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.

10 things I know now that I didn’t before qualifying as a teacher

I have been teaching for two years now and I have absolutely loved it, however, there are some things I would tell myself before I started my PGCE.

  1. Constantly try new things! They may work. They may not. When they do, what a feeling!
  2. Don’t work all day, everyday.
  3. Be confident
  4. Don’t quit your hobbies
  5. Don’t have a packet of biscuits at your desk
  6. Photocopiers will become your friend. Just treat them with care and you will soon understand them.
  7. You’ll always find yourself writing lists.
    1. Mark English
    2. Mark Maths
    3. Mark Science
    4. Plan
    5. Write a list
  8. If anybody comes into your class and says ‘Don’t worry we’re not looking at you’. They are definitely looking at you. – This isn’t a bad thing, just embrace it and show off what you and the children can do!
  9. Prioritise
  10. Children may overtake you with their knowledge of technology!

There are many other things I would say to myself two years ago but I would never say, are you sure about teaching?

If you have started a PGCE or in your NQT year, keep going! Remember why you chose to be in the profession!

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!