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Poorly Behave Y9 class and low level of Language

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by cborregoreal, Jan 31, 2017.

  1. cborregoreal

    cborregoreal New commenter

    I'm looking for some ideas for activities that work well with low ability groups with poor behaviour. I've got a Y9 group for Spanish this year who are extremely low ability (some can barely read & write in English) and to make things worse a lot of them are very badly behaved as well. In the past I've been lucky enough that most of these groups have been enthusiastic and fairly well behaved so I could do pretty much anything with them - I've also got lots of experience with poor behaviour, but for some reason this class really have my patient to the end...I really want them to enjoy their lessons and feel some achievement, but it's very difficult to find activities that are at their ability level that they'll get involved with without being silly. The last lesson I had with them this week I literally had to stop it (It took me 20 minutes to do a simple BINGO!) so I got crossed and made them to just copy from a book as they were not able to follow the dynamic. They started in silent but after 10 minutes they were unable to do this.
    Having experimented with a variety of different approaches so far, I'm running out of things to try as they're extremely difficult to keep on task or even in their seats!! Any group or pair work has ended in chaos, anything that involves them moving round the classroom is out as that usually ends in people on the floor thumping each other (!) and they obviously have a very short attention span so there needs to be a good range of different activities within a lesson. The only thing that has worked is going and do research on a computer about cultural things but I cannot do this every lesson I have with them.
    If anyone has any bright ideas they could share, that would be brilliant. I know that there is no a magic formula and everything comes with time but I would love some good advice!
    Dodros likes this.
  2. carterkit

    carterkit New commenter

    I find film activities work well in this kind of situation. I've had lower ability groups with behavioural issues enthralled by Les Choristes for example. (Sorry I have no Spanish suggestions but you can use Hollywood films with Spanish audio as well.) Work first then you get to watch the film.

    Also drama projects. I've filmed versions of the X-factor and Strictly with bottom set year 8 and 9. You can use them to drill home key structures such as "Je crois qu'il était .../ Pienso que .....". You could let them dress up as well. (And they make fantastic footage for year 11 leavers' assemblies!)
    Dodros and cborregoreal like this.
  3. meggyd

    meggyd Occasional commenter

    Cartoon activity using ICT? A simple cafe scene or something with sound file? Or poster type activity? Write a booklet about families using EastEnders or similar? Also in tes resources there are some good booklets people have produced for world cup etc . Maybe recycle these and adapt?
    Dodros and cborregoreal like this.
  4. karaka

    karaka New commenter

    My lower sets have responded positively to Quizlet, in the computer room. Also recommend doing work on les Choristes.
    Dodros and cborregoreal like this.
  5. cborregoreal

    cborregoreal New commenter

    Thank you very much for all your ideas :)
    Dodros likes this.
  6. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    If they can barely read and write perhaps the time would be better used correcting this rather than teaching a foreign language.
    harsh-but-fair and cborregoreal like this.
  7. Dodros

    Dodros Lead commenter

    In a secondary education context, it's easy to assume that a student's difficulties within MFL derive from MFL alone. Be sure to ask the school's special education needs coordinator why these Year 9 students are still barely able to read or write English. Such students should have already been through multiple literacy development interventions at primary school, let alone what the SEN department should have done to help them in Years 7, 8 and 9. Find out too how other subject departments are dealing with the literacy issues of these particular students and consult the English department, which ought to be showing leadership by prioritising reading and writing development for their own subject's sake and in the name of literacy across the curriculum.

    Returning to the matter of MFL, the students may have been diagnosed by an educational psychologist or a specialist teacher as having specific learning difficulties, meaning that they are making normal progress other than in the domain of reading and writing. If so, there is an excellent and very readable book by Elke Schneider and Margaret Crombie entitled "Dyslexia and Foreign Language Learning" (David Fulton Publishers) containing plenty of classroom-ready advice and strategies.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2017
    pascuam49 and cborregoreal like this.
  8. cborregoreal

    cborregoreal New commenter

    Unfortunately, this is something that school does not understand :( They won't be taking GCSE but until y10 languages are compulsory
  9. cborregoreal

    cborregoreal New commenter

    They have literacy interventions and social communication groups to help them with social skills. The only problem is that they sometimes refused to do any sort of activities.
  10. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    So sad to hear kids like these are still coming through the school system with nothing much to show for it.
    cborregoreal likes this.
  11. Dodros

    Dodros Lead commenter

    Surely over the years these problem students will have been diagnosed by a competent outside agency, such as an educational psychologist, as having a recognised SEN condition, e.g. autistic spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or social, emotional and mental health issues, or a moderate to severe general or specific learning difficulty, which can cause frustration-led poor behaviour. A proper diagnosis can trigger positive outcomes for both teacher and student such as in-class support (e.g. a classroom assistant) and a list of specialist recommendations for effective classroom activities that can be deployed in every National Curriculum subject. Disapplication of the MFL, or any subject for that matter, would simply narrow the curriculum for students who are just as entitled to a "broad and balanced" curriculum as anybody else. Special educational provision works best when all the "stakeholders", the school SENCO, the subject teachers and the parents are working together and supporting one another for the sake of the student, which is why I asked what was happening outside the confines of the MFL classroom to address the problem.

    To conclude on a positive note, you have received excellent advice from the earlier contributors to your thread and they truly deserve your "likes" for their contributions. I have reinforced your responses with mine. Thinking positive and acting accordingly are so important because confidence and self-belief inspires others' belief in you. I speak from personal experience as a now retired secondary school MFL and SEN teacher who spent lots of my spare time modifying and rewriting commercial teaching resources to accommodate the learning disabled students in my charge. You can see some of my output on my MFL and SEN focused web page at http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/home/languages. Consider too investing in a copy of Schneider and Crombie's "Dyslexia in Foreign Language Learning" for its classroom-ready ideas on working with MFL learners in difficulty. There is a vast professional literature out there dedicated to MFL learners with SEN; just take a look at the MFL and SEN bibliography at https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0Bw7z_4bLjOOEYXJxUnhSd0VJUFE containing over 2000 references.
  12. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    To OP I feel Mnemonics is the way to go. Or perhaps using lyrics of songs. I feel the spread of English language music and songs have helped the spread of English through the world as well as film, TV. , and empire building . Your kids might get a fondness for mfl if they can get into the music of the country.

    Dodros and cborregoreal like this.
  13. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    To my great surprise a similar group to the one you describe really liked battleships, puzzle sentences (listening), codes and spelling games. Putting them into teams and awarding stickers also worked most of the time. Other activities were a battle apart of course from food tasting - instant good behaviour then!
    Landofla and cborregoreal like this.
  14. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    It seems you have access to a computer room? Is there a board to display what you have on teacher computer? If so, you must try https://getkahoot.com/ and for this they will need to join your activity on https://kahoot.it/#/
    You basically show a multi choice quiz on your screen, they join the quiz on the same screen but using their own computer, via an access pin, which is new for each run of the quiz. They choose a username, and you get a leader board after each question, and stats at the end of the quiz if you choose. It is fantastic for all abilities, and it works in normal classroom too if your school policy permits use of own student device. Teacher has total control of the game, so you can threaten to bar those who use "smut" in their username.
    Web based learning requires some patience for teacher to research what the site does, I know that, but I think Kahoot is really worth looking into for lower abilities. They can then spend time making their own quizzes, and you can promise to run the best ones for the whole class.
    Once you've mastered using Kahoot, prep time can be minimal as you can dip into hundreds of thousands of other quizzes which other teachers have shared. And once the kids know what's it about, it's like a magic wand as a bribe-"let's just write this down, and then we can do a Kahoot"
    (Oh, and easy on tired teacher feet too!)
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2017
    Landofla and cborregoreal like this.
  15. cborregoreal

    cborregoreal New commenter

    Thank you very much for all your brilliant ideas. I really appreciate it! :)
  16. Jessaki

    Jessaki Occasional commenter

    Do a project with them. We always did half term projects with Y9, especially after options. For example Art projects, where they studied an artist or a style of art, but we would introduce target language. I did a project on cubism with my low ability Y9s and they loved it. It was cross curricular too, as they looked at geometrical shapes in TL, the used the library and ICT facilities etc. It was really fun, we did loads of different activities over the 6 weeks. We also gave them a project tracker to fill out and log what they had done that lesson and some options what they final project would be, ie a poster / booklet, art work etc. Some lessons they did class work and group work, some lessons they did group work, we were able to vary it and the kids liked that too. We've done film projects and sport projects too. The lessons weren't always a raving success, but the kids did get something out of it and they seemed to enjoy it.

    Try raffle tickets too! Start off really basic. Raffle tickets for writing date, title & LO, raffle tickets for completing activity 1 etc...then put them all in the hat at the end of the lesson draw winner and they get a prize. I would then put the remaining raffle tickets in a bigger pot for the end of term prize and my line was to kids always was 'the more tickets you have in the big pot, the more change you have one winning!'.
    Landofla, cborregoreal and Dodros like this.
  17. miriamw4ll

    miriamw4ll New commenter

    I developed a series of 'colour match' worksheets to use with low ability/ difficult classes. I find that colouring has a calming effect (provided they dont start arguing who has the blue/ red/ crayons). I've attached one here for you to have a look at and maybe try. Let me know how you get on.

    Attached Files:

    melmason517 and cborregoreal like this.
  18. spellmaster

    spellmaster New commenter

    With low ability/ b poorly behaved groups in other subject areas I've found that some sort of end of lesson treat can work well - usually a video or cartoon of some description which has some vague association with the work.

    Linus and Boom and Code Lyko are probably a little beyond your charges but I'm sure there are others
  19. cborregoreal

    cborregoreal New commenter

    thank you very much
  20. gferrandon

    gferrandon New commenter

    Hi, thank you for sharing some great resources and ideas.
    We're currently looking at our provision for next year's Yr9 and some students have been getting support for Literacy and Numeracy during MFL lessons. As they will have 6 lessons of French on their timetable, some of which will be with LSA, I'm looking at a "European Studies" SoW which should allow some language learning but mostly culture and life skills. has anyone got a "ready-made" course they have followed for this kind of course? someone mentioned an OUP textbook "France alive" but I can't find it anywhere... any ideas?
    thank you very much in advance.

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