Monday, 5 December 2016

Minecraft and Grammar

We love to play Minecraft, kids love to play Minecraft (many, not all). Therefore, when possible, and without over-doing it, we use the game to provide a context to some of our lessons.
Recently, we have been giving our children some work on the different elements of sentences and have been focussing on the difference between verbs, subjects and objects. This is important knowledge for helping them to understand how their own sentences are structured as well as for when we work on the differences between the active and passive voice.
To help the children understand the difference we put on a quick game of Minecraft and started mining.

 The children were able to understand the difference between the subject (Steve) and the object (the blocks being mined) as well as the verb.
To reinforce this, we were able to change the 'skin' of the character as well as the view of the camera. This meant that the children could see the subject from different viewpoints (changing the skin changes the look of the main character). By changing the equipment that the character was carrying we were able to change the verb as well.

Just writing this has given me the idea to look at using Minecraft to reinforce writing in the first and third person. Look back soon for how that goes...

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Evaporation Videos

This morning it was frosty, very frosty. Upon looking out of the window, I noticed that in the rising Sun's sunshine, the evaporating frost was visible. So, I went outside to try to film it.
Teaching evaporation and condensation to primary age pupils is always a challenge as it (usually) can't be seen and, for some, is a process that's hard to comprehend or believe. That may explain why we've made a number of videos to support our teaching of this scientific processes:

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Bake Off for Evaluation Success

Last week, my mind was cast back a number of years. A few years back, we were researching, designing and then making our own biscuits. During the 'research' stage, a Year Five boy explained to me how he was evaluating the biscuits I'd provided "Like they do on Bake Off". Genius! So, the lesson stopped, the previous night's Bake Off went on and our evaluating and vocabulary improved. Instead of mostly eating their way through biscuits and saying "nice", "nicer", "not so nice" and so on, children were now commenting on the snap, appearance and much more than just the taste and their personal opinions. 

Image credit: Little Bakery

Last week, I thought about how the baking on Bake Off was evaluated. Such depth could be used to improve all evaluating and in particular peer assessments and reviews. Watch and example of how to evaluate baking before evaluating something. 

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Strictly Come Arithmetic

While watching Strictly Come Dancing (yes TV to the rescue again), I noticed a contestant was given a 7 by each of the judges. My brain immediately set to work and inside my head, I muttered to myself, "Oh, 28". Genius, I know. So, Strictly Come Dancing can be used for some four times table work. Maybe screenshot the scores, maybe make your own, maybe watch a dance that's given four of the same score (to engage the class) and ask the class to quickly work out the total. Of course, we can not do any of those here due to copyright (Have emailed the BBC to ask for permission though - they always say no though).
There's more here than just the four times table of course, it's mental addition. Score of 6, 6, 7, 6 is 3 X 6 + 7. So now all scores given are useful. Again, take screenshots, make your own, watch it back in iPlayer. I like the idea of seeing part of the dance for a bit of context. How quickly, and most importantly what methods are used, to get the total score given?

Saturday, 22 October 2016

For Your Classroom... 50 Primary English Questions - Volume 1

We've written another book. This time, it's a book of question types that could be used in English lessons (and other subjects). There are 11 types of question and each question type comes with 5 examples. 

We hope it's useful. Is is available to download from iTunes Store or as a PDF file. Let us know if it's useful.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Lunchtime Story Club

Michael Morpurgo recently spoke of the virtues of teachers reading to children in class. Of course, we agree, we've written about it on this very blog.

At school, our librarian shared the article. Some replies of, "Already do". Others of, "That'd be good". But, many of, "When? I'm too tight on time already!"

However, our quick thinking librarian was straight on to it and thus Storytime Club was born. There's a sign up sheet for teachers. One slot per day (12:15, start of lunch). A notice for children, informing them of the teacher reading that day and the book's title. At the start of lunch, the teacher sits in the library (I sat on beanbags) and reads to whoever turns up (I had 3 children) - not many, but a nice small group to read and discuss a book with. 10 minutes later, picture book read and all off to lunch.

Looking for time to read to children? Set up a Storytime Club they can attend. There may only be three turn up, there may be more, but three, remember, is more than none and they benefit from the story.

Next steps are we hope all members of the school staff and some senior students will join in with reading. 

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Re-Blog: "Shoes Off If You Love To Learn"

On Monday 3rd October, Liam was lucky enough to visit Great Denham Primary School. This was the first time he'd been inside and if anyone reading this is located close enough to visit them, He'd strongly recommend ringing up to see if they can show you around. 

Anyway, the first thing he noticed was that the children had no shoes on in school.