Saturday, 25 February 2012

I ain't no holla back girl.

holla back girl. (noun) a member of a cheerleading squad who repeats – hollers back - words that the squad leader shouts out to them.

No, I haven't gone mad. (I did that years ago!)

A colleague of mine was recently observed by a local authority inspector. The objective of the lesson was to introduce vocabulary for sports and activities to a first year beginners' French class.

What she did was introduce the vocabulary by showing pictures on her interactive whiteboard and the students repeated.

As a class. In groups. Individually. 

The students were clearly enjoying themselves but were they learning anything? 

They clearly weren't using their brains very much. 

And did they actually understand what they were doing?

How was their understanding being checked?

By the end of the lesson the students were able to name sports and give opinions about them: J'adore le tennis. Je déteste la natation. etc.

She thought the lesson had gone really well and was disappointed to find that the inspector did not agree. 

There was no challenge.

A couple of years ago I was advised by a specialist MFL inspector that I should give my students 3 items of vocabulary and a dictionary or glossary when introducing new vocabulary. Once they have mastered phonics the students can then take charge of their own learning and work individually and collaboratively, in pairs and in groups, to find, learn and share their own vocabulary lists.

I've been doing this ever since and have seen some good results. 

I have created independent learners out of holla back girls (and boys).

You should try it.
Uploaded with


Steve Smith said...

I would disagree with the original inspector. Many ways of skinning a cat. Sounds like your colleague's class had learned something. There is something to to be said for behaviourism too.

Dom said...

Thanks for the comment, Steve. Sadly, if there is no "challenge" then the lesson cannot be deemed any better than "Satisfactory" even if all the students are learning.

Ms Jackson said...

I agree with you there Dom, having just been 'done'! Was your colleague advised how to add the challenge in. It's all very well being told what needs changing, but you need some advice on how to change it.

Can I ask how your suggestion works in class though, I'm a bit confused. Do you give them a theme, say 'animals', and two or three starter words and then let them go to town on a dictionary to create their own list to teach the rest of the class?


Dom said...

Hi, Ms Jackson. Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. I don't think the inspector did give my colleague advice on how to add a challenge to her lesson.

In my class I give the students a topic e.g. sports. I then give them 10 minutes or so to find as many words for sports as they can. They then share them with the others in their group and add any they didn't get to their own list. Sometimes I make it into a competition. They get one point per word they find and 2 points if they find a word which nobody else got.

Frances said...

Maybe next time you could expound more on the tennis side of the story by making use of some tennis glossary terms.