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Progression for all in mixed ability classes

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by tastytortilla, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. expresslts

    expresslts New commenter

    Hi folks,

    Had a search but couldn't find exactly what I was looking for.

    My question is: how do we ensure that all pupils are able to progress in a mixed ability class?

    I am planning a lesson for beginner's Spanish, where the objectives are to be able to say what someone's name is, what age they are and when that person's birthday is.

    I am already envisaging who will not be able to cope with this based on my experience with the class (I don't like thinking this way...). I think the majority will be able to do this fairly well. If they do, we will then move onto to describing physical characteristics. For the ones that didn't "get" it (or didn't want to get it), how do I prevent them from falling even further behind? There is already a large knowledge gap (different factors like attendance, attitude).

    I constantly feel like I am having to pitch lessons so low that the ones who are really capable and considering taking our subject next year are being put off.
  2. Landofla

    Landofla Established commenter

    Pitch the lesson for the majority and then have consolidation/extension tasks for the ones who need them.

    I would do my intro and ask the pupils to self-assess where they think they are. Making it really clear with examples so that they can do this well. Pick up on this in the plenary to help the pupils understand if their self-assessment was accurate or not. The self-assessment would lead to their activity.

    I don’t know why you would ever pitch a lesson for the lowest able. There will always be a gap between them because they are unique learners. Progress is not equal regardless of what the gov would like us to achieve.
    polyglot91 likes this.
  3. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    When did they start Spanish and what topics have been done so far? If they started in September, haven't they already done asking what someone's name is and saying what theirs is? Haven't they already done giving their age?

    I'm mystified on how you could teach your 3 objectives from scratch in one lesson plan. Is it a consolidation lesson where you have already cover personal introductions, age, months of the year and numbers up to 31?
  4. veverett

    veverett Occasional commenter

    There is some scope for different objectives/support:
    Just say their own birthday/age etc? Or say anyone's birthday/age etc?
    Able to understand other people's birthday/age etc or need to make notes and then look it up in a list of numbers?
    Learn the sentence by memory? Or know what the words mean?
    Have it written down and read it aloud? Or substitute words with a model sentence? Or memorised? Able to write it for themselves?
    Know the pronunciation rules, so can say the sentences? Or can say the sentences so can start to think about the rules?
    Can keep the Spanish in their head for a couple of seconds? An hour? Until next lesson?
    Just able to use "soy" and "tengo"? Or other persons of the verb in memorised sentences? Able to conjugate the verb?
    Physical description from memorised language? From a list of options? From words in a vocab list but able to put sentences together?
    polyglot91 and bonxie like this.
  5. vuvuzela

    vuvuzela Occasional commenter

    Polyglot 91, have you heard of Kagen Cooperative Learning by any chance? It involves a lot of pair and group work in structured tasks that keep all pupils in the class active in learning at all times. This means that you can use the stronger pupils to bring on the weaker ones without becoming bored so, in theory, everyone should get something out of the lesson. Kagan Structures are easy to adapt to MFL lessons because they already involve pair work.
  6. hs9981

    hs9981 Established commenter

    1. Register this site (free)
    2. Download this sheet
    3. Translate into Spanish

    Bob's your uncle :)


    Put the sheet into a A4 plastic wallet, dry wipe pen off you go. Of course practice the vocab first.......... and leave the English below the Spanish (or remove it for most able)
    polyglot91 likes this.
  7. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    Do you have access to ipads/laptops? Stick the fast finishers on Duolingo, while you work with those that need extra support...
  8. expresslts

    expresslts New commenter

    Thanks to those who replied. I must say I forget to check back here!

    To clarify they had done the months and numbers. The aim was to be getting them to talk about their family members' ages and birthdays.

    To update you all, I'm finding that the motivation is just not there for many of the pupils in my classes :(
  9. cake4tea

    cake4tea New commenter

    Years ago I remember reading that researchers had found that both setting and mixed ability worked equally well provided the teacher believed in the system being used. Doesn't help but it's a fascinating point - it's almost a case of self fulfilling prophecies - if you don't believe it will work, it won't!
    polyglot91 likes this.
  10. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I think that there's less chance of mixed ability being successful in MFL compared to some other subjects.

    It shouldn't be enough for everyone to get something out of a lesson. The linguistically able pupils should be making big strides in lessons so that an A level in MFL is not seen as more difficult than other options, with the larger knowledge and skills gap compared to that experienced by earlier generations.

    It's difficult to keep things simple enough for the weaker pupils whilst at the same time providing the more able ones with challenging work and more linguistic complexity.

    You just have to look at the initial part of Foundation tier MGL GCSE to see how basic is the competence of some after up to 5 years of lessons. The weaker pupils do not get much further than rote learned basic dialogues and confidence with cognates.
    A question that asks pupils taking a GCSE to tick two foods from a list (un Coca-cola, un Hot-dog, un café, un pizza) is similar to giving them 2 plus 2 =? problems in Maths, and few schools would put such low-performing pupils in lessons with top-performing ones in Maths.
    polyglot91 likes this.
  11. cake4tea

    cake4tea New commenter

    I agree, but I've never been totally convinced by mixed ability in any case.
    polyglot91 likes this.
  12. expresslts

    expresslts New commenter

    No iPads, we have a sets of laptops but most are broken and those which do work are terrible. I've set up younger students onoQuizlet for vocab revision at home but quite skeptsk at allowing pupils to be on their own phones in class.
  13. expresslts

    expresslts New commenter

    I feel that in this case as the class in question will choose their GCSE equivalent subjects for next year. Pupils are experiencing such difficulties with the basics of the language. They do not want to be in the class but at the same time letting them away with doing brain-numbingly simple work doesn't send out a good message in my opinion. So frustrating. In another class I have 5 pupils who refuse to do anything at all. Did a lesson on verb conjugation which was new for absolutely everyone but they did not take part. So fed up and demotivated.

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