Thursday, March 22, 2012

Extending my Year 10 French

I teach a wonderful Year 10 French, with lots of different abilities within the class. Some kids are flying when some need a lot of repetition. I actually love teaching mixed ability class but I thought we could/ should extend some students.

Last week, I asked the whole class who wanted to be extended in French. About 10 girls (interesting hey??!!) stayed behind and we discussed together how we could extend our French. I told them that I didn't want them to work extra. Who would like to do more of the same boring stuff ?? High abilities students are not stupid, why would you want to work more? Instead I offered the opportunity to work on things they are interested in.

Indeed they can study what ever they want e.g. poems, French history, special theme etc... They would study while the rest of the class is learning in "the normal way". They will also get the vocabulary they are missing. As it is very low level of thinking I thought they would cope with just learning lists.

I had planned to start next week but the kids were eager to start straight away. So yesterday while the rest of the class was learning about shops in France, "the extended band" went into my grotty office next door and started to think about they would like to study.

During that hour they came up with great ideas like studying the life of Louis XIV, Versailles, French designers, French bread and Paris to name a few.

What was surprising was when I was teaching the rest of the class (the kids who did not want to be extended), the dynamic had changed. Kids who usually do not participate much were very engaged and put their hands up heaps. When I discussed this situation with the DP, we thought that :
-a gap and an expectation had been made which needed to be filled and the kids were quite happy to fill in that gap. So they behaved in the way that usually the most able girls behave.
- they felt less embarrassed that more repetition was needed, so they were more comfortable answering questions
- they had more more time and felt less threatened

For whatever the reasons, both sides of the class worked very hard.

What next?

The girls and I will be discussing next lesson what topics they are going to study. It is also very important that they keep a log and write down how they are going to spend their time. They will write down what they expect to do each hour, and at the end of each lesson, they should reflect and see what has been achieved or not.
I have also asked the lady who looks after the Gifted and Talented students to come to see those girls and remind them about SOLO Taxonomy. Indeed, it is primordial that the girls get a good understanding of deep level thinking. I do not want to see them learning lists of vocabulary or ask how many steps on the Eiffel Tower.

At the end of their topic (which should last 2/3 weeks) they will present their findings to the rest of the class.

I hope that this is going to work well as I want to see if Minimally Invasive Education can be done in a French class

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Look at my new black pen

" I usually write on the whiteboard using a blue pen, but now I use a black pen. I have not changed anything at all about my teaching but the colour of the ink I use. My students learn in the same way except that now they see my black writing on the board"

This is what I hear when I listen people speaking about their use of technology. It is not about the teaching, it is not about the learning it is just about the technology. As if by just using a computer the learning/the teaching would become better by magie. Like if changing the colour pen could hide the fact that my teaching is mediocre.

I have nothing against (quite opposite actually) the use of technology if only you can back up why you do what you do and/or why your students do what they do. As long as a teacher has a vision and the way to get there is to use an Ipad then go for it. If you ask your students to write on NOTE on an Ipad, why not using a piece of paper. If your teaching/ learning can be done on the piece then do it on paper and don't spend $1000

What do you try your students to achieve when you ask them to use technology or when you use technology in your class?