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Teaching top set GCSE - any advice?

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by minniewinnie, Aug 29, 2011.

  1. I had a very able top set last year, and what I found they liked best was to write about and discuss more sophisticated topics and themes for their controlled assessments. If they,re able in MFL, then chances are they are good at a wide range of subjects, and these kids often find writing about their bedrooms or their pets a little mundane. My group really enjoyed preparing for a piece of writing for example in which they discussed environmental issues such as nuclear energy and solar panels and discussing teenage smoking and drug taking. It all involves the same structures, but makes them feel like their MFL lessons are as relevant as everything else they are studying. Hope this helps.
  2. Thank you for the advice!
  3. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    I would second what minnie has written. Try and give them some meaty texts in which they can get some good structures to reuse in their writing. Get some authentic texts (blogs, etc, I love momes.net) and get them to highlight some phrases you tell them in English, for instance. If you click on my name I have uploaded some resources I have used with my top sets two years running, take the ones on cinema CA for instance, or the text on health.- that's the sort of level I try and aim for them.
    If you can get a copy of Encore Tricolore 4, it's a brilliant textbook. Quite aged so doesn't look like much but has really high quality content (probably more than you can ever cover in two years).

  4. Thank you so much noemie - I've had a look through your resources and saved some of them, they're fabulous, thank you so so much!!
  5. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Well, thank you, glad you like them [​IMG]
  6. If you can spare any time for it, read a book with them. It's usually not difficult to find adapted texts or texts written especially for learners (at age 14/15 detective "novels" (the ones which you can get here in Germany are around 40 pages long) would be a good start) . It is incredibly motivating (the feeling of getting through a whole book in a foreign langauge is wonderful) and helps with reading as well as writing, and you can also use it to practise speaking (discussing opinions about the book, speculating what will happen next in the story....).
  7. Thanks for the advice, we did this at A-Level, but then the GCSE was different 11 years ago and was actually easier! We read a book in German - I can't remember which book it was now, it was a play. In French we watched films from the Nouvelle Vague and I wrote coursework on it.
    I like that idea though, thank you! I might do an extract from a book first to see how they get on and then go from there. Thank you again!
  8. FrauSue

    FrauSue New commenter

    I've found that top sets also really enjoy daft role-plays or even writing little sketches to perform for the class, depending on the personalities of the group. It's nice for them to be a bit more creative. I sometimes do activities like a doctor trying to advise a very difficult patient - the patient refuses to take any of the doctor's advice and uses lots of pathetic excuses, and the doctor has to keep coming up with ever more persuasive reasons to get them to change their lifestyle.
    I'd also advise giving them lots of juicy grammar for their CAs - maybe even some AS grammar (passive?). I tend to present a lovely grammar topic and emphasise that those who feel confident with it could have a go at using it in their CAs, those who are a bit unsure could try to use just one example in their CA (maybe a fixed sentence that they just substitute a suitable noun/verb into) and those who are not very sure of it at all can be happy that they will recognise it in comprehension papers. That allows for all pupils to feel that it's useful and allows you to stretch the very best without alienating the weaker pupils.
    Good luck and have fun!
  9. Thanks FrauSue, love the advice, especially re the grammar!
    Thank you very much!
  10. Try not to teach the modules/units in isolation. Doing so means that students 'leave' unit one at Christmas of Year Ten, providing plenty of time for them to forget. Likewise, teaching Unit five from Feb-May of Year Eleven does not give time for vocabulary to enter long-term memory.
    I have five hours per fortnight. I spend four of these hours teaching the units sequentially, with the focus being mainly on Writing and Speaking. In these lessons, I tend to do the things mentioned here by previous posters.
    The fifth hour is a 'Vocab and Skills Lab' where I study random, interesting listening and reading texts, drawn from a range of topics, or even global news items.
    The lesson follows a model I call RAARE-
    In differentiated ability groups we Read, Annotate the text and Answer the questions.
    We then Revise vocab from previous texts, and then Extend our vocab by mind mapping related words. Texts dealing with 'Poverty' may result in students deciding to find ten adjectives to describe how they think poverty may feel. Students can select the direction of this part of the lesson, deciding what tangent to go off on. They can be very creative in the way they record these words, to enhance memory.
    For homework, I usually give three traffic light texts per student per week - one easy, one medium, one hard, in addition to any writing tasks. They follow the RAARE model in tackling these texts. Give the students a copy, and email their parents a scanned version. Never underestimate how happy most parents are to be involved in their own child's education and how a child's performance is boosted as a result.
    Following this process has resulted in my results really improving, particularly at the top end.
    Try to keep in mind that you are teaching the students the skills of Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. The modules are just the material you use to do this.

  11. Many thanks Julius! We only have 3 hours a week, but I can work around it. Thanks again!

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