I have had two low ability year 8 groups this year in Spanish which has encouraged me to be a little more inventive in the support I offer these learners in order for them to reach their target grades by the end of the year. Having had high ability sets the year before, it was a question of more than just adapting my SMART board Notebook slides as it become apparent, assessment after assessment, that they weren't making the progress I had expected.
I chose to have a bit of a push on literacy skills and here are a few activities I tried out. Certainly none of these are anything new or particularly exciting, just a reminder of some tried and tested activities we may have forgotten about.
E S P A C I O S - I gave pupils a short paragraph (2 - 4 sentences max) with all the spaces removed. Armed with coloured pencils, they had a go drawing wiggly lines in where they thought the spaces should go, which was incredibly useful for the Spanish phrases they often squeeze together such as 'porque es' (because it is...) and 'me gusta' (I like). We then replicated the activity on the interactive whiteboard using the pens to come up to the board and draw on the lines in different colours. This could be an activity they do themselves on mini whiteboards with a partner.
3 COLORES - In order for pupils to concentrate a little more on the range of vocabulary they use, I gave pupils a text and this time, again with colouring pencils, they had to underline adjectives, connectives and opinions each in a different colour. We completed the activity as a class on the interactive whiteboard and spoke about why we needed to use lots of different examples and then prepared a 'Help page' in their exercise books. They divided the page in to 3 and wrote down any new adjectives / opinions / connectives they hadn't come across that they fancied using in their next piece of writing. They then had a ready prepared bank of words to save the hundreds of questions 'How do I say this in Spanish?' like we usually get come assessment time!
Competitive Writing - For this activity you need a SMART board Notebook slide ready prepared with the categories of words you want pupils to include in their writing. For example, with my year 8 it was an opportunity for them to use connectives to link sentences as well as opinions and reasons the reach their high level 3 - low level 4 targets in writing. I gave each category a points system, with some bonus points on offer for using fancier phrases such as however. I left the slide on the board with a timer and pupils had 5 minutes to write a short text using the vocabulary on the board. It was then time to get the green pens out, swap books with a partner, and award each other a points value. I offered prizes for the highest number of points but this could be incorporated into lessons later in the year by revisiting the activity within a different context and seeing if pupils can better their score. The boys in particular responded really well to the competitive element of this activity and the quality of what they produced was far superior to that if I had just asked them to write me a paragraph on a given topic.
Let me know any thoughts.