First day back…

After trying to get my new classroom ready over the summer I still hadn’t got it perfect when the big day came.

Today the kids were back and my classroom wasn’t up to my own standards, that being said the room worked pretty well… Thinking about it I should’ve taken pics of my continuous provision areas and posted them here so I’ll do that tomorrow (must’ve been too busy or something, fancy that).

Anyway, the day ran fairly smoothly (disregarding the fire alarm going off unplanned just before lunch of course, no Ict in my room whatsoever till later this week, my outdoor area unfinished, oh and my ASD child not having any 1:1 support yet).

But however much I tried to prepare myself that my new class wouldn’t be the little angels my last class. were by the end of last year (rose tinted lenses?)I was still surprised by how loud they were, I’d completely forgotten how loud they are fresh from reception! That being said they are a thousand times better than my last class was at the start of last year. So with that in mind in shouldn’t take as much work with these to get them where I want them 🙂

Brushing up on my HTML!

With coding being at the forefront of the Computing National curriculum I decided to cast myself back to my ICT A Level where we learnt a smattering of html. I’m pretty pleased with the result, it’s basic but also simple enough skills to transfer to school, please take a look:

bannerhttp://worldofdrseuss.uphero.com/DrSeuss.html

I’m going to put it forward to the head that perhaps I could deliver a coding club at school to some of the older year groups where they can design their own website on whatever subject interests them. Then with some basic html they can make their own website. I’ll keep you posted anyhow!

Think  I may make a few more of  my own to make sure I’m up to scratch myself 🙂

HTML is actually pretty simple to do you can use notebook on your computer or download free software notebook++.  I started on notebook then downloaded the free software which is intuitive and makes it easier to spot the mistakes in your coding.

A great place to start if you fancy a crack at it yourself is http://coding4kids.co.uk/tutorials/

I used these videos myself for things that  I needed a little reminding of how to do. It’s straight forward and simple to follow and  I would definitely recommend it 🙂

 

 

 

Under the sea.

Our topic this term is under the sea and after a pretty boring role play area, and failed attempts at fantasy stories last term, I decided that another wow role play area was needed to replicate the fab fairy tale stories we got after Christmas…

 

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So far along the writing process we have looked at a few different sea creatures and read a few under the sea stories. We’ve used alliteration to describe the sea creatures and next    I’m going to lead a few drama sessions in the role play area acting out problems and solutions 🙂 I’m just waiting for the child’s wetsuit I bought off ebay to arrive!

Back to the roleplay area: I was adamant I wanted some fabric to create a definite “under” the sea feel and found this beautiful bargain at the market for just a pound a metre. The fish are fish the children created using a collage technique during our Bread and Fishes miracle lesson! My TAs created the tissue paper backdrop and the water themed paper was from the YPO catalogue that I got at the start of the year for our pirates topic.

The best part is the kids using my old yellow with pink fishes sarong and wearing it as a mermaid/merman tail!

I’ve also put a kids camera and recording microphone in and hopefully we’ll get some good photos and oral story telling out of it prior to getting down to writing.

So Jesus had a sweet tooth?

This one was completely my fault as I had asked my more able writers to imagine what happened after Jesus healed Bartemeaus and Bartemeaus joined Jesus and his crowd. I just really didn’t expect to be reading this:

 

Jesus had a sweet tooth

 Guess I need to emphasise that it needed to be realistic and that when Jesus was alive one just didn’t pop down the shop for some sweets! R.E strikes again and gives me fits of giggles! Hope you find it as funny as I did 🙂

 

 

Not quite Poundland Pedagogy but close enough!

Yesterday I decided to go for a little shopping trip and ended up strolling into one of my favourite places to browse- Home Bargains.

As a teacher I can’t help but spend my money on things for my class, I just see something and my someone inside my head screams ‘YOU NEED THIS NOW!’- and because I’m not buying clothes or shoes for myself I justify it. (I shouldn’t really- I should in fact be saving for a wedding but It’s really hard to ignore someone screaming in your head you know…).

Anyway, back to Home Bargains, I saw the best thing ever a big fluffy toy flower! As a year 1 teacher I needed this trust me. Initially I thought it would be great to go in our ‘garden centre’ but most things I buy to put in the role play area end up getting broken and this was just to lovely to be put in the dangerous hands of 5 year old monsters :p. However my second idea was far better:

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How cute is that?  So now we have a Science working wall! and as Science Co-ordinator I think i’ll keep a science working wall all year round. As we have continuous provision in the class the children have already interacted and used the display to further reinforce their new knowledge of plants! I even caught some drawing and labelling their own in the creative area today. Hoorah!

‘I love reading to you Miss…’

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As a year 6 lad once said to me ‘I love reading to you Miss you make it exciting!’. This boy hated reading, and we had a struggle to get him read at home. However when he read to me the fact that I interacted with his reading made the experience so much more enjoyable for him.

I didn’t just sit and listen and I didn’t just blandly ask questions about his reading. I gasped at the exciting bits, I made oos and ahhs and the scary bits and excitedly asked him questions about what he thought would happen next.

I understand that this kind of approach isn’t for every teacher but that’s the kind of teacher I am and it certainly got this boy engaged with reading. And you’ve guessed it, he started reading at home and coming into school the next day excited to tell me what had happened. Job done. It’s still one of the best compliments I’ve ever received and probably ever will.

Make your science lessons pop (If you’ll pardon the pun)

So as I may be science co-ordinator next year it got me to musing on the fantastic science program we had during my PGCE at The University of Manchester. There were so many fantastic ways to make science exciting, engaging and memorable so I’ve decided to reminisce and share the most active of the many.

Where to start…

ELECTRICITY

I remember this one because it was active, enjoyable and the kids really understood the tricky concept of current. On the floor marked out was a single circuit. One child was the cell and another was a bulb. All the other children served as the electrical current. The battery gave each child a little push each time they went around the circuit and each time they ‘went through’ the battery the bulb jumped. Great fun!

MATERIALS

The kids really liked the movement involved in this one. When looking at solids, liquids and gases the children act as particles- obviously for solids the children are all locking arms and ‘vibrating’ quickly, for liquids they are spread out slightly and for gasses spread far apart. This is great for showing solids melting too as you can speed up the vibrating or slow it down by the use of a tambourine!

HUMAN BIOLOGY

Balloons are a necessity when teaching science! Here’s just one of the reasons why:

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You need someone to be the heart,  someone for the lungs, someone to be the brain and someone to be the rest of the body.  The rest of the children are blood cells. The blood (chn) move on a heart beat  a beat of a drum). When chn reach the lungs they are given a balloon (oxygen), they go up to the brain then make their way to the rest of the body. The chn burst the balloon to show the oxygen being used up then make their way around the circuit to pick up more oxygen. Sounds complicated but works brilliantly!

BREATHING

This one I came up with on a spur of a moment question from one of the children in my class when  I was telling them it was important to sit up straight for singing.

Me: Make sure you’ve got nice straight backs to get lots of air in your lungs

Child: Miss what’s a lung?

Me:…..well imagine you’ve got two balloons under your ribs (rubs ribs after realising eash if they don’t know what a lung is!) Every one take a deep breath in… your balloons in your chest have blown up now and they are nice and full and big. Now breath out…now your balloons have got all small again and have no air in them.

I then told the children to scrunch over and try to breath in-

Children: ‘Ah miss that’s hard!’

Now they all have lovely straight singing backs 😉

There were so many more but these are just a few of the more get up and get involved ones. If I’m teaching you to suck eggs then  I apologise but if not I hope they are of some use to you!

First day back: or the importance of being flexible

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So after spending a fair bit of time over Easter on a planning mission and creating resources to match you can imagine my utter despair and mad panic when I couldn’t find my life, my love, the one I couldn’t live with out…(etc. etc.) my memory stick at 11pm last night! After tearing up my lovely tidy apartment, forcing my loving fiancé out of bed to join the hunt and having no luck whatsoever I came to conclusion I must have left it in school Thursday when I went in to get some displays ready.

So this morning I get to school and BOOM no memory stick! After 30 seconds of a mad panic I switch off the crazy lady part of my brain ,calm myself down and switch into teacher mode, print off a few copies of the magical 5 minute lesson plan (Lifesaver Teacher Toolkit!). Just like that I had a whole days worth of new plans (and they were pretty good lessons even if I do say so myself) and today ran as smooth as it would have without the beautifully prepared lesson plans and resources. Lucky I’m flexible eh!

Of course I still had that crazy lady nagging at the back of head my going “a terms worth of P.E, R.E, topic and 2 weeks of maths all planned and prepared, gone…GONE?!?!” I managed to squash her back in to the mental cupboard under the stairs for the rest of the day, the whole twilight staff training until I burst through my apartment door. By now I had mentally re-searched the whole of my apartment and re-traced my actions and had convinced myself they had to be n my jeans pocket. They had to be right? or bye bye sanity…

Crazy lady that lives in the mental cupboard under the stairs (or perhaps madwoman in the attic?)turns out to be great at finding things- MY SANITY IS SAVED- I found the precious!!

Am now considering wearing my usb sticks as a necklace…starting a new fashion anyone?

How to prepare for the PGCE

When I applied for my own PGCE course I left it rather later and had my interview in July. So by then the university had sent me everything in one package that they had sent to everyone else in dribs and drabs over the year. Obviously I had a lot to do and very little time to do it. However if you have been accepted for a PGCE course around this time of year, you have plenty of time!

That being said, if you are anything like me and sadly enjoy preparing and feel like a nervous wreck sitting around letting time idly pass by then here are a few things that you will find beneficial. Do these and you’ll be top of the class 🙂

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The first thing you will want to do if you haven’t done so already is register with http://www.tes.co.uk/. It’s free and has fantastic resources, ideas, and general help for PGCE students, new teachers and experienced teachers alike. Do it and do it now!

Behaviour management is a major worry for most. Will they listen to me? What do I do with the screaming child sitting under tables? etc etc 😉

Well there are plenty of great resources out there to prepare, a lot of great articles with advice on behaviour management can be found on the TES website as linked from above! When you get onto school placement you will be expected to follow the same behaviour management system as the school so there is little room for freedom. Having said that your observers will be looking for a balance of you being able to follow school procedure and developing your own style so here are a few of my favourite little behaviour management techniques.

  • To call a busy classroom to attention without raising your voice pre-inform the class that when you clap a rhythm you expect them to stop everything they are doing and join in with the rhythm. This is great because 1. it means they have to put everything down and won’t be fiddling. 2. it allows you to gain attention almost immediately with little effort and no shouting!
  • Whilst writing that first one I used the word ‘expect’. Clearly explaining your expectations and instructions is much more important than you realise. Unless you explain step-by-step what you want a class to do, something will go wrong! No more than 3 steps at a time is a good rule to follow.
  • STAY POSITIVE. This is important, every instruction you give must be a positive not a negative one. This is tricky at first but once you get into the swing of it it comes naturally. For example say WALK instead of DON’T RUN. Say PUT YOUR HANDS UP rather than DON’T CALL OUT. Say KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF instead of STOP HITTING. If you lead with a negative instruction it is likely the child will only hear the bit you don’t want them to do. Not only does this keep a positive, happy learning environment but the children will respond better too- no one likes a telling off 🙂

I’m not going to go on with that as like I said there is great behaviour management advice right at your finger tips on the TES website.

Ok let’s see, what else would you benefit from doing… Ah yes, brush up on your maths and science. It’s probably been a while since you’ve done either, unless you’ve just graduated and did said degree or A Levels. Anyway it won’t hurt to get to grips with what you’re going to need to know. http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ is fab for this and regardless of what year group you think you’d like to teach in you really need to be up to GCSE standard for both of these. You certainly need to be ahead of the children anyway!

Getting to grip with some uses of ICT in the primary classroom would be a good idea. Even I (and I consider myself to be pretty tech savvy) benefitted from this. There are hundreds and hundreds of ways to enhance learning both through and from ICT. Just a few things you might want to start off with: animation, blogging :p, audacity, photo stories, windows movie maker.

Finally (all I can think of for now and this is a fair bit to keep you going) start immersing yourself with children’s literature. You need to make sure that you’re exposing your pupils to the very best books- sub standard stuff just won’t do. Here are a few to keep your eye on if you’re wondering where to even begin: Julia Donaldson, Michael  Morpurgo, Mini Grey, Anthony Horowitz and Michael Rosen. They should whet your appetite a bit 🙂

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And please make sure you enjoy your free time now while you have it. You’re in for one heck of a ride with this course- There’ll be ups, downs and loop the loops. But by the end of it you’ll be caught up in the excitement and thrill of teaching and you won’t want to get off!

Miss Sykes