Blog Archives

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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Well Being – The need for selfawareness

Wellbeing – we have all heard the phrase and are often reminded to consider it.

I have read a few blogs about it recently:

@tstarkey1212‘s – Balance (The 1st EduBlog I ever read)

@mrheadcomputing‘s:

My Own Worst Enemy Pt1

My Own Worst Enemy Pt2

There are others, they are popping up because it is half term. Teacher’s ‘Me Time’ – yeah right!


I am not sure where this post leads – to be honest it is a bit of a brain dump. So please don’t hate me if I draw no conclusions or solutions. There might be some advice, but I suspect I am advising myself more than trying to help others!

I am, I suspect, a workaholic. I am reasonably confident that many teachers are. They just use words like ‘professional’,  ‘committed’ and ‘driven’ to hide behind. I like to think I am these things too. I should be. But when is enough truly enough?

Not all that long ago I think that I found that point.

I didn’t look after myself properly. Slept little. Snacked badly. Drank to much coffee (in my own opnion). I worked. Literally all the time. Did it make me better? I don’t know.

I DO know that I got into some really bad habits. Over preparing, 2nd guessing myself – 3rd guessing sometimes!

What I do works, however I am not sure that all the extra made a real difference.

We all know about workload: planning, marking, assessment etc. etc. it is a burden but one we have to bear.

So, I suffered.

Tiredness, exhaustion, stress, depression, alienation from family and friends. No-one’s fault but my own ‘commitment’.

My family suffered. They lost me. Evenings and weekends evaporated. We didn’t do things together because I was ‘too busy’.

I am a workaholic and I have a problem.

There I said it.

I have forced myself to slow it down, stop it or do a little less, but the danger of a relapse is always there and it won’t be going away anytime soon.

gifsoup.com

gifsoup.com

How do you:

  • Teach full time
  • Lead a school
  • Senior Lead across 2 schools
  • Subject lead 3 subjects (one is Maths)
  • Support colleagues
  • Stay creative and interesting
  • Have a young family
  • Live a family life

Perhaps the key to my problem is the order of the list?

I have as many hours as everyone else and as many days. A little extra at the end of the month is great, although it won’t bring back lost days out, bedtime stories missed, bathtimes avoided (the little person’s not mine!), glasses of wine and conversation with my wife.

I think that my point here is to watch for the signs – I didn’t.

Have a break.

Rest.

It isn’t enough to not work on a friday night – to sit down to watch NCIS instead and be asleep before the 1st grey fade, then shouted at for the next hour for snoring too loud.

en.wikipedia.org

en.wikipedia.org

It isn’t enough.

There must be time out – find it or you cannot and will not last the course.

If I hated my job – I would stop. The problem is, that actually, I don’t.

theoverthinker.org

theoverthinker.org

What have I done?

  • I have a cut off time – 3am in BAD, 10pm is BETTER.
  • I make better lists, ones that I can realistically complete – prioritise.
  • Bedtime is sacred (again, not mine, the small one’s)
  • I tweet – Hardly a hobby, but it is something I enjoy.
  • I do things for me, that I want to do. Even if they are ‘work’ related – they are mine!

My advice to you?

Be careful. You do not have to commit body, mind, soul, guts and glory to your class.

Be happy, be healthy, smile, laugh and be ready for them – they’ll love you. If you aren’t, then you’ll lose them forever.

All too often I read motivational memes like:

I am a teacher. What’s your superpower?

or

Teaching is my superpower!

It isn’t.

It IS a very important job – perhaps one of the most important. But you are not super human.

If I was Superman – teaching is my Kryptonite.

g8ors.blogspot.com

g8ors.blogspot.com

My downtime, rest and regeneration? That is the source of my power. That is my sun.

Like Superman, if I only have kryptonite, I become weaker and lose that power.

All superheroes have their weakness or breaking point (except He-Man, but that’s another blog!)

Know your limitations.

Remember that if you don’t look after yourself, then the job will not look after you.

giphy.com

giphy.com

The machine keeps turning.

Thanks for reading.


Please forgive errors!

This has been a tough write and sharing is even more scary.

Mike

My nominations for the Edublog Awards 2014 #eddies14 –

The Edublog Awards is a community based incentive started in 2004 in response to community concerns relating to how schools, districts and educational institutions were blocking access of learner and teacher blog sites for educational purposes.

The purpose of the Edublog awards is promote and demonstrate the educational values of these social media.

The best aspects include that it creates a fabulous resource for educators to use for ideas on how social media is used in different contexts, with a range of different learners.

(from: http://edublogawards.com/about-the-edublog-awards/)

This year’s nomination categories are:

  • Best individual blog
  • Best individual tweeter
  • Best group blog
  • Best new blog
  • Best class blog
  • Best student blog
  • Best ed tech / resource sharing blog
  • Most influential blog post
  • Best twitter hashtag
  • Best teacher blog
  • Best librarian / library blog
  • Best School Administrator blog
  • Best free web tool
  • Best educational use of audio / video / visual
  • Best educational wiki
  • Best educational podcast
  • Best open PD / unconference / webinar series
  • Best educational use of a social network
  • Lifetime achievement

(From: http://edublogawards.com/about-the-edublog-awards/)


I would like to share my nominations here.

I haven’t nominated in every category but I have in most.

My Nominations for the Edublog Awards 2014:

 

  • Best Individual Blog

http://michaelt1979.wordpress.com

A seemingly endless supply of resources for curriculum and assessment. Michael has the ability to post excellent commentary of the issues of the day.

 

  • Best Group Blog

http://educationechochamber.wordpress.com/

The task of collecting blog posts from around the web and maintaining this mix is challenging, yet always a good place for interesting and thought provoking read.

 

  • Best New Blog

https://friendlyneighbourhoodteacher.wordpress.com/

@GazNeedle is developing a really useful blog sharing his thoughts, ideas, experiences and reflections

 

  • Best Class Blog

http://davyhulmeyear5.primaryblogger.co.uk/

Lee Parkinson’s class blog leaves me in awe of the fabulous experiences he shares with his class!

 

  • Best Ed Tech / Research Sharing Blog

http://mrparkinsonict.blogspot.co.uk

Again Lee Parkinson, his knowledge of new apps and tech is second to none. As is his willingness to share it.

 

  • Best Teacher Blog

http://www.mathematicshed.com/index.html

Graham Andre’s site is a resource which grows on a daily basis. Along with his good nature and keenness to collaborate.

 

  • Most Influential Blog Post

http://michaelt1979.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/primary-curriculum-resource-pack/

I would love to know just how many schools have used Michael Tidd’s resources in developing their own curriculum and assessment?

I know that I did!

 

  • Best Individual Tweeter

http://twitter.com/ASTsupportAAli

Twitter Coaching, Culture Box, his Agility Toolkit, Teach Meets – Amjad is involved in what I consider some of the best of Twitter.

 

  • Best Hashtag / Twitter Chat

#primaryrocks

The first Primary focused edchat on Twitter – Mondays 8-9 pm UK time.

Getting bigger and bigger each week!

 

  • Best Free Web Tool

https://padlet.com

One I have only recently started to use – but it is a mightily impressive collaboration tool.

 

  • Best Use of Media (Video, Podcasts, etc.)

http://www.literacyshed.com

Rob Smith’s multimedia site is a vast archive of video resources for every possible occasion and purpose.

I wonder what we did before it!?

 

  • Best Educational Use of a Social Network

http://www.aussieed.com/ #aussieED

The network of educators from Australia has grown into a global brand now. I feel privileged to be a tiny part of that network. It’s high level blend of innovation, collaboration and education is very impressive.

 

  • Best Mobile App

Alan Peat’s Exciting Sentences

One of the best apps I have ever used in a classroom.

Alongside its partner Pupil Edition, Exciting Sentences can have a dramatic impact of pupil’s writing.


Make your nominations here:

EduBlog Award Nominations

Thank you for reading, blogging and tweeting.

Mike

 

 

UPDATED POST – Literacy Shed Conference – Lincolnshire

Are you a Pit-Pony or a Show-Pony?

normsteachersblog.com

normsteachersblog.com

As I drove home from another meeting that ended at 6pm – I reflected during my long drive, on something that was said on the 1st day of term.

A colleague of mine, whom I respect greatly and who is a high quality teacher (avoiding the the grade there!), had been to visit a school which was graded ‘Outstanding’ by OfSted as part of her CPD.

She said how she was greeted by the HT, who quickly after told the visiting teachers – that her staff were not ‘Show Ponies’, but were ‘Pit Ponies’.

They were hard working staff who delivered everyday for their children.

My colleague felt that this was a great mindset and a proven methodology for success. I can see why, it sounds great but let’s consider this analogy in an Education context:

My school is RI and has it’s problems, we are a tough, hard working staff, who are committed to making the improvements that we need.

The Pit Pony:

Pit-pony

  • Works hard in unpleasant conditions
  • Beaten and mistreated
  • Undervalued
  • Need to be able to churn out performance/quality is less important
  • Failure results in punishment and possible abuse
  • Made to do more work than is healthy
  • Given just enough nourishment to survive
  • Little support/training
  • Works until facing a cruel death in the workplace
  • Little rest or chance to regain fitness

 

The Show Pony:

ShowPony

  • Protected
  • Supported
  • Given the best of everything
  • Under pressure to perform/expected to be the best
  • Held up as an example of the best of its kind
  • Failure results in care, attention and training
  • Trained to the highest most exacting standards
  • Coached, groomed and developed professionally
  • Given time to rest and recover/best of care

So,  based on this analogy, it is best to be a Pit Pony?

The pit pony is the model of success and excellence?

Pit ponies worked hard and did their best in the very worst of situations, day in, day out and this is something to be respected. But it isn’t sustainable.

A show pony can have a long, successful and healthy career – when that comes to an end they are invariably used to create more excellent show ponies.

The news that 90% of teachers have considered leaving the profession in the last 2 years do to excessive workload surely damns this idea.

I like working hard, I want to work hard but every week I am spending less and less time, NOT working. My family are seeing less and less of me and I am seeing less and less benefit. (1% pay rise? £1 a day extra?) Thank goodness I’m not in it for the money.

I find myself working longer hours, having more meetings, giving me increasingly less time to actually do the job!

Is all the work I am doing getting the best out of me?

Work hard and work smart, they say.

OK, but that’s Show Pony mentality.

A Pit Pony would work hard and then work harder.

I have my PPA and Leadership time (2 x 1/2 days a week) and I am both very grateful and lucky to have it, but it is full and there is always more to do!

Perhaps this is just a blog at the end of a long day. But I think I would really thrive given the chance to be a Show Pony for a change.

Which you you rather be?

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

#CupofTeaCPD Reference Point

I place this here for your attention and viewing pleasure!

Nine teachers who tweet – alot.

Artwork by Gaz Needle

Artwork by Gaz Needle

Thanks Gaz – I think this is great.

We need a statistical update for this based on experience and specialism.

The “Geek Teacher Squad”

Here to help you with your needs!

Cup of Tea CPD

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?

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.