February 06, 2013

Professional Studies 5: Inclusion, including EAL, SEN and G&T

Imagine that you are suddenly going to college in a place where you do not speak the language. Concentrate on how you would feel, what you would want and need, and how that would affect your learning. Make some suggestions of how you might use this understanding to make provision for EAL learners in your classroom.

If I found myself in a college where the primary language of communication was not my own, I would feel scared and quite helpless, unable to understand anybody or express what I wanted. I would find this very intimidating, very isolating and also very frustrating. I would probably not enjoy the college unless I knew I had people there to look out for me (or people who spoke the same language as me). When integrated into a group of friends, I would feel better but once again frustrated that I couldn’t understand what they are saying and I couldn’t contribute to the conversation (especially if they are talking about cultural aspects unfamiliar to me).

Whilst the linguistic barrier is perhaps less of a barrier in the MFL classroom than it would be in other lessons, there are still numerous things that I could do to help EAL students. I could ask a TA to help particular EAL students or I could occasionally use language groups so that EAL students can help each other in their native languages. I should ensure that my delivery is clear, that I use a lot of visuals, that I provide a bilingual dictionary and that I take into account the needs of EAL students (e.g. how comfortable they are speaking in front of the class) in every lesson. Most of all, it is important for me to be understanding and sympathetic towards the needs of the student and use plenty of praise to show that I appreciate the effort that they are putting in.

January 21, 2013

Professional Studies 5: Differentiating and Personalised Learning

An example of a differentiated activity in MFL

Listening can prove to be quite a difficult skill for students to develop, but differentiation can be used very effectively to support the less able and to challenge the Gifted and Talented. This will then help to build everybody’s confidence and interest in an activity in which students can become disengaged very easily. I believe that it is important to plan for two-way differentiation in most listening tasks (as of Y8). There should be one route that offers support to the less able and another pitched at the middle (with some difficult questions for the very top achievers to differentiate themselves by outcome).

One example – only possible in a computer room – is to offer different audio tracks to listen to and different questions for the students to answer. Students will be given a task which is appropriate for their level and any written support appropriate for the task. When the listening is over, students can tell the class what their listening task was about. Hopefully, the students will remain interested as each will have been listening to something different and they will have to listen to each other to find out their classmates’ topic. All listening tasks can be made available after the lesson for pupils to listen to.

If all students are listening to the same audio track, the differentiation will be present on the worksheets on which they are working. For example, comprehension questions could have multiple choice answers for the less able and but not for the rest of the class. If it is a gap fill, some students could have more gaps than others; or the gaps could be different given what each pupils needs to work on (sound-spelling links, verb endings, words in context).

January 20, 2013

Professional Studies 4: Assessment for/of Learning and Pupil Motivation

In the lessons you have observed so far, what different strategies have different teachers used to share the learning objectives or learning outcomes with their pupils?

I have seen numerous different ways in which teachers have introduced learning objectives:

  • At the start of a new history topic, pupils were asked to deduce the learning objectives from a series of clues (a quote and a piece of music related to the topic)
  • The most common method is to simply have the objectives on the board or on a Powerpoint presentation as the class enter
  • Teachers occasionally ask students to write the objectives in their books

Think of some situations in your own subject where you may not want to share the learning objectives near the start of the lesson. Why would it not be appropriate to share the learning objectives in this situation? What support can you give pupils instead that would enable them to understand what they are learning?

MFL is a subject where knowledge is built up little by little, and it is therefore important for students to know exactly what they are doing, why they are doing it and where they are in their learning. Even when there might be a fun activity, I still think students would prefer to know why they are doing it; thus, the objective – if not the activity – should still be shown. However, if a teacher is teaching a particular bit of culture or history, it might be interesting to elicit little bits of knowledge and the misconceptions that pupils have before explicitly stating the topic. Another example might be when pupils are given a creative activity and the teacher wants to see how ambitious pupils are with the language and doesn’t want to limit them by setting specific objectives (to use a particular structure, for example). In these cases, it is important to stress that pupils are being given the opportunity to ask what they want to know. Furthermore, in lessons such as practice exams, controlled assessments and continuing projects, it is unnecessary to explicitly state the lesson objectives. 

In the lessons you have observed so far, how have different teachers used the learning objectives or outcomes during the lesson? Have they returned to them? How did they do this? How did they involve the pupils in this?

In the lessons I have observed, teachers use learning objectives as a way to structure a lesson and facilitate transitions from one topic to another (it’s less of a surprise if it’s written on the board). Teachers also refer to objectives at the end as plenaries or throughout the lesson as mini-plenaries. In a history lesson I observed, the teacher had the pupils write the objectives in their books and then write either a tick, cross or question mark at the end of the lesson depending on their confidence. Some teachers also reiterate the lesson objectives at the end and take a show of hands as to who thinks they have understood what (or the teacher will tell students what he/she feels has been achieved in that lesson). I have also seen the use of mini-whiteboards and different coloured blocks to assess students’ progress against the objectives. 

What strategies did this teacher use to support the pupils in understanding the grade descriptors? How did she support the pupils in self-assessing and target setting?

The teacher used ‘grade descriptor stations’ where students could go up to each ‘station’ and read what is required of them at each level. She advises them to look at the difference between grades and how to jump from one to the next. She uses questioning to guide the pupils towards a fuller understanding of the assessment criteria and what they mean in practice. The teacher also spends time reviewing previous coursework and sets aside a lesson to discuss how pupils might improve in future pieces. She finally reinforces this as a class.

What strategies did this teacher use to support the pupils assessing both themselves and their peers? How did the pupils feel the different strategies helped them?

To support the pupils in self and peer assessment, the teacher encourages them to be positive but critical. She asks questions to elicit developed responses and talks in detail about why certain answers deserved a certain number of marks. The students felt that the strategies helped as they forced them to be more critical. As they were marking answers written by people they don’t know, it was easier for them to be critical. Also, as one pupil states, a lot of knowledge may not be useful if a pupil cannot develop the techniques to apply it successfully in an exam situation

Professional Studies 3: Communication and Questioning

Write down all the ways you think a teacher could "help their pupils to express themselves".

  • Create an environment in which pupils do not fear ridicule
  • Appear interested and receptive to their thoughts and opinions
  • The Think-Pair-Share technique, allowing students to formulate their thoughts before having to express them
  • Ask a variety of questions, including open and searching questions to elicit developed responses
  • Allow pupils thinking time before asking them for an answer, and allow them time to think of their own questions
  • Organise debates and discussions on a reasonably frequent basis (depending on the subject)
  • Praise and reward contributions to the lesson
  • Offer both written and spoken creative exercises so that all pupils can express themselves

NOTE: I was unable to upload the picture of my cube. It is in my PDP

Brooks et al. (2003) discusses different types of teach and pupil talk. What different types of talk were present in the video clips shown; were any missing?

Teacher talk

Cognitive: Presenting the curriculum (Italian verbs), asking questions to get an answer (more crops and more income)

Procedural: Explaining or demonstrating games and activities; setting time limits; responding to questions; offering praise; organising groups

Managerial: None seen in the clips

Pupil talk

Talk between pupils served numerous purposes within the video, such as co-operating in games, producing ideas in groups and sharing ideas to produce good pair work (designing an army)

Write down the possible advantages and disadvantages of different versions, with a particular focus on how different layouts might affect teacher-pupil and pupil-pupil communication

Pupils sat in rows/pairs – If students are in rows/pairs, it makes it easier for the teacher to see whether everybody is paying attention/getting on with their work or not. Furthermore, it makes it easier for the teacher to talk at the front as all chairs are pointing towards him/her. It makes pair work very easy but it makes group work very difficult. Students would have to move tables to work in larger groups. 

Pupils sat in groups – This is perhaps the ideal set-up for most language lessons as it facilitates group work and easily allows pupils to work with different people around the table. Pupils are more likely to get their questions answered by someone on the table and won’t have to ask the teacher immediately. Furthermore, pupils can bounce ideas off each other and discussions will be more valuable. However, pupils will be facing numerous different directions and it is more difficult for teachers to see them and talk to them together. Furthermore, there may be more possibilities for disruption if there are more pupils on a table.

Pupils sat in a horseshoe shape – This may be a very good set-up for smaller classes. It is very easy to hold debates and discussions as everybody can see each other and the teacher. The teacher is able to see everything that is going on and resolve any behavioural issues. It takes the best of the rows and groups system but is only suitable for small classes.

Different types of listening

Skim listening is apparent when the teacher doesn’t acknowledge the pupil’s response in any meaningful way. The teacher may also be fiddling with pieces of paper for the next part of the lesson or looking distractedly around the classroom.

Survey listening may be apparent when the teacher appears pensive or perhaps seems ready to pose further questions for a pupil to elucidate their thinking. They may also make encouraging noises for the students so that they would go on explaining their point.

Search listening may be apparent when the teacher appears less interested in the content of what the student is saying and only seems to pick up on one piece of information. They may also interrupt students once they have given the required answer. Search listening is, however, more focussed than skim listening, and the teacher may also listen attentively for certain key words in the response.

Study listening may appear the same as survey listening as the teacher is not only looking for an answer, but also trying to identify any misconceptions. Therefore, the teacher may again appear pensive, slower and more eager for the pupil to continue talking.

Open and closed questions that will challenge pupils – Subject: Ideal Town

Closed Question 1: What does ‘ma ville idéale’ mean in English?

Justification: There is only one answer (my ideal town) and some students will not find this at all challenging; however, some may find it difficult to remember and the lesson cannot progress until everybody understands the topic. With a question like this, the teacher shouldn’t accept an answer until the vast majority of the class have their hand up.

Closed Question 2: Why is ‘serait’ used in the phrase ‘ma ville idéale serait propre’

Justification: There is only one answer (it is the conditional, which is used for hypothetical situations) but it still asks pupils to fully understand a grammatical point.

Open Question 1: Qu’est-ce qui manque á Coventry?

Justification: This open question has numerous possible responses (depending on what students feel Coventry lacks) and it not only challenges their French but also asks them to reflect on their town and how it might be better for them 

Open Question 2: Comment serait votre ville idéale?

Justification : There are multiple answers to this question, and it gives pupils the chance to think about what makes a good town and what their ideal town would be like.

Professional Studies 2: The Way Pupils Learn

How are rewards and punishments (or consequences) used in your EP school? What behaviours are they reinforcing?
In my EP school, there are systems for praise and sanction. When a pupil does good work, contributes to a lesson or participates within school, one point (at least) is added to a running total in their diaries. When they have reached five, they receive a merit. For every merit, they are entered into a prize draw with the incentive of money off vouchers at high street stores. There are also certificates for single outstanding contributions. Regarding sanctions, pupils have three warnings in class and then they are then given a detention and/or sent to another room. For more serious misbehaviour, students are sent to referral and the incident is logged on the computer. The curriculum leader is involved if necessary. This aims to promote good behaviour and to stop disruptive, dangerous or disrespectful behaviour. 
Look in detail at the concrete operational stage and the formal operational stage. What concepts or ideas within your curriculum area would the differences in the two stages be most apparent?
There are many aspects of the MFL curriculum at GCSE and A-level that require pupils to have higher-order cognitive skills. For example, the curriculum calls for explorations of abstract concepts such as freedom or justice. Also, ‘si clauses’ in Spanish and French require pupils to imagine what would happen in purely hypothetical situations (what would happen if...?). Furthermore, advanced grammar requires problem-solving and deductive capacities that may only be available to those at the formal operations stage (for example, why is this ‘ce qui’ and not ‘ce que’? Why is this ‘de’ and not ‘des’?). 
In the lessons you have seen so far, think about the times you witnessed discussions between pupils. What influences do you think these discussions had on the pupils' learning?
When pupils have discussions about their work, it can prove very useful. Firstly, they are able to answer other pupils’ specific questions (What does this word mean? How did you do this question?). Secondly, they are able to pool ideas; for example, students might work together to list answers to a question with multiple responses. Furthermore, they may even shape each others’ ideas. I witnessed a discussion between A-level students regarding what makes a good essay introduction, and each student will have benefitted from this to develop his/her ideas. There is always the risk that they will reinforce each others’ mistakes, but I have not seen any examples of this so far.  
What would be an authentic task for different people who work within your area? What would make a task authentic to a teenager?
People who work specifically within languages, there are numerous authentic tasks: translation, interpretation, summarising, providing cultural knowledge etc. For anybody who wants to visit or live in another country (or live and work alongside people from other countries) there are innumerable authentic tasks for learners (introducing yourself, translating menus, giving an opinion, understanding directions etc.). Almost everything in languages could prove relevant. Unfortunately, in an English-speaking classroom context, tasks can seem very inauthentic (why would two English people speak to each other in French?). If teenagers have no immediate plans to visit a country, all tasks are utterly detached from their daily lives. There is no real answer to this problem. The best that a teacher can do is (1) to inspire a desire to visit the country and use the language and (2) to keep the content of the lessons close to what teenagers might be interested in and want to talk about (school/ hobbies/ clothes/ media/ going out).
Reflect upon the lessons you have seen so far on your PGCE course. Which teaching strategies have you experienced? Do some strategies occur more often in some subjects? Are some strategies more effective in some situations than others?
I have witnessed a variety of teaching styles so far. I have seen a lot of ‘closed’ or ‘command’ and ‘practice’ style teaching and learning as this is useful in languages. This is especially true in the lower year groups where the priority is on learning to express things accurately as opposed to exploring concepts. Teachers dictate the activities and ask questions with a limited number of correct answers (usually one). I have also seen this closed style in maths and science. However, I have also seen some ‘framed’ activities, including a media studies lesson where the aim was to respond to some questions on images from popular culture but some pupils were looking at DVD cases and others at magazine covers. The pupils seemed to have more freedom in what they chose to do. The teacher was there to provide guidance and this worked well in this situation. I have also seen some elements of a self-check style across the curriculum where students mark their own work and the teacher will then talk to the pupils and assess their progress. This, however, takes place fairly infrequently.  
Pick any three of the teaching styles described in Table 5.3.2. What do you think the similarities and differences are between the teaching styles when they are put into practice?
The practice style The reciprocal style  The self-check style
When these three teaching styles are put into practice, they all involve the teaching directing what the pupil is going to learn. The teacher sets the activities and is ultimately responsible for monitoring and assessing the pupils’ attainment. The reciprocal and self-check styles allow room for differentiation, whereas this is more difficult in the practice style.
The differences between the styles concern the differing roles of the student and the teacher. In the practice style, the teacher is more active and pupils are more passive (only responding when their input is requested). In the reciprocal style, the students work in pairs or small groups to assess each other and the teacher’s role is to oversee their conversation and help the ‘teaching partner’ to assess effectively. In the self-check style, pupils carry out and then assess their own work. The pupils work a lot more independently and the teacher’s role is to see how a pupil is progressing and adjust their work accordingly.

Professional Studies 1: Behaviour for learning

1). Facilitating behaviour for learning

  • Dress in a professional manner
  • Avoid swear words, derogatory language and slang
  • Praise those who contribute positively; seek to understand those who do not
  • Present yourself as calm, assured and reasonable
  • Always speak in a clear and controlled voice. Shouting doesn’t serve anybody
  • Treat both pupils and staff with respect and courtesy
  • Present a lesson with enthusiasm and make explicit the value of its content
  • Establish routines
  • Prefer subtle methods of addressing disruptive behaviour (eye contact, moving around the room)
  • Be prepared to listen to pupils and respond to their concerns
  • Ensure that everybody has their own space and that the classroom is a safe one
  • Try to create a class or group identity, thus fostering a sense of community
  • Create an environment in which everybody feels respected, and be mindful of speaking carelessly and inadvertently causing offence
  • Encourage pupils to get involved in the day-to-day running of the classroom
  • Avoid any behaviour that might de-motivate pupils or turn them against you (shouting, public humiliation, highlighting a student’s ‘weaknesses’, giving the impression of being superior etc.).

2). Rights and responsibilities of the pupil and the teacher




1. To feel safe, comfortable and valued in school

2. To access a broad range of subjects and skills, including extra-curricular activities

3. To be provided with resources and opportunities, regardless of economic background

4. To be treated with care and respect by teachers who have students’ best interests at heart

1. To have a support system when pupils do not respect their responsibilities

2. To have your ideas and contribution valued by the school as a whole

3. To expect respect from pupils and to praise or sanction (fairly) so as to create a learning climate

4. To have access to resources in the school and to count on the co-operation of fellow staff members.


1. To respect staff and fellow pupils at the school

2. To commit to their learning, and not disrupt the learning of others

3. To follow the rules of the school regarding punctuality, attendance, uniform, equipment, behaviour etc.

4. To demonstrate a positive attitude and to co-operate with teachers and fellow pupils

1. To guarantee the rights of the pupil, creating an environment that facilitate their learning

2. To not neglect either the most challenging or the most autonomous pupils

3. To provide pupils with an example of positive behaviour

4. To show interest in the lives and achievements of their pupil

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