I really enjoyed Vincent and Kate’s session, which was full of practical and motivating ideas to use in the classroom. All the ideas are also generously shared on Northgate High School blog.
The title of the session, particularly the reference to snow and chocolate cake, was explained by the departmental use of various metaphors.
The Chocolate Cake Rule: “In Technology, if they give you flour, egg, sugar, butter, milk and chocolate powder… do NOT try to make a bird table. Make a chocolate cake. In French, if we teach you to give opinions, justify them, link your ideas, talk about the past and future, put in direct speech to bring it to life…then those are the ingredients you will be using. Use them to create a nice tasty paragraph. Don’t write French you don’t know-you don’t know it!”
The Snow Rule: “Some pupils let their French all melt. You have to get yourself a snowball of French. Make it yours, have some fun with it. And your snowball won’t melt. Roll it around and it will get bigger and bigger.”
For the Cake and Snow posters, see here.
The idea of tangible outcomes, like model aeroplanes, is a really interesting one. It is a bit like the learning cycle associated with subjects like Design and Technology: project launch => creation => delivery => celebration.
The department has an approach of “Progression in Creativity” with a programme of activities for Year 7-Year 9.
Y7 Francovision song contest: each group learns and videos a French pop song, with the aim to practise memorisation, pronunciation, communication and culture.
Y7 French staff café: pupils act as waiters and waitresses.
Y7 Gressenhall Farm Stamper trail: create a French version of the Farm Stamper trail.
Y8 Flat Stanley project: cut out and post Flat Stanley to France with a letter.
Collapsed curriculum days-Y8 greenscreen filming: Use the French you know and technology to do something and be creative.
Y9 Norwich Castle story-telling: create a resource for the museum based on different artefacts on display, with students using their knowledge of language to write creatively.
Y9 Children’s book: create a book in French for younger learners like the “Spot” books.
Each activity aims for students to be more and more independent linguistically, has a tangible outcome and a real audience: whole school, staff and visitors, pen friends, teach tube, museum website, primary pupils…
Other projects include BBC jingles, supported by work done in Media lessons, as well as weather news/ traffic jingles
To celebrate the project the department gets judges and other people involved like parents, local paper, technicians to publish on the school website etc…
In addition, all staff use a common working kit:
Being Ben: The idea is that “it’s not the French that is hard, it’s thinking up what to say and pitching it right. “Ben” tells the others what to say. They spontaneously build up long sentences and if they can’t say them, it is Ben’s fault for not pitching it right.
Fridge sheet: core grammar for a unit. At the bottom of the sheets examples of what can be produced are supplied.
Speed dating: the purpose is to do away with the suppor sheet for the person doing Spanish. The sheet gives students the confidence to get started.
Scribble Talk: Scribble while your partner talks and pause if they pause. They have to talk until you fill up the scribble box.
The Booklets page will have more materials on different topics in French.
Connective Dice: Use the dice to keep students talking or to do silly sentences.
Ski Slope: build sentences following gradient
Tree: Branching off sentences
Pimp my French: Take a simplistic text and use your tool box to improve it. The toolkit includes key phrases like je vais, je veux, je suis allé etc…
Megamutantpenguinskideath: Draw a penguin and write a secret word on the back. Target the kind of word pupils need to add to their repertoire. Pupils talk on the subject until they say the secret word. The penguin skis into a tree.
For examples of pupils work click here. If you are looking for ideas for practical projects and strategies to engage and motivate students, look no further!