Click for Learn from the Best: Footpal (Part 1)
# 6 Group Students
At footpal, there are 3 groups. High / Middle / Low. While I don’t like ALL aspects of this system, I think there are some merits.
- Students of similar level compete. Imagine they were not similar level. Of course the stronger would dominate. The not as strong would lose confidence. But when kids are with similar kids, they can learn from each other. No one loses confidence.
In our elementary lessons, we will pair / group children of similar ability when doing activities. Why? Because if 1 student is significantly more accomplished at English than the other, than of course, they will dominate and DO the activity. The other child will be quiet and lose confidence. We want ALL children learning and doing at THEIR level.
# 7 Students KNOW their level
Through the field, bleep, skill tests and the groupings in the lessons, students KNOW their level. Again, you might think this is cruel / hard on children. But at footpal it is used as inspiration. Those in the lower level strive to level up. Those in the higher levels KNOW they need to KEEP practicing to keep their position. Everyone’s level raises.
In our lessons, students are aware of their level. All flashcards / games are leveled. If one level becomes too easy, they level up to the next one. Children WANT to level up. In the texts also, students are aware of their writing ability through the weekly mini tests. They get a score with every page. They are energized when there are no mistakes or only 1.
# 8 Give Homework
The first time I heard Fukuoka say to the kids, “Did you practice?”, I was a bit surprised. Homework at a soccer school? But Fukuoka DOES give homework. Practice these drills. Next week, we’ll be expanding on them. It’s easy to see who does and doesn’t practice.
In our lessons, we too give homework. Much of the homework is practicing the mini test in a notebook. And then doing the mini test IN CLASS. Again, it’s easy to see who has or hasn’t practiced. You don’t even need to look at the notebook. Just the score on the test is enough.
# 9 Accept students when they are READY / ABLE to do your style of lesson.
Students can join Footpal from the 2nd year of kindergarten (age 4). When students begin Footpal, they are READY. Of course, the kindergarten lessons are not as hard core as the elementary lessons but they are still tough. Near impossible for a 3 year old, but do-able for 4 and 5 year olds.
We too expect a lot out of our students. Our kindergarten lessons are fun but challenging. We want our kindergarten students to learn 10 new words a week / ask and answer questions / sing out loud / recognize phonics / speak out and fully participate in class. We found that some 3 year olds COULD and some COULDN’T do this (and you can’t tell in the trial lesson). But 95% of 4 year olds CAN: becoming confident English learners, as they rise to each challenge.
Decide what type of teacher / school YOU want to be. And accept students accordingly. Exclusivity will make your school / your teaching stronger.
Before you think we love everything about Fukuoka, there are SOME things we don’t like.
A. He ridicules those who don’t do things perfectly. Kids learn from mistakes so making them afraid to make mistakes is not good for development.
B. He also seems to favor certain kids. Something we have hate. All kids deserve a chance and there should be NO favorites. Ever.
Learn from the best. But also realize that even the best can improve.
How about you? What have you learned from observing other schools?
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