Situations at a school can change, and sometimes we end up having to teach multiple levels of student abilities in one classroom, as was the case at the Netherlands Inter-community School (NIS). During my time there, we experienced a decrease in student population, resulting in a need for us to combine beginner, intermediate and advanced level students in our Modern Foreign Language (MFL) classes, which included English, Dutch and Bahasa Indonesia. Due to this shift, the planners that we originally had in place would no longer work, and as Language Coordinator it was my responsibility to create a new modified set, as shown below.
Above is the first page of the unit planner that was used for planning as an MFL team. Together, we would first indicate how many months our units would run, then fill in International Primary Curriculum (IPC) unit names and brief descriptions (due to our school’s routing, IPC units across all 3 mileposts were related themes). Once this was complete, we could begin filling out the first column – IPC Vocabulary/Grammar. The vocabulary and grammar we chose was based on the mainstream teacher planners (see Language Framework for more details) that we had received which indicated important terms and grammar they would be covering in their classes. Our goals were both to match up with the mainstream as much as possible, and to divide up the vocabulary and grammar provided to meet 3 different language abilities – beginner (CEFR A1), intermediate (CEFR A2) and advanced (CEFR B1). Because students would be following a combination of two of the MFL classes we offered – Bahasa Indonesia and either Dutch or English, we also had to ensure we were choosing similar vocabulary/grammar so that tight connections could be made between all of our classes. After choosing the language we would teach, we moved on to our Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) objectives – choosing similar ones in each category but increasing in difficulty to accommodate all the levels of student abilities. The last column was for our end of unit assessment. Our goal was to create a singular assessment – a project that could be scaffolded to meet varying needs and CEFR objectives. We also had to make sure that our projects were different enough so that students would not be repeating similar projects in their MFL classes. This concluded our team planning, and then teachers were given the next page of the unit planning template below to complete individually.
The above planner had enough sections to accommodate all of the lessons throughout a unit, which on average was 10 – 12 lessons. This planner also allowed teachers to plan lessons that catered to all 3 language levels at one time. Teachers were first required to map out vocabulary and grammar that would be covered during each lesson, split 3 ways, and based on the first page of the unit planner. Following this, teachers would fill out the CEFR objectives sections – again split 3 ways. Then teachers indicated the activities they had planned during each lesson, scaffolded them, and listed necessary materials. Once completed, we would all come together as a team and review each other’s planners and offer support as needed. A note to mention is that these unit planners served as a general guideline; as we all know, sometimes lessons run longer or shorter and things need to shift on a day-to-day basis. What we did know is that by the end of our unit, objectives set out across all 3 levels would be met, and students would have learned the vocabulary and grammar concepts we had set out to cover.
From a teacher’s perspective, this unit planner offered an easy seamless way to cater to a multi-level class. And as Language Coordinator, this unit planner offered me a bird’s eye view of all of our MFL curriculums and allowed me to ensure that everyone’s units flowed from lesson to lesson and that we were able to accommodate all of our students’ needs while staying in synch with the rest of our school. In short, the unit planner was a perfect solution for our school and its changing population!