November 16

Fortnightly Focus #6 – Struggling with a weaker group

I definitely have a lot of ‘works in progress’ this year!  I’m still finding my feet with this group of 10-year-olds who are are much weaker compared to groups of the same age I’ve previously taught, but I feel as though the last couple of lessons have been more productive and that I’ve supported their learning more.

A new activity I’ve introduced focuses on questions each week as I found that they could easily produce “What’s your favourite…?” but struggled to produce questions with other structures and needed more support in understanding the meaning of different question words (‘who’ causes particular problems).

I’m also trying to slot in an activity each week to review much more basic language – so this week we played Bingo with numbers 1-20.  I’m also going to review prepositions of place as this can be problematic for Spanish learners anyway (in/on is generally en in Spanish and in front of sounds like en frente but it’s a bit of a false friend).

Also, fortunately, I’m being observed with this group tomorrow so I’m sure in the post-observation chat my colleague will give me some constructive advice, helpful tips and an outsider’s opinion of the group.

My next Fortnightly Focus is going to be on bringing more tech into the classroom as I’m eager to build up some more resources with Quizlet, Kahoot and Triptico. And, speaking of Quizlet, Sandy Millin shared an excellent blogpost she’d written all about the site which goes into incredible detail about the resources available and give links to sets which she’s produced linked to the CEFR scale – incredibly useful!

Tags: , , ,

Posted November 16, 2016 by Teresa Bestwick in category Professional Development

2 thoughts on “Fortnightly Focus #6 – Struggling with a weaker group

  1. Sandy Millin

    Hi Teresa,
    How did the observation go? Are the group supposed to be working through a specific coursebook? We’ve got a similar situation with one of the groups at school this year, and we’re worried about where they’ll be able to progress to next year as they’re supposed to making the shift from kids to teen classes. I’ll be interested to see what else happens with this group and what kind of activities you do with them.

    1. Teresa Bestwick (Post author)

      Hi Sandy,
      The observation went well and it was a wonderful feeling to be observed with a group I was feeling out-of-sync with. In terms of dealing with the level, I was a little ambitious with the linguistic aims (writing sentences with he/she to practise the third person s, then converting the sentence stems into questions to practise the auxiliary does), so Ceri suggested trying to do less with the language.
      Behaviour-wise, it was great to get a second opinion on the individuals in the class and she gave me some great tips on dealing with the different personalities – one is incredibly fidgetty, so now I’m trying to do more kinaesthetic activities so that he has a valid reason to fiddle with things – he’s an absolute sweetheart, but always has something in his hands! So I’m still working on creating a more positive classroom vibe as his fidgettiness often distracts and disrupts the others – meaning that they tend to respond negatively towards him.
      We also talked about having more routines within the lesson, which I’m still working on as they’re at that age where they don’t want to be doing childish chants and songs which are a great way to review structures and lexis.

      We are working through a specific book (Macmillan Footprints 4), though I’m being much more selective of the tasks I do as a lot of the task-types seem a little beyond their linguistic level. We do a lot more work together, whereas another group I have who are following the same book are much more able to complete tasks alone.
      I don’t know how the system works with the learners at your school, but where I work they tend to be divided by age through Primary. However, when they get to Secondary, we divide them more by level which means that they have more opportunity to “move down” as it were – this means that learners who have struggled with the high level of Footprints 6 have the opportunity to slow down a little and move into a KET (A2.1 or A2.2) group, whereas the more typical progression is into a PET group. Ideally, we would have differently pitched levels in Primary too, perhaps using a different coursebook series with different groups (though books for Primary are generally pitched at an age rather than a level), but that’s tricky because of class size.
      Teresa 🙂


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *