Monday, 20 October 2014

Time for Feedback

What's had the biggest impact in my classroom so far this year? Providing a timetabelled feedback session, that's what.

Last year, a year group at my school ran 'Feedback Friday' each week and I've now taken that into my own practice. On a Friday, between 11:20 and 11:50, my class have our 'Feedback Friday' sessions. 

Here's what we do:

- all the books are out on the tables;

- children have red pens and coloured pencils (see this blog post for more information on that);

- children review the work from that week that has been marked and act upon the feedback provided to them.

- if all the feedback has been acted upon, children look at their work and independently look for ways in which their work may be improved.

At the time of writing, we have had five of these sessions. It's not been as straight forward as outlined above: the children have needed coaching and guiding through responding to feedback. Each time I have directed children, as a whole or individually, to a particular piece that they should begin with and then allowed them to look at other books or items of work.

Of course, lessons during the week still have elements of looking at previous work and learning from feedback, but having the Friday session means that I know there's a dedicated half an hour slot in the timetable for children to look at the feedback provided and act upon what has been identified. It's also great to see children looking for and finding ways in which they can improve their own work as they revisit it.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Dice for Writing Exciting Sentences by Text Type

Just over a year ago we posted this. In the past year we've used those dice in our classrooms. The original idea of rolling a dice didn't quite work as any sentence doesn't always work in the context of a piece of writing. We have however used the dice in our lessons more as a 3D reference tool. Children quite like looking at them for inspiration.

In August 2014, Alan Peat contacted us:

These dice are based upon the following book: Writing Exciting Sentences The book has been followed up with associated apps. Also a credit to Bryn Goodman, whose advice about which sentences fit each text type was essential.

We hope the dice are useful and thank you again to Alan Peat for his resources.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

All in a Year's Work

What does QTS mean I do?

First of all, I'm a class teacher, computing subject leader and a year group leader who is part of SLT. That gives this post a setting. So, here are the roles that stand out from year eight of 'being a teacher':

Removal man: In September I changed classrooms. I moved things from one room to another. Incidentally, I'm on the move again as I write...

Interior Designer: Where shall I put the furniture and what shall I put on the walls?

First Aider: (Unofficially, as I have no qualification). A child hurts themselves and informs the teacher. While en route to find a first aider, I've often needed to begin triage.

Computer Technician: "This is not working - make it work (now)".

Senior Buyer: Finding new resources and 'kit', finding the best price and then initiating a purchase.

Social Media Manager: Upkeep of social media streams.  

Security Council: Mostly between children from my class, year group or playground duty, and occasionally the adults! 

Referee, umpire, judge: PE lessons. 

Travel Agent: Planned and carried out a residential. Not one of those organised by a company, oh no, one sorted out by yours truly.

Judge, jury and 'executioner': Getting the truth out of children, deciding what the consequences are and dealing with out fallout. 

Dance Troupe Performer: Christmas dance.

Actor: Literacy play.

Director and Editor: Creating films and supporting that. 

Many of the above may not be required, but they add to an interesting and enjoyable job. Wanted to reflect on how diverse the 190 days that make up the year in the classroom can be. I'm sure there's more I've missed and look forward to hearing from others about what they've been up to.

Friday, 11 July 2014

You Need To Speak Proper (Like What I Do)

In my NQT year, I noticed teaching assistants and other teachers correcting children's speech:

"Er, say thank you."

"Use please next time."

"You mean 'David and I'."

And so on...

In that year, and some since, I was more focused on some of the more basic aspects of the job. However, more recently, I have become aware of the need for children to speak correctly and then how that impacts more widely their ability to communicate, read and indeed write.

This year, a boy in my class had been frequently asking, "Can I go for a toilet?" This, in the past, was something I hadn't corrected with other children. Every time he asked, I corrected and he repeated. Then, last week, with a huge smile he came over and asked, "Can I go to the toilet please?" Of course, the answer (to a Year Five child) was, "There's only five minutes of the lesson left - see if you can wait." But, also, "I'm so pleased you asked correctly." And, I was pleased. I had been persistent and succeeded - I'd taught something (after all, I am a teacher)!

It's so easy to let these slip by. Does it mean the child doesn't know how to speak (and possibly write) correctly, are they being lazy or is it something else? You don't find out if it's not challenged. 

You and I (see what I did there?) have a duty to ensure we teach and, where required, correct children.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Looking for Sport's nth Term

I noticed that in the 2014 FIFA World Cup there are 32 participating nations and 64 matches. That's half participants to matches. 1:2 if you like. I noticed that as a possible pattern and wondered if it'd continue for a competition of 16 teams and therefore 32 matches. However, I didn't investigate. I'm going to get my class to...

Feel free to edit and adapt for your own class.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Here's What It's Like Around Here

On Monday of this week, a Tweet was posted:

At the time of writing, that Tweet has 14 ReTweets (even one from Brian Moses) and 19 Favorites. That's a lot for Liam: he's convinced most of his Tweets don't get read by anyone! Lots of interest out of the blue, and to something we though everyone would be doing. Wrong!

It's my 8th year of teaching and this is something I've done every year. Two weeks before 'Transfer Day', I give the children a home learning task to write a letter to a pupil in my next class. Here's how that was worded: 
The results were very impressive. Here are some extracts:

"Finally, you do lots of literacy and maths, but the teachers make it fun!"

"The Isle of Wight is really worth all of the five hours it takes to get there."

"The more time you spend in this year group, the more you will love it!"

"If you get my teacher, you're lucky: he's awesome!"

"The homework's not difficult if you listen in class."

There's a trip to the National Space Centre (not Space, in Leicester) and it's fun."

Your new class get to hear from those who have just experienced a year in your year group, classroom and presence. They tell it how it has been. Good points, not so good points and, at times, pick out aspects of the teacher's personality. They're useful for the teacher to evaluate the year too. 

Most of all, it's impressive to see the time taken by many of them to produce something that shows real empathy with the child who is going to be reading the letter: