Friday, 20 May 2016


At some recent training with Dylan Wiliam, he asked us a question just before a coffee break and before lunch. He told us we'd get the answer after the break - you know, like Eastenders. So, I've been doing it. Pose a question just before break or lunch that'll be answered at the start of the next lesson. Some of the children actually go away and think about it. Of course, it's very easily done with a book that's being read to the class too...

Monday, 16 May 2016

Lynne Truss' Books for Punctuation

I can remember when 'Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation' was first published. I was at university at the time and a house mate purchased it as a gift for his mother. I had a flick through and found some of the contents of interest. A few years later, and now teaching, I came across the 'child version' of the book. So, I made a purchase and often us the three child-friendly versions of the original in class. Although aimed at children, these books often act as an aide-mémoire for me too!

We've recently been looking at how commas can change the meaning of a sentence. 'Eats, Shoots & Leaves For Children: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference' is ideal for introducing this. After looking at the examples in the book and some of what's in the other two books pictured above, we had a go at writing some of our own:

Saturday, 14 May 2016

The Piano - Some Resources

Another post prompted by a Tweet. We recently saw the below Tweet and our answer was of course, "Yes", but knew our full response wouldn't possibly fit in a Tweet, so here's the blog post answer...
Between us, we've taught the English module based upon 'The Piano' since it was added to the English curriculum. Every year we've been amazed by the writing it produces

We've not written about our work with 'The Piano' before as we were a little unsure about its copyright status. However, in October 2015 Aidan Gibbons, who made the short, told us "it's a free for all".

So, here's what we've got to share...

- First of all, just listen to the sound track. What do the children think the film might be like? 

- Watch the film through and collect responses via a Google Form.  

- Carry out a film review: 

- On a tablet, take screen captures and make memes that can be used when writing about the film.

- We edited the original animation. Does the order of the scenes change the narrative?

- We've played the film with a Yakety Sax soundtrack and a Ludovico Einaudi soundtrack instead of the original, as well as playing it with the sound off to show how much the sound track impacts. We can't share those here as we don't have copyright permission for the music.

- Some of the above resources and others can be also found here.

- If you write a voiceover, use some technology to put it onto the original film:

Monday, 25 April 2016

That's Not My Homophone

We've got about fifteen of these books in our house. My daughter loves them. The images and tactile features of each page are great for engaging a toddler with reading.

What I've realised is that just about every page of the book covers 'that's', 'its' and 'too'. So, today I took in one of her books and projected it for the class to read. The vast majority of them recognised the book. We read it and discussed 'that's', 'its' and 'too' as we came to each one. My main teaching point was 'too'. I told the class to think of these books every time they write 'too' or 'its/it's'.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Fictional Animals and Determiners (A or An)

A couple of years ago, I went to see the comedian John Richardson in a tour called 'Nidiot'. He named his tour this as, when he called someone 'an idiot', he said it sounded like he'd said 'a nidiot'. Similarly, 'an onion' and 'a nonion'.
At the start of this year, I shared with my class the 'Alot' - it's been on my wall since. Whenever a child writes 'alot', we refer to it and we're all now writing 'a lot' (most of the time).
In this lesson, we had a go at creating our own fictional animals. Take an animal that begins with a vowel sound, separate and a and n in an and create a new animal starting with an n. Here's how the lesson went...
We started by looking at some alots. 'Alot of money', 'I like Christmas alot' and others. We found them amusing and talked about what they reminded us of. Next, we listed some determiners. From that list, we wrote out the three types of article (a/an/the). I then displayed a picture of an orange and an onion. I got the children to repeatedly say what they could see. Then, I wrote up 'a nonion' and 'a norange'. This time, I got the class to say these two phrases. Much amusement from the Year Fives about how much 'an orange' sound the same as 'a norange'. The children then created their own new fictional animals to remind us about the rules around articles.

Some of these are now on our Woking Wall, along with the Alot, as a reminder about articles. As part of the lesson, we also covered why it's 'an hour' as opposed to 'a hour' and listed some words that begin with a consonant letter, but a vowel sound. If any other classes create their own animals, we'd love to see them.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Monday, 11 April 2016

Teacher Vs Class

In the past year, I've begun getting more involved in apps that allow me to play games, via my phone or tablet (LettersPress, Words with Friends, Yahtzee and more), with friends, family and 'strangers'. A bit late to the party I know!

I enjoy playing these games. I have my go. The details are sent to the opponent. When they can, they play and so on. Sometimes, there are a few moves in an hour; other times it takes days. 

It's made me think about how this could be used in class. Set up a chess board in the classroom. The teacher plays against the class, taking turns as and when get the opportunity. Scrabble would also work in a similar way. Yahtzee for a maths element. With both of these, the actual board game could be used, or a 2D laminated version could be used on the wall.