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Ideas for the 1st week back… 5 quick activities to do outside.

So here we are guys and gals, it’s almost here.

The new year beckons and teachers are trying to reset their collective body clocks, shake of the cobwebs and fire up the work laptops.

alarm-clock-smash-o

You might be starting a new year, class, age group, school or role but what remains the same is getting the children back in the right mindset, enthused and engaged in the excitement and challenges ahead.

The weather is usually reasonable in early September and hopefully your pupils will be all still full of having spent the Summer, damming rivers, climbing trees, digging for treasure and sword fighting with sticks (even if it was only on MineCraft!)

Here are 5 ways you might take children outside to find out a little more about them and what they can do, as always not trying to be clever.

Find your limits if you aren’t a regular goer outside, but what children do and how they behave when you take away the walls will tell you a lot about them.

  1. Playlets

Give them some sticks, leaves, litter, stones and stumps (perhaps a few puppets if you are inclined) and give them a scene or story title to improvise. writingexercises.co.uk/story-t… It’s fun and can be challenging. Getting children to collaborate. Tell them they can include any props they can find.

  1. Read stories and poems

Just take it out of the classroom, perhaps most common thing done outside. Reading poems about nature under trees and sitting on a tree stump can help generate powerful language. Obvious really. Write a poem, line or verse in the soil perhaps – will it be there tomorrow? Hang them on the fence or over the wall, passers by might read them.

Nature's Way - Heidi Campbell

Nature’s Way – Heidi Campbell

  1. Alphabets

A great one for EYFS/KS1 especially, but I’ve found that KS2 enjoy the challenge too. Make the alphabet from what they can find. Size doesn’t matter but creative thought does. Take photographs and print a fabulous natural alphabet for the classroom. Looks good and it is theirs.

  1. Place Value and Numbers

Draw boxes on the playground and use as PV grids. Use any small manipulatives, shells, stones, beads etc to fill the boxes, making numbers. Children can see the quantity in the box and how it has a position, then you can add another above or below and create moving calculations. Children will have that physical connection and see how the number combine and begin to deal with the principles of exchange when there is more than 10(0) – now what?

  1. Go and plant something

On the first day. Go and plant something. Suggestions could be Garlic, Lamb’s Lettuce, or if you want a year’s project, Delphiniums will flower in Summer. What a lovely way to close the year, with the flowers planted on Day 1. Dependent on your green fingeredness! The masses of learning potential from growing flowers, fruit and veg is enormous.

Delphiniums

Delphiniums

But you knew that!

Comment more ideas you have for ‘Starting Outside’.

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UPDATED POST – Literacy Shed Conference – Lincolnshire

Superhero Poetry Ideas

This will prove to be the single most niche blog post ever written.

But I have never been one to let that kind of thing stop me!


sploid.gizmodo.com

sploid.gizmodo.com

A shout out to the #geekteachsquad came out last night from:

A range of suggestions were made.

  • Adverb poems – starting each line with either the same or different adverbs
  • Simile poems
  • Tele-Stitch from @redgierob

I had never heard of that one – but gives a great opportunity for creative and challenging sentence/phrase writing.

 

Personally I went for Superhero Limericks:

My ideas (of which I am rather pleased as they were written very quickly) are here:

 

Hulk/Bruce Banner

The once was a Dr called Bruce,

Got zapped by Gamma “What the deuce?!?”

His muscles did swell,

He screamed ‘What the hell!?’

What’s worse he’s the colour of spruce!

 

Thor

There once was a Norse God called Thor,

He fought, what a terrible bore,

He could control lightning,

Which Loki found frightening,

Though his hammer he feared even more.

 

Iron Man/Tony Stark

There once was a rich bloke named Stark,

Who’d build weapons up for a lark,

His suits were all iron,

He could even fly ’em,

That eccentric rich fella Stark.

 

Wolverine

There once was a man named Wolverine,

He wore leather jacket and jean,

From his hands came sharp knives,

He had lived many lives,

James Howlett, the great Wolverine.

 

Superman

There once was a man called Kal-El,

He was from Krypton and Earth as well,

He was fast as a bullet,

A Freight Train? Could pull it!

Metropolis was where he did dwell.

 

What Superhero inspired poetry ideas have you or could you try with your class?

Key Instant Recall Facts for Mathematics (KIRFs)

Very grateful to Michael Tidd (@MichaelT1979) for this post.

I have used KIRFs in my school for just over a year – I will be adding my personal experience of their use and impact to this post very soon.

I think they are excellent!

Watch This Space!

Ramblings of a Teacher

I am a massive fan of drilling and practice for children who need to learn number facts. And the reality is that that’s all children. Whether it’s the earliest number bonds, or the prime numbers, the new curriculum is very clear that fluency in these areas underpins much of what else is done in mathematics – and it’s right to do so, in my opinion.

Key Instant Recall Facts (Y2 example) Key Instant Recall Facts (Y2 example)

I was, consequently, thrilled when the documents below were sent to me by Jo Harbour (@joharbour) of Mayfield Primary School. As a maths subject leader she has taken the time to set out a programme of teaching and learning to secure those essential number facts that runs from Year 1 through to Year 6. Beginning with the basic number bonds to 6, and developing to the knowledge of equivalent fractions and decimals by the end of KS2…

View original post 143 more words

How to ensure impact with blogging! By @ICT_MrP

I know that I have done this a few times, but not only do I want this blog to be useful to other others, but I also want it to be useful to me.

If that means collecting together interesting, useful and/or thought provoking ideas then that’s precisely what will do.

Over time there will be a balance between shared and original materials.

This post was shared on 31-8-14 on Twitter by Lee Parkinson (@ICT_MrP) from his blog:

http://mrparkinsonict.blogspot.co.uk

I liked the ideas in the post and wanted to put it somewhere that I wouldn’t lose it!

This seemed a sensible place!

Thanks to Lee for the idea – Something that I can store away and introduce later this term.

@ICT_MrP has a fantastic range of resources for innovative and creative ways to use tech in the classroom.

Hope you like it – and please visit the original post.


How to ensure impact with blogging!

The idea behind children blogging is simple – give them a platform to write for a real audience and this provides a purpose to write. When children have a purpose, it impacts on the quality of writing.The most difficult part for teachers trying to encourage children to blog, is to create an audience for children to write for. There are a few websites teachers can sign up for an use to really help build an online audience:

100 Word Challenge –  Simply an amazing way to promote and showcase children’s writing. Each week a prompt is given which the children need to write a blog post of 100 words about. The post is then linked from your blog to the 100wc.net website where it can be seen by the thousands of schools, teachers and children that visit the site each week. A group of willing volunteers have the busy job of trying to comment on as many posts as possible. As the site now gets around 1000 entries a week they are crying out for people to help comment on children’s work. I think a lot of Secondary school teachers should encourage their students to comment as it is a great way to really promote themselves as responsible digital citizens. As a class we sometimes will do the 100 word challenge as a lesson, look at children’s examples from around the world before having a go at writing their own.

Quadblogging – Created by David Mitchell, this termly project groups your blog with another 3 schools from around the world to create your quad. The idea is to then have a focus school for that week with the other schools visiting and commenting on work on the site. A really great way to ensure children’s writing is seen and commented on and also teach children responsible use of the internet.

Lend me your Literacy – If you are not blogging but want a way to have your work seen and commented on, Lend me your Literacy can provide that service. They will come and deliver a day with a class, publish all their work on their site and promote it so it receives comments from people all around the world. Within the package they will also publish other examples of work throughout the year to continue to inspire children to produce quality work.

Using these three tools will definitely build an audience and light up the globe on your blog. However they can’t guarantee that every post that the children write will have feedback and be equally valued. It is comments from people outside of the classroom that has the biggest impact on children’s work. Therefore creating a way to guarantee comments will create an encouraging environment throughout the school.

This idea originally came to me from Mr Osler and Miss Gardner who had the idea of recruiting a group of parents to ensure every child’s work is commented on. I thought this was a great idea however for maximum impact, I didn’t want the children to suspect it was parents commenting, instead other special visitors who were ‘experts’ at writing. And so the “Guardians of Grammar,” was created.

The real identities of the GoG will remain anonymous, they are only known as their literacy superhero alter egos. Their mission, to leave no posts on the Davyhulme Primary Blogs without constructive and useful feedback.

How we set it up – A simple Google Form was set up for parents to sign up with an email. I then created log ins for each parent so they can comment under their new superhero identity.

Thanks to twitter I was able to acquire a number of superhero names that can be used (thanks to Bryn Goodman@JwjmcdonCeltic Hippie, @RedgieRob,  @AlanPeat and @InspiredMinds for all their suggestions) here are some you could use:

  • Razor-Clause.
  • Adverbigirl.
  • Capit-Al.
  • Admiral Adjective.
  • Professor XYZ
  • The Red Margin.
  • Inverted Commander
  • The Vocabularmy.
  • The Determinator!
  • The Ellipsis of Evil
  • The Credible Hulk
  • Wonder WhatHappens aka Paige Turner.
  • Night-Vowel.
  • Diction Harry.
  • The Forward Slasher.
  • Grapheme Girl,
  • Dr Digraph,
  • Captain Complex,
  • The Modal Master
  • Comma Bomber.
  • Director Speech
  • The Fiction Phantom,
  • SpagMan.
  • Doctor DotDotDot aka Eric Ellipsis.
  • Optimus Time Connective.
  • CinderSpeller
  • The Ascender,
  • Colonel Colon,
  • The Guardian of Grammar,
  • Metaphor the Merciless
  • Agents of Alliteration,
  • Aunti Nim,
  • Meta4,
  • Ben Pen.
  • Captain Noun-sense.
  • Verbot.
  • The Full Stopper
  • Subordinate Mariner
  • The Dark Determiner
  • Dash
  • Subordinator,
  • The Comma-dore,
  • Super-lative.
  • The Eraser.
  • Alliteration Boy
  • Preposition Man
  • The Comma Chameleon
  • The Magnificent Metaphor Man
  • The Terrific Tenses Woman
  • Kid Flashback
To make this even better I sent all the superheroes this link for them to create their own SuperHero Avatar – Click Here.
It was important to inform the children about these superheroes who were now visiting our blog. Where were they from? Who are they? Why were they visiting our blog? These questions filled the children with excitement to get writing. When it was revealed that these superheroes find excellent pieces of writing to reward and comment on. This has filled the children with enthusiasm to have their writing seen and commented on by real superheroes!
As for building connections with parents and involving them in children’s learning this has been a great tool to use. By all means try it! But make sure that the parents can be trustworthy enough to keep the GoG a secret!

The ‘Crazy Professor’ Reading Game

I leave this here for you to look at and consider.

I wonder what you think…

I was part of a Twitter chat recently that was looking at way to teach/encourage reading.

Several ideas came up:

  • Extreme Reading,
  • Read Around the World,
  • Reading Races and so on.

It reminded me of this:

I first came across the Crazy Professor Reading Game (Chris Biffle), when I was trying out some Power Teaching ideas in 2008-09.

If you haven’t come across Power Teaching it is a Elementary School teaching style from America relies heavily on Learning Styles.

(Please don’t hit me! **Ducking for cover**)

preparingyourfamily.com

preparingyourfamily.com

Look up Chris Biffle and Chris Rekstad.

I tried it out a few times and did have some success with it. Children certainly enjoyed it and they did want to play.

I was thinking about giving it another go.

I am not sure I would use the format used by Rekstad in the video, but I would go along with the core principles.


The 4 Stages of the Crazy Professor Game

STAGE 1:

Read your text using as much expression as is possible

STAGE 2:

Read again using lots of expression and physical gesture

STAGE 3:

Teach Your Neighbour – Summarise your reading to your partner, show you understand what you have read.

STAGE 4:

Crazy Professor vs Eager Student: The ‘professor’ gives an excitable summary, being expressive and asking the ‘student’ questions. Meanwhile, the ‘student’ listens attentively, answers the questions and encourages the ‘professor’ to give more and more  feedback.

hpotterclass.wikia.com

hpotterclass.wikia.com


Pros:

I can see how this might aid children’s comprehension skills

I can see how the use of expression and gesture might encourage enjoyment

I can see how the paired feedback and questioning would support mutual understanding of the text

I can see how this might be one way of teaching a whole class reading session.

It allows for differentiation of text to higher and lower levels

It would allow the teacher to join in and work with whichever group of children were the focus for that session.

It  would quickly show those children who might need help, or are being passive.

Cons:

How sustainable would playing the game be?

Could it lead to genuine and significant progress in children’s reading?

Would this just lead to children shouting out stories?

One to try in the new term perhaps.

Could be great for reading comics, including speech which might then lead to drama and performance.

I really would like your thoughts to be added to the comments section:

Pros and Cons of the Crazy Professor Game.

If it was that awesome wouldn’t we all be doing it?

Another Review Game – “Beachball Baffler”

Again, this is not originally my idea but I have adapted it from an email I received years ago from Classroom Power.

It’s a fun one and I thought I would share!


In addition to Memory Football, I suggest you try Beach Ball Baffler as a reward that children work for.

All you’ll need is a beach ball or Balloon (Balloon Baffler).

Here’s how to play:

  1. Throw the ball toward the class. One (or more people) bounce it into the air.
  2. While the ball is in the air, ask a short question, “What is 4 times 4?”, or “What is the capital of Brazil?” … any question you wish (It can be helpful to have a list in front of you so you don’t have to think them up)
  3. The class must answer the question in chorus before the ball comes down.
  4. Then the ball is batted into the air again by the next person … you ask another question … and so forth.
  5. The goal is to see how many times the ball can be batted into the air before either the ball hits the ground or a fair number of the class aren’t answering or are giving a wrong answer.
trainingtobealifecoach.com

trainingtobealifecoach.com

To increase the tension:

The class only gets three tries (their goal is to break their previous best class record)

Increase the difficulty and interest in the game by posing harder questions

Wait until the ball is drifting down before posing a question (and thus your students have a shorter time to answer)

Have half the class volley the ball to the other half of the class, etc.

Introduce the idea of levels and keep making the game harder and harder.

Beach Ball Baffler could last for months!

One final note:

If anyone complains about anything, your score keeping, a classmate’s failure to hit the ball, anything … it automatically reduces the number of hits earned.

So, for example, the class kept the ball in the air for 10 hits … but Rick complained about Dale’s miss-hit, Carl said that Maggie never answers a question and Carole complained that the ref, you, weren’t throwing the ball properly… those three complaints reduce the score to 7 …”

live4liverpool.com

live4liverpool.com

This one can be a lot of fun.

It can be use effectively in nearly any subject area, with any age group and can be a great way to reinforce learning, vocabulary or key points of a lesson.

For additional change ups you might substitute a large balloon if you are in a smaller or younger classroom

Make sure you have spares for either a balloon or a beach ball!

gifsoup.com

gifsoup.com


 

This is a really quick simple game that makes for a good plenary activity, mini-plenary to re-invigorate if needed, or for a maths starter game. Practicing multiplication tables… you can come up with many uses I am sure!

It is so easy that children could run it themselves, or even as a small group task with a balloon.

So, there you are ‘Beach Ball Baffler’.

Have fun

There are lots of crossover rules with Memory Football too.

Adapt it and make it fit your own purpose!

 

Knock Knock! Who’s There? Reality! – Preparing to be an NQT.

Have I got your attention?

It has been a while seen I was an NQT, but I have worked with a few and mentored several successfully along the way.

I still feel like this as I get ready to start a new year, I always will. I think if I ever stop feeling like this then it is time for me to consider my options! It should be a time of nervous excitement. You are keen to impress (aren’t we all?!). You don’t want to mess it up. Don’t worry you’ll do something daft early on! Just ask around the staff room – if anyone says they never did anything they look back on with their palm firmly on their face, is a liar – keep your eye on them! (I’m kidding – that’s probably just the ambitious DHT!)

There are lots of blogs out there now about how an NQT should get ready for the start of their first term in teaching – and lots say the same kind of things, some are painfully obvious and if you needed to be reading a blog about then perhaps it is a bit late.

So, you’ve done your training, through whatever programme. You have a certificate and a photo of yourself in a funny hat! I have one too!

Me & Mum June 2000

Me & Mum June 2000

Now you’ve got it – what are you going to do with it?

I am going to throw together 10 things that I would recommend. It isn’t perfect. I haven’t spent hours thinking it through. It is just my thoughts on some things you might be well advised to consider. But you already have haven’t you!

There are wiser people than me who will, without doubt, add to or change this list and they might well be right, but this one is mine and I stand by it. If you want to argue, then please argue nice! I might end up agreeing with you!

Here we go…

10. Displays 

Plan it out on paper or in your head.

What do you want?

Where do you want it?

Where will it be seen?

What do they need?

Can it be accessed?

And other such important questions.

Is it interesting? Will they like it? are good ones too!

Make sure things which you display are clear, purposeful and useful.

I have to be honest here. I really don’t like a ‘SparkleBox’ or ‘Twinkl’ classroom!

Those resources have their place but please, they are not a panacea – just because they have it, doesn’t mean you have to have it on the walls and windows!

Don’t be afraid to be a little bespoke – make some things yourself and if you do use commercial printed resources – please trim the logo off. It’s a classroom not an advertising hoarding!

Remember to celebrate learning as well as support learning. I was once part of a meeting in a school which was having some issues with their results, we were all discussing how to develop the environment for learning and it was very late on before someone (me) asked whether we should celebrate children’s success. It was deemed really important, so I asked why it hadn’t been mentioned?

I like ideas like this:

thoughtfullysimple.blogspot.com

thoughtfullysimple.blogspot.com

Just keep it fluid – always adding more, it builds a portfolio of things a child should be proud of. (Helpful at parents’ meetings too!)

Another idea I am considering trying out is a graffiti wall.

Cheap wallpaper and children can record thoughts, questions, ideas, images suggestions – anything they like. It just needs to be purposeful, even if it only is to them.

adventuresofroom129.blogspot.com

adventuresofroom129.blogspot.com

9. Use of Space and Seating

There is no hard and fast rule about how to arrange the furniture.

All the methods of arrange tables have their pros and cons. Groups, Rows, Horseshoes, Single Islands or a flexible approach where you move them around for different purposes and different lessons.

I apologise for stating the obvious, but ensure that whatever you have there is room for the children to move and that there is room for you to get to them. If you are zoning your room, then make it clear to children by how you use labeling, resource placement and space. Have you got an area for reading? Maths? A puzzle or independent extension?

Open space is also important – Y6 children CAN sit on a carpet, they are still children, not grown ups.

Have yourself a seating plan.

Where do you want children to be? Tell them, show them and as time passes you can modify it to improve it.

If you are going to group children in lessons, have a plan for who sits where and when. If there is going to be more flexible grouping then again have a plan for how it will work. Doing it on an ad hoc basis will just create more work in the long run!

8. Labels – By hand, by computer or just Buy?

I assume that like most teachers, your class room will be labelled to within an inch of its life!

That’s fine – but how are you going to do it?

Will it be, or does it need to be multi-lingual? It is a good way to show everyday vocabulary.

Are you going to hand-write them? Is there a correct style and letter formation you should use?

(Although it is important that children see different fonts and forms over time of course!)

Are you going to type them? Is there an agreed font?

There is always the option to buy them pre-done! Check on eBay!

empoweredbythem.blogspot.com

empoweredbythem.blogspot.com

7. Your Desk – Are you having one?

If you do, be sure that you don’t build a barrier.

It may seem obvious but I have still seen it done, indeed once upon a time I did it myself. Although this isn’t me, the teacher here has built walls to hide behind (whether they sit here is lessons or not, like a little bolthole), be open not defensive.

teacherweb.com

teacherweb.com

I think it is important to maintain a small space that is yours, even if quite quickly it disappears under piles of paper, sticky notes, marking, lists and other such things. You need a place to put your things. Children do, why shouldn’t you?

To the left hand side of  a focal point (IWB/Screen/TV etc.) is most common and seen as a position of control, the right hand side is seen as less formal. I read that somewhere, see @TomBennett71 I think. Mine is on the left of my IWB. What matters is that there is somewhere you can call ‘home’. If you choose not to have one, or your school has a policy where you don’t have desks for teachers. Consider where you will be putting things you need quicker than in a cupboard or a box.

6. Planning – Know what is expected of you – before you go nuts!

This one is a no brainer.

Are there agreed set formats everyone has to plan on?

If not, what exactly do you year leaders or SLT require in terms of planning?

It should be a pretty fluid document really, so how are you annotating and using this to move learning on?

(OK? Do you feel confident in egg sucking now? Good!)

Make sure you have the Long Term Overview – if you are being left to make it up for yourself, someone has missed a job! Especially in these changing times!

Remember, you are planning for the children, not the Head – s/he isn’t in your class as a learner – but if they are – make sure they’d have a great learning experience!

starfishmoccasins.wordpress.com

starfishmoccasins.wordpress.com

5. Know the policies/Behaviour Management

I once worked with a ‘Policy Writing Policy’ – Yep, you read that right! We try not to speak of it and it was ‘unofficially official’.

There will be so many policies that it will be next to impossible to know all of them inside out, but you will need a working knowledge of all of them. So, start with the Key ones:

Behaviour Policy: See Point 2 below.

Teaching and Learning: How should things look? Planning expectations should be in here too.

Marking and Feedback: How much? How often? 3 Stars and a wish? Pupil reflection etc? What does marking look like in your school? It is important to get this right.

Internet/Web Access: What can you do and what can’t you? What can children do and what can’t they? Blogging, use of Social Media should all be in here, if they aren’t ask about it.

If you are getting these ones right, you’re probably on the right track!

silsschools.org

silsschools.org

4. The 3 Rs: “Roles, Responsibilities and  Routines”

@MrsPTEach puts this one really well here: Classroom Management – My tips for NQTs

She is absolutely right, that the early development of a clear routine will help you enormously. It will take some organizing to start, but will be well worth it in the end. No amount of repetition is too much if they get it right without you asking them!

And I quote:

“Routines – For certain parts of the day, having routines mean you don’t have to spend a lot of time dishing out instructions.  It takes a bit of time at the start of the year but it is worth it.  End every lesson the same – I choose for them to tidy, put books away and stand behind their chairs. This gives me an opportunity to extend any plenary activities and continue questioning those who are ready to go.  It makes it easy for children to leave as chairs are already tucked in.  It’s a small thing which makes life easier for me.  In the same way, they know what to do when they walk in the door in the morning … We have routines for lining up, collecting and handing in homework, using the laptops and handing out books and work.”

and

“Jobs – make them work harder than you. Give over time (5 minutes a day) for children to do jobs. Handing out letters, jumpers, writing tomorrow’s date on the board, sorting the timetable, tidying and locking the laptops, stacking chairs, tidying tables and picking things off the floor. That 5 minutes will save you 50+ minutes at the end of the day tidying, sorting and organising and will mean you can put your time into assessing and re-planning. If, throughout the year, you find yourself doing the same meaningless thing over and over, simply add it to the jobs list.”

I have been a little naughty in lifting this section, but if I didn’t there would the risk of being accused of stealing it, when I would just have written the same thing – there are more very good tips on classroom management on Jo’s blog: http://www.mrspteach.com/

stefaniesjourneyintoteaching.blogspot.com

stefaniesjourneyintoteaching.blogspot.com

3. Get connected – inc. Twitter/Blogging

You are reading this, that tells me that you have started.

To be honest, I have covered this before on this blog.

Why should Teachers be using Twitter? Cup of Tea CPD Part 1

How to get started with Twitter – Top 10 Tips Cup of Tea CPD Part 2

Finding the best teachers to follow on Twitter

Make sure though that you connect with your colleagues too – make sure that you talk to them and make the most of what they know. They have the inside track on the children you teach. You are all there to make things better for everyone, you can’t do it on your own and the rest of the staff can’t do it without you.

I once worked with a new teacher who tried to work in isolation. They didn’t really join in with the staff, despite encouragement and open doors, they found it hard. They weren’t interested in the advice that was being shared. They came round eventually, but it made everything a little uncomfortable for everyone.

2. Consistency

I was just in the process of writing this section on this post and this appeared on my Twitter feed from @LearningSpy (David Didau)

www.learningspy.co.uk – Back to School Part 1 – School Rules

While his approach is from a Secondary point of view and mine is Primary – I agree almost entirely with the message! David’s key points are: (Read his blog for expansion!)

                        1.  Know the school rules and stick to them.

                        2. Never let pupils sit where they want.

                        3. Use agreed consequences fairly and consistently.

                        4. Never let pupils work off punishments

                        5. Make 3 phone calls every day – talk about progress not behaviour

There are apps/websites such as Class Dojo, which can help. I will be trying it out this year.

However you intend to use and apply rules and expectations – BE CONSISTENT!

There will (hopefully) be a set of agreed and applied expectations, the children will know them (unless you are in YR perhaps). You need to know them, older children will expect you to know them and if they think you don’t, be sure they will try to change them and you will find it harder to get them back again.

The old adage is: ‘If you say it, mean it’.

If you are keeping someone in from break for 5 mins, then don’t do 10 (It is your break you’re wasting!).

Please don’t say: “I’ll let you off this time.”

queenbeeberta.blogspot.com

queenbeeberta.blogspot.com

1. Don’t be too prissy!

Relax.

Don’t be uptight!

Remember, children make a mess, just make sure that you make them responsible for tidying it up again.

Your classroom will look amazing at 0830, but by 1047 it might not be!

Don’t worry, it’s all good!

Children need to feel comfortable in their space to learn and that is why you put the effort in. The trays and books are labelled. The reading area is stocked with fun and interesting materials, perhaps some comics too!

You have put the time in and you’re ready.

Enjoy it.

Even though we all know what the pressures of teaching today are like – it is still the Best Job in the World!


 

Well, there you have it!

10 things to do, think about or reflect upon before you start.

As I always say:

“Is it perfect?” No.

“Is it without fault?” No.

“Am I an expert with professional research to prove any of this leads to success?” No.

I am a teacher and Senior Leader with 15 years of experience.

These things help me and have helped those I have shared with before.

By all means share and leave your comments, feedback, additional ideas in the comments section.


Additional (20-08-14):
It is fab and you can download it free here
or as a free eBook here

 

 

As the Premier League Starts! A Game for the Classroom – Memory Football!

Not originally my idea but I have adapted it from an email I received years ago from Classroom Power.

It’s great fun and as it is rather topical, seems a good time to share!

footballold.wikia.com

footballold.wikia.com


This game can be used at any level and you can use ‘Memory Football’ to recap any subject material.

Your class will love the game so much that you could even use it as a reward for good behaviour.

Purpose:

Like football, Memory Football is played between two teams.

The purpose of the game is to score goals.

Goals are scored by quickly answering questions posed by the referee.

 

Rules: There is only one rule in Memory Football. Keep The Referee Happy. You’re the Referee!

refarbiter.wordpress.com

refarbiter.wordpress.com

Equipment:

An IWB or Wipe Board, a marker and a set of short answer, often one word, review questions that you have created. You will be reading the questions from this list; arrange them in groups from easiest to hardest.

trainingtobealifecoach.com

trainingtobealifecoach.com

The Set Up:

Draw a horizontal line, near the bottom of your board. Mark off the line in 11 equidistant vertical marks. The horizontal line stands for a soccer field; each end of the line is the goal; the vertical marks divide the pitch into units.

Place a marker under the vertical mark in the middle of the field. The marker is the ball.

(This could easily be created in SMART or any presentation software.)

How To Play:

Divide the class into two teams.

(We’ll use boys against girls, but it could be right side of the class against left side, etc.)

Each team chooses the other team’s captain.

To start the game, the captains stand face to face at the front of the room. You pose one of your review questions and, just as in “Family Fortunes”, the captains slap their hands down on a desk as quickly as possible if they know the answer.

The captain who is quickest, gets the chance to answer.

If they are right, his/her team gets the ball. Otherwise, the opposing team’s captain gets the ball.

Assume the girls’ team wins control. Picking one player at a time, ask review questions to the girls’ team.

If the player’s answer is correct, loud, fast and with an energetic gesture, that counts as a “strong kick.” Advance the ball, the marker, almost a full hash mark down the pitch toward the boys’ goal.

If the answer is correct but too quiet or slow or doesn’t have an energetic gesture, then that is a “weak kick.” Advance the ball a short distance toward the boys’ goal. If the girls’ answer is wrong, shout “Possession Lost!” and now the boys’ team gets a chance to play.

If you like a rowdy classroom, encourage teams to cheer when the ball is going their direction and groan when it isn’t. Thus, every time the ball moves, you’ll have cheering and groaning.

simplytelevison.wordpress.com

simplytelevison.wordpress.com

Use the following to add excitement to Memory Football:

Tackle!

Whenever you, the Referee, want to reverse the direction of the game, shout “Tackle!” This means the other team has suddenly gotten control of the ball. Of course, you will shout “Tackle!” whenever you want to generate an intense amount of excitement … like when one team is very close to the goal and just about to score.

Foul!

Whenever one team or the other misbehaves in the slightest, complains about the ref’s call, anything, you shout “Foul!” As the Ref, you then have three choices. You can award control of the ball to the opposing team; you can move the ball up or down the field, penalizing one team or the other; or, most exciting, you can declare a Penalty Kick.

(Encourage teams to cheer or groan as appropriate.)

Penalty Kick!

Move the ball to the first mark in front of the opposition’s goal. The attacking team chooses a kicker, usually the team captain. The defending team chooses a goalie, usually the team captain. Goalie and kicker face off in front of the room, like the initial kickoff. You ask a question; the player who slaps a hand down first gets first try at the question. If the goalie is first and correct, the penalty kick is blocked. If the goalie is wrong, the penalty kick scores. If the captain is first and correct, the penalty kick scores. If the captain is first and wrong, the penalty kick is blocked.

If a goal is scored, the scoring team shouts “Gooooooaaaaalll!!!” like Andres Cantor, the famous Mexican announcer.

Free Kick!

Often in football, neither team is in control of the ball.

When you shout “Free Kick!”, anyone on either team can answer.

Fire questions at your students; when one side gets several questions in a row correct, point at them and say, “You won the Free Kick!”

Then start giving questions to individual players on the winning team.

Read The Ref’s Mind Free Kick!

For hilarious excitement, say, “I’m thinking of a key concept we covered. Free Kick! Read my mind!” Both teams shout answers at you, energetically covering enormous quantities of revision material … give them hints as you wish.

Award control of the ball to the team that reads your mind, or, failing that, that has the most attempts at reading your mind.

Your strategy:

You will use an enormous number of review questions in Memory Football; thus, it is important to have a list so you can keep the game moving along quickly.

You can use any question, addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, national capitals, key concepts from science, names of characters in stories, anything.

Keep the ball moving up and down the field.

Make the game as exciting as you wish by shouting Tackle!, Penalty Kick!, Free Kick! or Read The Ref’s Mind Free Kick!.

 

Never let one team get more than one goal ahead of the other.

Give the weakest players easier questions; stronger players get harder questions. If you like award answers that are particularly good, or where a child does particularly well a “very strong kick.”

Play for only a minute or two every few days.

Make your class work hard to earn the right to play Memory Football.

If you use it infrequently and briefly, the game will be a tremendous motivator for positive in-class behaviour.

 

Think about that.

Your class is working as hard as possible to earn the right to revise what you have wanted them to learn!


It is a simple game, good for plenaries and intermediary times like lining up.

Easy to adapt and change around for different outcomes.

Hope it’s useful.

Home ‘Work’ or Home ‘Learning’? or How I tried to get past the ‘I forgotters’

Homework.

minion homework

I know, I shouldn’t use that sort of foul language here!

As always there are the usual arguments:

  • How much?
  • How often?
  • How old?
  • How long?
  • Spellings, or not?
  • Worksheets, or not?
  • Online?
  • What about those that won’t?
  • What about parents who won’t help?
  • Should it be independent work?

I could go on, but you get the idea.

I was fed up of giving homework that didn’t get done, was done badly, was done in the car on the way too school the day after it was supposed to be, was lost or forgotten.

“Then Mike, the homework you were giving them was rubbish, that’s why they didn’t feel it was necessary to put the effort in.”

I hear you cry.

You’re probably right, it probably wasn’t very interesting or it was a bit repetitive (some schools use a scheme based homework), or perhaps I didn’t feedback to them very well, so perhaps I wasn’t taking it very seriously either. Put all these things together and what have you got?

Simply, those children that do their homework do it, those that don’t don’t and the rest do it if they can remember or are reminded enough times. I needed a change.

I had 6 main intentions:

I wanted homework to be:

  • Purposeful
  • Challenging
  • Interesting
  • Timescaled
  • Something for the family to do together (up parental engagement)
  • Something that was linked closely to what the children were doing in school.

The first thing I did, although not overly imaginative, was to give a project to the children, build a Viking Longhouse:

They had 4 weeks to do it – as you can see from the images, yes there was a range, but there was a 100% return rate.

It had appealed to children and their families. It was different and it gave them something they had to plan and consider (Oh, and I suspect there was just a tiny bit of competition!). We produced some great descriptive writing and instructional texts, they became a village, which we mapped and used as a story setting – it linked and they loved it!


For the next term’s project I wanted to push them a bit harder, to try and get a little more range of work produced.

I wasn’t sure where to start so I googled it! (Because lets be honest, that’s what we do!) Simple really.

What I found was this: http://www.primaryworks.co.uk/Category/Thinking-Skills

I liked them and so I bought them, not overly expensive and even though they weren’t exactly what I was after they were the model for and inspiration for what came next. The termly ‘Home Learning Project’.

I won’t show full examples here (copyright and all that) but I will show small parts.

Each sheet gave a variety of tasks split into different areas:

Thinking Skills

I am no lover of the ‘Learning Styles’ debate, but in this case it does provide a nice range of differing types of task, the rationale behind the homework project is that children have to do something from all the areas. (They can’t just build stuff or paint a picture!!)

I had a tinker, edited and changed a few things around in order to create a wide variety of activity, came up with a set of rules and expectations and produced the following: (Selected examples from projects on ‘Coasts’ and ‘World War II’)

Thinking Skills4

Thinking Skills2

Thinking Skills6

Thinking Skills5

The expectations I created were as follows:

Thinking Skills3

The children found this approach to their homework really interesting. They liked the element of choice, they could do what interested them, rather than what was prescribed. Parents engaged in the idea because their children did.

There was an end product, that they knew would be displayed and compared with others. It was a project book, that built over time, linking their own individual work, with class work, the class work fed into the homework and it was all simply ‘joined up thinking’!

I liked the fact that there was an end date, there was time, children had to manage time over a longer period.

This was time clearly communicated with parents and regular reminders could be sent.

It was successful. Very successful. Again 100% return rates. During my time at that particular school, 4 ‘big terms’ I had 100% return on homework projects in my class, this included an improvement on returns in spellings and greater levels of home reading too. Since I left the school, it has continued the model and it is still successful.

I have used similar models in 2 other schools since then, and have had similar success rates.

There is always likely to be 1 or 2 resistant ones at first, but once they see others buying into the idea, they soon get involved.

This alongside the more traditional homework activities has changed this:

into this:

Below are a few more of the ‘creations’ made as part of the projects. These tasks are always appealing, although not essential. I will add more images of some of the project files and scrapbooks later.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There is always plenty of opportunity for children to talk about their projects during the process, where they are upto, what they’ve done, what they have left and if they have had any extra ideas that aren’t on the original sheet (that’s allowed too!).

Children often share what they’ve done, why they did it and what they have learned as a result. Parent’s do the same. How much they have enjoyed working with their children. I have had boys who have visited granny and learned how to knit, sew and patchwork, girls working in the shed with dads and granddads building models out of wood, polystyrene and plastics and they have LOVED it!

Not a perfect system by any means, but one which has proved to have some great results for me.

Any comments and thoughts welcome through comments.

 

What books should a child read before they leave Primary School? The Results!

I recently posed the question to Twitter and Facebook – What books should a child read before they leave Primary School?

The response was incredible – over the next 4 days, I received almost 200 suggestions for books people would recommend for children in EYFS, KS1, LKS2 and UKS2.

Thanks to everyone who added books to the list, re-tweeted and shared the links.

It wouldn’t be here without you

For the rationale behind the request, rather than write it again read here:

What books should a child read before they leave Primary School?

 

You can download the book list here:

Recommended Books to Read before you leave Primary School

The most popular repeated submissions were:

Goodnight Mr TomMichelle Magorian

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon

SkelligDavid Almond

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon

The GruffaloJulia Donaldson

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon

We’re Going on a Bear HuntMichael Rosen

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon

The TwitsRoald Dahl

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon

Wonder R J Palacio (6 separate recommendations and the most suggested)

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon

There is naturally a great deal of room for discussion here.

This list is not meant to be taken in any way as my opinion for core or supplemental books as part of any curriculum. It does however suggest some possible books for class reads, some obvious, perhaps some less so – I know that it has given me some different ideas.

Please feel free to comment if you have any additional books or thoughts on the list as it stands. It is shared in its original form, the book types and age recommendation come from the people who offered the books – not me.

Feel free to disagree!


Update (21-08-14):

Scholastic have produced a set of resources, hints and tips for Supporting reading, including recommended book lists:

Scholastic – Read Every Day

Books for 5 and Up

Books for 7 and Up

Books for 9 and Up

Books for 11 and Up

Books for 13 and Up

Thanks to @gazneedle for sharing.

 

What books should a child read before they leave Primary School?

It pretty much goes with saying that Reading is an essential life-skill.

As teachers it is always a focus and something that we endeavour to ensure that all children have access to good quality texts and we encourage them to read regularly.

The New Curriculum states:

The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the written and spoken word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • Read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • Develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
  • Appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
  • Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
  • Use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
  • Are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.

And to be fair much of that sounds quite reasonable.

There are several debates I really don’t want to start in this post and will try to avoid them:

  1. What is ‘good’ reading?
  2. How should reading be taught?
  3. Who is more responsible for reading, Home or School?
  4. How much should children read? and all age related themes.
  5. Individual Reading vs Guided Reading vs Shared Reading
  6. Fiction, Non-Fiction or Poetry? Which is most valuable?

There are more, but as I am not discussing those, let’s move on!

So with all the controversial stuff aside; I would like this blog post to be a point of discussion.

What books do you think a Primary School child should have read or have been read

or shared before they leave Primary School?

I have set up a Google Form to collect this information, which you can find at the end of this post.

Please add as many books to the list as you like.

Just one, a collection, your personal favourites. Any books from any time, modern or classic, it doesn’t matter.

Context:

About 7 or 8 years ago, a colleague and I sat down and wrote a list (we kept it to Fiction) of some of the books we thought were must reads.

The list was split into 3 sections:

  1. Younger Readers/Simple Picture Books
  2. Books for all
  3. Books for Older/Stronger Readers

This was all quite loosely sorted, lots of my other school colleagues argued, it didn’t matter – the discussion was useful! It was never designed to be a complete list, nor was it that because a book wasn’t on the list, I didn’t a) like it or b) think a child should read it.

This was suggested to me, at one point and I explained that it was impossible to write a list of every book ever written that a child could/should/must read.

They calmed down when I said they didn’t HAVE to agree with me.

It wasn't quite this bad! www.visualphotos.com

It wasn’t quite this bad!
http://www.visualphotos.com

As teacher’s often do I proceeded to spend a small fortune at car boot sales, second hand book shops and on eBay, buying the books on my list, in order to create a Class Library of recommended reads. I know I shouldn’t, let’s not go there, but I have a problem with books – they just sort of find their way (legally) home with me! I have too many, if that’s possible, to fit in my study and they have filled sections of my loft too!

Anyway, the children (Y6) devoured them!

Some had never seen ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ (Can you believe it!?), some actually cried when I read them ‘Dogger’ for the first time. When I showed them Rik Mayall’s portrayal of George’s Marvellous Medicine from Jackanory (You have to love YouTube!), they were transfixed by a genius StoryTeller at work.

GMM1GMM2

I will bravely share that list from 2006 here.

Do you think it’s a fair list? Is there anything obviously missing? Anything you consider undeserving?

Please use the Comment Section to discuss.

Title Author
Dogger Shirley Hughes
Elmer Tony Ross
Each Peach, Pear, Plum Allan Ahlberg
A Gift from Winklesea Helen Cresswell
Flat Stanley Jeff Brown
George Speaks Dick King-Smith
The “Happy Family” series Allan Ahlberg
Owl Babies Martin Waddell
Not Now Bernard David McKee
3 Little Wolves & the Big Bad Pig Helen Oxenbury
The Little Mole Who Knew It Was None Of His Business Werner Holzwarth
Green Eggs and Ham Dr. Seuss
The Trouble with… Babette Cole
The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark Jill Tomlinson
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle
Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf Catherine Storr
Stanley Bagshaw Bob Wilson
The Mousehole Cat Antonia Barber
Handa’s Surprise Eileen Brown
The Patchwork Quilt Valerie Flournoy
Fungus the Bogeyman Raymond Briggs
Little Wolf’s Book of Badness Ian Whybrow
George’s Marvellous Medicine Roald Dahl
The Giraffe, the Pelly, and me Roald Dahl
The Piemakers Helen Cresswell
Follow That Bus Pat Hutchins
Diary of a Killer Cat Anne Fine
Grandpa Chatterji Jamila Gavin
The Worst Witch Jill Murphy
Bill’s New Frock Anne Fine
The Iron Man Ted Hughes
The Magic Finger Roald Dahl
The Owl Tree Jenny Nimmo
Krindlekrax Phillip Ridley
The Fib and Other Stories George Layton
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Other Stories Roald Dahl
The Terbulent Term of Tyke Tiler Gene Kemp
Whizziwig Malorie Blackman
The 2000lb Goldfish Betsy Byers
The Fox Busters Dick King-Smith
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl
Matilda Roald Dahl
War Boy Michael Rosen
How the Whale Became & Other Stories Ted Hughes
The Happy Prince Jane Ray
The Guard Dog Dick King-Smith
The Clothes Horse & Other Stories Allan Ahlberg
Boy & Going Solo Roald Dahl
Charlotte’s Web E.B. White
The Midnight Fox Betsy Byers
1001 Arabian Nights Geraldine McCaughrean
Stig of the Dump Clive King
The Butterfly Lion Michael Morpurgo
Kensuke’s Kingdom Michael Morpurgo
Treasure Island Adapted by Chris Mould
101 Dalmations Dodie Smith
5 Children and It E. Nesbit
Moondial Helen Cresswell
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe C.S. Lewis
The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
Carrie’s War Nina Bawden

In the meantime, please make a contribution or two to the Recommended Booklist on the Google form.

I will publish the list once there are enough to share.

Many thanks.


 UPDATE: (07-08-14)

After a discussion with Pie Corbett and Brian Moses on Twitter this afternoon I was directed to this resource:

Talk4Writing – Literature Spine

Collated by Pie Corbett, it is a scaled sequence of possible reading by Year Group.

A useful reference piece I thought.