You show me yours …

I had heard about Show and Tell gatherings in the context of teacher CPD, and had followed a number of events from afar, generally via Twitter, but today I had the privilege of attending one in person for the very first time.  What an excellent day it was!

I’m not exaggerating when I say people travelled the length of the country to attend this event in Oldham.  A good number of those there shared resources or experiences on a wide range of topics, and I learned so much from every one of them.  I came away totally re-enthused and ready for next week!

My own small contribution was a few quick ideas on getting pupils to engage more in speaking, and I mentioned 3 different activities, which I learned during training on Kagan co-operative learning structures.

1.  Rally Robin

  • Ask the question which you want responses on (eg what did you do at the weekend?)
  • Allow 30 seconds silent thinking time (this is important – gives pupils time to formulate their thoughts)
  • In pairs, pupils take it in turns to say a sentence until the teacher stops the activity

2.  Stand Up, Hands Up, Pair Up – Same idea as before, but allows pupils to interact with more of their classmates

  • Ask the question and allow thinking time
  • Play some music – when the music stops, pupils raise their arm to indicate they are looking for a partner
  • They move to a partner and ‘high five’ (this is crucial!!!)
  • Pupils take it in turns to say a sentence until the teacher starts the music again
  • Pupils then move onto a different partner

The advantage of this one is that they repeat (ie practise) the phrases they know, and pick up phrases from other pupils, in particular from those which whom they would not ordinarily choose to work.

3.  Quiz Quiz Trade – as above, but this time, pupils ask their partner a question

  • If you want to control the questions, you need to provide each pupil with their own question card, and the prompt for the answer.  If you’d like to use one of my versions, you are welcome to do so – click for QuizQuizTrade.
  • Pupils move around the room.  They each ask and answer a question, then trade their card with their partner, so they move on to the next person with a different question.
  • You can adapt this by asking pupils to prepare their own card for homework, or by giving pupils a post-it note and asking them to write the question and answer as the starter activity.

An event such as this could not have happened without excellent hosts, and I would like to thank again Isabelle Jones and the staff in the MFL department at The Radclyffe School in Oldham for their warm welcome, and excellent organisation.  Thanks also to sponsors ALL , Mary Glasgow and Links into Languages.

Sharing is good – and logical:  “The miracle is this — the more we share, the more we have.”  Leonard Nimoy                           


Are we just jumping through hoops?

I was going to start with ‘it’s that time of year again’, but nowadays, it always seems like ‘that time of year’.  Year 11 are preparing for yet another controlled assessment, and I am running out of inspirational ways to help them get ready.

I went through all the usual stuff again – “once I give you this task, I can’t help you with anything else”; “you have until next Monday to prepare”; “no, you can’t use those verbs in your 40 words” –  usually followed by “a verb is an action word”! 

And then there’s the issue that always makes me wonder if I’m doing it correctly- “you can’t take home your draft or your planning sheet”.  “But Miss, isn’t most of this in our exercise books anyway…?”

And of course, it is, because that’s the vocabulary and grammar they have been learning in lessons for the past few weeks.  Otherwise I wouldn’t have been doing my job properly.  I feel like I’ve missed something somewhere, but I am assured that I haven’t. 

So therefore I started to ask myself – Are these assessments just hoops to jump through, or are they really giving our pupils the opportunity to respond spontaneously to the target language?  For me, until we see how the examination results turn out, it’s still in the balance …