Thursday, 11 February 2016

We Make Use of... '100WC'

We've been aware of the 100 Word Challenge since 2011. In the past, we've used the prompt occasionally in class and commented upon children's writing shared via the 100 Word site. And, in 2012, Julia, the creator of the challenge, even attended a TeachMeet that we organised. 

This year, through the Night Zookeeper website, we've started to use the 100 Word Challenge on a weekly basis. We've made time each week to complete the challenge and to comment upon other children's work. We've seen it be hugely beneficial to the children and had an impact on many of their writing abilities. Generally, in our English lessons, the children need to demonstrate their ability to follow a certain text type in a certain way (there are success criteria and learning objectives to meet). The 100 Word Challenge is different: write a response to the prompt in your own way, how you like... 

Some children have written entries as good as their normal every-day writing; others have been really enthused by it and created writing better than they do at other times. Once the children have completed their 100 Word entry, they visit other class' entries and read the children's work. After they've read it, they leave comments for that child. Thus, widening their experience of writing and being critical of their peers. 

Image credit:

All-in-all, it's been a wonderful addition to our classroom practice. As we use Night Zookeeper, we've also made use of the Star Writing each week

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Tools for Productivity

A few online tools and tools that can be downloaded, all for free, that we use regularly. We've shared their use previously, but here they are all together in one post...

Easily create mosaics with images on your computer. Allows images of an event or children's work to be shared in an interesting way.

We've used this site mostly to convert video formats (to allow editing via iMovie or Movie Maker, uploading to iPod/iPad or for use in SMART Notebook), but it is also useful for converting between .docx & .pdf and different image types.
Does exactly what it says on the tin. Need a copy of a blog post or website to read away from an electronic device? Get a copy in an easier to print format. Got an online article linked to planning that you'd like to make available offline? Use this to make a .pdf copy.

Got an image that you want to display, only larger? Put it through Posterazor and get a print out of the picture, enlarged, that can be put together and stuck up.

This tool is one of the first we turn on each morning and the last to get turned off at night. We run numerous Twitter accounts and this enables us to post from them and follow their notifications. In addition, various columns can be set up to search for words, phrases (one for your school name can be an interesting addition) and hashtags.

As *Mac users, this tool has occasionally been useful for running .exe (Windows) files on OSX.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Monday, 1 February 2016

Reading to The Class (Picture Books)

I've never been much of a reader. Don't know why. Just the way I am I suppose. However, I do enjoy being read to (bloomin' love being read to) and enjoy reading a book out loud for others to share in the enjoyment of. This is another post where my classroom practice has been altered by by daughter. My daughter is now just over a year old and, in the past year, I've rediscovered the library and picture books. She quite enjoys books and I enjoy reading to her at bedtime. There are some beautiful, interesting and amusing picture books. 

In the past, we've written about picture books being a useful tool in Key Stage Two. What I've done so far in the spring term is change my approach to reading to my class. In the past, I read 'longer' books: Tove Jansson, Dhal, Blyton etc... These have mostly been successful, but often, I'd start a book and not manage to get it finished or we'd lose track of events. I've taken into school some of the books I read my daughter, I've chosen picture books from the school library and even had one brought in by the children. The result has been that we've started and finished a story in two or three days. 

What do I want to get out of a story? Children enjoying it. Learning about plot. Seeing vocabulary and punctuation choices. Getting ideas for their own writing. We've got all of these so far!

Notable stand outs so far...

Mr. Wuffles! - David Wiesner

Horton Hears a Who - Dr. Seuss

This Moose Belongs to Me - Oliver Jeffers

I'll still read some longer books too (that's important), and Five on a Treasure Island will be one of them, but I'll get in lots of picture books in between.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Our Other Clock

We've shared previously the clock display that we both have on the wall in our classrooms. That clock is designed to share and remind children about some maths facts and vocabulary in an interesting way.

Last week, we realised that we've not written about what's above. Eight years ago (yes that long), Liam got given a new clock for his classroom wall. Upon receiving it, he realised that the plastic front could easily (reasonably easily) removed. So, he removed it and added some reminders about telling the time to the clock face. More information cloud be added. Different information could be added. Maybe different clocks in different places in the school having different information on them? It's a quick, easy (reasonably) and low-cost way of sharing time vocabulary.

Friday, 29 January 2016

TMBett16 Presentation

We've attended the Bett Show in some way for almost ten years. In addition, we've been able to attend the Friday evening TeachMeet for each of the last four years. We always come away from both buzzing, revitalised and full of new ideas.

Image credit: Martin B

This year, Liam decided to put himself down to present at the TeachMeet, and sure enough (after spending all day telling anyone who'd listen that he hoped his name wouldn't come up) the random name chooser fell - late in the evening - on '@ThisIsLiamM'. Liam presented about ideas previously shared on this blog and elsewhere. His slides can be found below, along with other relevant links.

Friday, 18 December 2015

#LikeAGirl Assembly

In the past, we've used videos in assemblies. In the main, these have been courtesy of Assembly Tube (and some we've made ourselves too). If you've not already checked out that resource, we suggest you take a look. One of our favourites from Assembly Tube is The Impossible Dream assembly.

At the start of this month, our vice principal shared the following videos with us:

With these videos, and some we added, we lead an excellent assembly with Years Five and Six. 

At the start, we showed the introduction of the first video, which showed people running in a silly way when asked to 'run like a girl'. This got a giggle from the mixed-gender audience and then we cut straight to this:

Chrissie Wellington being a real inspiration for us given her amazing achievements and, despite these, she is still relatively less well-known (we are always eager to do some Chrissie Wellington plugging). We discussed what an amazing athlete she is.

Then, because we are actually boys and feel that it is just as important that we get rid of stereotyping boys, we showed an extract from this video demonstrating Mad Chadd and his stunning dancing:

Rather sneakily we added this, in part, because we are both teaching dance next term and it allows us to demonstrate that it is not alright to say that dancing is "only for girls."

Moving on, we discussed how pernicious the phrase "like a girl" has become, both as an insult and, more worryingly, as a normal everyday comment. We also talked about how important it was to avoid other 'isms' through stereotyping and from this had a general discussion about moving forward with doing what people want.

Personally, we felt the most important part of the assembly came at the end: we discussed not letting others limit us or even limiting ourselves because of generalities and stereotypes. We ended by asking the children to ask a simple question if they are told they are not allowed to do something because they are a boy or a girl: why not?