Role Play areas in KS2 intro.

I really got in to this blogging in my last school and with a new job, a family starting and lots of other things to deal with, this blog really got neglected…but I want to get it up and running again!

 

My new school has a real passion and philosophy about role play areas…here is my new one for my World Cup Topic:

 

A short blog to check all is working, I'll be back blogging properly soon!

 

Creating Positive Classrooms – our training day.

The start of term started with a training day… The introduction to the course was

Every child's circumstance is different and in certain circumstances can be tragic so we need to create an environment, with parents and children, that is positive and conducive to learning.


The course however moved on to being more about the teacher and handling stress and personal difficulties.

 

This blog is more note form rather than true “blogging style” but I hope you find it interesting!

 

One of the first things I picked up on was…


“What matters most is how you see yourself…”

 

I like to think I take life in its stride and I let go of things that I don't have control over and do what I feel is best for things I can control.

 

There was a big part about the need to build resilience. One thing I liked, but a, not sure how easy it is to implement is the Sumo method:

 

sumo=shut up & move on.

 

We had a discussion about self esteem and what it is. What do you think? I thought it was debatable but it is affected by feelings, attitudes and states of being.

 

Someone's self esteem will change through different contexts, it's a difficult concept.

 

Apparently there are 10 types of negative thinking. My most noted ones were over generalising & mistaking feelings for facts – I f eel therefore I am.

 

People don't like “being done to”, you'd rather be involved with all decisions. Same is true for children and teachers.

 

We had a chat about good and bad listeners…

This one perhaps makes more interesting reading though…
This was how our group prioritised listening skills:

 

 

 

Throw away comments can have a big impact on you. I think this is hugely underestimated. A real down beater:

 

Child: I can see the whole world from here!!

Parent: No, actually you can only see a little bit of Stroud.

 

Dealing with conflict is very difficult…one thing I always found useful was something I was taught in my retail training during my student days: if you have bad news to deliver, always start with good news, then deliver bad news and finish off with a developing piece of good news!

 

To help children develop positive psychology you could implement at the end of the school day a box…children need to write 2 things that have gone well and one thing that could have gone better (if there is one!)

 

5 ways to well being…this is what I need to do: do something in my community!

 

Sock puppets…

I have had a brilliant week using some of my own passions and creativity, to create a sock puppet film for our school.

This was a part literary (speaking and listening skills, script writing and instructional writing), part mathematical (measuring skills), part DT (creating the puppets) and part spiritual (creating positive characters) project as the children planned a film to promote their feelings.

One thing, purely educational and purposeful, that I would like to comment on is the brilliance of a “working wall”…

…the children used great VCOP resources from http://www.tpet.co.uk (my class love the VCOP pyramids!)

 

 

The children frequently get up during independent sessions to take reference from this wall in literacy lessons.

 

 

 

 

Following on from 2-3 weeks of preperation and research on other puppet films, the children were able to make their own scripts and puppets (photos below) which I think they have done brilliantly well, especially for 7-9yr olds.

 

Sorry this is a relatively short blog but I hope it gives some sort of insight to some of the teaching I've been doing!

 

“Golden Time”

Entering the profession, a few years ago now, I was very sceptical about giving my class ‘Golden Time’ and I knew it would be a harsh medicine for my new class to swallow if I were to remove it…given its status and culture from students within the whole school.

Naively, I was under the impression it was a waste of valuable teaching time and was done because the pupils, teachers and TA’s were too tired to see the week out! And I didn’t like the idea of it being used as a major behaviour management tool either.

So with some reluctance I allowed it to continue, and I am so grateful that I had.

On #ukedchat recently there was a discussion as to whether schools should employ Google’s 20% project time system;

Another famous benefit of working at Google is the 20 percent time program. Google allows its employees to use up to 20 percent of their work week at Google to pursue special projects. That means for every standard work week, employees can take a full day to work on a project unrelated to their normal workload. Google claims that many of their products in Google Labs started out as pet projects in the 20 percent time program.

People were talking about their attempts of this in schools and many professionals have had successes. Golden time to me seems to be about freedom to explore. In my relatively short time in teaching, I have been fortunate enough to travel to school’s in Holland where the children were given their work for the week and it was up to them when they did it. The attitude of the learning at this school was faultless. The key to it working successfully was a hidden structure, that the teachers had set up, which was in the children’s interest to follow.

Thus, I have discovered a “Golden Time” that is structured, purposeful and enjoyable has huge benefits to the young generation of today.

This is how my last golden time was set up:

Construction (skills included designing, mechanical skills, reading and following instructions)

Geomagnetic Pieces (skills developed included mathematical shape work)

Geo safari (geographical and team building skills)
Reading whilst listening to music (skills improved here are countless!)
And above all, the environment helps to build children’s confidence, independence and communication skills which are invaluable in the ‘outside world’.
A structured Golden Time is a hugely beneficial Golden Time: The fact that children see it as a reward is only a positive coincidence!

The most difficult concept to teach?

I have always thought ‘time’ to be one of the most challenging things a primary school teacher can teach because…

(The clock from the child’s view)

…it’s something that never stops

…it can be told, written or said in so many different forms

…it doesn’t follow the metric/decimal system

…it’s something that has hugely different values in every persons life and consequently provides differing confidence levels with children

…and the list goes on!

Having just returned from paternity leave, I thought I’d ask the children to self assess where they thought they were with their abilities to read time and the confidence levels, unsurprisingly were vast. So I thought, in the interests of the hidden I would ask my cover teacher to spend “time” on the area and I would pursue it on my return.

The first thing I did was to get them to complete some self assessment on the area…this can have varied results from classroom to classroom and indeed subject to subject but I tried to put the children in the mindset that there was no failure nor medals to be won with this task and I was purely after honesty.

We then did some “real life” work based around the tennis schedule from the recent ATP World Tennis tournament in London’s O2 arena. The children found this task challenging but with guidance and perseverance they got their (with help from the working wall).

As well as the basic facts and learning that had happened on the working wall, we added some extra questions to challenge the more confident learners and those that completed the work quickly.
The activity that seemed to make the penny drop with much of the class was when we created a human clock in the playground (picture below). With the children moving as a team and all helping each other to move at an appropriate speed and rate made it enjoyable for the whole class.

I still maintain this to be a very hard skill for teachers to teach and students alike to master.

What techniques do you find work when teaching time?

Creativity: it exists in all of us…

Creativity: it exists in all of us…

Having just completed a half term at school I thought it was a good time to write about creativity…since it is something that is encouraged by a lot of professionals but the constraints of a school, policies and other frameworks can make it difficult to actually encourage.


 

What is 'creativity' then?…I believe many adults conception of creativity is about being 'arty'. However, I feel this could not be further from the meaning and it actually discourages what creativity actually is to millions of people.

The unhelpful dictionary definition of the word does not help my cause either: The use of the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work. The dictionary also states creativity as a noun whereas I feel it to be a verb…it is an action, in many different forms.



I feel all humans have equal amounts of creativity and it is down to them how they express it: whether that be in the medium of car mechanics, science, mathematics, writing, sport or even, indeed, art! The perception of 'I'm not creative' doesn't work for me!

 

So how does the translate in to the lower key stage two classroom? Since I entered teaching I have always tried to take this confident and creative approach to teaching to enhance the learner's that are in my class. I wanted to share a couple of success stories that happened only this week where creativity won and perhaps without post reaction wouldn't have credited it to the success.

 

I have a couple of children, as I'm sure every teacher does, that finds maths particularly challenging and I'm always trying to think of differing 'creative' ways to inspire them and help them learn the same concepts as others. The children find the recording of their work very difficult and can struggle with constraints of classroom time. We were doing conversion of measurements from mm to cm and m. This concept seemed mostly alien to some of them despite the active starter and activity with rulers and objects to measure (I would not consider this creative teaching!). So, I decided to think about our future photo frame DT project and how we could incorporate more measurement work than the standard measuring of wood and cutting it up. This is where I believe a bit more creative teaching came in… I decided to think more about the photograph that could go into the photo frame. I opted to get the class to chalk something in a precisely measured quadrilateral, with right angles – this worked well and then I got them to measure one of the objects that they had already drawn, and they found they could do this with ease and they could convert their measurements too. I feel that was a small success story which used teaching creativity, and it gave the students the ability to enhance their understanding of a mathematical concept (in a subject, where I feel, creativity isn't given enough attention).

My DT project was to make a photo frame out of sticks and twigs from the local environment (sketched picture gives a broad idea of what we achieved). Some children, especially the 'arty and creative' ones mastered it quickly. Which wasn't surprising but the true 'creative' ones were able to channel their building abilities and build their social skills by helping those who perhaps had slightly less developed motor skills and other necessities to see this through.

 

Creativity exists in everyone, equally, it's just how we channel and use it that can be deceiving to ourselves and others…do you have any creative stories to share?

 

Homework…

Spellings, literacy, times tables, topic based homework…

Where should it stand?


As a pupil I found homework boring and dull. Homework can be a contentious issue between professionals, parents and pupils and giving it “a place” in a child's education can be very difficult. The thing I didn't enjoy about primary or secondary school homeworks was the repatitive and uninspiring nature of a lot of the homework set. So, when I went into teaching I had my own ideas on how I wanted to get out of this mundane pupil mindset….

The few homeworks I actually enjoyed at school were the longer project type ones and I remember distinctly in Year 5, doing a project about Walt Disney, which engaged and enthused me.


I completely see the value of regular homework but I've found, on reflection, variation in the activity is a way to succeed with the learners in my class. A lot of the homework I set involves independent research skills, around literacy work we are studying and building mathematical skills through games that involves minimal, if any, recording. I ensure the children have participated in homework still, by requesting parental signatures and the class know we will talk and reflect on their homework.


I'm more than aware of the purpose of learning spellings and multiplication. However, I have found children either really reject doing them, don't do them at all or do them without actually tninking and learning! Instead of setting them as weekly homework I opt to give them practises during registration time, so the learning is short, frequent and done with minimal fuss… this gives me the opportunity to set more exciting and enjoyable homeworks and see them progress with key skills in the mornings.

So I do set weekly homeworks in a variety of ways which then raises the question, which I know many teachers ponder over, setting homework for holidays. My take on this is that children deserve a break as does as anyone, so I leave open and optional research projects for them to create to do with topics, which I will value on their return.


What do you do with homework, if you set any at all?


Please feel free to comment :-)