Flowchart Sentence Builders
At the weekend I saw a post on the Languages in Primary Schools Facebook group by Joe Barnes Moran. He showed a picture of a sentence builder presented as a flowchart. Immediately I could see the benefit of this for my young learners. Over to Joe to tell you more about them:
I am honoured to have been asked by Clare to write a guest post on flowchart sentence builders. Between Spanish lessons, I am also a Year 6 class teacher and SLE at Parkfield Primary School, Middleton.
Convenient timing brought me to the world of sentence builders. There was a big push around knowledge organisers at my school and I was tasked with sourcing or creating them for Spanish. Knowledge organisers – or sentence builders as they are known in language circles – are by no means an entirely new concept. Everyone has their own idea of what a knowledge organiser should look like, and how it should be used. This is just me putting my hat into the ring. Take it or leave it.
I studied the work of Dr.Gianfranco Conti and, with the wonderful support of Dylan Viñales, head of Spanish at Garden International School, I put what I had learnt into practice and produced my first set of sentence builders! Proudly, I presented a sentence builder to each of my classes. Here’s a Year 6 example that I created a year ago. Yikes!
The impact was…mixed.
Students really liked them but what I found disappointing were the occasional errors that students continued to make even when the pathways to a coherent sentence seemed so logical to me. In hindsight, it was just too complex: there were too many possibilities with their own, grammatical intricacies that presented a minefield for my students – cognitive overload would strike!
Back to the drawing board I went.
With lockdown offering me the perfect opportunity to devote some significant brainpower to the problem I was faced with, I diligently set about to simplify and streamline my sentence builders. For a sentence builder to facilitate real learning it had to be easy to follow, and without all the grammatical possibilities crammed into one table. In the words of Señor Viñales, creating the ideal sentence builder meant
Since this initial creation, Clare and I have chatted about the possibilities and I have since spent this portion of the lockdown busily devising flowchart sentence builders for each of my classes. I can’t wait to use these with students when schools return to normal!