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Your favourite activities with poorly behaved & low ability groups

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by lucyrose50, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. lucyrose50

    lucyrose50 Occasional commenter

    Hi all
    I'm looking for some ideas for activities that work well with low ability groups with poor behaviour. I've got a Y8 group for French this year who are extremely low ability (some can barely read & write in English) and unfortunately a lot of them are very badly behaved as well. It's not that I don't have experience with low ability groups, but I've been lucky enough in the past that most of these groups have been enthusiastic and fairly well behaved so I could do pretty much anything with them - I taught the same group from Y7-Y9 and we had a brilliant time! I've also got lots of experience with poor behaviour, but for some reason this class really have me at my wits' 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.
    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 memorably ended 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 I've found that they've got on better with has been playing very simple whole-class games on the board - vocab-matching type of things like Linguascope games, TaskMagic etc - but I can't do this all lesson, every lesson!
    If anyone has any bright ideas they could share, that would be brilliant. In return, here are some things I've found have worked really well with my low ability (albeit better behaved) groups in the past, if anyone is teaching a group like this for the first time and struggling to think of activities:
    - creating their own games on a given topic - either with paper/card or on the computer, for example using programs like TaskMagic, game creators on Linguascope etc or just doing a quiz on powerpoint.
    - making powerpoint presentations to present new vocab to the rest of the class (I'd give each of them 5-10 different words on a new topic and then they'd be responsible for teaching these to the rest of the group. They LOVED this).
    - anything that involved them recording themselves speaking French - this really surprised me! They used to practise pronunciation of key words, then they'd record themselves and use the recordings to create TaskMagic sound match games.
    - anything creative - making cartoon strips, displays, video clips acting out mini roleplays etc.
    Thanks for any help you can offer that'll make mine and 8C's lives a bit better this year...



     
  2. lucyrose50

    lucyrose50 Occasional commenter

    Hi all
    I'm looking for some ideas for activities that work well with low ability groups with poor behaviour. I've got a Y8 group for French this year who are extremely low ability (some can barely read & write in English) and unfortunately a lot of them are very badly behaved as well. It's not that I don't have experience with low ability groups, but I've been lucky enough in the past that most of these groups have been enthusiastic and fairly well behaved so I could do pretty much anything with them - I taught the same group from Y7-Y9 and we had a brilliant time! I've also got lots of experience with poor behaviour, but for some reason this class really have me at my wits' 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.
    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 memorably ended 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 I've found that they've got on better with has been playing very simple whole-class games on the board - vocab-matching type of things like Linguascope games, TaskMagic etc - but I can't do this all lesson, every lesson!
    If anyone has any bright ideas they could share, that would be brilliant. In return, here are some things I've found have worked really well with my low ability (albeit better behaved) groups in the past, if anyone is teaching a group like this for the first time and struggling to think of activities:
    - creating their own games on a given topic - either with paper/card or on the computer, for example using programs like TaskMagic, game creators on Linguascope etc or just doing a quiz on powerpoint.
    - making powerpoint presentations to present new vocab to the rest of the class (I'd give each of them 5-10 different words on a new topic and then they'd be responsible for teaching these to the rest of the group. They LOVED this).
    - anything that involved them recording themselves speaking French - this really surprised me! They used to practise pronunciation of key words, then they'd record themselves and use the recordings to create TaskMagic sound match games.
    - anything creative - making cartoon strips, displays, video clips acting out mini roleplays etc.
    Thanks for any help you can offer that'll make mine and 8C's lives a bit better this year...



     
  3. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    First of all lucyrose, you're obviously a good caring teacher and the students are lucky to have you. Now all you've got to do is convince them.
    Many of the activities I might suggest you've already suggested.
    Personally I would put it on the line with them. They've got a whole year and if you'lle all going to have any chance of succeeding, you'll have to set some ground rules. Then see if they can come up with some ideas themselves and say if they follow the rules they will then have the opportunity to have some fun lessons. If not say something like 'I can do my job and teach you just from books doing boring copying/ reading comprehension exercises etc. So the choice is up to you.' Be prepared to do some boring lessons to illustrate and soon hopefully they'll want to co-operate. Those who don't just have to learn thro' the more conventional methodsand watching the others do themore fun activities should bring them round.
     
  4. lucyrose50

    lucyrose50 Occasional commenter

    Thanks for taking the time to reply Lara, and for the vote of confidence! I do like your suggestion of getting them to come up with some ideas for activities they'd like to do (although I have a horrible feeling they'd just tell me they didn't want to do anything to do with French at all...some of them are very negative and resistant to giving it a go, and naturally they're the more vocal ones!), I might try that next lesson. I have tried to set ground rules and so on right from the beginning because I had an idea what the class were going to be like - I'd taught some of them last year and knew others by reputation! They've been in a seating plan from day 1 with all the naughties split up on different tables, and I've gone all out on rewards, positive notes in planners, lots of praise and so on in the hope of promoting good behaviour. The mad thing is, they all respond very well to praise and clearly love getting house points and positive comments, but they don't seem to have made the connection that this only happens when they behave themselves!
     
  5. BrightonEarly

    BrightonEarly Occasional commenter

    I like 'Where's Fred?'. This encourages speaking, they will actually quieten down and watch and listen while this is going on. Be warned though, they will all be desperate to either be a detective or Fred. It can lead to issues if they are not good at taking turns.
    To play:
    Two detectives leave the classroom while the class decides who Fred will be. They come back into the classroom and race each other to find Fred by asking each pupil in turn the same question in target language e.g. What do you like doing? Fred is the pupil who has been chosen to give Fred's unique answer e.g. I like watching TV. Every other pupil must think of a different answer to give, choosing any answer from a range of sentences they have previously practised.
     
  6. BrightonEarly

    BrightonEarly Occasional commenter

    I use this as a consolidation activity.
     
  7. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Love your suggestion BrightonEarly! Another to go into my repertoire. Thanks!
    As to lucyrose's comment "I have a horrible feeling they'd just tell me they didn't want to do
    anything to do with French at all...some of them are very negative and
    resistant to giving it a go, and naturally they're the more vocal ones!
    " I suggest they have slips of paper to put their suggestions on, anonymously, so they'll feel freer to suggest things they might not otherwise suggest out loud in front of their peers. Then when you do the activities, if they complain, you can say that you have added some suggestions of your own so they can't pester the 'idiot who suggested that one! (or whatever thier current phraseology is) to own up and make that person feel 'stupid'. Suggestions can be posted in a box/tin so no-one knows who suggested what, and of course you can weed out the inevitable 'don' want to do nuffin' ones .
    <h2>
    </h2>
     
  8. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    If they are poorly behaved then I think this is what needs tackling first. I wouldn't change what you do all the time but decide which activities will help them to learn and to settle and stick to it. Be more intransigent about routines than normal. If you start with a very simple word search, or something like that to get their heads down to begin with and include as many settling activities as possible. If that includes colouring at some point so be it at least in the beginning. If you have support and a small class you may find a 'primary' approach where you sit with them at their table and do the work with them having moved the most troublesome to sit either side of you and the support person. If they like linguascope games then use them as their stirrer activity. You may find a story-time approach to reading helps them to settle as well. I have tweaked resources or created simple stories on Disney films onto the IWB and then given them pictures and text to match and to colour. But be firm on misbehaviour and punish accordingly would be my view.
     
  9. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    For behaviour management, I've recently been recommended classdojo.com which I am yet to try. It is a free programme where you input your classlist and you can quickly input a point or negative point next to pupil name. I imagine the idea is to keep it in the background of your interactive whiteboard if you have one. It may be a good motivator.
    My bottom set Y8 (almost all boys) loved being allowed on penalty shootout (on atantot extra) at the end of the lesson and sometimes stayed in at break time to finish off whatever match they were in the middle of! Otherwise, a lot of the misbehaviour boiled down to a question of confidence, so making things stupidly easy (for instance by keeping the writing to an absolute minimum, such as writing the word with just the vowels missing, if that) built up their confidence little by little. I did very little speaking, though if you have computers then I strongly recommend voki.com as a way of getting them to do a little presentation. Basically limit any need for them to ask questions or work with a partner for at least a couple of weeks until you have established the peace and quiet that you need (bar the last five minutes if they've behaved well, where they can play games).
     
  10. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    May I suggest you try http://www.linkwordlanguages.com/
    You have kids who are in a vicious circle of lack of interest , which leads to lack of success in a subject. That can only be broken by pupils feeling they CAN achieve which should lead to more ininterest in the subject. Et voila you may get a virtous spiral taking them and you onwards and upward. Additionally learning languages thru music. eg lots of Carlos Santana songs use Spanish. Kids may not like to speak in a foreign language but may overcome shyness by singing. Good luck.
     
  11. I agree with Lara and Random who suggest that behaviour and respect come first, then the reward. Never warn or threaten unless you are prepared to back it up. At the end of your next 'difficult' lesson tell them that things are going to change. Don't tell them how. To get the upperhand you need control and for them not to know what is going to hit them.
    1. As they enter the room, meet and greet them. Any uniform problems sort out now. Any who come in noisily put outside and ask them to line up again. If need be the whole class goes out.
    2. They come in and stand behind chairs.
    3. They say Bonjour Madame...... and you respond accordingly.
    4. He who will have already annoyed you by now, send outside.
    5. The rest of the class is now told in English that the lessons are now going to be different because you were not happy with their attitude last time.
    6. Hand out Life in a French Town or a similar boring book and tell them to start copying in silence. Any well behaved or more creative pupils can summarise, draw pictures etc. should you deem they merit such a reward.
    7. Get he who had annoyed you back in and explain your remarkable lesson plan to him. If necessary have him sit by you: teacher's pet!
    8. After ten minutes or so, the class will begin to start coughing or smiling at each other or dropping pencils, if they have one, on the floor. The trick is to identify the unrest and tackle it in the bud. If it is too late for a stern look of menace, a few words along the lines of: 'I did warn you last week. This is what you can expect from now on until you learn how to behave in the correct manner.' He who had to be ousted at the start or one of his cronies may try to question your wisedom but get in there first with a 'If you don't like it you know what to do!' Follow up swiftly with: 'However, I am noting down those of you who do work well and those pupils next lesson will do something more interesting. In fact, today I had planned for us all to do a treasure hunt aroung the school but sadly it is not to be. One day perhaps. The last time I had a group like you we ended up going to the supermarket to do a French breakfast.'
    9. At the end of lesson conclude with:' Ok, I had an easy lesson today and I managed to get some books marked. I doubt you lot had such a good time. Let's hope next time we can get back to normal!'[
    I am not suggesting this will solve all problems but if you think along these lines and make them see you mean business, it usually works. Then, each time they become unruly, use the same lesson plan again until order is returned to your kingdom. Try not to shout or enter into pointless arguments with them as this is one of the main weapons in their armoury.
    A great book for anyone being challenged by unruly children is The Bitter Root by James Andrews. It will have you in hysterics but also give you some fiendishly good ideas how to gain the upper hand. Nil illegitimi carborandum est! Best of luck!
     
  12. maa09

    maa09 New commenter

    I have found a game called "corners" to be popular especially with groups with a larger number of boys. This is how it works.
    1. 4 pupils stand in each of the 4 corners of the room.
    2. The teacher aks a question
    3. The 1st to answer it correctly gets to move clockwise to the next corner.
    4. The person who was in that corner is out and sits down.
    5. A new pupil goes into the empty corner.
    6. If you can get back to your original corner without being out you win a reward eg. house point.
    I hope this makes sense!
    It works well with bright KS4 groups too!
     
    newkidsontheblock likes this.

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