Sunday, 16 March 2008

Is Networking The Most Effective Form of INSET?

I attended a training day on Friday 14th March at Saddleworth Language College as part of our Strategic Learning Network activities. During the course of the day, as we were reviewing our SLN activities for 2007-2008, we had to opportunity to look at:

· Strategies to moderate writing at KS3, including using the National Curriculum in Action website as a training tool

· The opportunities and challenges facing mfl teachers when trying to implement the new PoS. This topic enabled us to compare curriculum arrangements and how they can impact on the Modern Foreign Languages provision. The differences between time allocations were the most striking, ranging from 3 hours a fortnight at KS3 to 5 hours + 3 hours a fortnight for the second language.

· Strategies to ease Primary transition depending on the presence of links and the number of feeder primary schools. I reported on how, after looking at resources available, a letter was devised by myself and a colleague from another school as a simple way to collate information directly from the primary schools to the secondary mfl departments. Schemes of Works from a popular coursebook were also reviewed , looking at ways to fast-track and stretch students with some experience of learning the language.

· How Asset Languages has been used in several schools, mainly comparing the benefits of using Teacher Assessment with those of External Assessment. I was particularly interested to hear that one of the schools in our borough had used Teacher Assessment across the whole of KS3 as a way to develop more consistency across the Modern Foreign Languages Faculty.
Tasks were devised to fit in with their regular Schemes of Work, incorporating items of vocabulary and grammar taught during lessons. The issue that was raised was the onerous task of initially devising the tasks as their particular school requested 5 formal assessment opportunities a year.

This discussion made me consider a system using Asset Teacher Assessment to provide 3 to 4 opportunities for formal assessment a year. The assessment opportunities would tie in with key dates such as reporting deadlines and parents’ evening. Our discussion also highlighted the need for formal assessment as late as possible in the year so that it can be relied upon when setting amendments are being considered and to ensure the assessment data is still relatively fresh and relevant when new teachers take new students over in September. This more formal assessment would also be supported by on-going assessment in the classroom, particularly for listening and reading, which can be easily self or peer marked in class.

· We also shared links to useful languages resources and were given the opportunity to look at language-specific software and the use of quiz key pads in mfl lessons. I have bookmarked in my all the sites I discovered through this session. Although I feel is probably the best way to share online resources, I really valued the opportunity to revisit some known website-like the Welsh National Grid For Learning- and to discuss with colleagues how they used these resources to enhance their students’ learning.

Just writing and reading through this post again has made me realised I am now ready to have another look at our Faculty Development Plan. Someone told me recently “Not one person has all the answers but all the answers are in the room”-I could not agree more…