My new job!

I haven’t written anything for a while but meeting my new class this week I feel deserves a post! I met a very talented bunch of children who I cannot wait to work with! They have shown huge enthusiasm for their learning and this is something that impressed me throughout the morning.

During the transition day, I also found out that I am going to be the P.E co-ordinator for the school. Something that I have wanted to do for a while now. I have a passion for sport due to my background playing Ice Hockey and this is something I feel I can offer to the role. I am so pleased I have been given this opportunity to be in charge of P.E. This will aid my own professional development and help me progress to the next stage in my career.

My new school has a long line of success in sport. Cross country champions and Year 5 and 6 football county champions to name a few, so I do feel a lot of pressure to succeed in this role. However, it won’t be me that succeeds, it will be children and they haven’t changed. I just need to facilitate their success. Everything will be fine as long as the children have a platform to showcase their talents. This is an aim of mine for my new role.

A new adventure will soon be upon me and I can’t wait to get started!

Challenging the Gifted and Talented:

Because I am a Year 4 teacher, I have some very talented writers that have a lot of potential, but need that focus and extension to ensure they make more progress.

After sitting down with a fellow colleague of mine, who teachers Year 6, I came across ISPACED. ISPACED is used predominately for sentence openers to help make children’s writing more exciting and interest the reader.

I – Ing openersScreen Shot 2015-05-29 at 18.02.47

S – Similes

P – Prepositions

A – Adverbs

C – Conjunctions/Connectives

E – Ed openers

D – Drop In (Embedded clause)

I have also created individual bookmarks as reminders for children to use when they write. They can use it as a reference or a checklist to ensure they have written their best piece of writing. It also gives them the opportunity to up level their work and edit it.

I wouldn’t suggest using all of ISPACED with children who find writing a challenge, as it may confuse them, however, there are elements of it you can use to help push their progress, such as: adverbs, prepositions and conjunctions. These really improve children’s  writing.

Just keep running…

Over the last 6 months I have been taking my running quite seriously. I have competed in two 10k’s and compete in a 5k Park Run every Saturday morning. It has helped me re-gain fitness and also it has helped me develop my mental toughness for teaching.

During my time teaching, I have noticed that the academic year is actually quiet like a long distance run. Once you start the year, you start well, comfortable and ready for a good year, however, throughout the year, you can have highs and you can have lows, just like a race. In a race, you can have sudden bursts of energy which make you faster and this represents the successes you can have in teaching. You can also have hills to climb. These hills represent lows. It is how you climb these hills that matter, but once you are at the top and you have conquered a low, you can tackle any issue you face in the future. When the end of the race is in sight, you can’t wait to finish, but you must ensure you maintain a strong finish.

The moral of this post…just keep running! You’ll get there!

Half term

Update

I am so glad that the half term break has arrived. My eyes needed propping open with match sticks by the last day. Having completed my reports, ensured all marking was complete and applied for a new job, which I got!!, I felt ready for the break!

So yes, I got a new job! An exciting challenge will be upon me in September and I cannot wait to get started! I will certainly miss my current school; they took me in, two years ago as a NQT, who didn’t know a great deal about teaching, and helped me develop to someone who is extremely confident and knowledgable in the profession. The staff have been fantastic there and I could not have wished for a better school to start my career. With the support I was given, which was outstanding, I believe I have a brilliant foundation to succeed in my career, and I will be eternally grateful for that.

The next chapter. I will be teaching in Year 4 again which I cannot wait for! Utilising my skills that I’ve already gained, will benefit me massively for next year. The school I am going to is wonderful and the chance for progression is brilliant! I feel opportunities will come my way and I cannot wait to relish in the responsibility.

In terms of teaching, my main aim for the new academic year is to utilise ICT more in the classroom and have it as an integral part of the learning environment I provide for the children. I’m not saying I don’t use it at the moment, what I’m saying is that I can use it more effectively to aid progress for the children. I will start posting more on ICT over the next few months as I look to use it more in my classroom

Madness in the method: Why do we teach formal written methods in Primary Maths?

Why do we teach formal written methods in Primary Maths?

Only recently has this been a question I have asked myself and my peers. Is it because it has been taught like this for many years? Is it the most effective way of reaching an answer in Maths? Is it easier? Is it Mathematically correct i.e. does it remove all misconceptions? Is it in the policy? I have been questioning this since going on a fantastic Maths course at a Secondary school; who still teach the number line method in year 11, who use partitioning to add large numbers, who make division easier to understand by using the pizza method.

Teaching Maths should not be about making things harder because they are ‘ready’ to move on. I have noticed that children rely too much on written methods, even for the simplest of questions. Children need to be comfortable with numbers.

4571 + 3937 =

4000 + 3000 = 7000

500 + 700 = 1200

70 + 30 = 100

1 + 7 = 8

answer = 8308

When we add numbers this way there are no misconceptions. The 4 does not represent 4, it represents 4000 and the children can see this, as in the column method they’ll say 4. I even do it, if i’m not 100% thinking about the task and numbers involved.

When we divide, one method we teach is the bus stop method:

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 12.12.41

Misconception Example:’How many 3’s go into 1. 0 so put the 1 by the 4. How many 3’s go in 14. 4 with 2 left over so put the 2 next to the 4′ etc…

An effective way to avoid misconceptions:

Pizza Method Division

Pizza Method Division

The method above is called the Pizza method, which I learnt on the course. It looks complicated but if you look closely it is actually extremely simple and avoids misconceptions that children get. It is basically chunking, but split into a more visual format. I love the idea that the pizza is split into three pieces, so the children know that dividing by 3 is the same as sharing the number into 3 parts.

This method can also aid fractions. What is 2/3’s of 1443? 1/3 is 481. 2/3’s is 962. It unlocks many doors to Maths. Applying this method also increases childrens’ number sense and their estimation skills. It may take practise as children will not get this straight away, however, once they do understand they can go onto even more complex numbers and Maths. We want children who are competent with numbers!

The point of this post was not to say formal written methods are bad, because that is what I, and many others, learnt when we were at school. I wrote it for people who read this post to question why we teach these methods and are they the most effective way of teaching Maths.

Experiential learning

Creating context that engages children. A hook that entices the children to not only play along, but to actually believe what they are doing has a purpose and that they can make a difference through their writing.

This is my next task. Over the next two weeks, we are writing Newspaper reports and after the initial learning; identifying the features, talk for writing etc.. the real fun begins.

Due to looking at The Normans and Medieval times, we decided to focus on Robin Hood which, I feel, lends itself well to newspaper report writing.

Let me set the scene:

Arrow pinning a note on to the whiteboard.

The classroom has been trashed, someone has been lurking around.

iPads have gone.

Who? What? Where? When? Why?

A fantastic caretaker who will be our witness, someone to help the children get that all important quote/s into their reports.

The scene will be set for the children (I’m getting excited about the prospect of some fantastic writing)

I can’t wait!

Observation

Observation’s… the joys. Being my final one of my NQT year, I decided to try something new and exciting to get an even better personal grade but more importantly to ensure that every child was engaged in their learning.

At QV, we are fortunate to have fantastic ICT facilities. Using the White room (room with a projector in) I wanted the children to write independent diary entries to commemorate WW1, as they have previously done a lot of work on this and I wanted to see if they could write in the correct style.

The White room helps bring situations to life. In the background I had WW1 sounds; guns, bombs, shouting. Being projected onto the wall, I had a video of the trenches, there was a bunker in the corner of the room and at the end of the video I created a morfo which helps bring a picture to life and creates a character. I used this to help explain the children’s task which gives purpose to the lesson. Amongst all of that, on the walls, there were different features of writing that they needed to include as well as language; all of this was created in the lesson prior to their writing, taken from our working wall. Surprisingly, from everything I included, alongside a fantastic TA who decorated most of the room, this did not take long to set up. I have learnt from this lesson that this lesson shouldn’t be just a one off but it can be incorporated into daily teaching.

From this lesson I found that every child was engaged and the level of work was fantastic. Having struggled throughout my NQT year to ensure progression was being made in Writing, this lesson proved that I can do it and proved to the children that they can too.