Snapshot of learning - Sally Riley

For my next observation I went to see Sally teaching Y3 at St Basil’s Catholic Primary School in Widnes.

Sally started teaching French at the school last Summer so the children are only just beginning their journey to language learning. She teaches half a day from Y3 to Y5 (30 minutes/lesson).

Sally started her lesson with a couple of songs about greetings and feelings and asking for names around the classroom – the children were clearly used to this routine and all felt confident answering Ça va ?’ ‘Comment t’appelles-tu?’.

In the song the children were practicing both ‘Comment t’appelles-tu? and ‘Tu t’appelles comment?’ as you do in normal, real life, you don’t always ask questions the same way and it reminded me that it is important to be a bit more spontaneous when we are doing this kind of Q&A with classes. The added bonus here was obviously Victor the frog puppet – very appropriate with young children.

Today’s lesson was about animals, masculine/feminine and plural nouns.

Sally started by recalling the nouns introduced the previous week and she mentioned strategies like using memory hooks to remember them.

Then the class played a game of stand-up bingo where each child has a picture card and they have to listen carefully for their animal, if the teacher calls your animal, you’re out and you have to sit down! 

Before moving on to the next activity, Sally asked about the fact that some animal nouns had un, others une in front of them and checked children remembered from the previous lesson about the difference. At this stage you would only except some awareness of the concept of gender and it was evident the class had talked about it before.

Sally reinforced the objective of the lesson about plural – linking it to English.

Next instruction was to find your animal group, using their picture from the previous game the children had to go around the classroom whispering and doing the action for their animal, then sit around a table with their group.

On the table Sally had put envelops with singular and plural nouns inside. Children had to sort out the nouns in feminine, masculine and plurals.

The class spotted 2 nouns that didn’t follow the pattern (plural nouns have an ‘s’ at the end):  un cheval> des chevaux and un oiseau> des oiseaux’ which gave an opportunity to talk about exceptions. Sally pointed out that in the English language they were also some exceptions for example: mouse/mice. I enjoyed this activity as now the children are more likely to remember what exceptions are and that there are exceptions since they investigated them for themselves rather than being told about them by the teacher.

One thing I really enjoyed about Sally’s lesson was the prompts she used with the class, phrases such as ‘you have to remember to put a question in your voice’ (to remind children about intonation when asking a question); ask ‘experts’ on your table if you’re stuck; ‘close your eyes and listen carefully’ (to practice un/une); let’s investigate and be language detectives, etc. I also loved her sticker box!

Watching Sally you could tell that she is an experienced primary teacher and there is something about teaching languages in a ‘primary’ way which I had to learn when I first started working in primary schools having come from Secondary teaching.

Thank you Sally and Year 3 !