Planning and recording a weather forecast is a fun way of getting learners to speak in front of an audience with confidence and flair, suggests Andrew Macmillan…
TODAY YOU WILL…
- VIDEO RECORD A WEATHER FORECAST THAT YOU PRESENT IN FRENCH
- CREATE A POWERPOINT SLIDE WITH ANIMATIONS
- PRACTISE YOUR BEST FRENCH ACCENT
Getting 12 to 13 year old boys and girls not only to stand in front of a class of their peers, but to talk in a foreign language as well, is quite a task. However in the right context and environment, with strong motivation, you can get even the most shy to perform to a really high standard. The following lesson is a fun way of assessing your pupils’ speaking ability, whilst encouraging them to access many skills that you may not have had the opportunity to develop in your scheme of work: pair work, multimedia skills, and presentation. It gives each pupil a platform to perform to his or her potential and it also offers the possibility of incorporating peer assessment. The activities work best if you have already introduced the weather and the points of the compass in the target language (I’ve used French here, but of course you can adapt the content appropriately) – if not, you could add this to the start of the lesson.
GETTING IN THE MOOD
Show a video of a French weather forecast that illustrates some of the weather points you have already introduced. You could get some of the pupils to listen out for certain words and write these down. For the less able, give them a sheet with images and phrases, with tick boxes so they can access some of the content. The more able could be asked to follow a transcript where possible, and attempt to associate some new phrases with types of weather. You could even see if some of the pupils can pick out some ‘presenting phrases’ that might be useful for their own weather reports. At the end of the video discuss what they have seen and what phrases they have identified
Divide the class into pairs. I find that friendship groups work well here as they tend to be less inhibited with each other and have similar ideas, though you could try pairing either similar ability learners or stronger with weaker, depending on what you want them to achieve. You will need to provide each pair with a map of France (A4/A5 print out) with 8-10 of the main cities marked. Go through what you expect them to produce and relate it back to the video. Suggest presenting three to four weathers per pupil for different parts of the country (north, south etc). Ask the pupils to decide what weather they want where, and to draw the relevant symbol on the map (or cut it from a printed sheet and stick it on), then number them. This map is so they can coordinate their script with their PowerPoint slide in part 2, and to match the animations and timings. Once their map is finished, students can start working on their script – remembering that one will need to present, and the other work the camera. Ask them to invent a name for the show, give a welcome and say where in France they are. As an extra, they could add their own opinions of the weather (or the town), say what to wear maybe, and indicate the temperature. The pupils love including phrases like “back to you in the studio!”
If you have laptops available, at this point students can start making their map and presentation in PowerPoint (alternatively, this could be a separate lesson in an ICT suite, where you could let them research maps, symbols, and animation). You might want to give them a free rein to create something original and fun, depending on time and ability. Otherwise a pre-prepared slide with a map of France available to the pupils on a shared area (VLE etc) would be a fantastic start. All they need to add then are the symbols, temperatures and some animation – in the correct order (experience shows that some are bound to make a mess of this, hence the print out in part 1).
Here you need to give the pupils the opportunity to extend their work and practise their script, before recording it to be presented in front of their peers. Make it clear what you want them to achieve, and tell them exactly what areas will be assessed (content, accent, fluency etc.)
When everyone is ready, the playback of the presentations can begin, with the audience filling out assessment sheets and giving marks out of five for each of the areas you have previously highlighted as important. You can either collect these in, or run a tally on separate board (depending on how competitive your class is).
By getting them to work on a set of skills in this way, students really put a lot of effort in, as they don’t want to embarrass themselves. They also love to do role-play (not that they’ll always admit it) and so most of them forget the camera and start performing to their audience. The results are often very good and the pupils feel a real sense of achievement. It is worth going round the groups while they are rehearsing and giving them a few tips on accent/pronunciation and maybe that extra phrase, which will give their show extra pizzazz (have a few of these up your sleeve!)
As there is quite a lot more than one lesson’s work here, some of the preparation can be set as homework: the PowerPoint, rehearsals etc. It would be best if the pupils learnt their script by heart, with maybe just a cue/prompt card to help them.
Subsequent writing assessment could involve them using part of their scripts as revision, as this will include most of the vocabulary and grammar for that section of your scheme of work.
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FOR LESS ABLE STUDENTS:
- PROVIDE A WORD BANK
- USE FURTHER VIDEOS TO INSPIRE IDEAS
- HAVE A WAGOLL (WHAT A GOOD ONE LOOKS LIKE) AS A MODEL FOR MORE ABLE LEARNERS:
- PROVIDE A ‘CHALLENGING CRITERIA’ CARD – A CHECKLIST OF SKILLS STUDENTS SHOULD AIM TO DEMONSTRATE
- ASK THEM TO WORK TOWARDS A FOURTH LEARNING OBJECTIVE: ‘POTENTIALLY ACHIEVE TO A HIGH LEVEL 4, BY GIVING YOUR OPINIONS AND JUSTIFYING THEM’
ABOUT THE EXPERT
Andrew Macmillan currently teaches French and German at Quinton House School, Northampton (quintonhouseschool.c o.uk). Quinton House is part of the Cognita Schools group of independent schools (cognitaschools.co.uk).