Over the last 12 weeks students and teachers have had to adapt to online teaching and learning, whilst this has posed some challenges, especially getting to grips with some of the technology, both students and teachers have managed the transition relatively seamlessly.
Whilst the teaching platform may have shifted to an online one, the teaching ethos has remained the same; to offer engaging activities in several ways: guiding, nurturing, illustrating, and answering questions. A daily teaching schedule of meaningful activities, which promote active participation from all students is delivered without fail.
The middle school English department has continued to deliver the Fresh Start literacy programme. This is a highly effective programme of study which teaches students to read with greater accuracy and to also develop their fluency in reading, speaking, and written composition.
Through the course of the last 12 weeks we have developed an additional speaking component that runs alongside the literacy programme. For the newly adapted speaking component students are assigned three areas to focus on; the previous module vocabulary, memorising a short extract from the module story, and to answer comprehension questions related to the Fresh Start text.
Within the written component of the Fresh Start course students are encouraged to build vocabulary in their sentence construction, so we have incorporated the idea of ‘building vocabulary’ into their spoken English. Every week students will have a one to one tutorial with their English teacher, which is delivered entirely in English, students will be asked a series of questions about the module story, testing their understanding of the plot and characters.
In addition to this students will then have to apply the new module vocabulary to long sentences, as well as recite part of the module text. The whole objective of this exercise is to promote confidence in speaking English, as well as to encourage greater fluency, vocal expression, intonation and to encourage them to use the new Fresh Start vocabulary independently and to demonstrate their ability to expand and develop ideas from the text.
The online teaching platform has given the English department a great opportunity to focus on promoting spoken language with our students. The technology available to us has enabled students to complete daily speaking exercises as homework tasks. Through regular and sustained exposure to a range of new vocabulary and literary texts, we aim to get the students to respond verbally with a more competent degree of precision, applying a more diverse range of sentence structures with more accuracy and consistency, whilst demonstrating confidence and control.
Every day the English department releases a short recording of an extract from a diverse range of texts, from The Secret Garden, Augustus Gloop by Roald Dahl, Lord of the Flies, Greyfriars’s Bobby, the Nightmare Monster, the Curse of Cogston House, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, to name but a few.
The students then have to follow the following steps: LRTS (Listen, read, translate, and speak aloud the extract). Each step promotes different skills, listening enables them to hear the vocal expression needed to bring to life the characters and the mood of the extract, whilst also enabling them to understand the correct pronunciation of more complex vocabulary.
The next step is reading, this gives them the chance to properly apply the correct intonation and more importantly pronunciation of the vocabulary. With the next step being ‘translation’, this makes their understanding of the text deeper, as well as enables them to assimilate new vocabulary into their repertoire. The final stage is speaking aloud the text, which aims to promote confidence and vocal fluency.
In addition to the new LRTS programme, The Middle School English department now offers every student 50 minutes of one to one reading sessions, every two weeks.