Wrangling – Teaching Preliterate Students – Part 1: Classroom Management

This poster underpins my classroom management system and I gratefully acknowledge the wonderful Annie Beach for her brilliant illustrations. These three verbs, I believe, are structures that successfully guide all students to become successful language learners. They are thus, a great place to start with preliterate learners and right from the start, help the teacher work towards staying in the target language during lessons.

I introduce the above poster during the very first Indonesian lesson and the language is reviewed every lesson. To facilitate acquisition, the structures are introduced both orally and with hand gestures e.g. duduk = two hands palm down pushing down towards the ground, diam = pointer finger in front of the mouth & dengar = hand cupped behind an ear. Movement opportunities for young preliterate students are beneficial for both acquisition and engagement. Engagement is vital for successful learning.

Initially, I put no demands on student expectations beyond duduk, diam, dengar. However once calling out in English needs to be addressed, I introduce the structures, ‘nakal’ and ‘pandai’. The following three slides demonstrate how I introduced my behaviour management system this year.

nakal/pandai = clever/naughty

satu stick = one stick
count the points

The first two slides are placed at the beginning of each lesson whereas the third is almost at the end and becomes the final task we do before singing sampai jumpa (goodbye) to each other. I have blogged about this system several times previously, so hopefully I won’t repeat myself too much. This post is a good one, however I no longer finish with the treasure box. I originally chose the structures nakal/pandai as they fit so well into the stories included in my scope and sequence. However, times have changed and while I’d feel extremely uncomfortable using the words clever/naughty in an English context, I have kept nakal/pandai because they are just so typically Indonesian. I have though, recently changed the images to represent nakal/pandai. I feel that having monkeys adds humour, continues the monkey theme Bu Annie created and also avoids gender/cultural stereotyping. I haven’t and don’t translate the word ‘stick’ because it is such low frequency and reflecting upon my travels throughout Indonesia, cannot ever remember needing the word paddle pop stick!! Again, I introduce the new structures of nakal/pandai with gestures (pandai = tapping the side of the head with the pointer finger & nakal is the age old pointer finger going up and down with a frown) and then starting from the following lesson, the two structures are reviewed frequently during Kursi Luar Biasa (KLB); see here. The second slide early in first term, includes only the structures students have acquired to that point ie ‘satu’ (one). As soon as ‘mau’ (want) has been introduced, I add it to the slide. All written language on the PowerPoint slides is kept to a minimum and always includes a pictorial comprehension clue to support developing literacy skills.

As mentioned an earlier post, each class has a bundle of paddlepop sticks with a student’s name written on each. I now choose a different colour for each class to make it easier to reunite missing sticks to their correct bundle. From the container of paddlepop sticks, I select one stick, checking firstly that student is not absent. It is then stuck to the board near the two magnetic laminated mini posters of nakal & pandai with bluetak ensuring the students name facing the board awaiting the reveal at the end of the lesson.

Locating the stick together with the mini nakal/pandai posters is important. I am finding that each year, I face increasing numbers of young learners with minimal self-regulation skills. I am a strong advocate for the Zones of Regulation program which brilliantly helps students identify and regulate their emotions and also explicitly equips them with skills to self-regulate. Conversations about self-regulation in my lessons always occur in English not just because young students do not have the target language necessary, but also to ensure the conversation is succinct and comprehended. Lesson time is precious and my goal remains to maximise target language input opportunities within the constraints of working with each cohort.


The finale of my classroom behaviour system has so many benefits I barely know where to start! We still count the trallied points (see above) together. This process has been incredibly helpful for students developing strong knowledge and understanding of the Indonesian number system, including noticing that an Indonesian 7 is written differently to an Australian 7. Counting the points is hands down better than a number worksheet! Eventually with time and more stories, other structures can be incorporated into the counting routine eg big/small, which one, how many, biggest/smallest etc.
Once we’ve counted both tally sets, my spiel goes like this: 
Bu Cathy mau lihat stick (Bu Cathy wants to look at the stick)
Siapa? (Who is it?)
Class then suggests a students name. If incorrect, I negate saying, “Bukan Bob!” thus providing input on negating nouns in Indonesian. If the lesson is short of time, I add a clue e.g. laki-laki/perempuan (boy/girl). Now some students are asking me this!! Woohoo.
When the students’ name is guessed, I ask that student, “Mau duduk di kursi Luar Biasa?” (Would you like to sit in the awesome chair?) and will work towards the answer, “Mau/tidak mau” but also accept ya/tidak. I very rarely insist students participate in lesson tasks, so if a student declines, I assure them in English that it’s totally ok however I will ask them again during the year because they may change their mind!! I then choose another stick. Engagement and participation are not mutually compatible. The most important aspect is always input; not output! I really love, love, love that the ‘reward’ for a greater number of pandai points offers an experience rather than an object.
However, it also needs to be added, that if there are more nakal points, the stick goes back into bundle, and no-one knows whose stick it was. The follow-on consequence of this depends on the class. If they really need a consequence to emphasise my expectations to duduk, diam, dengar, then no-one sits in the chair the following week and instead, I invite an adult to sit in it instead! I love this as it gives the adult the opportunity to demonstrate how much Indonesian they have acquired!! Conversely, if the adult is new to our lessons, it then gives the students the opportunity to impress the adult by translating my questions!! Win/win! An alternative to this, is offering the current person a bonus week sitting in the kursi luar biasa! No-one has yet refused this!! Kwk, kwk

Wrangling – Teaching Preliterate Learners

Introduction

I thoroughly enjoy teaching junior primary! Teaching young learners Indonesian is enjoyable for numerous reasons including that they

– are highly motivated and engaged

– are keen volunteers

– are super inclusive and mutually supportive of each other

– adore anything wacky and quirky

– are not hormonal

– believe their teachers are superstars

– frequently mention how much they love learning Indonesian

Conversely though, as a TCI teacher, this would have to be one of the most challenging cohorts to work with. Especially if you are a teacher who is just beginning to explore using TCI or TPRS.  There is almost nothing available commercially or professionally, to either guide or support you on this journey unless you teach Spanish. Tweaking content written for older students doesn’t organically transition smoothly to a JP classroom context.  Teaching pre-literate (emerging literacy skills) learners is a whole new ball game. I would like to give a special shout out here to Amy Roe, creator of the ‘Storytellers Corner’ , and to Maestra Anna (aka Bu Anne ). While both are Spanish teachers (Anne also teaches Indonesian), they are both extremely approachable and I highly recommend reaching out to either or both if you like their resources but don’t teach Spanish.

However, finding appropriate resources is only one aspect of the challenging nature of working with preliterate students. Here are some of the other challenges:

  • Extremely short attention span
  • Inability to focus for more than 5-10 minutes
  • Emerging literacy skills – most are preliterate
  • Developing self-regulation skills
  • Developing understanding of personal space
  • Egocentric

My JP lessons now are taught via PowerPoints. I will admit though, that the initial ones took hours to create but eventually it became easier. Once a successful master has been created, each consecutive PowerPoint only requires slight tweaking. At the end of each story, PowerPoints can be easily saved till the next time that story is taught.

I began using PowerPoints after attending the ‘1000 Words; Using Picture Talk’ online workshop with Amy Roe. I immediately realised the huge advantages for using PowerPoints. Initially, it was to ensure lesson content was delivered consistently across like year levels. I found that when stressed and/or exhausted, I skipped parts of my written plan. Using PowerPoints stopped this in its tracks! Now if I skip something, it is intentional. Other advantages include being able to embed images and videos onto slides, removing the need to turn my back and all that potentially follows. If you are tempted to try using PowerPoints, I highly recommend investing in a wireless presenter so you can progress slides from anywhere in the classroom!

To overcome challenges while maximising the benefits, my PowerPoints aim to:

– limit the amount of text on slides,

– limit the number of target structures,

-maximise opportunities wherever possible to get repetitions of past and present target structures,

-balance the ‘up/down’ (see below) and

-include frequent movement opportunities.

Managing the input of L2 (Indonesiann for me) as well as the output of energy can extremely challenging with preliterate learners. Successful acquisition for preliterate learners requires very short engaging activities that are ’up/down’ in nature. ‘Down’- that which requires students to ‘duduk, diam, dengar’ (sit, shush, listen) and sandwiched between the ‘up’ that which is basically anything that gets learners standing up and moving around.

In building up this collection of pre-literate active input ideas, I am particularly grateful to Catharina G. As a long-time teacher of pre-literates, she has a wealth of knowledge and experience which she has shared generously in her role as my mentor and for that, I will be forever grateful to Ben Slavic for introducing us!

In upcoming posts, I plan to explain my teaching through the slides of a recent kindergarten (5-year-old) PowerPoint. I have broken this lesson into several posts to ensure I can comprehensively cover each aspect as well as emphasise the importance of limiting the judicious selection of structures for both current and future classroom management and stories.

Upcoming posts will cover:

Part One – Classroom Management

Part Two – Mengabsen using Class Dojo

Part Three – TPR

Part Four – Target Structure Review Activities

Part Five – Target Structure Introduction Activities

Part Six – Brain Breaks

If you can think of a topic that you would also like me to include, please comment below!!

Create Awesome GIF’s of your Pet!

Searching today for a GIF that is both appropriate for my young learner cohort and engaging, I had a sudden inspiration to google how to create my own. Turns out, I can make them easily on my iphone!! No app required! I discovered the increased level of engagement last week through a recent my talking pet video creation of my daughters’ cat singing.

https://youtube.com/shorts/SyTTw1E7r94?feature=share

Students were thrilled to discover that it was actually ‘my’ cat and not just a cat image available through the My Talking Pet app. Generated a lot of interest! Thus, to capitalise on this, I created a GIF of Lelo and it was so easy, I am inspired to share with you how I did it!! I am sure this can be done on android phones too!!

Here is a video of explaining how to do it!

It was so straightforward!!

I did notice though, that when I imported the GIF into my powerpoint, the loop feature was disabled but it was easy to fix that. In playback, I clicked on the ‘loop until stopped’ box.

Starting again….

I have just finished my first week of teaching Indonesian at my new site. Yes, that’s right, I’ve moved again, and it was the best decision I ever made. After resigning from DECD SA and on the advice of several good friends, I applied for and won a job in Sydney! It has been refreshing working with staff who have my back!!

The main attraction of this job (other than being in NSW), was the potential of being a dedicated TCI/TPRS junior primary teacher. I absolutely love working with JP students – their motivation and engagement is off the chart and consequently their progress is insane. They don’t get hung up on making mistakes, and they give everything and anything a go. It is so rewarding beginning with students usually start with no Indonesian and yet by semester two, our lessons can be 95% in Indonesian!

As always, I have started with Jim Tripp’s “Pleased to Meet You” story. It’s the perfect story to start with – regardless of age – for laying the foundation for future lessons being 95% in Indonesian.

I also love TPR (Total Physical Response) as both a means for keeping students moving and for acquiring verbs. Our first lesson this week introduced berjalan kaki (walk), stop and duduk (sit). Offering young students’ frequent opportunities to move is the secret to increased focus. It sounds like an oxymoron but frequent brain breaks effectively manage wriggles. TPR is a brilliant brain break as not only does it get students up and moving, but also introduces students to structures that will eventually occur in stories e.g. pelan/cepat (slow/fast), berdansa (dance), menyanyi (sing), berlari (run). TPR is a win:win!

Another aspect I introduced last week into my first lesson is calling the roll with Class Dojo. Assessment wise, the data is incredibly helpful for students who are regularly absent from lessons (MiniLit, MultiLit, extra curricula), but it also has another major advantage. It provides me with regular opportunities to target “Apa kabar?” (how are you?) which is usually the first question my students are asked when greeted by Indonesian friends and colleagues. I begin with the basics; firstly baik-baik saja (fine), then lumayan (ok) & finally kurang baik (not so good). These three structures are incredibly versatile and thus are excellent foundation structures.

I strongly believe that we should choose early structures wisely. Look for ones that are easy to say (consider the difference between pronouncing paham and mengerti for early learners), ones that provide a base upon which future structures/ grammar popups can be based e.g. senang sekali (word order) and for intercultural understanding opportunities e.g. kurang baik (less than good). I love ‘lumayan’ (so-so) as it is amazingly versatile. Not only is it useful for explaining how you’re feeling, but is also can be used with adjectives e.g. lumayan besar (sort of big).

Thus, once the basics have been acquired, the roll is the perfect way to introduce other feeling structures that will come up in future stories e.g. lapar (hungry), haus (thirsty), panas (hot), dingin (cold), ngantuk (sleepy) etc.

With JP classes, the aim of the roll is purely acquiring a wide variety of structures, however with MP & UP classes, the aim changes to building automaticity. This is done through adding challenge by timing classes. This starts with classes each lesson trying to beat their own class high score before introducing a whole school challenge to see which class can call the roll the fastest. Can you see the structures needed for this? Brilliant hey?

I really hope that even though my posts will now come from a JP perspective, you will gain ideas regardless. Maybe, in reverse, you will see ways in which what I write about could be adapted into meeting the needs of your cohort. In actual fact, all language learners have the same needs regardless of their age!

2021 Reflection

Going through the Indonesian iPad yesterday before handing it back brought back so many memories of my year at KAS. I’d really like to share a few with you!

In first term, I did the ‘Murid Nakal’ story with middle primary. I absolutely love this story – great for acting and also perfect for reviewing behaviour management structures in the target language! I did change the ending this year because being at a new school and not knowing the staff or community, wanted to avoid recrimination for using a story that includes smacking! My 2021 version changed the hitting to push ups which worked but was nowhere near as funny! Here are some pictures of a lesson where we used Martina’s freeze frame idea.

In term 2, the next story middle primary did was the Tutup Pintu story. The students absolutely loved acting with the wigs my daughter gave me. Acting out the story is enjoyable as it not only provides the students with the opportunity to create their own class version but also gives the more outgoing students a chance to be outrageous which is extremely entertaining. In fact, being entertaining is one of my criteria that any student auditioning must demonstrate. Other criteria include following the storyline exactly as it is determined by the class and only speaking when your character has a line. Here are some of my amazing actors:

Year 6/7 Movie Talk – Hadiah

Year 5/6 Movie Talk – Hadiah

Year 4/5 Tutup Mulut

Year 3/4 Tutup Mulut
Year 2/3 Tutup Mulut

Kursi Luar Biasa

All year levels love KLB! I’ve particularly had success this year with JP classes. It is the perfect vehicle to spotlight one student with quirky questions using target structures. This term they did Catharina’s Ular story, so I enjoyed asking students ‘mau’ sentences incorporating ‘ular’ , ‘atau’ and alternatives based on previous story structures or cognates. I have two snake props, so students could choose between ular besar dan ular cobra! Another question that worked this term was introducing the concept of sarong. This provided discussion about the difference between sarongs for males/females. To begin, I just asked if students , “Mau pakai sarong laki-laki atau sarong perempuan?” After a few weeks, I added the question, “Mau pakai sarong ungu atau sarong kuning?” Great way to limited colours in a meaningful way. I then added the alternative of glasses. “Mau pakai sarong atau kaca mata?” While ‘kaca mata’ is not a cognate, I chose it because not only do I have a selection of different colours but as someone who was embarrassed to wear my glasses at school, I love ways to connect with those students who also wear them!! In the last photo, you’ll notice a Foundation student wearing a sarong and a pair of glasses. He answered my question with, “sarong DAN kaca mata!!” I was thrilled!!

Tepuk Tangan – TPR

I’ve had fun this term experimenting with hand clapping with my junior primary classes. As my JP lessons almost always involve TPR (Total Physical Response), I am constantly looking out for new ideas to do this. TPR in my JP lessons usually centres around walking, swiming, dancing and hopping. While it only takes a few minutes, it is a great way to get young learners up and moving while listening to target language input. Where possible, I add structures from the current story; this term students vomited a lot from Catharina’s ular story!

I am constantly on the look out for new ideas to help keep TPR novel. While scrolling through my photos recently, I rediscovered my audio recording of a fun warm up/ice breaker called tepuk tangan pramuka shared by Indonesian international students at Flinders Uni in 2019. I found a YouTube clip to help me master it so I could demonstrate it to my classes.

I prefer this clip because it includes three variations of the tepuk tangan pramuka rhythm which, once my students had mastered, helped them suggest some other variations. That too was fun. They had so many ideas including single fingers, fists, back of hands (ouch) and fingers on palms.

To take advantage of its success, I next searched YouTube for other clapping ideas. This video has several great ones.

The first, tepuk semangat, I didn’t feel was right for my students but the following two have been perfect. There are several others that appeared to have potential too, e.g. tepuk koboi, but unfortunately include rifle shooting gestures. The tepuk ikan has greater potential but I think I would repeat ‘berenang’ rather than use the language ‘kenyang’; a Balinese word I typically avoid as it has the potential to cause embarrassment!

Instead, I think the following language would be fun:

clap, clap, clap
berenang,
clap, clap, clap
cari makan,
clap, clap, clap
berenang,
clap, clap, clap
diam!

The first one I introduced was the tepuk hoi, which is the second one on the above clip (fast forward to :27). This was an instant success and has become a successful call and response option.

The tepuk jempol (follows straight after tepuk hoi) was the second one I tried and it too has been popular. I particularly like how much slower it is.

The third and final tepuk tangan I taught the classes this year was the tepuk nyamuk. This one is just great fun!! Fast forward to :41 for tepuk nyamuk. Be warned though, the students in the clip below are shouting, which might be off putting.

On this clip, I also like the ting tong jus (1:30), tepuk jam dinding, (:52) and tepuk coca cola (1:03). The only thing with these is that they are one line short, so I’d tweak them to maintain the pattern.
eg Ting Tong Jus
clap, clap, clap
ting, ting,
clap, clap, clap
tong, tong
clap, clap, clap
ting, tong,
clap, clap, clap
ting, tong jus

While there are hundreds of variations, those that use either familiar vocabulary or incude onomatopoeia are the ones I find the most suitable. Brain breaks work best when only acquired language or quirky sounds are used eg tepuk nyamuk using the sound a mosquito makes when buzzing around your head. These clapping rhythms have been incredibly popular with my JP classes and I’ve had many students tell they enjoyed also teaching them to their younger siblings and parents!!

Overcoming End of Term Chaos with Gimkit

Do you also find term 10 incredibly challenging as a specialist teacher? For the past two terms, Gimkit has saved my sanity. By week 10, students are just so tired, most can do nothing beyond collapsing on a chair which is why online games work so well at this time. For the rest of the term, I believe their value is limited and a poor use of precious lesson time. Also, I have found, in saving them purely for week 10, their appeal snowballs leading to increased engagement and motivation at a time of the year when both are rare.

At my current site, students in term 1 constantly begged for Kahoot. I have to admit (eek – sorry), I am not a Kahoot fan. While I have used it a lot in the past, there are much better games available now that do not rely on students being the fastest to touch the correct answer. This can be highly disengaging and demotivating for struggling students. My goto online game now for students in week 10 is hands down Gimkit. For a specialist teacher though, you will probably need a subscription to play this with all classes, but if you were going to invest in just one game, this one is well worth it and will not break the bank.

I introduced classes to Gimkit last term in week 10. They had begged for Kahoot, so I prepared both a Kahoot and a Gimkit game based on the language from their class created text. I then made a deal with them. They had to play a game of each but could choose which one they’d play first. Naturally they grumbled when it came time to play the Gimkit game and afterwards when I asked which they prepared, most loyally elected Kahoot. However this term, right from the start, even before I had mentioned my plans for week 10, they were begging for Gimkit! Students before, during and after school came up to me begging for it!! When I suggested also playing Kahoot, they scoffed!

I recommend when using Gimkit for the first time, start with the classic mode where students compete independently. This gives them the opportunity to explore the way the game works and introduce them to some game features, particularly upgrade/sabotage options in the shop.

Depending on the age of the class, for middle primary, I recommend trying next the Humans V Zombies where students are randomly assigned to the team Humans or the team Zombies and them work together to outlast the opposition. My older classes also enjoyed this mode but it was not their first choice!

For upper primary and secondary classes, their first choice is the Trust No-one mode. As this is based on ‘Among Us’ (yet more appropriate), it was very popular. It can invite very loud discussions throughout the game with chatty classes and insisting on silence for the follow up game works well too. My major gripe about Trust No-one is that students can misuse the voting aspect to target less popular students. If this is also a problem with your students, I recommend a discussion before playing another round.

Reflections

A huge plus for Gimkit over Kahoot is that Kahoot rewards the fastest students and everyone is answering the same question at the same time increasing the chances of cheating and invalidating the data collected; with Gimkit, each student works at their own pace and the questions appear randomly with answers rarely in the same order from student to student.

However, the downside of this means that struggling readers do not gain any benefit at all if working independently with Gimkit. If there is just one struggling student, it helps to sit alongside them to read the questions. Otherwise, pairing students up may work. This also means that Gimkit is unsuitable for preliterate learners. Sad face (Edit :See Postscript # 2 below for an update to this observation) .

I highly recommend keeping questions simple at this time of the year. I prefer simply to ask the meaning of structures used during the term and try to include one ridiculous answer to make them smile!!

POSTSCRIPT

Senora Ana and I were chatting yesterday about Gimkit & Charlala and it suddenly occured to me that I forgot to mention this important hack. At least one student per class will inevitably accidently sign out of the game mid way through. All they need to do when this happens is to press the refresh key once and they will be returned immediately right back where they left off!

POSTSCRIPT # 2

I’ve learned (Terima kasih banyak to Pak Tim) that there is an option within Gimkit for questions to be read to players. Unfortunately, if you leave the pronunciation to Gimkit, the Indonesian pronunciation is so inaccurate, it is mostly incomprehensible.

Here are the instructions for turning on the read to me option:

1. Open the menu

2. Open the cog.

3. Switch on read to me.

Rather than leave the pronunciation to Gimkit, an easy option when creating questions, is to record the audio for each question word and then it will play automatically for each player. Thus as Pak Tim recommends, players requiring audio will need to play with headphones.

To add audio to your questions, click edit ,add audio and then save:

Two Great Brain Break Videos

During a recent PLC meeting, the wonderful Ibu Karen shared these two YouTube videos. My students adored them from the start, so I want to share them with you too, ready for term 4.

I have used this video with my two junior primary classes and they were singing along with it right from the start. I love how it gets reps on the structure ‘lingkaran’ (circle), numbers and besar/kecil (big/small). Be warned, if you play this song at the end of your lessons (highly recommend that you do), you will hear it go down the corridor as it is definitely an earworm tune.

The second video is a brilliant brain break. This link is for a Learning station song video called Ram Sam Sam which apparently was originally an Arabic song/rhyme from Morocco. I encourage you to initially play this video to your students without saying anything at all and I bet they can not help jumping up and joining in!! It is very challenging both mentally and physically.

Post script

Forgot to add this tip also shared with the PLC by Bu Karen. When using YouTube links in class, look at the link in the search bar. Between the word watch and the ?

type

_popup (one word)

and magically there will be no ads!

Here is the video with complete details. Credit to this YouTuber for the brilliant hack:

Charlala Plans for Term 4

Term 4, in my opinion, is the hands down best term for trialling, building &/ or tweaking new skills. I am planning to delve again into One Word Images (OWI) next term as well as explore the platform `Charlala‘. I’ve done a few `OWI’s’ and while it was hugely successful, classes didn’t get beyond creating characters. My two goal’s next term are to have at least one class create a story based around their OWI and the other is to explore Charlala. 🤞🤞 Both should be lots of fun and seemingly will compliment each other perfectly during the term 4 slide to summer holidays.

I first explored Charlala last year when it looked like we were heading into the intital lockdown. It had been one of the many potentional platform suggestions recommended for remote learning by the wonderful Senora Ana. In the rush to prepare for online teaching, there was nowhere near enough time to explore it fully and it was thus soon relegated to the “not now” pile! With immaculate timing, Senora Ana shared the video link (see below) in time for term 4.

What fabulous scope the platform Charlala appears to have!! The video below demonstrates how perfect Charlala is for a TCI classroom!! I am so inspired and can’t wait to use it. It is essentially a pictionary style platform where students demonstrate comprehension through illustrations on a digital whiteboard. Input can be delivered face to face, synchronously or asynchronously. The beauty of it being asynchronous is the potential for creating relief teacher lessons for all year levels.

Here are a few notes that I took while watching the video:

  1. Charlala offers the opportunity to create more discussion around ‘Apa kabar?’ (How are you?). I really enjoy encouraging students to create wacky stories around student absences.
  2. I am betting that as all drawings are projected up onto the white board, it will increase student accountability and effort. I have also discovered that students who are disengaged during written tasks, often have impressive drawing skills and it is brilliant to be able to celebrate this.
  3. Teachers can project/narrate sentences from a text for students to illustrate. The images created by students can be used for circling, voting (which illustration best captures meaning) or saved for future purposes!
  4. The saved (and copyright free) images could be used in many, many ways. To support learners write retells, sequencing events in the story, matching text and illustrations, creating relief lessons…
  5. There is the option to add audio to tasks – great for relief lessons!
  6. I need to determine compatibility with iPads as that is the 1:1 device available at my current site.
  7. Student login appears easy for entering the drawing room and is done through a join code.

Questions:
I have just emailed Chris Hammer (Charlala creator and developer) to ask a few questions about student accounts and its compatibility with iPads.

As a primary school language teacher, I believe that many of my students are too young to create accounts using email addresses and passwords. I like the idea of join codes but do not feel comfortable asking students to create personal accounts and create passwords. Do you feel the same?

I felt it was unclear in the video whether Charlala works fully on iPads so look forward to having that cleared up.

Have you used Charlala?

Please add a comment about your experiences and/or opinions!!

I am particularly interested in hearing if you have used Charlala in a face to face classroom recently, can recommend the platform and/or happy to share any tips/ideas that worked for you!

Here’s the video – enjoy!

POSTCRIPT

Yesterday, Senora Ana & I were exploring this platform together and it was so much fun! Anne used Charlala during lockdowns so it was great to explore some of her texts through the 2.0 update. We had a few questions as a result of our explorations and emailed Chris Hammer with them and there was an response waiting in our email inbox this morning! HIs support is awesome. Anyhoo, the upshot is that Chris added Indonesian to the language bank which is brilliant and removed the word ‘term’ which confusingly, was situated right in front of the text students read! For a beginner Spanish speaker, the unfamiliar ‘term’ elevated my affective filter as I did not recognise it. All I could think was, “How is this pronounced in Spanish!” Crazy how the brain fixates on incomprehensible text!

Bail Outs – when life is just too hard….

A ‘Bail Out’ is an American term for a particular type of lesson neccesary for either (or both) the teacher or students. It is usually neccessary to overcome craziness – either personal or professional- and to keep you going until life gets back on track. This year, at a new school where most days present challenges, I have often started a lesson and realised that my lesson plan is about to fail bigtime. Unfortunately for me, while I recognise that I need to think of a quick circuit breaker, my mind goes blank! This post will hopefully help both you and future me!!

Dictation

A brilliant way to potentially regain calm and is largely prep free is dictation. There are many different versions of dictation and the success of each one will inevitably depend on your context. Mine being a new school with students I am still getting to know, means I need bail outs that require students to be seated and working independently. For this reason, running dictation is not included here but read HERE to learn more about how I’ve done it successfully in the past.
Here are some dictation variations that, depending on your needs, may have some value. They have been sourced from a variety of places including:
https://frenchteachernet.blogspot.com/2021/07/a-checklist-of-dictation-activities.html, eslgames.com, teachthis.com, busyteacher.org

Scaffolded dictation

This simple variation of dictation adds a further puzzle-solving element students may appreciate.
1. Supply all consonants, but no vowels, or vice versa.
2. Provide a gapped version omitting chosen grammatical points such as verbs or prepositions.
3. Provide a translation; give students a translation in L1 of the text you read.

False facts dictation


1. Dictate some sentences, each one containing a false fact. The sentences could relate to general knowledge or something recently studied in class.
2. Students transcribe and try to underline where they think the error is.
3. Display the sentences and ask students what the factual problem was in each case.

Dictation with Substitution

  • 1. Replace structures with a humorous sounding cognate alternative such as orangutan, komputer.
  • 2. After/during the dictation, students try to determine what the substituted word should be.

Dictogloss

Read a short text to the students at normal speed. The first time students should just listen.
Then read the text a second time and allow the students to take notes.
Now in pairs have them try to reconstruct the text from their memory and notes.
When they have done what they can, read the text a third time and allow them to take further notes and make corrections.
Optional:
Next, divide the students into teams of four and work together to come up with the complete text. When the teams have reconstructed the text, have them write their sentences on the board. Award one point for each correct sentence. The team with the most points wins.

Match the Picture

Give students a sheet of paper with illustrations and photographs, and then dictate the sentence from the text for each picture.  The students write the correct caption next to each picture.

Jigsaw dictation


Dictate a paragraph in the usual way, but with the sentences out of order.
After transcribing what they hear, students re-order the sentences.

Finish the sentence

Read open ended sentences to students who complete them with information about themselves.
eg nama saya, saya tinggal di, saya di kelas, saya suka makan, saya suka bermain

Picture Dictation

Write comprehensible sentences about an image. Students firstly write down the sentence and then secondly create a illustration to match the text.

Have you tried any dictiation variations successfully that I haven’t included? I would love to add them to the page I have created for easy referral!! See in the header of my blog.