Monday, 22 June 2015

Daisy Chain Clauses and Conjunctions

This idea has been on my list to write for quite a while now! 
I have selected a daisy chain because it reminds me of Summer.It's now that we have the opportunity to assess what our moving on learners can  say and write.

They are going to write about their likes and dislikes with nouns and adjectives and use conjunctions to join their sentences together.

Take a handful of conjunctions in the target language:in French let's use "mais,et, car, pourtant,"

  • First let's physically feel and make the sentences.
  • Ask the children to make a list of favourite things - using nouns thye know for foods,clothes,animals or finding new nouns in the bilingual dictioanry 
  • Now ask them to list adjectives ,two per nun thjat they would use to describe the nouns they have sleected.
  • Ask them to think about the adjectival agreement with these nouns.Are the nouns masculine, feminine and in German neuter? 
  • Do they need to use each of the nouns in the plural or singular?
  • Ask then to check their adjectival agreement against the criteria above.

A physical daisy chain
Now it's palm of your hand time.
You make daisy chains with your hands so we are using our hands as the physical planner for the daisy chains we will make later.

  • Ask the children to open up the palm of their left hand and wiggle their fingers.
  • The index finger on the right hand is their pen with invisible ink!

  • Each finger and the palm of  the left hand represents a key part of the sentence

Thumb- personal pronoun 
Index finger verb
Middle finger noun
Ring finger first adjective
Little finger second adjective
Palm of your hand conjunction

  • Ask the children with the index finger on the right hand to touch each finger on the left hand as they say their physical sentence to themselves quietly.
  • Now they need to add the conjunction in the centre of their sentence by drawing a circle in the plan of their left hand with their imaginary pen and the index finger of the right hand.
  • Can they now add the next part of their setnece - using their fingers again as the prompts for the parts of the sentence?
  • They may need to reorder their finger roles if they use in French adjectives that precede the noun.
  • Once again they add their conjunction and move on to make their next physical clause in the long sentence.
  • If they can they should make five  clauses using the four conunctions.

A visual daisy chain!
And now they can make their daisy chains.

The centre of the daisy is the picture of the item- the noun they like.

There will be 5 petals on each daisy .One for the each a part of the sentence and the green stem of each daisy is the conjunction leading to the next daisy .
Now you have your daisy chain!    

From policy to practicality.Primary languages and beyond!

Last week at CPD in London delivered by Lisa StevensSylvie Bartlett Rawlings  and Julie Prince and myself ,we shared with colleagues some effective and creative ways to bring story,cross curricular learning,technology and phonics and literacy in to the primary classroom.
In the room with us were primary and secondary colleagues, all of whom identified with what we had to share and could see pathways forward for their own learning environments! Thank you Lisa,Sylvie and Julie! 
Lisa made Sketch Notes of presentations and here are her Sketch Notes of my presentation.....and below listed in point form are the points I raised.

Policy to Practicality Points to Consider and Reflect Upon.....

  1. What does language learning and thought of it make you feel? How was language learning for you at school? Why should this inform your approach in the primary classroom? 
  2. If you are a secondary languages teacher - how can you make sure that your language teaching practice in the primary classroom is language learning for all and not those who pick it up quickly or in certain way?
  3. If you are a primary specialist teacher then look for all thse wonderful links to literacy that you bring so readily to the classroom.
  4. If secondary linguists and primary non speicialist language teachers talk and share - it will make and does make already in certain instances magic! 
  5. Are languages a bit like driving a car? I learnt in a Fiat Panda and when my father asked me to reverse the Rover off the drive to pop the new Fiat Panda on the drive - I froze! why ? Well I had learnt in a Fiat ~Panda....could I really reverse a different type of car? Of course I could - slowly and stutteringly but safely .... I had learnt to drive a car hadn't I? What a sense  of pride I felt once I had done this! Even to this day I know that I can drive cars- albeit stutteringly at first in a new or strange vehicle!!
  6. Pupils want to move forward .Self efficacy makes learning a "self" perpetuating need as learners achieve and want to learn more and get better.They like feeling successful- that goes withoit saying really! What we need to do is provide the tools so they can be successful.
  7. Self efficacy demands that we listen to what the children want to say and we must consider what age and stage our learners are at and what they can already do.A young child for example wants to tell you that he /she has hurt his/ her knee or his/her head hurts and not that he/she has a temperature or may have a stomach upset! Young children generally want to talk about things that are relevant in their lives: sweets,toys, family and  today and tomorrow and probably not talk about things that have no relevance in their own lives.
  8. The Purpose of Study in the DFE POS  is a powerful paragraph.The opening line about the "liberation from insularity" is our green light to explore the World with the children.It's the WOW factor!Tasting,investigating,meeting,speaking,singing ,dancing, understanding more about the world and moving away from the small world of the child in some instances! Breing the world in to the classroom - virtually or with real experiences and make it age and stage appropriate!
  9. Balance the learning between "Listening,Speaking ,Reading and Writing". Acknowledge that not very many people are purely auditory learners.Sometimes the best primary practitioners are those that have to find lots of ways to facilitate learning of limited language because they themselves have got to re-learn or learn for the first time the language they are teaching- which helps them to understand the needs of the learners very well.
  10. KS1 practitioners are fantastic at seeing the links between basic building  bkocks of sentence building in english and the transfer of these activities to KS2.They all seem to love the Sandcastle Sentence Building that we do with our KS2 Y5/6 learners in the network! It seems to me we all have so much to learn from each others' expertise!
  11. Our young learners told us in a school learning journey programme a few years ago that they wanted to be able to talk to other children their own age and they wanted to hear what they have to say about their lives.This was how they saw being successful in language learning.Age and stage appropriate,this is a wonderful way to engage the language learners of the future! Personal information is still important and we need to provide them with the scaffold of questions and answers and show them how to constrauct dialogues and conversations.
  12. Be imaginative and creative.I have most certainly been asking children to be "language detectives" all my teaching career with what ever stage or age of learner I have been working - indeed with adults too! Make the learning memorable.
  13. Problem solve - not you but facitate problem solving for the children .I know of course  that not all children want to "do drama" (even though I love this approach!) and I advocate providing a very mixed diet of learning.
  14. Encourage reading for pleasure and listening just to listen - don't always look for results and progress ....Maybe it happens without us noticing sometimes?
  15. Link language learning across the curriculum - embed the learning in the curriculum and take time to  share this with the wider community.Are you looking at pirates as a school theme? Well what about going on a treaure hunt in languages and  go on a word treasure hunt as pirates gathering new treasure from their "pirate bilingual treasure chests - the bilingual dictionary".
  16. Take time to meet the demands of "emerging, meeting and exceeding" statements we so often here now.Notice that I am suggesting we take time! Let's make learning accessible to all.Remember languages spiral up and spiral down- like Maths - as a learning process.If you rush it, you will lose some on the way! Share the magic tricks (if you are a linguist) - explain that you don't know every word or you don't know how to say every word or get the gender right every time.Share the tricks of phonics, synthesis , bilingual dictionaries, watching , mimicking, having another go , tryong to use new language in different circumstances, memory skills, jusing our voice machines....language learning skills ( any one remember those?) .If you are a non -specialst then go on a languages learning strategies journey with your children.Give them time to share and discuss these strategies - as this will help them if they swap languages too.(Remember my analogy -the Fiat Panda?)
  17. Plan for progress.In KS1 we look at "education of the ear".In KS2 plan for progress with grammar.Make it one of the most exciting and memorable journeys that children take .I mean -how exciting is it to find out that there is more than one word for "THE"!!! ??? And if you are a languages' expert I believe that with a little help all faciliators of language learning can facilitate  basic understanding of grammar- we just need to hep others! 
  18. Moving on in to Year 7 consider the progress and build on the foundations laid.Talk (perhaps work) with your primary colleagues.Don't knock the building blocks down, but review, reflect and then build upon the language explorations the children have taken part during their primary language learning journey.  

Let's not try to square the circle.One Key stage is different to anothet ,but let's enable each of us to put building blocks in place,so that children can move forward and access joined up thinking that takes our young language learners on a very exciting skill development journey ...becoming a linguist!

 Some of us remember the last time we felt the "language learning train had set off  from the station" ... this time in my opinion we must all keep going on the journey!
I picked a lego train on purpose (left) because we all have something valuable to contribute and we must join up the dots to make progress.  
Linguists like recurring patterns,problem solving, puzzles and communicating with others - so we should be able to do this!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Envelope Explorers of the Near Future

I bought some cards recently in France and they came with their own envelopes - which were just as wonderful as the pictures on the cards inside!.
Take a look at the envelope on the left !
I like the envelope because it prepares you for the message that could be possibly inside .
It allows you to get ready to open the envlope and imagine the message inside too!

So take a look at the envelope again and think....
What can you see?
What type of day is it?
Where are the people?
What are they doing?

Activity One :All about the envelope and setting the scene
Above we have our "Talk Prompts"
Give the children time to gather the language they need to try to convey the responses to the questions you are going to ask them about the envelope.This could be a group,pair or individual activity.These answers will be present tense of course.

Activity Two: All about the invitation in the envelope
Now prepare for the invitation inside the envelope.
Explain to the children that inside is an invitation and the picture on the envelope gives the class a clue as to the verbs we might find inside the envelope.In this instance it will be verbs we asscoiate with the seaside- to swim, to play football , to build a sandcastle , to have a picnic, to sunbathe, to eat an ice cream ......
The invitation is a suggestion of what you will be doing so discuss how we use the phrase "let's go....the verb describing the activity"
Ask the children to decide which verb (so which activity) they want to put in the envelope.Again this could be a pair or individual activity and could involve the use of bilingual dictionaries.
Invite children to suggest the verb they want in the envelope and write it out ,show the class and pop it inside the envelope.To go in the envelope it needs to be the infinitive of the verb- ask the class to help you check it is an infinitive that is written on the card before it goes in!

Activity Three: An invitation to the near future!  
One by one take the cards out of the envelope and play a game of charades with the class.Can they guess the target language infinitive?
Once the class has guessed the infinitive correctly add it to the invitation list.
The invitation list is basically the list of infinitives underneath the heading "Allons" (French) or "Gehen wir..." or "Vamos" (Spanish) ....let's go ....!
Practise forming the near future tense with the title of the invitation list and the infinitives.
Can the children write out clear invites- a sentence made up of 1st person plural of the verb "to go" in the target language and the infinitive of their choice.
Pop the invitation card sentences back in to the envelope.

Activity Four :Envelope Explorers - over to you!
Each child is now the creator of an "envelope to explore" for another child.

Step One 
Think of a scene - draw/paint the front picture on your envelope of this scene.
A birthday?Christmas? A party? A football match? A walk on the countryside?

Step Two 
Add infinitive verb cards in the target language that you associate with this scene in to the envelope.

Step Three
Pass the envelope to a partner.
Can the partner write a list of the infinitives they anticpate will be in the enevelope?

The partner can then open the envelope and see if the verbs are already written on verb cards inside the envelope.If they have thought of additional infinitives then these should be added,written on card and placed inside the envelope.

Step Four
Pass the envelope back to the designer of the envelope.
Can  the child now write full sentence near future invitation sentences to go in the envelope using the infinitives that are in the envelope?

Step five
Invite volunteers to share their envelopes with the class.
Ask the class to suggest possible infinitves that may be in the envelope
Ask the volunteer with the envelope to rread out some of their near future invitation sentences from the envelope.

Step six - celebrate the work!
Make a display of the envelopes and allow the children to open the envelopes and see what invitation sentences are written in cards inside.

Or create talking envelopes
Record the children sayimng their sentences using either a QR code or Chatterpix.
Play these back for the class! 

Saturday, 13 June 2015


Emerging , meeting subjects !
I spend a lot of time meeting with colleagues, discussing the implementation of primary languages in their individual schools.Recently I have spent some time beginning to help KS3 colleagues to understand what is happening in KS2 and to look at how we can create an effective learning continuum for the specific high school and link primary schools .

During the last two terms more and more frequently, I have had conversations with primary colleagues, who tell me that  they are beginning to or are "assessing" or being required to assess primary language progress.

I welcome the fact that we need to demonstrate progress.
I recognise the challenges in doing this effectively and efficiently.
I identify that the assessment needs to demonstrate real progress in the language learners linguistic skills.

Why do I welcome "demonstrating progress"?
Well it means we have arrived!
It makes language learning real and a part of the whole primary curriculum and announces that we are part of the learning landscape!
It means that the "quantitative data" that we can pass up through the school will ultimately impact upon KS3 language learning.
It means that children will hopefully have a sense of "self efficacy" which means they are ready and confident to continue learning and can identify their own next steps.

Why do I recognise that there are challenges to overcome?
Well firstly it is a question of time - if you are only with a class for 30 minutes,then just how do you do this? 
Even if you have more time,just how much more time do you have?
Secondly how do you create assessment as an integral part of the teaching and learning and adhere to the philosophy that all children can make progress and that language learning in primary should be a primary creative learning opportunity? 
Thirdly do you assess all  the children or a sample of children?
Fourthly just what should you assess, how and why? How do you then use this data to inform next steps or future remedial steps?
Fifthly what if you are a school that is just starting off and getting to grips with how to make languages an integral part of the timetable etc?

Why do I want to see a "demonstration of real progress in lingusitic skills"?
Well firstly I think we need to consider just what are we measuring.
Can we use his data to create the next learning steps for the children?
Can we use the data to inform us of our young learners strengths in language learning?
Can we use the data as a picture of progress and as information to help us create next term's/year's language learning across the year groups?
Can we as primary colleagues use this data to populate our dialogue with secondary colleagues and can we all find ways to use the data effectively, in a way that is fair to all children and promotes future progression and success?
Could data around linguistic skills help MFL departments inhigh schools to understand their new Y7 cohort better? I am thinking here particularly if the school at KS3 teaches a range of languages and the banding of children is not determined by which language they learn at primary?   

I realise that I have raised alot of questions here and each of these questions demands reflection time on your part and in your individual setting or even better as a shared dialogue between settings and key stages!

As part of my work I am able to draw on the experiences of lots of other teachers in primary schools and some secondary schools who are grappling with these questions.
Here are my observations both current and from previous academic years,which may help you on your way to solving your own challenges. 

The emerging picture

  • The general consensus seems to be that the three descriptors in red at the top of the blog "emerging , meeting exceeding" are the  preferred levelling descriptors.
  • The schools are feeding the assessment data in to the specific assessment recording programme that is being used across school for all subjects.
  • Schools are having to work out the best fit within this data collection and review system when primary languages are a subject that only need to be formally taught from Y3. 
  • Heads want quantitative data (in some instances already) .Therefore a base line is required so that a percentage outcome at the end of the year or during the year can be drawn.
  • The baseline needs to be captured when the children start their formal language learning and the DFE POS requires this to start term one Year 3.Quite a few of the schools I work with teach from YR but in my opinjon we need to see the formal procress and trackong of progress starting from Autumn Y3.The baseline is then a snap shot of the skills the children have already, but based on the content,context and activities of September language learning.
  • Schools that I work with are looking at the skills of learning a language (transferable linguistic skills as we are preparing each young language learner for languages we do not yet know he/she may need to learn in his/her own lifetime) 
  • Currently there are lots of schools ,where pupils in UKS2 are at the same level as pupils in LKS2 and also in some schools LKS2 children may have learned more language than children in UKS2. 
  • Amongst the schools I work with there are schools that hjave yet to address assessment as they are setting off or still finding their way in language teaching and learning.what is apparent though is that pri ary colleagues bring an understanding of data analysis to the table.Once they begin to collect data they are able to use this effectively and are not afraid to adapt and adjsut assessment processes to find the best way forward.  
  • Currently secondary schools I am working with ,ant a picture of a primary Year 6 class as a whole and they are not setting classes using this data or using this data to monitor inidividual pupils progress. This could and should change as the implementation of Year 3 to Year 9 language learning progresses.they recognise this and are working through ways to adjust their Y7 teaching and learning as the data changes and progresses between Y6 and Y7 over the next couple of year.
  • Some schools are trialling APP models and some schools are monitoring every pupil.
  • What is apparent is less is more and where cplleagues have created huge lists of assesmengt focae the picture is confused.
  • Schools who are tracking four skills (L,S,R,W) and have now begun to consider progress in basic grammar(nouns,adjectives and verbs) have a clear,simple and informative picture of progress.

A possible way forward!

  • Look at the DFE POS learning objectives- these are skill descriptors just like we had in the KS2 Framework but concertina style! (The DFE POS runs across KS2 and KS3 and therefore should lead us along a learning continuum from Year 3 to Year 9) 
  • Think of the four main language skill areas.(Listening Speaking Reading and Writing).
  • Identify the four main skill strands - listening ,speaking ,reading and writing.
  • Populate these four main areas with the learning objectives from the DFE POS
  • Expand these skill descriptors (you may need to look at the KS2 framework objectives to do this) and therefore explore the stages of learning required to become competent in each skill at the level described in the DFE POS learning objective.For example what stages can a child develop thorugh to becpme a competent language pupil in Y3,4,5 or 6 in listening and responding ?
  • Look at the CEFR descriptors A1 and A2 for listening,spoken interaction ands spoken production reading and writing.Chart level A1 and possibly A2 against the skills and the DFE POS learning objectives.
  • The Assessment in MFL guidance from the ESAG suggest that these documents in the last four bullet points are key pathways to explore.
  • Focus on generating one descriptor of expected progress per stage of "meeting the expected competency" per skill (can do .....).Give children somewhere to go to - that si allow for progress beyond the skill descriptor that you decide upon for that stage of learner.
  • In mixed age classes especially you will need to offer more than one stage of skill competency.
  • Keep assessment tasks simple and integral to the lesson and primary appropriate - simon says , bingo . APP recordings for speaking, performances, creatve writing activities , reading sorting/seeking activities.
  • Make evidence collection integral to the lesson and for speaking use recordings and post it records 
  • Build in opportunities for children to share their growing knowledge of grammar and how to use bilingual dictionaries - don't force the activity , see where the activity lends itself to such an assessment opportunity. 
  • Depending on the school requirements -plan to track all or a sample of the class- record using simple tick charts with evidence kept and activities highlighted and dated in planning etc.
  • Baseline assess your sample group or class at the start of the first year of formal language learning- start next year with Year 3! Allow the children time to settle and to practise language first - so we are looking at end of September.
  • Keep the assessement "skill" not "content" driven
  • Track  progress in these skills across the year
  • Plan to assess atleast three times in the year and want to see the use of each skill a certain number of times across the year by the specifc child or children in the sample group.
  • Remember we want childrren to succeed.Learning a language is a life skill so in my opinion at the early primary stages of language learning we want children to develop self efficacy and to do this they need to feel confident and that they are developing communication skills.
In real practice!
Remember some schools are just starting off!
Schools are looking at the DFE POS and the learning objectives and tracing these objectives back to the 4 core skills and grammar
Some schools are tracking two skills often listening and speaking to see how it works in practise.
Schools are keeping activities very manageable ( a table game/ a quiz/a Quiz quiz Swap observed activity)
Where schools work with our asscoiate teachers the class teacher is asked to support with the tracking and assessment and in some cases work alongside the language teacher. It is my opinion important that the teachers in school can see porgress and align this with the whole development of the young primary learner.
Schools are keen to report progress to parents and find the "can do " skill statements easy to use for this purpose.Reporting of content and transactional language progress is also shared.
Keep it simple - if you have to explain progress to SLT baed on what you have assessed then it needs to be easy to follow and evidence kept needs to clearly demonstrate progress.
Where effective tracking and recording is taking place,it is empowering and it allows the coordinator to show the value of language learning across the curriculum to other members of staff and SLT/ governors.
Where dialogues are beginning to develop between primary and secondary schools based on skill progress then a bigger picture is created of the young developing language learners.
With some colleague we have discussed hiw assessment in languages and then drilling down to see where gaps are ,could help teachers to support children with commnication challenges or see strengths that they didn't obviously notice in other areas of the curriculum. This I feel is a really interesting area to investigate.  
KS3 colleagues are becoming more interested in the stage of competency in linguistic skills with their next year Y7 cohort.This does raise challenges but being persistent and looking for solutions is key! 
There is mileage in the use of the CEFR alongside the DFE POS learning objectives as both a diagnostic and summative tracking and assessment tool from Y3 to Y7 and beyond.
KS3 colleagues can use anecdotal and informal evidence of content and languages covered to inform how they approach similar topics and content.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Spin the wheel with German nouns and articles!

This is a simple game for UKS2 or KS3 German language learners who are exploring the relationship between articles and cases in German.

All you need are pictures of nouns you are practising e.g foods and a "Spinning Wheel" made of card - see my diagram- with an arrow that can move and is fixed to the centre of the circle.

Step One
Divide you class into differentiated ability teams of 6 children

Step Two
Place a picture of a noun or place the object itself in the centre of the Spinning Wheel Circle.
With the arrow at 12 o'clock invite a member of a team to say the noun  for the class (1 point)
Can the team decide and say the definite article that goes with the noun? (1 point)

Step Three 
Turn the arrow to one of the other written phrases.Can the team now say the noun after the word or phrase with an accurate definite artcile in the correct case? ( 2 points)
Can a member of the team explain why they have used this definite article  e.g it is how you say it after "ich habe..."  (1 point)
They can double the score if they can say what "case" they have used- Accusative or Dative  

Noun Nets and German

The challenge of nouns and definite/ indefinite articles in German and cases with young learners can seem like a huge challenge but I think we need to break this down and look for small steps of progression over four years.
The beauty of German is that there are very clear rules as qe use nouns in the nominative, accustaive, dative and genitive cases
I think that over four years we can help the children in primary German rto have "basic understanding of nouns"
What I am describing below will take the four stages ( four years of primary language learning to develop.

  • Let's go catching nouns , like you would catch butterflies.Preciuous , to be looked after carefully and to be  examined and observed!
  • Let's make it exciting - I mean how exciting is it that there are three types of nouns in German masculine , feminine and neuter.Let's make it an exciting exploration!!
  • Let's make sure from the beginning that the young learners do not asscoaite thes three terms with sexual gender but see the titles "masculine","feminine" and "neuter"  as tags or labels.The blog post here on tags and labels for nouns may help you too .Nouns, definite articles,indefinite articles and colour card tricks
  • Let's keep on talking about nouns, revisiting and reviewing nouns with our young learners too- across content and contexts and year groups and stages of learning.
  • Let's put our nouns and finding about nouns as we explore the four cases - Nominative,Accusative,Dative and Genitive in to noun nets and let's reviit and explore them throughout the year and then across the year groups as we find out more! 

Noun Nets One!
In our first noun  net with stage one / beginner German learners Let's just collect singular nouns  and let's collect tags or labels.
Let's put the nouns we are learning (e.g. animal nouns) in to one large net as written word cards with the definitie article
Let's take the nouns out of the net one by one and examine the nouns carefully.Can we spot the different definite articles? 

Why not use my idea of the magnifying glass for this? 
The mysterious World of grammar and the maginfying glass

Let's add a new category and add plural nouns and the definitie article "die"
Let's explore plural endings and how we can spot the difference between for example "die Schlange" and "die Schlangen" 
Let's catch and sort our feminine nouns in two different nets! 

Noun Nets Two!
Let's sort our nouns! 
Can we categorise the nouns and place them in three nets - "der/ die and das" nets.
Let's be honest with the choldren and explain that the nouns have speical titles "masculine,feminine and neuter" 
Let's right from the start explain that the masculine does notr mean male etc
We can continue over four years to gently remind our learners so they have lots of chances to understand the "basic grammar facts "

Let's sort nouns using the game in this blog post I Spy Nouns- we can revist this activity many time too! 

Noun Nets Three!
With stage two , moving on learners on Year 4...
Let's look at nouns after the verb "haben".
Let's be positive and let' use "ich habe...."
Can we spot the difference in the spelling of the definite article 
Can we  create four new nets and place these below the first four nets that we already use. 
Where are we going to put the nouns now?
Ich habe den Hund
Ich habe die Schlange
Ich habe das Kaninchen
Ich habe die Katzen

Let's apply the rule we have made as a class and see if it works with a question..."Hast du....?"
(Maybe at this point you want to talk with the children about the "object" of the sentence... answering the question "What item are we talking about?" )
Remember it will be important to keep on talking about nouns, revisiting and reviewing nouns with our young learners too- across content and contexts and year groups and stages of learning.

Let's apply this rule to indefinite singular article nouns too now ......
Bring out I Spy Nouns again- a familiar activity but a new challenge to ask and answer questions with the verb "haben" and to use indefinite articles with the nouns....before sorting in to "noun nets"!

Noun Nets Four!
With stage three, moving on learners  at the start of Year 5 ....
Let's introduce some important prepositions and the effect that these prepositions have upon the definite and indefinote articles....
Break this down - don't bombard them- start with an accusative preposition "für"and investigate and apply the rules the children already used in"noun nets 3 
Now make it the changes and track the family of the nouns definite article- introduce a dative preposition "mit".
Can the children create the next layer of noun nets - "dem / der/ dem/ den!".

Take time over the year to explore some more useful prepositions and their relationships with definite artciles - zu / von / nach .Try to keep these  explorations to prepositions that don't change from Accustaive to Dative.
do talk with the children about these fascinating words "Nominative" "Accusative" "Dative " use them just like with UKS2 you might use the term"Algebra" or "Fraction"
Give your learners the chance over a period of time to just see these words as labels and signposts and useful as list headings for prepositions.....

You may like to use the Spin the Wheel Game to practise use of Nominative,Accusative and Dative Definite Articles.

Noun Nets Five! 
With stage three or four , moving on learners  at the end of Year 5, moving in to Year 5 ....
Let's explore the Genitive case ....
Let's once again use all our apporaches from Noun Nets 1,2,3,4 and let's make it an exciting discovery .
Ask the children if they can define for you what power the definite article in the Genitive has .... Can they suggest a sense of belonging or ownership? Lead them to see this relationship 
And guess what set up your Noun Nets again!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Abracadabra Adjectives and Magic Tricks!

Here is one post unashamedly for my colleagues who teach German.
Grammar in German can be such fun! You just have to think of ways around the adjectives and the cases.
Let's make magic with adjectives!
We have a lovely short sketch that we use with Year 6 in our JLN SOW for German about a magician and his hat and all thew wonderful things he pulls out of his hat ....but not the rabbit he is looking for!
The activity below will help you to reinforce adjectival endings used with singualr indefinite nominative nouns or with indefinite accusative nouns, create a performance and hopefully have some fun!
There are probably 3 - 4 lessons of activities here.
You may also like to practise the verbs "haben" and "sein" prior to these activities.The following blog post have activities

Cinderella,carnival masks and the verb "to be "

The verb "to have" and a wizard's potion

Magician's steps:
You will need 

  • a magician's hat or bag
  • 6 animal cards - each animal all white balnk pictures ( a dog,a fish, a cat , a snake, a rabbit and a guinea pig)
  • 6  more of the same animal cards - but each of the animals must now be a different colour -(e.g a red dog , a green cat , a purple guinea pig)  

Step One 
Practise the magic word- all magicians need a magic word "Abracdabra!

Step Two
Introduce the animal cards for your magic trick (two masculine , two feminine and two neuter nouns.)
Pop them in your magician's hat and ask the children to say the nouns as they disapper in to the hat.

Step Three- the magic word!
Create a speed chant - saying "Abracadabra and the noun for the animals in your magic hat/bag as they appear - using the singular indefinite nominative case e.g. ein Fisch, eine Katze , ein Kaninchen etc.
Say the magic phrase and nouns with "gusto"!  

Step Four- the magic signal trick!
Now add a magic signal to identify masculine nouns maybe a twirl of the hand , for feminine nouns maybe a swipe of the forehead, for neuter nouns a click of the fingers.Ask the children without your help to say the animal nouns with their magic symbols as you pop them back in the hat/bag!
Invite volunteers to come out and be magician's apprentices - can they say the magic word and then pull an animal out of the hat/bag.Can they say the correct singular indefinite nominative article and the animal noun plus also make the correct magic sign? 
There should be a round of applause from the audience (the other children ) after each magic trick

Step Five - Magik Menu and adding a touch of white!
Pop your white animal cards on the flip chart.
At the top of the flipchart write the title "Magik Menu"
Write next to each animal the sungular nominative indefinite article plus the coluor white with correct adjectival agreement and the animal noun.
Ask the children to see if they can see a magic pattern?
Try your magic pattern with three new animal words ( one masculine, one feminine and one neuter)
Does the pattern still work?

Step Six- Magik Menu and adding a touch of colour
Remove the white cards and the key phrases you have written
Add the coloured card animal pictures
Can the children on whiteboards and working in pairs, write the Magik Menu list that they think is now required?
e.g ein roter Hund, eine schwarze Schlange , ein graues Kaninchen) 
See if as a class the apprentice magicians can complete the flipchart "Magik Menu"

Step Seven
The class is almost ready to try out a colour changing magic trick!
First they need to watch, listen and observe an expert magician - you! 
You need a magician's bag or hat with the six colured animal cards already concealed in the hat.We are goig to use the verb "haben" so that we can now share with the children the change in adjecrival ending when the noun has a singular indefinite article in the accusative (..... einen Hund/ eine Katze/ ein Meerschweinchen) 

You must use the following phrases to make the magic work
Show the white animal card to the audience 

Say : 

 Hier ist ein weisser Hund

Pop the card in the magician's bag or hat

Ask the class to help you say the magic word!


Pull out the coloured version of the animal and say 

Ich habe einen roten Hund 

  • Ask the children to talk with each other about the words they have heard and the changes they may also have heard.Take feedback .
  • Try the activity again with a second masculine noun
  • Ask the children to see if what they think they notiiced happens again?
  • On whiteboards start a Magik Menu with the phrase "ich habe..." and the animals , colours and the changes to the article and the clour they hear.
  • Check and take feedback
  • Ask the children ro try out the magic trick with the third masculine animal noun you have used in step five. 
Repeat the activities above with feminine nouns and then with neuter nouns!
With the class make some simple rules about the use of adjectives with nouns using the verbal phrase "hier ist ..." and simple rules about the use of adjectives using the verb "haben"  
Make sure that these are visible in the classroom for the next step.....

Step Eight - our magician's show!
Can the children working in differentiated abiloty groups of four create their own colur changing magic show but this time with fruits or vegetables and colours?
They must make the props.
Use the phrases in Step Seven and write their own scripts and then perform their "abracadbra adjective magic tricks" for the class!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Shades of meaning,building vocabulary in a target language

I have just seen this tweet from @JaneConsidine .Thank you Jane! 
You can find this and more on The Training Space website
Such an effective tools for literacy but also such an effective tool for target language learning- "shades of meaning from "subtle " to intense" 

Time to get those bilingual dictionaries out again and this time pose the pupils individual  tasks to find "shades of meaning" based on an adjective that they may or may not already know.
You will need 6 adjective cards and sufficient of these cards for one card each .The pupils will swap cards as they repeat the activity three times with different adjectives.
(Immediately adjectives such as small / big/ naughty/ beautiful/ sweet/ lively.....come to mind)

  1. Give them a blank piece of paper
  2. Ask them to draw the "shades of meaning scale" on the left handside and ask them to help you to locate the descriptors for "intense" and "subtle" in the bilingual dictionary.Can the pupils help you to work out how to say "subtle" and then ask all the class to put the key language on the scale but in the target language .(in this instance in a foreign language I think "subtle" means - a gentle type of adjective and "intense" means a powerfuland strong adjective.
  3. Now give each pupil an adjective card.They mjust decide whereabouts on the scale they would place this card - first of all they may need to find the meaning of the adjective!
  4. Set the class a time limit for the next search and ask them to think of 3 adjectives that mean something similar and then find these in the target language dictionary.they must record them on their scale by writing them down in the target language.
  5. Set up a new "shades of meaning" challenge with a new piece of paper and ask the children to swap adjective cards.Can they find 3 adjectives they think have similar meanings to this adjective? (e.g big - tall,large,huge).Whereabouts on the chart do they think these words fit?
  6. Repeat the activity one more time.
  7. Now invite pupils to give feedback as you read out one of the 6 adjective cards. Can they say whether the adjectives they have found linked to the original adjective are more or less subtle or more or less intense- in their opinions? 
  8. How many different words have the class found? 
  9. You could record these on a class "shades of meaning" list in the target language. 
  10. Now you can encourage the pupils to alternate and use these new adjectives when describing people, things and places in speaking and writing.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Skittles and speaking activities

I have been busy tweeting with Joe Dale and Erzsi Culshaw this evening as Erzsi has been exploring the use of the Green Screen in her primary language learning classroom.Thanks to the tweets I remembered a photo I took last month - a fantastic backdrop  to engage the learners with culture, participation and performance and this can be with or without a Green Screen!

Last month I was in Basque Spain and was struck by the murals on the walls in some of the villages,depicting the life of the community.
I loved this mural of the villagers watching a game of skittles... and knew that I could create some performance activities based around the mural back here in England!

  • You could import the picture above into your Green Screen APP and use it as a back drop
  • You could post it as an enlarged picture on  your IWB and again have a back drop
  • You could give each table a copy of the photo as a resource to stimulate language activities - brainstorming and adding speech bubbles to different characters.
  • You could ask the class to recreate the scene outside in the playground and play the game and use the target language too!
What language and how can we use the language?
  1. Find and use infinitives of the verbs involved in throwing the ball to the skittles.Put these in the order they are required to actually throw the ball toward the skittles - as commands ( e.g pick up the ball hold the ball,move the arm backwards, throw the ball, hit the skittles!) 
  2. Create a slow motion performance of the throwing action , saying the verbs as commands in time with the slow motion action.
  3. Film children and add the recordings of the commands
  4. Explore the phrases for audience participation- (e.g. Well done! Go on! Throw! Hit the skittle! Fantastic! Great shot! Missed! Bad luck!Try again!)
  5. Take still photos of the children,miming the phrase as a physical action.Import the photos on Chatterpix or Yakit for Kids and add voice overs. 
  6. Using the large picture as a back drop , create the event you can see in the picture and using my 3D Art ideas bring the picture to life and experience the target language,culture and atmosphere of the game!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Sunshine Sparklers !

This is my "sunshine sparkler" and here is a simple idea to use toward the end of the term with LKS2 emergent/ beginner target language writers!

The idea was inspired by this wonderful picture below of Versaille and its the illuminated fountains. I spotted it on Twitter

You can find out more about the fountains here on the le monde website

Firstly let's play simple games with "Summertime" words.
The following words immediately come to mind and you will probably be able to think of more!


  • Play familiar games like "Simon says " with an action for the words or charades and guessing the word as class mate has mimed or hunt thw word around the classroom or match the parts of words so that we can complete the word.Games that are class favourites fit here.
  • Then let's encourage children to look accurately at the words and write individual words high up in the air with their "sunshine sparkler" stick. Invisible but ,magical and everyone is taking part! and don't forget flicks and twists and wiggles for all those wonderful accents etc!
  • Each child could add their three top favouirte summertime words from the list to the sunshine symbol or start at the top of the sunshine sparkler sticks to take home too!
  • Can the children create their own "sparkling Versaille fountain style painted word art"" to add to a class display of "sunshine sparkling words.They could pick their favourite word from the list you have been playing games with and which they have written in the sky with the sunshine sparkler sticks. You could focus on the cursive writing of ther target language and ask the children to try to write the word in their word art in that cursive style !

French story books with purpose 2015!

Last month whilst in France I had a shopping list of books that I wanted to buy and spent a brilliant hour in Cultura in Carcassonne doing just that! 

The books I had on my list are to support and extend the work we already have organised in our SOW.

Here are the books and my reason for buying thjem:

Books that are linked to festivals and are also stories based on popular French story characters.
Our young learners like the idea that they are looking at books that real French children enjoy.So Tchoupi and Petit Ours Brun cam immediately to mind!




Books that are educational books for French children that we can use to introduce or investigate a specific learning context that we cover.

The first two books I selected are for LKS2, short stories about visitrs to sepcific places.They are   inexpensive and again I chose two from the Petit Ours Brun series:

I found these three Kididoc books ( I love Kididoc) and feel that they can be used in UKS2 too as we can discuss how we can make books to help younger learners, focusing on the way the books inmtroduce language and use visuals , flaps etc.The books are also very informative and the text is accessible.With these books non specialist teachers can also  be creative aswell- I am thinking display made by the children etc.
I chose these three themes:

School for our Y5 school focus

The beach again for our Y5 focus

......and finally this Kididoc book caught my eye.We are extending our cross curricular work and here is a gift all about planet earth .Each double page spread is a different focus withon this context.Brilliant!

Our cross curricular focuses are already part of the network packages we create and whilst looking for stories within a series based on a fictional French character. I came across the character Barri and could not leave this book behind!It is beautiful .On each page it poses a question and then you need to lift the flowers or the pond or the grass flaps to see what mini beasts are hidden underneath! Fantastic.
Great for our KS1 mini beast focus and new resource for a theme we use each year plus what a great book to use with KS2  linked to DT and making lift the flap books for KS1 - or even a performance and use of questions and answers.

Last year I saw both of the following books but just didn't have room to bring them home! As I have just mentioned we are working in mofr detail on our cross curricular themes in the next couple of months I decided to hunt them out and bring them home! 

First a sophisticated look at travel to France by ferry- so UKS2 definitely!.Makes  lot of sense as so many of our children travel by ferry to France!  Several sentences per page , very detailed pictures to discuss what we can see in English and to look up key nouns in dictionaries etc and then to create our info docs!

And this wonderful book from larousse!" Le bord de mer" .It is a book to cherish I think .On some pages there are facts on others just pictures to discuss.There is a story that explains how to get to the seaide , pages on sea animals, rock pools ,under the sea, divers, keeping safe by the sea..... and  the list goes on.I love it!!

...And finally I wanted to find a book using instuctional text for Year 6 and our cafe culture theme! I found the most incredible recipe book which will be so easy to use in class because it is all about making sandwiches.
Double page spread, colour pictures and the most clear instructions and pictures! Great ideas that link to alsorts of themes too so you can use it with Y3,4,5 and down in KS1 too and not just in primary foreign language teaching either!