This post is about students using vocabulary booklets in the Spanish classroom. The purpose of these booklets is to create a resource of vocabulary and useful phrases which are easily accessible, and which can be added on to at any time or place. The book is completely personalised, which allows for differentiation and individual student needs.
The Language Department at OC agreed to supply these booklets to each student after I had done a practice run in Semester 2 in 2015. The booklets are cheap and very portable as they are small. Most students have them permanently in their backpack or pencil case, ready for use at any time.
Here is the link to the questionnaire and online results:
Analysis of data and implications for the classroom:
I decided to ask the students for their opinion about using Education Perfect as a learning tool in their Year 9 Spanish course. Below are the following:
- A link to the questionnaire and the results
- My analysis of the results
- My reflection
The questionnaire and results (you must be logged into your OC account)
2. Analysis of questionnaire about using Education Perfect in year 9 Semester 2 class.
Q1. Students have a variety of points gained during the whole semester ranging from 180 to 1557. Some students who started well last term, did less work this term as it got more difficult. This was clearly shown on the EP summary data emails provided for me by EP after each deadline. There is a separate blog post about Education Perfect and the tasks I set for this class.
Q2. Seems to average out at about an hour a week. I give them half an hour in class every Wednesday (independent learning lesson).
Q3. 8 out of 22 students would rather use another app or website. This is just over a third. I believe the reason for this is that the EP homework has been more difficult this term, and has challenged some students beyond what they are prepared to do. However, two thirds are still happy to use EP, which I consider a good sign.
Q4. A total of 15 students gave EP 3 or higher, showing they like – love it! This corresponds with Q3 answers and accounts for the class dynamic during the independent learning lesson which was a pleasant, calm, workable environment.
Q5. 7 students thought they had too much homework. The rest were happy with the amount. Students knew from the start that they would get an Independent Learning class once a week, and also would have to complete coursework as well as working on EP. This arrangement clearly suited the other 15 students as they did complete most of their coursework in class, most of the time.
Q6. All students know more or less what the educational purpose of EP is and I noticed some students could explain this effectively and succinctly eg “to learn not only at school but at home so you can increase your knowledge ….” and “to learn how to understand Spanish when it is being spoken or has been written”.
Q7. There is a variety of answers here, however most students agree that EP has helped their learning in some way. Only two students wrote “nothing”. Other wrote answers such as “I am able to learn the words I should use very easily….” and “I would have got a not achieved for my assessment if I did not use EP”.
Q8. It is interesting to see that the majority of students believe that someone else should pay for EP, either the school or the government. A few agreed that they should pay as they are the ones using it.
Q9. The answers here correspond with the answers I got from the students themselves during talks in class. They liked to revise words they knew already, and also work on easy and short lists, but they did not like long lists or difficult phrases or sentences.
Q10. 9 students considered EP fun and or educational which is quite positive since they were also complaining about the long lists and the increasing difficultly of the vocabulary they had to learn.
3. Reflection and Implications for next year
- Giving students more time in class to start on their EP homework this semester has proved a positive adjustment. It has meant they have less homework and therefore see the amount of homework they get, on average, manageable. I will continue this next year.
- Most students like using EP and see a point to it and a positive outcome if they do their homework regularly on EP. These answers were pleasing to read and showed that students have clear opinions about their own learning, and how and what they learn. This is very interesting considering we are starting to incorporate learner agency into our classroom. I will have to think about how to motivate the students who are less keen, and are not so prepared to work independently outside the classroom.
- On the other blog post about the Priority Learners, I listed in detail each task and what I did as related classroom tasks. I am wondering if I did enough scaffolding of the vocabulary for coursework. I will examine the programme in this respect.
- Clearly as the homework on EP got more difficult, students were more and more challenged and some found it difficult to keep up. I got some valuable feedback here about the tasks in term 4 such as the animal parts, and the school subjects. I had created wordlists myself on EP, and saw these tasks should take about an hour, but I had not reckoned with a completely new area of language. I will go back into these tasks and shorten them. I will also make more, shorter tasks and give the students a choice of tasks to do. If they feel they have a choice, they may feel more motivated to keep working on EP. I should also make sure they are regularly revising the words they know already, in order to give them a feeling of success each week.
- The priority learners eg Jade, Simon and Trae all scored low points on EP, despite my encouragement and active help in the class. Feedback I have been given by other teachers has been that I should make sure I spend my time evenly among my learners, and I have realized that I should also spend time with the excellence students and students who are quiet, yet achieving, to check what their next steps are. To me this is interesting, because I do tend to give priority learners and those struggling with either the material, or self-management, more attention during lesson time. I have taken this advice on board.
- A side note is that from the beginning I told the students they would get certificates on completing 500, 1000, 1500 points (and so on). This motivated them in the first few weeks to get started and find out what EP was all about. So we had a good start here, the same as the previous class in semester 1. The difference was that I kept up the homework tasks all semester, and did not give them a choice of tasks – although they could do extra work if they wanted to. And I also consistently gave them class time to start their EP homework every week.
- Finally: this class was a small (22) group and there were few classroom management issues. This made it easy for me to concentrate on the coursework itself, and the students’ learning. I gave myself extra time this semester to more actively incorporate EP into the course and kept it up. This class was the 4th year 9 class I had ever taught Spanish to, and I felt the experiences of teaching the other 3 had brought me to this point that I could use my knowledge and experience to work on this department TAI in a more active way.
Note 1: 3 students completed this survey on paper and these results have also been included in the analysis.
Note 2: 1 student had to be taken off EP for non payment. Nevertheless he still filled in the survey sheet.
Note 3: The Language Department TAI in 2016 is to examine the acquisition of vocabulary, and how this is taught/learnt, in my case, in a year 9 classroom.
The list of priority learners in this class is attached here (scroll down to Semester 2). I created the list half way through term 3, with comments, then updated it at the end of term 4, to reflect the marks on their reports. Comments from term 4 are in red.
I noticed that the students marked as ‘priority learners’ in term 3, remained a concern in term 4. It is a pity that two of them (Trae Davies and Jade Waipara) lost 15 credits out of 20 in term 4. This, despite my regular encouragement and assistance in class. I will have a chat with these two to find out what could have been done to ensure solid achieves on their parts. One point of interest is that even though they scaffolded their final assessment (a documentary about an animal in Spanish), neither of them completed the task. They just seemed to give up and at one point Trae told me “just give me not achieve miss”. I was surprised at this attitude. I plan to discuss these two students with colleagues in the Languages Department to see if there is another way of motivating uninterested students to at least complete work to a point where they can get an achieve.
Included in this post are:
- Link to Education Perfect task list for both semester 1 and semester 2.
- Brief reflection on EP tasks and my summary.
- Student results semester 2 (results for semester 1 are included in a previous post).
1. Education Perfect task list and reflection: https://docs.google.com/a/orewa.ac.nz/document/d/1-jEmPOAuIMDrP4U-3VX0aoCUC-lM6dGebN9oyBPCwio/edit?usp=sharing
2. Reflection on EP tasks:
After giving students plenty of freedom to choose which tasks they do on EP during semester 1, and this resulting in very little done by most students, I decided to take a more structured approach. Semester 2 I have given homework assignments right from the first week, and have also given the students at least 30 minutes in class time to get started on this homework. I noticed that once they got going, and got into a rhythm, most found it easy to carry on working on the tasks at home. The completion percentage dropped off in term 4 around the time the students were revising and doing their year 9 exams. This is understandable and after a short class discussion about this, I decided to carry on with the routine of starting a new homework topic each week, and encouraging them to catch up on anything they had missed.
I created a test in term 4 – the first time I’d done that. Most students completed the test in class time, and scored well. A few complained that their answers were approximately correct, but that EP marked them wrong. I have learnt from this that I should give more possible answers, or set the test up in a different way, to ensure students get maximum possibility of getting the translations correct. The students who did not do the test online, did a print out of the vocabulary instead. They did not score better than the ones who did their test online.
Later posts about two questionnaires I gave the students of the semester 2 class, include detailed analyses and reflections on the Languages Department TAI this year.
To sum up: Students clearly need some regular, structured vocabulary practice in order to learn the words they need for specific purposes (the tasks and topics). Students have not yet learnt how to do this themselves, and need guidance to some degree. It is my belief that a combination of EP tasks, and keeping a vocabulary booklet, contributes effectively to students’ learning/acquiring and retaining vocabulary.
3. Student results (kamar markbook) Semester 2 (terms 3 and 4).
- A link to my priority learner list of students with comments.
- A copy of the kamar markbook results for this class Term 2.
- A reflection on these students, the term’s course objectives and success criteria.
Priority Learner list:
Strategies decided on:
Making a list of priority learners and using it regularly in class
Spending more time with them in class
Spend time on question and answers in class and include the priority learners to draw them out
Actively motivate, inspire students
Formative and instant feedback in class.
These strategies did not always work. Students who are not motivated will not participate, even if encouraged actively.
The better students get ignored. Learned ‘failure’ in some students. Lack of engagement is difficult to change.
Update: October 2016
I have found this paper about differentiation in the EFL classroom, and can apply some ideas to my year 9 Spanish classroom, and in particular to students who are priority learners, or who need extra help learning Spanish (not the same list!).
I note that with the current buzz phrase being ‘learner agency’ that differentiation in the classroom becomes even more relevant. If you are a priority learner, and are trying to make sense of instructions and a new language, how do you learn, make decisions about what or how to learn.
This article refers to Gardners multiple intelligences, and Bloom’s Taxonomy – which is the core of AKO Orewa learning and teaching at Orewa College.
The tic tac toe menu in figure 2 is really interesting, and links to my developing ideas about Workstations (see the post on this wordpress). I am wondering how these three points fit together – learner agency, workstations and priority learners. This will contribute to my ongoing TAI for my Spanish year 9 learners, but also for the priority learners in my English classes.
Quoting from the conclusion in this article: “Differentiation puts students at the centre of teaching and learning.”
To be continued …..
Vocabulary acquisition in a year 9 Spanish classroom. LP stats assessment days months
Breakdown of the current topic:
- Students learn days of the week,months of the year, and numbers at least to 31.
- Students create a Spanish calendar. Example below. Theory: by constant repetition of the vocabulary, the words are remembered, and remembered accurately so they can be used in context.
- Students use Language Perfect to practice their language skills (reading, writing, listening and spelling).
- Students have a Language Perfect assessment at the end of the unit to show what vocabulary they have retained. This result, together with the mark for their calendar, forms part of the Spanish mark on Term 1 report.
- Link to LP Statistics regarding the assessment:LP Stats
- Link to LP Statistics regarding points status as of week 8 term 1 2016: LP Points March 2016