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Showing posts from October, 2018

Dissecting a lesson: teaching an intermediate written text

This post is a beginner’s guide about how you might go about working with a written text with low-intermediate or intermediate students (Y10-11 in England). I must emphasise that this is not what you SHOULD do, just one approach based on my own experience and keeping in mind what we know about learning and language learning in particular. Experienced teachers may find it interesting to compare this sequence with what you do yourself.

You can adapt the sequence below to the class, context and your own preferred style. I’m going to assume that the text is chosen for relevance, interest and comprehensibility. The research suggests that the best texts are at the very least 90% understandable, i.e. you would need to gloss no more than 10% of the words or phrases. The text could be authentic, or more likely adapted authentic from a text book, or teacher written. It would likely be fairly short so you have time to exploit it intensively, recycling as much useful language as possible.

So here w…

Think, pair, share in the MFL classroom

This blog was prompted by a section in Tom Sherrington’s excellent book The Learning Rainforest. Tom writes about the revelation he experienced when someone explained the “think, pair, share” technique when interacting with a class. In case you are not familiar with it, this is when you ask a question and, instead of asking for hands up or ‘cold calling’ (to use Doug Lemov’s term), you tell the class to discuss the answer with a partner before eliciting a response.

To put the technique in context Tom reminds us of the disadvantages of traditional hands up questioning. They are worth revisiting:

1. Only one pupil can answer at a time.
2. The answer can be given before others have had time to work it out.
3. Pupils can opt out of answering and hide.
4. More timid students are intimidated when there is a ‘forest of hands up’.
5. When no one raises a hand the teacher doesn’t know if the class doesn’t know the answer or is just reluctant to offer a response.
6. H ads up can encourage closed quest…

Responsive teaching

Dylan Wiliam, the academic most associated with Assessment for Learning (AfL), aka formative assessment, has stated that these labels have not been the most helpful to teachers. He believes that they have been partly responsible for poor implementation of AfL and the fact that AfL has not led to the improved outcomes originally intended.

Wiliam wrote on Twitter in 2013:

“Example of really big mistake: calling formative assessment formative assessment rather than something like "responsive teaching".”

For the record he subsequently added:

“The point I was making—years ago now—is that it would have been much easier if we had called formative assessment "responsive teaching". However, I now realize that this wouldn't have helped since it would have given many people the idea that it was all about the teacher's role.”

I suspect he’s right about the appellation and its consequences. As a teacher I found it hard to get my head around the terms AfL and formative assess…

An advanced listening task: Cinderella