Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Teach Meet Clevedon - are you a Dolphin or a member of the Ungrateful Dead?

Blimey - when did you last get rock music and popcorn at an INSET event?! Well, they put on a great show at Clevedon as many have reported, but there is plenty of serious learning  going on. It is a testament to teachers in general that at this busy, run-down frazzled end of the year, so many people tip out for an event starting on a Thursday evening at 5 pm.  Why?

Here's what I have been thinking about from one of the speakers and I will try to write a bit more shortly.

Keynote man was Hywel Roberts - lovely blunt Northerner, full of warmth, great stories and fun. Read his book on "accidental" learning - get the pupils in and make them fall into your carefully prepared trap full of learning before they realise. This is hard in MFL, Hywel - pupils can come with the sour "oh God it's French" mentality which makes them very wary before they get to the door. This may resonate with other MFL teachers.

Hywel mentioned these things

  • you must address your coverage of the curriculum by all means but with creativity
  • think about the integrity of the learning on offer
  • How can we make learners more independent
  • Hook the kids!
Teachers need - Enthusiasm/Courage/Hope /Energy 

He talked about "botheredness"!! Can we be bothered? Have we enough ongoing unconditional positive regard for our pupils to keep being bothered? How do we show our "professional capacity to forgive" - very hard with those challenging or under-achieving children in our care, but Hywel asks teachers to re-consider these concepts of the emotional stance that teachers can take and illustrated with some very moving stories of children he has met whose lives have been transformed by teachers actually caring and listening. 

His analysis of teacher types raised a laugh
Where are you on the chart - enthusiasm scale on left hand side!!!


Young and keen but less experience


Top of your game
the Ungrateful Dead
Sleeping bear
Lots of experience but…

What I've been trying to consider too - his KEY QUESTION - are your lessons worth behaving for?
Some days, that's a hard one but we owe it to the pupils to produce lessons worth behaving for and then we may get more of the learning we want to see.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

10 ideas for dealing with differentiation!

We agonise over differentiation in MFL classrooms. It's hard -  how can we differentiate when we're speaking another impenetrable language anyway and it's raining and 9d5 aren't giving much in the way of learning signals.... I know all the arguments but we need to address the issue everyday in our ordinary classrooms. Many of us are still teaching very mixed classes even if they have been put into sets.

I have tried to think about quick tips - fast ideas which won't lead to instant insanity/resentment/overload. Nothing fancy - just things we do and take for granted or have forgotten about.

1.Simplify something existing - don't re-invent the wheel. Take your Tippex to another worksheet and alter or chop a sheet in half.

2. Copy on to pale coloured paper for dyslexic children and make it larger. Allow pupils to cut out and stick instead of writing or join with lines instead of writing out.

3. When doing a complex listening, pop the answers on a piece of paper in the wrong order for a weaker pupil who you know won't manage the exercise. They can listen and re-order - fast solution to a tricky problem. Or allow pupils to listen for half the items if they struggle. Most able can listen for opinions.

4. Set a Find the cognates exercise for SN pupils while others do harder questions and answers. Other possibilities are - Find 10 words you know; 10 words you have seen but can't remember etc. 10 verbs, 5 numbers and 5 times...

5. Give pupils a photocopy of harder text and ask them to colour in various items - blue for nouns, red for verbs, add yellow for pronouns to stretch most able, orange for adverbs or colour in different categories of words. Think of these ideas on your feet in class sometimes - go with your inspiration!
6. Type a list of basic vocabulary for slower writers and leave them to write in the English only. It doesn't take a moment and gives a sense of achievement. Have extra words ready to challenge more able learners. Have a super challenge ready for the very best!

7. Allow a dyslexic child to do a vocabulary test orally for you or record a written homework for you.

8. Make answer sheets for self-marking when you have produced two different worksheets - pass them around so that everyone can mark fast.
9. Give out simple sentence starters and writing models for weaker pupils - more pupils need these than we realise. Grow a departmental bank of these and ensure everyone is contributing!
10. Buy in a programme like Taskmagic which will create a variety of worksheets for you - job done! Dominoes and gaps and matching lists - terrific choice for all pupils.

We are starting a CPD group on differentiation so I may come back to this theme. What have you found that works easily?