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On the snail trail

Summary

‘On the Snail Trail’ aims to capture language learning in Key Stage 2 and put it into a meaningful context. CLIL methodology is explored for French, Spanish, German and Italian, through mathematics based on a story book and exploring the evolution of snails in science.

What were we trying to achieve?

The project was initially conceived as a transition project between years 4 and 5 (Bedford Borough Local Authority is three tier, and children move to middle school for years 5 and 6). But it quickly became apparent that the focus of our activity, teaching aspects of mathematics and science through the medium of four languages, would actually have a broader potential impact if it were to be submitted as a CLIL project.

Most of the project partners were at first unfamiliar with CLIL (content and language integrated learning) though they were very knowledgeable about cross-curricular teaching and learning. We hoped that the project would enable us to integrate language learning into the broader Key Stage 2 curriculum. We wanted to give the children the opportunity to learn or revisit language, and in some cases different languages, in new and different contexts.

Overall, we hoped that ‘On the Snail Trail’ would give teachers the opportunity to work collaboratively across year groups/languages and that the outcome would be real, meaningful, active and memorable language learning for the children.

What did we do?

 In lower Key Stage 2 we first focused on snails as a vehicle for integrating language learning with mathematics:
• Flashcards, text and/or picture cards were produced, along with examples and suggestions for their use
• Blank text overlays were produced so that the story book could be used in any language
• The children were taught a song about snails
Building on prior learning, the theme of snails was continued but now the emphasis was on integrating language learning with science:
• We made extensive use of the materials and resources on www.evolutionmegalab.org and www.primaryupd8.org.uk (please note that materials hosted outside the Links into Languages website are not quality assured and Links into Languages cannot be held responsible for their accuracy or content)
• We trialled ‘snail hunts’ in school grounds
• The children undertook field research, data gathering and manipulation
• The children also recorded their data on the Open University Evolution Megalab website
• We worked collaboratively with the Open University (OU) and the Association for Science Education (ASE), translating the ASE materials into French, Spanish, German and Italian.
• We produced further resources and ideas as to how ‘Snails’ might be used as the context for further language learning.

How well have we achieved our aims?

The ‘On the Snail Trail’ project was an ambitious one and proved far more complex than we had first anticipated! There were operational difficulties along the way: one partner school dropped out and had to be replaced, meetings were difficult to arrange for mutually convenient times and dates and copyright issues caused set-backs.

Our intention had always been to use our LinkedUp project as a means to improve transition between years 4 and 5 in Key Stage 2. We are confident that the resources we have used and those which we have produced ourselves are linguistically age-appropriate or can be adapted.

We know that there have been some great spin-offs:
• Teachers have had the opportunity to work collaboratively across languages and age groups
• Different teaching methodology has been explored
• Creative approaches have been enhanced
We are confident that the project is replicable elsewhere. Our project was initially introduced at the Bedford Borough MFL Conference in July 2010; in July 2011 ‘On the Snail Trail’ will be fully disseminated to all schools in the Borough.

Authors

  • Lead: Jan Lewandowski - Bedford Borough School Improvement Service
  • Partners:
    • Beverley Collier - Bromham Lower School
    • Jocelyne Williams - Daubeney Middle School
    • Paula Wakeling - Priory Lower School
    • Maggie Constable - Shackleton Lower School
    • Vicky Rigby - Sharnbrook Upper School
    • Marianne Allen - Springfield Lower School
    • Keith Guest - Westfield Middle School

General files

This section provides an overview of the project: the LinkedUp project report, and the first (overview) section of the project resource pack produced for the Bedford Borough Local Authority lower and middle schools.

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Section 2 (part 1) of project resource pack

Provides an indication of how the resource might be used as well as a set of cards-flashcards. The French version is available below in Word and the same cards were also translated into Spanish, German and Italian. The file is available in Word (for editing for use with a different language) and as a pdf, which is a more stable file if you wish to use it in French

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Section 2 (part 2) of project resource pack

Provides examples of mathematics work at Bromham Lower School (French) and transition work at Springfield Lower School (Italian) as well as information on other story books for language learning integrated with science. There are also blank overlays for use with the book ‘One is a snail, ten is a crab’ to facilitate the use of other languages.

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Section 3 of the project resource pack

Provides a review of the science contained within the Evolution Megalab and Primary Upd8 resources with regard to the Key Stage 2 curriculum; as well as possible teaching and learning activities using those resources.
The actual resource materials are downloadable from www.evolutionmegalab.org and www.primaryupd8.org.uk (please note that materials hosted outside the Links into Languages website are not quality assured and Links into Languages cannot be held responsible for their accuracy or content). 

A complementary activity on ‘getting ready to go on a snail hunt’ is provided, and there are examples of work undertaken at Shackleton Lower School and Westfield Middle School.

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