Friday, 16 May 2014

Ready,steady,go! Setting off together with Primary Language Learning

Making first steps to progress together in primary languages. A report from the chalk face 

It's a case of Ready! Steady !Go!

This morning I have had the great pleasure of helping a school to set off on their Spanish learning journey.

Here is the picture so far .....
The school has a Year 3 teacher who has a degree in Spanish and has decided to embark on Spanish for this reason plus the fact that the school feeds to a local High school which offers Spanish.
The audit of staff skills showed that there were that other staff had a limited knowledge of Spanish and would need support to deliver a programme of study With support the school is about to set off on an exciting language learning journey where class teachers will deliver the language learning and draw support from each other.

We have begun to put some simple tools in place today to help school to set off on this journey!

Step One: 
Getting to understand the new PoS from the DfE for Primary Languages and unpicking the Purpose of Study section to create a school vision.(This has already happened and the POS was used as a discussion tool today to forward plan)

Step Two: 
A clear and simple guide by the subject coordinator during staff CPD time to set the staff and children off on their learning journey together (after half term) 

Step Three: 
A shared learning experience
School will hold a celebration of the World Cup using the games and activities from the JLN World Cup Football Seasonal Specials with a focus on the World Cup PE games  downloadable folders with lessons with support sound files in Spanish for the staff , using limited language in a familiar curriculum area- Sport. What a gift this year too as the World Cup focus moves to South America!

Step Four: 
Follow up discussions
How did the children react to PE in Spanish?
How quickly did the children remember the language?
How easily could the children lead the PE games ?
How did the sound files support the staff?
These discussions will pave the way to a simple understanding of how teachers can develop- their language lessons in the early stages and how they can be learners alongside the children, facilitating learning too.

Step Five
Planning for a European Day of Languages Celebration in September.
We felt one way of stepping off and setting out what be to look at languages around us  as way to support the children , mainly mono-lingual, to appreciate languages around them. The coordinator will ask the staff to investigate some of the Commonwealth  languages materials (Welsh, Manx, Gaelic and the Scots reading of Peter Rabbit) plus investigate the target language country of their chosen language- Spain

Step Six
Establishing tools to help the school progress together.
I love these! The ideas developed from the discussions between the subject coordinator and myself and are so simple, so primary and so effective!
Suitcases to pack and unpack

This idea came from our conversation about my blog A journey worth the taking……………… (otherwise known as Miss Hilton’s suitcase. 

Creating real suitcases per year group or stored as a virtual class memento suitcase on the school VLE, that can go up with the children to the next year group and can be unpacked by the next  teacher. 
So for instance KS1 children learning songs and rhymes in the target language can share threes with the Y3 teacher at the start of the year.
Year 3 moving into Year 4 can unpack their Year 3 songs, games and memories with their new Year 4 teacher. 

Effective transition and a time to reflect and learn with or from the children as they move into a new year group! 

Step Seven
Building knowledge of grammar together. 

The new POS asks us to teach all four skills of listening,speaking,reading and writing and to develop the children's understanding of basic grammar. 

We discussed how this could be seen as a  big challenge but how really the grammar that young learners  meet in the target language is that of SPAG (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions). 

The first focus we identified are NOUNS! 
Simple – let’s have treasure boxes for each KS2 class , linked to my grammar blog about noun collectors.

Each lesson or when appropriate,a child that has worked well, joined in well, shared etc can be asked to draw a specific noun they have met in the lesson as picture treasure record and place it in one of two class treasure boxes.The boxes are for either our masculine or feminine nouns (and of course neuter if you are working in German). In return for the picture the child receives in  a card paper gold coin – for work well done!
It’s important right from the start that the staff and the children understand that masculine and feminine don’t refer to male or female and that these are “tags” to help us to use the nouns in messages in the target language in different ways( el/la in Spanish mean "the" which are referred to as definite articles by you and me!). 
Guess what half way through the year in the treasure boxes the  coordinator will add “un “ and “una”   stickers on the inside lids of the boxes.The challenge from the coordinator will be to ask the teacher and the children in the class to spot when and how these words are used …. Hence they will explore indefinite articles. Later she can change or add two new boxes for plural masculine nouns and plural feminine  nouns. everyone moves forward together and the coordinator can support.The year one , stage one grammar target will be to work with the children on their knowledge of target language nouns.

Step Seven

Ah I hear you ask …. But what about the teachers and the children when they get stuck in their language explorations! Well the coordinator is going to put up a Spanish letterbox outside her classroom – indeed she showed me the spot- and  the teachers and children can post her questions to ask, thoughts the class have had to check , good work done, creative ideas, facts they find out! Simple, effective and this helps to be able to access the school coordinator as a point of reference!

Step Eight
QR Codes!
The school wants to celebrate the fact that their children are developing the WOW factor (liberation from insularity!).This is a mainly mono-lingual school so the QRs help the mums, dads, carers and wider community get the WOW factor too – by being able to hear their children speak on displays that are 2D but become talking walls! 
Simple greetings to start with on a picture linked to Spain and Spanish culture in classrooms and in the foyer.
Everyone has to start at the beginning and build on solid foundations.

I look forward to going back to school to help them build some more !

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