Independent Learning a Y10 Experiment

I have wanted to establish more independent learning pathways in my courses for years, but always envisaged it would need an enormous amount of time to create resources.  Some units and Task Based Learning I have undertaken has approached this, for example asking Y9s to collect pictures of themselves showing different moods and label these in Spanish to use with estar, or collecting sports vocabulary, making an animal documentary or a Spanish calendar.  However, these were one off activities rather than a whole unit of work.  I had plans for stations, have collected furniture to facilitate this idea of reading and listening stations etc. but somehow, it never actually happened.

This year, having prepared a mix of online and paper resources for a small Y10 class, I decided to ask them how they would like to approach the topic.  It is a very small class of only 10-12 students (some are often absent or on exchange) so it was easier to take the plunge and think of managing stations and producing multiple resources.  The response from students was unequivocal.  I presented them with the prepared resources and they took off.  The only thing I then did was establish that they had a goal sheet up on their blog, and the time and reminders to set a goal and reflect on their progress each class.

I then created a unit plan with two objectives for students – a written description of their house and room and an interview, both to be posted to their blog – and specific grammar (estar, prepositions of place, demonstrative and possessive adjectives) and vocabulary (furniture and rooms, adjectives to describe both)  I also separated out the city component of this unit, to cover as teacher directed, so I could ensure that students had a comprehensive understanding of the grammar I had asked them to cover.

Currently students are really focused on their individual tasks.  The weakest students are mastering material really well, as they are working at their own pace and can select from online resources.Mid range students are also showing greater confidence as they have time to consolidate what they don’t know, instead of moving at the teacher’s pace which is often too fast for them to feel they actually know vocabulary thoroughly.  Strangely enough it is the strongest students who have made least progress, I feel, as at least one is not strongly self directed,  and the others seem less willing to push themselves without a teacher challenging them.  Very interesting.

Overall, this step has encouraged me to introduce units to my Year 9 students, who immediately took off, with some students racing ahead, and others needing help to complete the first pages.  An excellent tool for differentiation, but one which I had previously only used with senior classes.

TAI template for this inquiry coming.


OC Languages Department TAI 2015

Teaching as Inquiry Sheet 1-Planning

Department: Languages
Inquiry Start Date: Feb 2015   Years 9 through 11 will be the focus of this inquiry
Focus InquiryOur learners priority/goal for this inquiry is: Be supported in vocabulary acquisition through interactive online learning.Be able to better track personal vocabulary acquisition.

Have higher levels of achievement in Senior Listening and Reading externals

Type of data and/or feedback used to inform this priority is: Students have to learn over 1400 words and hundreds of hiragana/kanji.Students currently receive no formal vocabulary acquisition instruction.

Students enjoy competitive learning environments and ability to work at their own pace, at their own level, and have the ability to revise

Results from senior practice examinations 2014Results from student survey on LP use in 2014

Current research on vocabulary acquisition (see below)

Teaching InquiryTeaching strategy(ies) we will use to achieve our goal are: ·   Invest classroom time in overt VLS instruction to maximise learning opportunities from the site(s) selected.·   Create more specific lists from material provided for each topic.

·   Create  student template to use per topic for on Socrative/SurveyMonkey (qualitative data collation)

·   Create tests using LP to use at completion of each topic (quantitative data collation)

Inquiry Feedback loop Ø  Using data to see what % students are struggling with which topics, or which words and develop VLS strategies to address these.Ø  Desired outcome is that all students leave course with a range of acquired vocabulary, not just some.
Type of research/best practise used to identify best strategy for this is: Vocabulary acquisition research undertaken in department (see below)Classroom observation of continued student failure to process phrases through inability to recognize key elements, contributing to perceptions of lack of ability
What PD is required for your department for this strategy to be used? Development of audio components and podcasts and deeper semantic mapping options such as synonyms/opposites/word families with online learning site Education Perfect.Creation of personalised lists and tests

Creation of Language Department Blog

Learning InquiryThe “data” we will use to inform us during and at the end of this inquiry will be:- be specific please Data provided by Education Perfect from weekly tests provides individual student participation, completion and accuracy. Data analysed by teachers to target “challenging” words identified and incorporate these into class activities; identify struggling students and provide alternative VLS.Data from student survey after each unit of work on VLS success.

School and subject score comparison between 2014/2015 for targeted year groups

We will collect (and store) the relevant data from our department  by: Language Department Blog and  throughout 2015 scholastic year
The planned length of our inquiry is: One year
Other Comments In order to build on both competitive and individualised learning offered by Education Perfect we propose to :·      involve parents with letter home at course outset to promote vocabulary learning via Education Perfect outside of the classroom

·      have students to track their own progress online on their blogs

·      have a live feed on Ultranet advertising World and National Championships

·      post daily results in school newsletter during these championships

Vocabulary acquisition Research undertaken by department

Laufer&Rozovski,Roitblat 2011 “Incidental Vocabulary Acquisition: the effects of task type, word occurrence and their combination.”

Coady & Huskin1997 “Second Language Acquisition: A Rationale for Pedagogy”

Howard 2012 and Laufer 2006 “Since meaning focused learning does not necessarily lead to a satisfactory vocabulary development, vocabulary instruction should also be incorporated as FFI component.”

Language Learner Strategies Andrew D. Cohen, Ernesto Macato. 2007 Emphasis learner voice or qualitative data: “Through learner voice we gain first-hand insight into learners’ perspectives regarding (a) actual use, (b) preferences for types of VLS and their practical utility, and (c) varying combinations of VLS.” 253 and use of a greater range of strategies to better address differentiation and proficiency levels.