Saturday, 8 March 2014

Handing the control to the students

On Thursday morning I had to have my cat put to sleep, so the whole week had been quite ghastly, as the cloud of sadness (and no sleep) weighed down.

Just when you don't need it... This week was Review Week at school. Which meant everyone was observed.

The last possible slot for observation was on Friday lesson 4.

I was observed Friday lesson 4...

I don't tend to change anything that I do when it comes to observation lessons, I refuse to have "the Ofsted lesson" in the bag for when it is needed. I have noted on my blog quite a lot that I feel a far better teacher now than 2-3 years ago, because moving schools has made me completely reconsider how I teach. But I just needed to make sure that the activities were right.

The feedback was the best I have had for any observation in my career, so I thought I would share the ideas I used, because it has taken me a while to work out what an Outstanding MFL lesson looks like! I will go through the 2 hours because the engagement of the students during hour 1 helped with their brilliance in hour 2.

Year Group: 11
Topic: House and Home
2 hours -
1st hour = Group Talk for description of Bracknell
2nd hour = House and Home vocab (when observers came)

In the first hour, the starter was a card sort for positive and negative views - as P/N/P&N is a favourite of AQA in the listening and reading papers. This was on the students' desks when they came in.

Students then used a different bank of statements about Bracknell for a Group Talk task, the focus of which was to offer spontaneously as much detail as possible. In order to encourage this further, the students had a tally sheet to assess each other's responses. This not only meant that students were listening to each other, but the responses were better in quality. The competitiveness in the students also helped the length and quality of their answers.
Students worked on this for 15minutes, after which we worked on a Twitter Snowball task, which I couldn't wait for! 

The first step was to pick a card from the Group Talk task. These were statements like "Reading ist besser als Bracknell". Students wrote that at the top of their Twitter sheet, and used the first Tweet box in the feed to write a response. After 3 minutes, all students screwed their Tweets into a ball and we had a 20 second fight. Which was hilarious. We only lost one out the window....

After 20 seconds, the students had to retrieve a snowball, open it up and respond to the tweet on the sheet. After 3 minutes, the same thing. After the 4th fight, students then used the Group Talk tally sheet to mark the responses.

The final task of this hour, as the plenary, was to respond to my marking. The plenary of the previous lesson had been to write a Tweet about Bracknell. The "Think Pink Go Green " action I gave all students as part of the marking was to correct any mistakes and make the Tweet 200 characters. So they were able to use all aspects of the lesson to write a better Tweet.

Engagement = HIGH!

HOUR 2 (first half observed)

This lesson was all about learning the vocab to describe the house. So we started with Foundation/Higher match up tasks with phrases from exam questions. Then the lesson came to life. For those of you who don't know, I am a fan of colours, especially when it comes to differentiation.

So the students were put into mixed ability groups, based on their Reading Mock Exam results. Each group had 1 Upper, 1 Middle and 1 Lower ability reader in. As I use this a lot, when I said "30 seconds to move into your Reading groups", the students were up and at it straight away.

I had stuck 3 House-For-Sale descriptions around the room for a dictation. I had also created a range of question styles, to cover the style in exams. The students knew exactly what to do, so I didn't need to explain, which meant all I had to say was "Running Dictation, ready steady go!" and off they went. It was great to watch, and the students were getting really competitive.

We were just moving into the listening task, which I also differentiated with my colours of green, orange and purple, when the observing time was up. What I have also started doing with the y11s is for them to write down after each listening task a) how they found the task and b) what stopped them getting all the answers right. So when I mark their books, I can give them individual advice. They are least confident with listening tasks.

We wrapped up the lesson with some conditional reinforcement, and then snuck out a minute before the bell so we could get to the front of the Chip Friday queue (rewards very important!).

The students have asked me to tweet them with my grade and feedback, they were that engaged in the whole process.

So I now know that staying at my school is the right decision. I have worked hard for two years to get that kind of feedback, and it has been hard. But totally worth it.

Teaching. Hard as anything but melts your heart when it counts. 

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