Snapshot 2016-17 Virtually Visiting Lyon

This is Kate P.Kate works 2 and a half days as a local Warrington Year 6 class teacher and works with us at PLN for half a day a week in another local Warrington primary school. She teaches two year 5 classes  French on a Wednesday afternoon. Today I went with the class on a virtual visit to Lyon and enjoyed this as much as the children!

I observed her with the first Year 5 class this afternoon ,a smaller class , 15 lower achievers, who have 45 minutes of French every week. 

One of Kate's passions is drama and she uses drama calmly ,quietly and effectively throughout her language teaching .Today when I walked in to the room, Year 5 where practising their opinions about school subjects as part of their 5 minute French question and answer warm up. The children were working in pairs and using their special "actors' actions to remember and communicate opinions about school subjects: Swords at the ready- for history , explosive hands- for Science, tiny writing- for English.Best communicators and actors were rewarded with super sparkling stickers for excellent pronuiciation,communication and/or remembering! The children really loved being rewarded and important and motivational.

Kate's simple sign "Lyon"  may look small and insignificant but the lesson expanded from this .I loved the way the children so wanted to know about Lyon , because they remembered from last week that this was a place where Mme. Percival (Kate) had actually lived, as well as living in Warrington! It is hard to explain what a "WOW" factor there was in this insignificant sign on the large whiteboard, but it truly was  the first goosebumps moment of the lesson. When she asked the children why there was a sign on the board , one of the chidren immediately responded "because it is special to you , because you lived there".!

Today, Kate explained ,she was looking forward to actually taking them on a visit from the classroom to Lyon! 

Kate and the children agreed that the actions in their first speaking activity had really helped them and that they felt the actions they had practised last week for places in the city would be very useful trying to think again about the places in a French city they had practised already.

Memory, recall and comprehension are considerable challenges for some of the class , so the children had thought of simple ways to help themselves. For example "la gare" , the children had decided "it looks a bit like garage and you can park your train there , so it's a train station". "Le stade", explained the children to Kate, isn't a cognate but it is a near cognate and it looks like our word "stadium" and  "we know that Warrington Wolves Stadium is very near here". For each noun there was an associated dramatic action and attention was put upon reading words aloud - for example  the four sounds in boulangerie and a focus on the warm bread sound "ou" in "bou" and   ...........

It was very interesting to see that so many of the language skills we are using in primary foreign language learning benefit learners who are strengthening their memory and recall skills and their communication and comprehension skills. Softer social skills were being practised and explored too,so for example the places guessing hide and reveal game and handling disappointment, having another go and using actions to remember, or playing the memory game and being willing to try again.This reinforced for me that we should not negate the important role language learning can play in the primary classroom and whole school curriculum .

The class are getting better at remembering their numbers , so Kate incorporated these in the "guessing the place" game.She wanted to reinforce this and help all the children to be successful.What I found very interesting here was that she had identified that the children were looking for and trying to remember place nouns but it was oin this instance more important that they recalled the numbers than guessed the place on the reverse of the card correctly.

The children and Kate hunted for the number shapes in French and were fascinated that French children might write the numbers slightly different to the way the children in this school in Warrington write their numbers. Number 7 was the class favourite closely followed by 11 and the  1.

I noticed how calmly the children worked in small groups and supported each other to try and guess places on the reverse of the cards.

The class then started to look at directions Just simple directions and played an anticipation game with the places in the town they had revisited.Kate made this a visual and physical activity beacuse as she pointed out ,the class were: 

The reward for all this focused French thinking was a virtual trip to Lyon.Thanks to Google Maps.

I went with the children on this virtual trip and think what you read below in my tweets are some of the best goosebumps moments for a long while in a classroom .

How marvellous for these children was this! Bringing real France "today" in to their classroom. The children actuallu saw and visited where Kate had really lived, after they  zoomedin on Google Maps .They were able to connect a real French building  and the people they saw with her.They then  helped her work out on Google Maps (in English) just how to get from her apartment block to the Place Bellecour because as Kate explained to them, there was a  wonderful surprise waiting for the children there! She zoomed forward in time to 8 December for the Fete de lumieres. For these children the moments were magical as we switched from maps to photos to real "today" pictures and footage to pictures of the festival  with the person who had really lived there, in the classroom with them.


 I left Kate explaining why the festival takes place on 8 December, about the plague, candles to celebrate the end of the plague, modern day light  parades  and setting the scene for next week's French Year 5 lessons ......