Happy New Year to you all. With the term imminent I thought I would offer the following 5 things to try tomorrow.
Shake up the seating
Most teachers change the seating plan when the class is not working how they would like. It happens when they realise that little Brendan and little Alex are a positively toxic combination, or when you realise that little Chardonnay has fallen out with little Sinead. However, maybe there is a sound pedagogical reason for changing the seating. This post by David Didau has really caused me to think and I might well experiment with my classes. I have 8 tables of 4. What if I rotate them half-termly? It means the pairings stay the same but the location changes.
“A few years ago I became aware of a very strange and as far as I know, unresearched phenomena. If I taught a lesson where students knew something in that chair, they would not necessarily know it in this chair. Simply asking students to move seats in the middle of a lesson was enough to disrupt their ability to recall and transfer.”
So give it a go. Didau himself goes on to say:
“So I started experimenting with moving students about and giving them a greater variety of sight lines and thus a greater and more unstable range of visual cues….And guess what? Their ability to transfer what they’d learned within the classroom improved. Now, I would, of course, hesitate to make a mountain out of this molehill, but it does seem worthy of further investigation.”
As they say on BBC News, more on that story later…
This is one of my favourite plenary activities. It works particularly well if you are the kind of person who has objectives in the “know”, “understand” and “be able to” format. You need to download their generator here. You can then create puzzles like a triangle of triangles. The aim is to get the English and Spanish words to match up with no text around the outside edge. Other shapes are possible. You could equally do sentence halves etc. Make sure that the format is set to “text” otherwise it will squish (yes that is a word) all your words together. Allow 5 mins for an able group and 10mins for a less able group. I might suggest also printing the “solution” tab, or copying it into word to be printed as it will save you massively on photocopying!
Simple but great for seeing what vocabulary students can recall over time. Give them a starting word and see how long they can go for.
I wrote a post on peer-assessment ages ago. I have always thought that for language teaching peer-assessment is extremely hard to do effectively. The statistic mentioned by Shaun Allison rings in my head every time someone mentions it. Even if pupils are trained well, I feel it is risky and potentially detrimental to weaker learners. One student once wrote “excellent use of connectives”, which was not a bad comment but there were none! MFL is not like English where one can suggest additions to their argument. And it is not like history or geography where you can examine how closely someone has answered the question. With gallery critique it is my understanding that Student 1 produces work. Students 2,3 & 4 comment on it and then student 1 reviews the feedback using it to develop their work. The same process will be happening with students 2,3 &4. Hopefully there will be some kind of triangulation that leads to more accurate peer-assessment. After all, 8 out of 10 cats did prefer Whiskas…
Starters to make them think more.
I’m a big fan of gap-fills, anagrams, matchups, odd ones out etc but they do get stale after a while. My new favourite is giving pupils sentences that they have to alter in some way to make their own.
Dans ma ville il y a une gare. – transform this into a sentence with 10 words.
No me gusta el inglés porque es aburrido – say something nice
En mi familia hay cinco personas – say it in a different way
No hay una piscina en mi casa – Change this while keeping the sentence on the same topic. You may not use any words from the original apart from “casa” and “piscina”.