Sunday, 24 October 2010

HoD Conference Somerset 2010

It was a treat to hear two excellent speakers in Steven Fawkes and Greg Horton at our annual get-together in Bridgewater.

Creativity is a great theme for Steven and he is an amusing and warm-hearted speaker. I felt he said we can do more with less - use little ideas to inspire kids to talk - use lots of mimicry, read numbers like football results, use gesture to reinforce meaning, get kids to talk through pictures and make up stories with simple 10 second sketches as prompts. Much fun was had with colleagues trying out Steven's ideas together. I was only sorry that the wifi was not good at this new centre and Steven was not able to use the One Semester of Spanish Love song which he wanted to show. I will post more ideas when my copy of ppts comes through!

I had heard Greg Horton's name mentioned frequently of late and was therefore looking forward to seeing this innovative winner of the European Language Award.

Group Talk is the title given to the package of ideas which Greg and the team at Wildern School Southampton have used to promote spontaneous talking in their classes.He was keen for us to realise that it doesn't cost more or give you more to do!!What a relief!

Greg outlined the reasons he had started to try to get more speaking to happen in his classes
- Gender gap
- Low numbers opting
- need to get more speaking done by kids
- Transactional tasks are be too boring and rigid.

Greg has been promoting chatting and comparing i.e. authentic discussion about things that interest the pupils. He was keen for us to consider teaching much more language of "conjecture"

Here is what Greg says it involves
• Only target language
• Interaction between a small group of pupils
• Opinion, conjecture and debate
• Language is colloquial du bist die Extrawurst – you’re the odd one out!!
• Fett – it’s cool,sick, wicked!
• Hear, process, respond
• Encourage kids to be themselves

Teach them the language they need for the above
"perhaps, I think, about, that’s rubbish, you’re joking
Think, suppose, estimate, consider, wonder
in short, give them the tools to be able to say what they want to about topics that interest them. It makes perfect sense and Somerset HoDs were inspired.

The Stages of GROUP TALK

1. Exchanging and responding to simple opinions
2. Taking part in a short discussion
3. Exchanging reasons and preferences – talking across time frames
4. Developing a line of thought, balancing an argument, sharing points of view.

Greg's team have had tremendous success with the Project - massive increase in oral exam marks - and we have started to work out how to implement the Group Talk ideas at our school. I would recommend the teachers tv clip about Greg's work at Wildern School as a really good starting point.