4HDMI.
The Prowise screen has an impressive ten point touch and pen tool that recognises the pen nib and not the heel of your palm. On it’s own bespoke lift system, the screen can be lowered for younger users or those in wheelchairs and reclined to form a interactive table for real collaborative work. Prowise have also created Presenter – a free library of tools and learning content, created and developed by curriculum advisors. There are quizzes, voting tools, mathematical and geographical tools, 3D explorations tools and much more. It’s growing too, because it’s attached to the Cloud, so class material can be uploaded and shared at the drop of a button and software updates happen automatically. Such is the success of Presenter that last year educators across the globe uploaded over 600,000 lesson plans!
View from the Editor As a teacher who uses technology a great deal with my pupils, I know the importance of a reliable, intuitive interactive screen. The teacher’s whiteboard is often a window to far off places. I was delighted with the user experience of the Prowise Touchscreen and the Presenter software in particular. Far from being an add-on, the Presenter is a remarkable product with allows the teacher and learners integrate their ideas with just a few clicks. The collaborative power of the software left my mind buzzing with a plethora of lesson ideas and I can’t wait to use the Prowise system with my class. - Martin Burrett @ICTmagic
at Oswaldtwistle School Oswaldtwistle School, in the heart of Lancashire, is a unique learning facility with a unique set of students. Some students are referrals from surrounding mainstream schools, while others have considerable health requirements for which a mainstream location is unsuitable. All are extremely vulnerable young people.
Key Features • Two-way interaction with any tablet • Send Screen, Votes, Quizzes, Word Clouds • 10 Point Interactive Touch Screen • Loud Integrated Sound System • Create, Share, Deliver Lessons from the Cloud • 5 Years Warranty! Prowise went a step further and made their technology interact with any other device that has internet access. They called it Pro Connect and it’s an app – free to use, easy to download. For schools without huge IT budgets, this makes entry level tablets (rather than expensive iPads) a viable option as well as the possibility of BYOD. Students can interact with the on-screen content from their own mobiles, tablets and laptops, whether that’s a maths test or a class vote. It’s not just a fun application; this level of personal activity transforms learning in the classroom for staff and pupils. It gives a voice to even the quietest of students and keeps everyone, not just the front row students, consistently engaged in the class. Prowise have developed a complete 360 degree solution but they’ve remembered to keep the user experience at the forefront. There is no moment when you’re left with a large cardboard box and a 500 page instruction manual. The onsite demonstration and free training from the friendly, jargon free Prowise Screen team is as invaluable as the technology itself. If it doesn’t get used, then it isn’t worth a penny. As well as the free demonstrations and training, Prowise have an online ‘Discover & Learn’ library, which offers handy, bite-size tips and hints to help users make the most of their equipment. Teaching is changing just as fast as technology. As educators become ‘learning facilitators’ it’s enormously important that they feel confident not just to use the Prowise equipment but to use it to it’s full capability. Only if they realise the technologies full potential, do their students have a chance of reaching theirs.
It is the challenge for Headteacher Mark Bocker to help each and every child with their own learning journey, to assist them at their own speed and in their own way. Technology would seem to offer a flexible and accessible solution, the current screens were the old projector type and really didn’t engage the students in a way that kept their attention. Prowise Screens understood the requirements of a challenging educational facility. And came and gave a demonstration of the screen. Oswaldtwistle School we’re amazed at integrated solution and decided it was perfect for them. Mark Bocker said: “The installation was no problem at all. It all went very smoothly and it was very straightforward. We had training from which was absolutely spot on. The key teachers who wanted to be involved took part in the training, and it was just what we needed, because it was very practical and to the point.” Dave MacDougall from Prowise Screens said: “We knew Prowise would be the perfect fit for Oswaldtwistle School. The Touchscreens are very strong which makes them accessible to all, especially children, as they are virtually indestructible. Teachers can create lessons online and then login using the touch screen to run them. “The children can interact with the Prowise screen with their tablets and PCs, which they really enjoy. It brings the lessons to life which is fantastic for both staff and students alike.” Mark added: “The main thing is the children love it! They love technology, they understand it and really enjoy seeing how it works. It also fits with everything we use in school already. I would absolutely recommend the Prowise screens to other schools. It’s got longevity and sustainability. The Prowise screen is a tablet and a multimedia device all in one. It integrates with any device, from tablets to PCs and it’s just so easy to use.
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By Martin Burrett
The call has been made and a whole community jump into action. Professionals continue to act normally in front of the children, but under this calm exterior the feeling of dread and darkness fills their hearts. The thought of the stress and anxiety the will follow makes grown adults verge on the edge of tears. The inspectors are coming. Firstly, let me set out by saying that I do not have an axe to grind with the inspectors. Quite the contrary. Each time the inspectors have observed me teach I have been assessed, for what it’s worth, rather highly, and the judgements of the schools has been a fair snapshot. Yet, like most teachers, when the inspectors mentioned a feeling of dread and insecurity takes over. It shouldn’t be this way. Does the present or the mere existence of the schools inspectorate improve my teaching and the learning of my pupils? I have my doubts. Ofsted (other UK school inspectorates are available) announced on 15th June (bit.ly/uked15jul18) a range of changes to the inspection regime. But is there a different way to ensure quality and improve schools over a longer period? I understand that it is important to have external professionals visiting the school to identify weaknesses and improve the learning of the pupils. Schools should never be islands and need to keep things fresh, but does the current system do this? I propose a more balanced relationship with the inspectorate with allows a proper discussion about how to improve the educational opportunities and achievement in a school with ‘inspectors’ who are on the educational frontline. Naturally, many inspectors are educational professionals and the number has increased over recent years. Yet two criticisms of Ofsted, whether justified or not, is that they are unaccountable for the decisions they make and that they point out what is wrong about a school or lesson without in depth feedback of ways that they could be made better. If we were to redesign the system from scratch, I envisage a system with elements of jury duty and the scientific peer review which selects a group of practising teachers from a range of other schools who form teams which go in and
provide fresh eyes and help a school to improve as a ‘critical friend’. The visits could take place for one day per week for a number of weeks, so the teams could get a real feel for a school and so to not disrupt their own classes to much. I believe that teachers, pupils and the school community would much prefer to be helped to improve, rather than judged. The teams would observe lessons, the senior team and the school as a whole and then help tailor CPD needs and offer suggested improvements the systems of the school. Much of this is already being organised in an ad-hoc arrangement between schools. I believe that a ‘report’ of some kind still has value for the community to know how a school is doing, but the focus needs to be on what will be put in place and development for the future. A ‘statement of intent’ if you will, which outlines areas seen as weaknesses and an outline of how the school intends to tackle them – Similar to a school improvement plan. Schools deemed to have more need to improve would have more visits than schools deemed to be doing well. I have never been to a school which didn’t want to improve and schools should continually look over their school wall to find innovative ways of doing things to provide better learning opportunities for their students. Hosting teachers from other schools to help identify areas to improve and create a dialogue between colleagues with similar issues is now becoming increasingly common and it provides some of the best opportunities to improve a school. On this anniversary of Magna Carta is seems fitting to recognise the value of being ‘judged’ by one’s peers, but also to collaborate to improve the learning experiences of our young people and to grow as professionals. Image credit: flickr.com/photos/wikidave/7386337594 by Dave Crosby used under Commercial Creative Commons 2.0 License. ukedchat.com/magazine 11
MFL By Jake Hunton
When I was an NQT I remember getting into a flap about having to cover the course. I must make sure that I have got through the textbook! I must make sure that I have covered all of the language on the scheme of work (which was the textbook), including that language on transport! What happens if ‘gare routière’ comes up on the reading paper? I must teach them this content. It was a familiar pathway; make sure I cover the curriculum. At that time I wasn’t aware of the difference between learning and performance (there’s an excellent David Didau @LearningSpy blog on this, with reference to Soderstrom and Bjork) at bit.ly/ uked15jul19; just because students showed me at the end of the lesson that they could recall vocabulary knowledge or apply knowledge of a grammatical rule I had imparted during the lesson didn’t necessarily mean that I had done my job. ‘Great performance in today’s lesson guys!’ I used to shout as the students were leaving, not really understanding the true meaning of performance and just applying my own brand of teacher cum pseudo football manager encouragement-speak by using this language. In other words, just because the students could recall and apply language I had taught in that lesson there and then didn’t necessarily mean that they would be able to retain this knowledge and then apply it later on in the course. I was as far away from Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve and the fluency illusion as referred to by Carey (82:2014 - How We Learn: The Surprising Truth about When, Where and Why it Happens) as those students who had been taught ‘gare routière’ in Year 10 and were expected to recall the meaning of it in their Year 11 GCSE reading paper.
The wonderful MFL Twitterati, being the army of likeminded practitioners that they are, have shared some excellent apps about how to get students to both practise and test their retrieval of the language. Apps like Memrise, Quizlet.com, Duolingo.com, Zondle.com etc. work well as a means of testing the students with the view to making longer-lasting and more durable learning. I am enjoying incorporating these more and more into my own practice. I’ve also been using VFLAs; Vocab Fun Learning Activities which involve immersing students in as much vocabulary and short phrases as possible, practising all the language in ways that engage the students before then covering up their meanings and testing students’ recall. VFLAs like Penalty Shoot-Out, Verbal-Volley and Bob-Up are designed to get students to practise in a competitive environment before testing students’ retrieval all with the aim of moving the focus away from students’ performance to their learning over time. Spaced practice and spaced retrieval of key long-term memory essential language will give students the confidence to avoid a case of the ‘gare routières’ which befell and befuddled me in my NQT year. Have a look at the new draft GCSE specifications, which language do we want students to recall with automaticity by the time they sit the exams in the summer? Interleave the practice and testing of this language no matter what the topic is.
Read Jake’s book at
Nowadays, though, we talk about spaced practice, testing students’ retrieval as a means of learning, nothing having been learned if there has been no change in long-term memory, interleaving different topics and vocabulary instead of teaching using massed or blocked practice strategies. All of these strategies involve practice and testing, so that students can retain language in their long-term memories and apply it. It is how we get the students to practise and how we test the students so that they can do this over the longer term that is key. Hattie refers to being ‘motivated by knowledge gaps, but put off by knowledge chasms’. With low A level and GCSE take-up in mind, the MFL Twitterati are after you! Follow Jake on Twitter at @jakehuntonMFL 12 UKED Magazine
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By Rebecca Wylie
I love teaching MFL. Nothing has challenged me more and I get excited by it every day. My own experience of MFL as a learner is so far removed from my pupils’ experiences today. My German and French lessons at school were probably similar to many others of a certain age. They were heavily textbook dependent (Longman Audio Visual French, I remember) and involved lots of copying from the board and exercises from the book. The highlight for me was when we went into the language lab (remember those?) and operated our own tape recorder. That was independent learning! These lessons were OK for me; I’m a bit of a nerd and actually quite liked writing stuff down. So nothing prepared me for the complete sea change I was about to face at teacher training college. When I started at St. Martin’s College 19 years ago, I felt like I was on the brink of something wonderful. The first 2 weeks in Lancaster felt like a slap across the chops. It was intense and exciting, uncomfortable and brilliant, all rolled into one. It felt like we were being ‘re-programmed’. We were shown how to do what we thought was the impossible: teach MFL in the target language. In all my years of learning a language, we were never taught like this! Good grief, my German teacher barely spoke any German at all! How will they understand what we are saying? What if they don’t get it? What if I don’t know the word I need? So many questions and such a lot to discover. I will never forget the feelings I had on placement in those first few terrifying weeks, testing this ‘new’ thing; fear, shock, joy, amazement. I became a gesticulating madwoman, getting out of my ‘comfort zone’ regularly and getting my pupils to understand me and more importantly communicate with me and each other in the target language. And now, there’s nothing I can’t mime, or sing or find a suitable picture for and I have learnt how valuable classroom routines are in teaching pupils ‘real’ language. I have blogged before about ‘suspending reality’ (bit.ly/uked15jul20) and I
Rebecca is an MFL teacher, and head of German from September 2015, at Keswick school, Cumbria. Read her blogs at ontargetteaching.blogspot.co.uk and srswopshop.blogspot.co.uk, on Facebook at facebook.com/srswopshop, and on Twitter at @reebekwylie. 14 UKED Magazine
absolutely stand by all the principles I have embedded as a result of my experiences at St. Martin’s under the tutelage of James Burch and Anna Bartrum. There is such a sense of achievement when you are passed in the corridor and someone shouts out “Bonjour Madame!” or “Guten Tag!”, or when a child approaches you in a lesson and says to you, without any kind of prompting: “Darf ich bitte Papier haben, weil ich mein Heft vergessen habe?” or when you are thanked in the target language for giving someone a sheet. But it doesn’t happen by chance. The language that my pupils are now using is has been built up from classroom routines since September, or since whenever they started learning the language. It’s hard work at the beginning, when you are using baby language to conduct your lessons, finding as many cognates as you can to get through to pupils what you want them to do. It’s built up in simple everyday routines, such as greeting them at the start of the lesson, asking how they are and using the potentially mundane task of taking the register as a linguistic opportunity, building up from “Darf ich helfen?” to “Darf ich die Namensliste machen?” to “Darf ich die Namensliste machen, weil ich sehr schnell bin.” It’s using team points as both rewards and another opportunity to speak in the TL, starting off with, “Darf ich die Teampunkte zählen?”, to “Darf ich einen Punkt haben?” to “Darf ich fünf Punkte haben, weil ich schnell war und weil ich fantastisch bin?”. I have used team points, raffle tickets, fake Euros, sticky coloured dots and ClassDojo.com to bring the language out of them and now they speak it because they can and they want to, because it is what’s expected of them! If they want to go to the toilet, they have to ask in the target language. If their marker doesn’t work any more, they ask for a replacement in the target language. If they have forgotten their exercise book, they tell me in the target language and ask for paper. I secretly hope that one of those situations arises, just so they have to say something in the target language! I have been know to manipulate such a situation!
It takes time. At the start of their journey, the register routine can take, what feels like far too long and it is tempting to shorten it and get on with the ‘content language’, until you realise that this is the content language! This is the language that they will be adapting and using later on, so it is worth all the time and effort. I have had pupils who have completed written assessments and included language from their classroom routines, adapted to suit whatever they were writing about. The ‘linguistic opportunities’ slow the lesson down, of course. But what’s more important, describing the contents of their pencil case or asking if they are allowed to go to the toilet? I realise I am very fortunate to work in an amazing school, which has a very supportive attitude towards MFL. Our lessons are well renowned for being fun and lively and staff know that they will probably be asked to speak in French or German when they enter our classrooms. To us, teaching in English is a very strange concept. I’m not saying that we never do it; we all get tired and sometimes resort to it, but we always feel very odd afterwards, like we’ve not done it right, that we’ve let our pupils down and that we’ve ruined the atmosphere we have built up. I have a handy tool to enable me to do it if something needs explaining that is too difficult for pupils to understand in the target language. I have an English hat. I ask if I am allowed to speak in English (All in the target language, of course!). When the pupils allow it, I wear the hat. If I forget to wear it, they remind me quickly. However, I use it sparingly and only when I really need to. List your language resources at
Some MFL teachers worry about how they are going to deliver their lessons in the target language. It is all I have ever known. I was lucky enough to be trained this way and I know it works, if you build it up slowly and are not afraid of it. It even works in more challenging schools, like the one in which I worked before. Also, if I can do it in French, which is not my strongest language, then anyone can do it! I can’t stress enough how rewarding it is and how much it benefits the pupils. Once they get used to it, they don’t see it as a barrier to learning, but more of a tool for learning. Occasionally I hear, “Miss, why don’t you speak in English?” but this is because it is challenging for them, which from a gifted and talented point of view, is a good thing. We are supposed to be challenging all pupils in all of our classes. We make them work hard from the minute they enter our classrooms. Even my objectives are in the target language! They might ask the question, but very soon after, they are getting on with their work and have forgotten why they asked it in the first place! So, what am I hoping to achieve from this article? I am hoping that those teachers, who have tweeted me about target language and who have expressed their desire to use it more, will do something about it and those who are unsure and unconvinced will give it a go. I don’t want to come across as being patronising and a know-it-all; I really don’t know it all! I am just incredibly passionate about this and want to convince more teachers to get out of their comfort zones, suspend reality and go for it!
Physical Phonics By Pennie Parry
Children learn best by doing… We all know that. In my teaching/modelling of skills I try to make my sessions as active as possible. I hate sitting still, so I can only imagine how tricky it is if you are four or five. My mind starts to wander after about 7 minutes! I “borrowed” this idea, I think, from a Twitter friend. I used a marker pen to write our weeks digraph sound onto balls. Our session started with me throwing the balls around our outdoor area and the Children running around to collect a ball. They needed to show me the ball and tell me the digraph before throwing it into the tray! Game two… Same as above but once they had told me the digraph they had to hold this in their heads, and go and write it on their white board! Game three… Two Teams- each player has to run to end of assault course, read the digraph, then go and root in the tray to find the matching digraph and roll it down the tubes. At the end of the game we looked in the tray and counted up how many correct balls ea h team had! (We realised we get a little confused between ‘ie’ and ‘oi’. A great phonics session was had by all. I loved the fact that later in our “free explorer time” I saw my little phonics group teaching other children in the class!
Pennie is a EYFS teacher. Read her blog at eyfsmatters. wordpress.com and follow her on Twitter at @eyfsMatters.
Getting Started with By Xiong Fu
Chinese is often thought to be a difficult language for native English speakers to learn, and Chinese characters are tricky to memorise, but oral Mandarin is relatively simple, with clear rules and only around 400 different words to pronounce. This guide, and the extra materials and audio recording at bit.ly/uked15jul21 will help you start introducing Mandarin in class. Because Chinese character only sometimes hint at how to pronounce them, learners can use a system called pinyin. Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language, meaning that the intonation used can radically change the meaning. Look for the tonal marks above the pinyin to help you pronounce it correctly.
Pronunciation a rather o sore en thunder z adds ai site ou go eng bung c its ao now u too ian yen s say e fur ua suave iang yank zh jar ei say uo war iong Hong Kong ch cheese i sea uai wipe uan wangle j genius ia yarrow ui weigh uang wangle q chilly iao meow x sheet Other pronunciation is ie yes h loch similar to English iu yo-yo
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Book Shelf Think Before You Teach: Questions to challenge why and how you want to teach by Martin Illingworth @martinillingwor As a teacher, it is easy to go throughout a school year in ‘auto-pilot’ mode: following the same routines of teaching and school-life; following the same curriculum over and over again; filling out forms; completing assessments; compiling reports….when does it every conclude? It is difficult to stop and ask why you want to teach and how you are teaching. In his new book, Martin Illingworth points out that there are a queue of line managers in schools (the folk that say they are learning to walk!) busy telling you what to do, but there are far fewer asking you to think about why you teach! ‘Think Before You Teach’ is purposefully full of questions: the openings of discussions to have, first with yourself and then, maybe later, with your colleagues. It doesn’t promise all the answers. And it doesn’t tell you what to View on Amazon at teach. But it will ask you to think about why you want to teach and how you are going to teach. www.bit.ly/thinkteach Although the title implies that this book is aimed at those thinking about entering the profession, it is actually suited for NQTs as well as established practitioners who may wish to stop and evaluate their own practice, primarily for the benefit of their pupils. The book is strewed with valuable stories, antidotes and recommendations. To tackle the tough day to day questions that teachers raise Martin offers hope, humour, imagination and motivation throughout. For anybody thinking of entering the teaching profession, student teachers, teacher trainers, NQTs and teachers of all levels of experience. The book explores the various teacher training routes School Direct, Teach First, PGCE and the questions teachers should be asking about the path they have taken and their continuing professional development (CPD) needs. By raising questions about pedagogy, good practice, values and responsibilities, to name but a few, Martin encourages all teachers to become reflective practitioners and rediscover their passion.
Lesson Planning Tweaks for Teachers by Melanie Aberson and Debbie Light
Planning a successful lesson is a deeply personal thing, and every teacher has his or her tastes and priorities and a myriad of different ideas and techniques for providing stimulating learning moments. Each plan is tailored to the unique needs of the students. Whether a lesson leads to success or disaster, every plan could be improved. In their new book, Melanie Aberson and Debbie Light offer practical advice and a range of ‘tweaks’ gathered from a different subject areas to improve every facet of lesson planning, from the physical process of writing a plan, to delivering a lesson in class. Each tweak is written as a succinct tip, including the lesson context example and a detailed explanation of how a teacher may wish to use the idea in their own lessons. The book begins with an exploration of formal and informal lesson planning, with templates and completed examples of both, and how you can import elements of each into your existing framework. The authors have written concise guides to popular AfL, questioning, collective learning and many View on Amazon at other techniques and taxonomies, each including both cross-curricular and www.bit.ly/teachertweaks subject specific examples of how these can be used in your lessons. Small changes in your lesson planning can have a large accumulative impact on the whole of your teaching and improve the learning experience of your students and save you time every day. Reflecting on one’s practice is vital to develop as a professional and this is a great book for both established teachers who are looking to hone their skills with incremental gains, or for new teachers looking for a useful summary of modern planning techniques. 18 UKED Magazine
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Shall I Behave For My Teacher? A Musical Playlist Mixed by Ben Erskine
Shall I behave for my teacher? This is a question that many children ask themselves, consciously or subconsciously, when they meet a new teacher. Children have a kind of sixth sense when it comes to behaviour: they can tell within moments whether or not a teacher is confident they can control the class. Even the most honed acting skills cannot fool them, they see straight through your facade. I started working in schools when I was 19 and my first job was as a Teaching Assistant in a Pupil Referral Unit with primary aged children, who had been permanently excluded from school. Whilst working at the PRU I acquired countless techniques and strategies to manage behaviour, but the single most important lesson I learnt was the importance of self belief. As I said above, if a child senses you do not believe you can control them, they will take every opportunity to misbehave and test where your boundaries lie – what you will and will not accept and whether you will or will not consistently apply them. It’s important that we as teachers get behaviour right from the very start, and seeing as many of us like to begin the day with calm music to help set the tone for the classroom, here is my playlist of ideas for getting the behaviour correct from day one: “Knowing me, knowing you.” – Abba Start by developing good relationships with the children, get to know a little bit about them: What are their interests? Have they got brothers or sisters? What are their hobbies? It’s good to have something you can ask them about: in the morning, at break time or lunch time. It shows them you are taking an interest in who they are. Keep it professional, we are teachers, not friends, social workers, counselors or family members. It is important you don’t get too emotionally involved. Leave that for the experts wherever and whenever they are needed. “All the small things.” – Blink 182 Catch the small things and the big things won’t happen. It is useful to catch the smaller issues, the things that seem almost insignificant, the ones you might consider overlooking. It is essential to overcome any and all low level disruption. If a child is playing with their pencil or pen whilst you are talking – reprimand them. If a child is not looking at the front just after you ask them to, or they turn up a minute or two late, make a big deal out of it! If you make them realise that they will be sanctioned for the small things, they are highly unlikely to try anything big. Give them an inch and they will take a mile.
“High Hopes” – Bing Crosby Have high expectations. Not just of the children’s behaviour, but of their standard of work too. It all counts. If you have consistently high expectations of the children, they will respond to it. Always expect more. Often the advice from college tutors and teachers is to give 10 positives to every 1 negative. I’m not sure this is realistic. I would go for 50:50. When it comes to positives, they should be hard to earn. If you give them out all the time, they will become meaningless to the children. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” – Aretha Franklin As a teacher your aim is to earn respect from the children; to want to be respected, not liked! The children want the same. They want to know you have respect for them, for who they are, and that you are not judging them. “It’s oh so quiet.” – Bjork A teacher voice? I do not use one or have one. I use my normal talking voice, a quiet one, where the children need to really listen to hear what is being said. If a child is not conforming, then a lower, sometimes quieter voice is needed. Once you start to rise above them, they get louder, the other adults in the room get louder, and it starts to sound like you are losing control - which you probably are! “Help!” – The Beatles Sometimes help may be needed – do not suffer in silence. It may be school policy that if a child continues not to respond to sanctions and consistently misbehaves, that you send them to another teacher or member of the leadership team. In doing this you are saying to the child that you cannot deal with their behaviour, and that you’ve lost the battle and are having to send them out of the classroom. This sanction is also, 95% of the time, a short term fix. When they return to you they will probably behave for a day or two while they can still remember the sanction, however it will soon wear off and you will need to send them out again… and then again. Instead you can choose to work on the longer term strategies, which will result in them staying in class and improving their behaviour, whilst you reaffirm your place as the teacher, in charge and in control of your class. “Don’t panic!” – Coldplay Stick to you sanctions! At some point you might find yourself getting really fed up with a certain behaviour and without thinking you snap, “You are missing all of your break times for the whole week!” Then you stop and think, “I’m on a course tomorrow” or “I have a meeting at break” or most likely, “Why did I say that?” Make sure you think before you speak, or even think before you sanction. Do not threaten if you cannot or will not follow through with it. As a result of such inconsistency the children will soon learn that if they misbehave the teacher will not actually do anything.
Image credit: flickr.com/photos/stuartchilds/13845531815 flickr.com/photos/ stuartchilds/13844591403 by stuart.childs used under Commercial Creative Commons 2.0 License. 20 UKED Magazine
“No matter what.” – Boyzone Certain behaviours have certain sanctions. Be consistent and these must be applied to all children no matter how good and not so good they are. Fairness and consistency is key. A common sanction is taking time off their break or lunch time. It is pretty rare to find a child who likes to miss out on their breaks from class, so they are likely to work hard and behave, in order to avoid these sanctions. However keep a look out for the children who want to stay in because it’s cold outside! “Come together.” – The Beatles Work with your support staff. The best scenario is that they are seen as teachers too. They are an extra pair of eyes in the classroom, so use them! If they see a child misbehaving, then just like it is important that you deal with the behaviour and not send them to another class or teacher, they need to deal with it too. Team work!
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“I’m gonna be strong.” – Gene Pitney Do not be defeated, and even if you are, make sure you do not show it. As soon as the children see, or sense you have lost, they will run all over you. “Part of your world” – Jodi Benson One of the most effective behaviour management tools has to be simply, good, engaging lessons, which are part of an interesting curriculum approach. If the lessons are ones that children want to be part of, have good pace and challenge the children, you are off to a great start. It’s all in the preparation. Lure them in to be part of your learning world! “Man in the Mirror” – Michael Jackson Jackson sings, “I’m looking at the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to make a change”. You need to do this in the classroom. If a child is misbehaving, you need to make sure you look in the mirror first. What could you have done differently? How could you have prevented it from happening? If a child misbehaves, should it be them that stays in for break? Or should it be you, as the teacher, staying in and reflecting on how you could have changed that situation so it didn’t occur? “Don’t look back in anger.” – Oasis Every day is a new start. Don’t look back to previous days and hold grudges. Children should come in each day knowing they can start again and have a chance to make things right. “Push it to the limit” – Corbin Bleu Go in hard. When you first meet your class they need to know that you are no pushover. The firmer you go in, the better. It is much easier to ease off if you need to than get firmer if you go in too soft. Stand in the doorway, partially blocking it, to send out a message that the children are entering your classroom and you are the person in charge in here. “Are we human?” – The Killers Last of all, and one of the most important behaviour techniques, is showing a sense of humour. Not when you first meet a new class, but as time goes on and they have an understanding of what is expected from them. A little joke or two definitely works. It often diffuses a situation and it also shows that you are human too.
Ben Erskine @ben_erskine is the Vice Principal at The Fulbridge Academy, having started my career in sports coaching followed by working in a Pupil Referral Unit. I have been maths coordinator, a leading maths teacher and now SLE for maths and leadership as well as a Team Leader.
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Study Skills Mat by @Gwenelope & @rjl1981 A resource with advice and ideas to improve study skills. Download at ukedchat.com/WSR00028