Is it really a low stakes quiz?

Low-stakes quizzes and getting the right balance for their effective use. Diolch yn fawr. Great insight and thought provoking.

Class Teaching

Tonight’s 15 Minute Forum was led by English teacher, Tod Brennan and focussed on the concept of low stakes quizzes. There were two aspects of Tod’s presentation; the value of low stakes quizzes for memory recall but also the importance of managing the stress levels of our students.

Picture1.pngMemory can be defined as ‘learning that has persisted over time – information that has been stored and can be recalled’. In order to remember a fact, our brains have to process information or encode it from the point at which that information was learnt, into our short-term (working) memories and then into our long-term memories. In order, to reuse that information (or memory) we have to retrieve the information. It is at this retrieval point, where low stakes quizzes can play an effective role. Low stakes quizzes can be used as a quick and effective activity at the beginning of lessons…

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They can’t learn what they don’t notice – on the role of salience in language learning

Cynllunio, ail-gylchu a phatrymau targed.

The Language Gym

The extent to which a target language structure is salient (i.e. is noticeable, stands out) is likely to affect its chances to be acquired by a learner. This is consonant with Schmidt’s (1990) Noticing hypothesis (concisely discussed here) which states that noticing a given grammar structure is the starting point for its acquisition.

A number of factors concur to making certain items more salient than others; some refer to frequency and regularity of use, some to their semantic importance, some to how easy it is to hear or perceive them, some to the challenges that the items themselves or the linguistic context in which we process them pose to our working memory.

Why should this be of interest to language teachers? The answer refers to a point that I reiterate to death in my posts: effective teaching is not just about classroom delivery, but also about the way…

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EAS MFL Conference 2017



Today I was very fortunate to be able to attend the EAS MFL Conference held at Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni. I was able to attend only because I am currently working with the Spanish and English department at my school on a Triple Literacy Project and we were invited to share our progress with the conference. This was the first EAS Modern Foreign Languages conference and it was an absolute pleasure as a Welsh Second Language teacher to be a part of the amazing sharing of good practice with fellow linguists and stakeholders. Thank you for the opportunity.

Following the introductory presentations from EAS and head teachers of Cwm Rhymni and Blackwood, lead schools in developing this collaborative approach to address MFL within the consortium, we were given a superb keynote speech from the Chair of the MFL Steering group. The main thrust of his address was that languages open doors and opportunities and that we as language teachers can change lives. I found myself nodding and laughing along with the anecdotes from the classroom and the wonderful journey of the presenter. I was already completely enthused and excited even before the workshops begun.

There were 6 workshops during the day in 3 sessions and some additional talks from ESTYN and Welsh Government and opportunities to network with stakeholders. The following workshops were available.

  1. Language Futures and Literature
  2. Spontaneous Speaking and Primary Transition
  3. Growth Mindset in MFL and MFL cross-curricular projects

I was only able to attend 2 workshop as I was co-presenting in workshop 3.  It was an absolute privilege to attend the Language Futures and Spontaneous Speaking and I found both sessions very informative with a range of ideas I could implement tomorrow.  During the 3rd workshop, I was also able to listen to how other schools were approaching the cross-curricular projects and the level of creativity and innovation was outstanding.

Below are my highlights and takeaways from the event:

There are innovative and engaging ideas for addressing learning such as Project Based Learning approaches like Language Features which can foster aspiration in language learning.

Language learning/acquisition should focus on high frequency words and phrases used in real life.

Developing the learning skills needed for language learning – learning to learn – so skills can be transferred across languages and learning is important to developing well rounded students.

Adaptations to how projects could be run could serve to generate interest and aspiration for languages for different groups or needs such as MAT students or Language Clubs. Developing independant learning opportunities is important to fostering interest in language and learning.

Technological opportunities should be grasped and exploited to increase contact time with the target language and there are now many possibilities using Google Classroom and various apps. Collaboration between students and teachers outside of lessons can be achieved.

Projects can increase the opportunities for networking, collaboration, sharing and developing understanding of grammatical links between languages and foster literacy at a deeper level.

Using Immersion Charts can bring language into real life situations and increase confidence and contact time in an engaging way.

Projects can also unlock very important cultural opportunities and learning by tolerance and understanding – changing mindsets.

There are a number of very creative ways in which we can address literacy in both L1 and L2 through frequent exposure in low stakes activities – similar to pop up grammar in CI approach.

Spontaneous talk can be supported in a variety of ways including developing questions and high frequency sentence patterns in the first instance and then scaffolding activities by modelling the possibilities – similar to Movie Talk and Picture Talk from CI approach.

Using models to ensure responding to a range of aspects from a stimulus such as using the fingers to represent things like physical, location, action, mood and weather for instance. Lots of scope for creative models to support thinking and responding.

3rd person forms are vital when dealing with discussions based on stimuli such as pictures or media as students will need to talk about others more frequently.

High frequency verbs and prepositions are also very important to develop detailed responses.

Developing a Multilingual Mindset in our classes, departments and schools is key to progress and addressing negativity. Celebrating differences and embracing a global outlook. Multilingualism is the norm in this context.

The importance of effectiveness at all levels in teaching and learning and currently there is a need to reflect on whether we address progression and challenge in our lessons, where progress is the ability to mix prior learning with new learning effectively and challenge is open ended tasks which allow students to apply their learning in new contexts.

We need to see the big picture and the importance of languages in a global context such as medicine and STEM. 

The event has given me lots of food for thought and I am looking forward to developing upon the outcomes with colleagues in the near future.

Diolch yn fawr EAS ac athrawon ITM … dych chi’n rocïo!

TGAU Cymraeg Ail-iaith – Y Ffordd Ymlaen (Rhan 5)

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Dyma Rhan 5 a’r post olaf yn y gyfres sy’n trafod y fanyleb newydd Cymraeg Ail-iaith. Isod yw’r camau dw i wedi edrych arnyn nhw.

  • Torri’r gofynion iaith i lawr i elfennau dysgu ar ffurf ffwythiannol
  • Cysidro’r meini prawf a dadansoddi
  • Sicrhau llawer o ddarllen a gwrando i fwydo’r iaith
  • Defnyddio’r iaith darged yn gyson
  • Cylchdroi unrhyw elfennau newydd wrth symud trwy’r elfennau iaith i gyd
  • Ystyried y dulliau addysgu – pwrpas defnyddio’r dull a chysidro effeithiolrwydd

Gwelir Rhan 1, Rhan 2, Rhan 3, Rhan 4 drwy clicio arnyn nhw.

Yn y post olaf yma, hoffwn i geisio edrych yn fanylach ar y tri pwynt olaf oherwydd y mae gorgyffwrdd mawr rhyngddynt. Hynny yw, mae’n amhosib trafod un heb y llall gan eu bod nhw i gyd yn rhan o ddulliau a methodoleg addysgu iaith. Y cwestiwn mawr bydd rhaid i ni ateb ydy sut mae gwneud hyn yn effeithiol o fewn yr amser cyfyngedig iawn sy gyda ni? Dw i wedi cyfeirio at nifer o bosibiliadau a chyfleoedd i gynyddu’r cyffyrddiad â’r iaith tu allan i’r stafell ddosbarth a chynnig cynyddu’ defnydd o’r sgiliau goddefol yn flaenorol ond heb ameheuaeth bydd rhaid i ni rywbryd ystyried yr allbwn er mwyn llwyddo yn yr arholiad.

Iaith Darged

Y gwir ydy bod y defnydd o iaith darged yn eliffant mawr yn yr ystafell i’r rhan fwyaf ohonom. Mae’n gwaith anodd i gadw ati wrth gynnal gwaith yn y dosbarth ac wrth gwrs mae’n arafu popeth i lawr oherwydd bod angen creu llawer o lle i’r prosesu digwydd. Yn amlwg rhaid i ni ystyried beth yn union y mae defnyddio iaith darged yn ei olygu. Dydy defnyddio iaith darged ddim yn golygu rhygni ymlaen ac ymlaen yn y Gymraeg a gobeithio bod rhywrai yn deall a gallu gweithredu. Dydy defnyddio’r iaith i gynnal y wers ar ben ei hun ddim yn ddigonol. Bydd defnydd tebyg yn wastraff amser, creu problemau disgyblaeth a datblygu agweddau negyddol ac mae digon o hyn yn barod yn gyffredinol ac mae’n bwysig i beidio gorlwytho meddwl y disgyblion yn ormodol i fod yn effeithiol caffael yr iaith dros amser.

Yr hyn y mae defnyddio iaith darged yn effeithiol yn ei olygu ydy cynllunio’n craf y defnydd o’r iaith a chynyddu’r cyfrwng addysgu i’r Gymraeg. Dydy hyn ddim yn gallu digwydd dros nos. Ar y llaw arall, dydy troi at y Saesneg bob tro y mae bach o ddiffyg dealltwriaeth ddim yn helpu chwaith ac mae rhywfaint o her yn dda ac yn fanteisiol. Mae yna llawer o ddulliau amrywiol gellir eu defnyddio i gefnogi’r cyfrwng addysgu dros amser. Dw i’n hyderus iawn bod rhaid i ni ddechrau’r broses yma o flwyddyn 7 gan ganolbwyntio a’r gorchmynion syml, cwestiynau i gael help neu ofyn am bethau a llawer o drafod yn y Gymraeg drwy holi cwestiynau tebyg am bopeth gan ail-gylchu yn gyson. Dros amser, fe ddaw’r disgyblion yn gyfarwydd gyda chlywed y gorchmynion a gweld ystymiau ac yn llwyddo i weithredu ar yr hyn dywed yr athro/awes heb gorfod troi at y Saesneg. Dull arall handi iawn  ydy paratoi cardiau neu arddangosfeydd ar y wal gyda’r iaith yma i gyfeirio ato ond heb gorfod defnyddio’r Saesneg – er bydd cyfieithiad ar y wal. Un o’r pethau angenrheidiol ydy newid arfer y disgyblion. Os ydyn nhw a ni’n arfer â siarad Saesneg yn y wers, dyna fydd yr arfer – default position cyfrwng y wers. Yn hyn o beth, rhaid sicrhau eu bod nhw’n derbyn digon cymorth trwy taflenni ar y bwrdd a iaith sy’n galluogi nhw i rhyngweithio yn y Gymraeg a mynnu eu bod nhw. Rhaid datblygu hyn dros amser wrth gwrs ond bydd yn hanfodol yn yr hir dymor i sicrhau bod y disgyblion yn gallu trafod yn ddigymell mewn ystod o sefyllfaoedd amywiol go iawn. Gellir darllen mwy am fy nhaith yn defnyddio’r iaith darged yma ac yma.

Cylchdroi a dulliau

Dw i wedi bachu syniad newydd yn ddiweddar oherwydd dyn ni’n cwympo rhwng dwy stôl. Dydyn ni ddim mewn sefyllfa lle gallem wir ddatblygu dulliau trochi llawn er dyma ydy’r ffordd i greu siaradwyr. Dyn ni ddim cweit yn ITM chwaith oherwydd bod y disgyblion yn derbyn addysg yn y Gymraeg (at lefelau gwahanol) drwy’r cynradd.  Dydyn ni ddim yn bwnc craidd felly i fod yn gwbl onest, does dim digon o amser cyswllt na statws gyda ni i fod yn effeithiol iawn; ac mae rhai athrawon a chyn lleied o amser cyswllt mewn rhai ysgolion o ddifri. Felly o ran dulliau dw i nawr defnyddio’r term Trochi Optimwm. Y syniad ydy bod modd, dan ein hamgylchaidau, i ddefnyddio technegau trochi ond addasu arnyn nhw i ymateb i’n sefyllfa presennol.

Mae’r defnydd o iaith darged yn bendant yn cwympo i mewn i Drochi Optimwm. Yn ogystal â hyn y mae llawer o ddarllen a gwrando cyson. Gellir hefyd ystyried addysgu integredig lle ein bod ni’n dysgu neu drafod pethau tu allan i’r pwnc iaith yn yr iaith Gymraeg. Ym mhob achos yma y bwriad ydy creu awyrgylch real i ddefnyddio’r iaith mewn sefyllfaoedd go iawn.  Rhaid i ni wir dechrau ystyried datblygu ar Drochi Optimwm yn y ffordd dyn ni’n addysgu os ydyn ni’n mynd i fod yn llwyddiannus erbyn cyrraedd Blwyddyn 10 ac 11.

Yn olaf, dof i at y pwynt mwya pwysig a mwya caled i weithredu. Sut yn y byd gallen ni sicrhau digon o gylchdroi gyda’r elfennau iaith o flwyddyn 7 i 11 a sicrhau bod y disgyblion yn cadw ar gof yr hyn maen nhw wedi dysgu. Heb os, dw i wedi gadael llawer o ddisgyblion i lawr ar adegau oherwydd fy mod i’n cymryd dysgu blaenorol yn ganiataol. Rhag fy nghywilydd am hyn achos dylwn i wybod yn well! Ni ellir cyflwyno rhywbeth unwaith a disgwyl bydd yno byth beunydd ar ôl hynny.  Hefyd, dydy adolygu pethau o flwyddyn 7 ym mlwyddyn 10 ddim yn effeithiol chwaith. Y tric ydy sicrhau cyfleoedd i ail-ddefnyddio ac ail-gylchu’r hyn a dysgwyd eisioes yn gyson a gall hyn ddim digwydd heb mapio craff, asesu anffurfiol cyson a deunyddiau sy’n cynyddu o ran cymhlethdod dros amser ond yn dal i gynnwys y pethau sylfaenol. Yn ymchwil Krashen, mae e’n sôn am gadw’r iaith yn ddealladwy hyd at 90% a wedyn cynnwys rhyw 10% yn iaith newydd wrth ddatblygu deunyddiau; gelwir hyn yn i+1.  Dyma gyngor da iawn ac wrth gwrs rhaid sicrhau ein bod ni’n ail-gylchu yn gyson neu bydd y disgyblion yn anghofio. Dw i’n cynnig ein bod ni’n gorfod canolbwyntio ar y gallu i drafod pethau amrywiol, mynegi barn, cytuno ac anghytuno a chynnig rhesymau a thystiolaeth i gefnogi ein barn wrth rhyngweithio ag eraill.

Y gwir ydy bod rhaid i ni ganolbwyntio ar iaith mwya aml ei ddefnydd gan gynnwys patrymau iaith, berfau, ansoddeiriau, cysyllteiriau, enwau a geirfa amryiol fel amser, arian, rhifau ac ati. Wrth ganolbwyntio yn uniongyrchol ar yr rhain a chynnyddu’r maint dros amser, byddwn yn sicrhau bod yr arfau iaith gan y disgyblion i ymateb i sefyllfaoedd gwahanol a phynciau gwahanol yn ddigymell.  Mae rhai ohonom yn gweithio’n galed ar ddatblygu’r iaith aml ei defnydd ar hyn o bryd yn barod am newid i’r dull yma yn y dyfodol agos ac mae’n gyffrous iawn. Oherwydd y prinder amser, bydd rhaid i ni defnyddio dulliau uniongyrchol i adeiladu at y dulliau trochi ond heb os dyma ydy’r unig ffordd i fynd gyda’r arholiad newydd yma.

I grynhoi’r gyfres, ymgais i gyfeirio fy hunan at y TGAU newydd sydd yma. Yn fuan iawn gobeithio y bydd mwy o wybodaeth gennym gan CBAC a deunyddiau enghreifftiol fydd o bosib yn ateb rhai o’r cwestiynau dw i wedi codi. Ar y llaw arall, mae’r gyfres wedi fy helpu ystyried yn fanwl sut i fynd ati ar ôl y Pasg i baratoi blwyddyn 9 at y dasg heriol sydd o’n blaenau. Pob lwc i bawb ar y gwaith!

Diolch am ddarllen a chroeso i chi gadael sylwad os oes pwynt gennych am y gyfres neu bwynt hoffech drafod.