Meet Steph. Today I observed her teaching a Year 3 Spanish class with two years Spanish prior learning in KS1.In KS1 it is very much education of the ear and joining in, however the children have covered a lot of basic language.Steph's challenge is definitely to increase challenge for the learners and keep the core Spanish knowledge alive and kicking at the same time. Steph has just this year taken over from the prevoous teacher so she is using AfL techniques to ascertain depth of understanding and keep all childrern on board and able to participate and progress.
This was an incredibly dynamic lesson! Engaging from the start! The children began with a familiar greetings song (DfE AT:listen attentively to spoken language and show understanding by joining in and responding ).The children then practised their familiar personal iinformation questions and answers.Steph pushed the chidren to begin to develop dialogues rather thaan just a question followed by an answer, using little asides and replies moving them beyond speaking in sentences to trying to begin to be more conversational. (DFE AT: engage in conversations , ask and answer questions......)
The lesson was packed with incidental Spanish instructions and Steph had built in time at the start of the lesson to sing the instructions song with actions - just tpo make sure children weren't ;eft behind or left out.(DfE AT:listen attentively to spoken language and show understanding by joining in and responding ).
I mentioned that Steph is taking care to establish what the children already know and to incorporate the revisiting of prior learning in to the language lessons of Year 3 children who are not absolute beginners.This game was a fabukous example of how to do this. We were hunting "osito"- the litttle bear.A game of hide and seek with a time challenge. One child hides ther bear , whilst the other child is out of the classroom .The rest of children are the "time and prsssure " clock really .As the volunteers came back in to the room,they performed a clapping rhythm and chant of the months, that got louder and louder and faster and faster as the child re-entered the classroom and tried to find the bear. So simple and so effective! Could be used with any core vocabulary that you want to keep fresh in the children's memories.Year 3 loved it.
Remember these young Year 3 learners have prior learning behind them so the key focus of today's lesson was an introduction to Christmas nouns, an explorative discussion of what the children may already know about masculine and feminine and beginning to look at the placement of adejctives with Spanish nouns.(DfE AT :understanding basic grammar ......)
Firstly the children needed to practice the pronunciation of the spoken nouns. I liked the fact that Steph asked the children first of all to explain to her what "nouns" are in any language. "Sometimes they have capital letters in the middle of sentences" was ine response."They are ;proper nouns "."They name objects and things" was another response. I think this is so important as we must remmeber that these children are Year 3 and this discussion links through their literacy and underpins what they already know about language structure.The children were ready to explore Christmas nouns , wth different voices , actions, pictures, which noun is missing? game ...
...and then as a class categorising the nouns in to two groups.Physically helping Steph move the noun pictures in to two groups of masculine and feminine nouns. (DfE AT; understanding basic grammar....)
Differentiation had been planned for and Steph has the good fortune to have TA and teacher in the class with her, learning Spanish alongside the children.In this school,Spanish is very much encouraged as a whole school learning experience and you can tangibly feel this and how important it is, when you are in this Year 3 classroom.This meant that teachers and children could work together.Some children worked with a TA to match written nouns and pictures, some children worked in pairs to match the written and visual nouns, and some children, who quickly completed this task, were give the additional challenge to hunt the nouns in a wordshape activity. Steph asked the children to also look at what the words looked like, and how easy they were to recognise and did the children know that some of these nouns can be called cognates and they look the same as the English?
The class came back together and considered the way the written words looked but now also the way they sound. (DfE AT : explore the patterns and sounds of language ....) So the class looked at "angel" and practised the change in sound from English to Spanish. I liked the fact that some of the children were trying to make bigger leaps in linking languages as one child quietly said to another child who had whispered "some don't look or sound the same" that :
What was really noticeable in the lesson was that children of all abilities were engaged and challenged and progressing in their knowledge of the language , the four core skills and skills of learning a language. It is definitely something I find particularly pleasing to witness and so valuable in primary language learning.
And finally Steph added the brand new challenge - ready to work on this in more detail next lesson.Just where do you put colours with the nouns in Spanish? Once again, just as with nouns, she asked the children to explain what "type of words" colours are in sentence structure. Adjectives.The class thought of an English colour phrase to describe Steph's picture of the present " a green present" and then the class played a game of "spot the difference"! Two volunteers held up two mini-whiteboards and shared the Spanish words - "un regalo verde " and the class found it fascinating that in Spanish you say it the other way round! It is always remarkable to see the way the young primary learners love the differences and are fascinated not frightened by them , especially when the teaching of these differences is an exploration and taken step by step.