My best lesson - Turn a Spanish lesson into a race against time

16th January 2015 at 00:00

I am a big believer in language learning being purposeful. As a result, I make my Spanish lessons cross-curricular whenever possible.

When my Year 4 class was struggling to tell the time using an analogue clock, I saw an opportunity. Telling the time is a skill that is diminishing as the popularity of digital devices grows, so I planned a problem-solving lesson where the children had to tell the time in Spanish and English.

I had three sets of envelopes: one with times on the hour, one with half-past times and one with quarter-past times. The task was for students to work in groups to match the clock faces to the correct phrases. They would practise saying the phrase and come to me to be tested before being presented with the next envelope.

But then we received the dreaded phone call: Ofsted was due to arrive on the day I was teaching this class. Should I play it safe and do some simple number games? No, that's not the kind of teacher I am. But would my gamble pay off? Only time would tell.

The classroom was abuzz with problem-solving Spanish when the inspector arrived; the students were all desperate to be tested because they wanted to get the next envelope ahead of their rival groups. The inspector stayed until the end of the lesson, not giving anything away.

But 10 minutes later the headteacher popped his head around my classroom door. He had a huge grin on his face.

"I've just spoken to one of the inspectors," he said. "He told me he had just been into a Spanish lesson and all he could say was, `Wow'."

I couldn't ask for more than that.

Michelle Dredger is a languages teacher and trainer

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