I've just been playing around adding some videos to my departmental blog, www.route39.typepad.com/spanish and it's made me reflect that I haven't really written any updates for a while. Like so many of us, I've hardly stopped for a pause at all since Christmas, so half term gives a suitable opportunity to think about how things have been going, and what changes I need to be making moving forward. Being a 1 person department has a lot of massive positives, but I'm really looking forward to having some company to talk things through with from September. Let's just hope the recruitment process works out well- and from early signs I'm sure it will!
Anyway, one of the main things that every visitor to school (we have lots, be they DfE, Mocksted, or other agencies interested in the tack that we're taking) wants to ask me about is the way that we are using PE as a medium to drive communication both for our higher ability students and some of our lower ability students. So far we've covered football, rugby, table tennis, health and fitness and now gymnastics. Sessions are pretty much exclusively in the target language, enabled by the physical elements of the sessions. Crucially, during the course of the units students build familiarity with the feedback grids that we use, both for peer to peer praise and feedback but also in self target setting.
Positives so far
- really strong engagement- the type of students who normally protest at both TL use and at using the TL themselves use it and accept it as a standard part of the sessions. In fact, the lower ability group has recently requested classroom sessions as well in order to develop their PE in Spanish sessions- demonstrating that they're viewing the active sessions as more important, a real vindication of the policy.
- lower ability students in particular are really using their physical Spanish sessions to develop their sentence making abilities (neatly dovetailing with the work they are doing in their morning literacy sessions- every student has 30 minutes per day, Monday to Thursday).
- higher ability students see the session as a really fun part of their week- giving languages a great profile. They are then really transferring the language (in particular the grammatical elements that we use for feedback and also for peer and self target setting.
- More interaction / banter language for during sessions
- Opportunities for higher ability students to transfer their classroom knowledge across. A number already exploit their existing knowledge throughout sessions, but I need to find ways to structure this more adequately.
- I'm still desperately trying to get the school in Madrid that I've been having discussions with to tie down a date for a football / netball tour. When done I think this will really cement the motivational elements of the programme.