Monday, 2 January 2017

Christmas Countdown Problem

The above shows a Christmas countdown that we have on a window in our kitchen at home from the 1st of December. It's designed to be used like an Advent calendar and only in December (hence having 2 lots of 2 for '22 days to go' and 2 lots of 1 for '11 days to go', but not 2 lots of the other numbers). Today, I noticed that someone has begun a countdown towards Christmas 2017 (don't worry, it's coming down shortly). However, if we were to continue, how many days could not be shown with the numbers available and what 'days to go' are they? For example '222 days to go' can't be shown as there are only 2 lots of 2, but 357 and 356 can both be shown.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Órlagh's Birthday Riddle

It is true, I know 'cos it's my daughter. I'm going to give that statement to my class this week to see if they can figure out how it can be true.

In case you hadn't already worked it out... She was born on 31/12/2014. She therefore spent sometime (not much) in 2014, also 2015 and 2016. As it's now 2017, that's a fourth (calendar) year. The years are actually irrelevant as the answer is she was born on New Year's Eve and two years and one day later, it's now New Year's Day.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Non-Chronological Report Writing

As previously written about, we're always looking for ways to enthuse learners, engage them in their learning journey and provide them with an audience. 

In the past we've tried writing non-chronological reports about the following with children: instruments (it was a link to making instruments in design and technology, but the children's research about what to write about let them down), Anglo-Saxons (again subject knowledge let them down despite it being a cross curricular link), David Beckham (subject knowledge was ok, but some children got events mixed up) and other relevant subjects.

In the autumn term 2016, many of the children in our school have been captivated by Pokemon and Pokemon Go. As a result, we decided this would be the topic for our forthcoming non-chronological writing. What? a non-fiction text type being written about a fictional topic? can that be done? looks like it: "Harry Potter - The Character Vault" & "The Pokémon Encyclopedia, Official" for a start. 

Our hopes: the majority of children who are often turned off by writing would be engaged by this, those who already enjoy writing would still do so and that the few left 'in the middle' could be encouraged by the others. In addition, the children would be writing a report about a 'new' Pokemon, a Pokemon they would invent. Subject knowledge needed? No, because they're creating the creature. Can what they write be wrong? No, it's their creature. They can focus on report style and layout. What if anyone really doesn't want to write about a Pokemon? They can write about a mythical creature (shhh, that's what a Pokemon is!)

How did it go? Over the three weeks, we designed the area in which our Pokemon would live, learned about how Pokemon my act and interact and what attributes they may posses. At the same time, learning about report layout, style and contents. This meant that when it came to writing, the children were about to write about a Pokemon in the correct way. We wrote a first draft and then a second draft in Book Creator.  

We have created the children an audience in a number of ways:

We believe we've stayed within Copyright with this process as we've only used Pokemon as a prompt. We certainly engaged 120 Year Five pupils. We'd love to hear about your non-chronological report writing.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Curating articles through Pinterest

If ,like us, you access a lot of different articles online, it can be a challenge keeping track of everything you wish to read. One technique we have started to use is curating the articles using a Pinterest account and a Pinterest button extension in our browser.
Beyond the different blogs we follow (which is upwards of 100 now - you amazing, interesting writers, you), there are emails sent daily with articles (a great one is diigo which often has contributions from the brilliant ICTMagic) and of course things which ping our way as we float around Twitter (@primaryideas).
It is often too difficult to read all of these ideas during the school day as we juggle planning, marking and having fun, and by the end of the day, we would end up with a load of memory chugging tabs open in our browsers.
To deal with this, we installed the Pinterest save button. Now, when we open a page that interests us, all we do is click the button, choose an image and save it in the relevant folder.
When it comes time to read, you can read it online or on any of the mobile devices which have Pinterest apps. Finding the time is still an issue, but at least now there is flexibility in it.
We are sure that there are loads of other ways of doing this, but this is one which works for us.

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.