July 29, 2014
We have had our spelling programme on the website for a couple of terms now for individual and mixed age classes. However, like all large rural counties, we have a significant number of whole KS2 classes in schools. So just for you, we have written a two year rolling programme for whole KS2 classes. To start off with there is a pathway through the programme. This is then followed by a session by session overview.
Year 1 is made up of Yr3 and 5 spelling programme and year 2 consists of Yr4 and 6. Over the four years you will teach year 1, year 2, year 1 and year 2. We have planned it like this because schools will get new children in at some point during the four years so if you do a four year programme there could be gaps for those children.
What you will need to do is make notes about which parts the children do really well and which will need more emphasis when you repeat the year again. For all years you will need to differentiate the sessions by the words that you use with groups of children. For instance, we have given you a range of homophones to choose from. Some children will only have a few of the more common ones and others will be working with those that have more challenging spellings.
Find the pathway and session overviews here.
July 28, 2014
As we move towards a life without levels, all sorts of providers are moving to offer you the solution to this challenge. However, there are a few things which we need to bear in mind when deciding how we will assess in the future. These can be summarised as:
- Whatever we adopt now will need to change in the future when the performance descriptors become available for KS1 in the autumn term and KS2 later on.
- Overtime we will develop an understanding of expectations for year groups that are not end of KS in order to make judgements about whether children are on track or not to achieve end of KS expectations. Again systems will need to be flexible enough to allow this to happen.
- We don’t know what language will be used to report at the end of key stages and some systems may want to report this at the end of each year. This will develop over time.
- Tracking is not the same as assessing. It will be easier to sort your assessment and then find a tracking system rather than choosing a tracking system which determines your assessment.
- We need a range of ways of assessing. The report into reading in Stoke on Trent, Ready to Read?, talks about triangulating data/evidence and many schools will want to use a range of data to come to a judgement. I think there is a real danger in using only one system at the beginning stages of new systems. They are all so untried and no one wants to find that their assessment does not align with the new expectations.
So we too must throw our hats into the ring and say that we have developed a system for assessing reading and writing. It is a very draft set of documents because we do not have all the information that we need to complete the work. We have taken statements from the NAHT key performance indicators, test frameworks for KS1 and 2 and a few things from APP that are still relevant.
The documents operate in an APP style in that they are for periodic assessment and are designed to be used with a range of evidence. We would really welcome feedback from those who have used them in their classrooms. We will write more about them nearer the start of the new term.
April 21, 2014
We are frequently asked for good texts to use as models for persuasive writing. We don’t have any books on our list of texts that teach which are persuasive because that is not the form that these texts come in. However, this morning I received two different types of persuasive texts through the post. The first is from the British Legion asking for money using the 70th annniversary of D-Day as a focus.
There is a letter with the ‘call to action’ explaining how you can donate money and why. There is a leaflet which contains four stories of unsurpassed bravery. Making an emotional link with people is a very powerful persuasive device and this leaflet does it really well. Finally there is a small union jack leaflet which has space on the back for you write a message of thanks to the D-Day heroes. This is returned in the envelope provided with your donation. This pack would make a great model for Yr6 pupils to create their own around something that they feel strongly about.
The second is a brochure for cars from BMW and how easily they can be purchased for just a small amount each month. It would suit Yrs 3 and 4 where they could create a persuasive leaflet about pets, toys or new PE equipment they would like in school.
There are also some good resources online. Here are some of the ones that I have used recently:
What are your favourite resources for persuasion?
April 2, 2014
We finally did it. Having read The Paradise Garden by Colin Thompson, we created the main character’s bedroom. It was fascinating because this was the second time that we had read the book and so the Trainees saw even more in it. Because we were trying to make links with a child’s bedroom, we read the book differently and so noticed that red symbolises escape or travel and that there were other characters that appeared on many of the pages.
I had set up a bedroom just inside the door of the room that we use for breaks and break out groups. This is just the bare bones.
And here is the bedroom after it had been dressed. If you know the book you will recognise some of the items and be able to make your own mind up about why we included them.
It is a hedgehog and duck on the bed. They appear on every single page and so have great relevance for Peter. Perhaps they had been favourite cuddly toys that were comforters and so went with him everywhere. At one point a helping dog came in to the building, hopped on to the bed and started to chew the hedgehog! I didn’t manage to get a picture but if you have visted Colin Thompson’s website and read his pages about dogs, you will recognise the link to Cafe Max that appears on many of his pages.
What role play area do you have in your classroom?
March 12, 2014
If you are a fan of Colin Thompson’s books then you will no doubt already enjoy The Paradise Garden. We love this book for a range of reasons: it is just perfect; it shows a great voyage and return blueprint; it speaks to most children; the images are very engaging.
What I love most about it though, is the language and sentence construction (I am a primary literacy adviser!). I particularly enjoy the first three pages where the sentences get longer and longer as Peter relaxes in to his new environment. Whilst working with the latest group of SCITT trainees we were wrestling with contexts in which we could get children to do the same thing. One trainee mentioned being uptight before going on holiday and then relaxing as you get to your destination.
That jogged our memories about the advert where Simon the Ogre goes on holiday, gradually relaxes and then becomes a normal human being. A perfect context for playing with sentence length. The more he relaxes, the longer our sentences get. Brilliant!
March 9, 2014
Like many, I thought I would sit back and wait to see what would happen with assessment under the new national curriculum. However, I have come to accept that the government have said what they are going to say and now it is over to us. One document that might help those who use talk for writing is Transforming Writing which is an evaluation of Pie’s work. This talks in detail about the improving activities that teachers engaged in with their class.
Sadly, I have watched on twitter those who have developed their own assessment procedures patronise and denigrate those who are still using Assessing Pupil Progress (APP). Acceptance that not everyone is in the same place is crucial if we are to move forward, each of us at our own pace.
The NAHT commissoned a report on assessment and whilst it was a little vague, it was full of principles but light on what we should actually do. There were some interesting parts to it. One was ‘Don’t Panic’ and the other one that stuck in my memory was evolve; don’t throw everything out and start with a blank piece of paper.
So, if you are using APP, how do you start to evolve? Well there are all sorts of ways but some of them might be:
- Use an elicitation task before starting your teaching sequence. This will enable you to ensure that your must/should/could statements really do meet the needs of your class. An elicitation task asks children to write in as similar way as possible to the key outcome. It is not a test, so support the children with the content through speaking and listening activities, but don’t support the way in which the children write it.
- Use this to determine the must/should/could statements to ensure that they meet the needs of the children.
- Mark and identify the innovate writing in order that elements for further teaching are identified and then included in the invent stage of writing.
- Following on from the invent writing, identfiy what the children need next. This might mean that you don’t teach the text type that you were expecting to, but teach a different one that allows the children the opportunity to develop what they need next. One example of this is that I was working with a school on a narrative unit and found that the key outcome suggested that the next steps were to develop vocabulary choices. The next unit that the teacher had planned was a non-chronological report. In fact, what the children needed was a poetry unit. This is a major change for some. Coverage is not the issue under the new national curriculum. Responding to the needs of the children is!
- Don’t plan out a year’s work of literacy in advance. If you take the above point seriously, you you will understand that this is not possible. Collect the text types taught and the titles used each half-term and reflect upon genre covered and those that now need to be addressed.
- Understand the role of testing in assessment procedures. Some schools that I talk to insist that testing for reading is the way in which reliable reading results will be achieved. If as a school you believe this to be true, then follow it and keep up to date with publishers. (I am sure that when Gove invited the publishers to be involved in assessment, this would be the end result.) If testing is not your preferred method of assessment, how will you assess reading? If APP is embedded in practice, then start to collect information about what the children can do and what next the next steps might be
There are of course, many other ways in which schools could start to evolve in terms of their assessment procedures. What are you doing?
February 2, 2014
Imagine a friday night. You sit down with your glass of wine and think I will just check in with facebook and twitter and then stop working. And then, twitter manages to show you something that you think about all weekend. An idea so inspiring that even when you are choosing the oranges in Tescos you are thinking – How could I use this?
Hats off to St Peters in Bournemouth! What an exciting place to work and to be a student. The blog post Pimp my Classroom: 8 ways to confuse the cleaner was what set me off, in particular the images from No.4 The Expert’s Bedroom and the timeline displayed at the top of the post. What I have thought about all weekend is how could I use them and so, DPSCITT trainees, I have come up with some ways.
The timeline was based on an idea from Sara Fanelli at the Tate. I have her book The Onion’s Great Escape which invites the reader to
respond in the book by drawing, doodling and reflecting. I think the timeline may do the same. It is created as a small, fan folded piece of card in an envelope. This I love! After much thought, I think I can best use this when we look at reading and explore children’s literature. We could make a timeline of significant children’s authors with links to current authors, e.g. if you like this, then you might also like this. Amazon does this nowadays and it is the very essence of a good bookshop and school library. It is what teachers need to do to encourage and broaden children’s reading experiences.
It is The Expert’s Bedroom that I am most excited about.
Imagine what a particular person’s bedroom looked like when they were a child. I think that this great idea could be used as an outcome for an author study. Imagine what the bedroom of Eric Carle as a child would be like. This is exactly what I intend to do with the trainee teachers, and then create it! Through this activity we can explore Eric Carle but we can also discuss how to negotiate setting up role play areas with children and how we can use challenges to alter their play in the space.
The images are organised as a timeline and tell the story as you go round. I still can’t tell how they created the wardrobe on the doorway though! I might not be able to create that part.
There are other things though on the blog that I am still thinking about, e.g. critique gallerys, Austin’s butterfly (surely that is what writing is all about) and teachers as reasearchers.
What have you donne in your learning environment that will stimulate your learners?
January 27, 2014
Hello Mr Hulot by David Meveille is a wonderful wordless book that made me laugh out loud and I don’t often do that.
The book is strongly patterned in terms of the way that the pictures are framed – 4 to 6 frames on the first page followed by a one page frame when you turn over. It is this that lends the book to being used in guided reading. It would be very good to use a reciprocal reading type session where the children predict from the first page and then draw what they think the last image would be after having studied The Heart of Paris and Hulot the Plumber. The children could then generate questions that can be answered by the text and summarise it.
See a YouTube version here. This book is going on our guided reading list for level 4 readers.
January 12, 2014
We have been on the lookout for a book that has a good set of instructions for KS1 and look what turned up from Amazon this evening!
This set of instructions sets out how to wash a woolly mammoth with a great sense of humour. I love the back cover with the bottles of shampoo and soap such as Tusk Whitener and Antibacterial Hoof Wash.
The instructions reassure the owner of the mammoth that they can wash the animal with a few clever tricks. Step three just says ‘Add mammoth.’ and is then followed by a series of images showing ways in which the mammoth can be encouraged into the bath using a broom or a spooky mask. This page lends itself to children writing a series of sentences to explain what is happening in the images.
The voice of the text is informative ‘ Don’t forget to wash behind those ears….’ and ensures the owner undertakes this task successfully ‘CAREFUL – a mammoth’s tummy is terribly tickly!’
I love the hair styles that the little girl makes when she washes his topknot – a mammoth mullet anyone?
I wondered about using this book with The Night Zookeeper where children could make their own imaginary animal and then write a set of instructions about caring for it in some way. This could be washing it but it could also be feeding, exercising or clipping it. Maybe that last one isn’t really for KS1 children! I was getting carried away by the TV programme that showed competitive poodle clipping and colouring.
This is one title that will end up in our Teaching Sequence subscription service based on the new national curriculum. These are the titles that we have written teaching sequences. More will be added to the list as we write them.
January 5, 2014
Many people will be aware of Haylock and Cockburn’s connective model of learning in mathematics. It is based on the idea that a developing
understanding is constructed through making connections between what we already know/experience and new knowledge and experiences.
If we cannot make connections then we have to resort to trying to learn by rote. The more connected are our experiences, the more secure and the more useful is the learning. (Haylock with Thangata)
The four aspects of this diagram are linked by arrows in all directions which represent the talk that is the means by which children make the connections. When reading this, I was struck by the similarity with grammar teaching and learning. Debra Myhill’s literature reveiw of grammar teaching identified elements necessary for effective learning. Myhill talks about looking at grammar in context, offering the children patterns or models to base their ideas around. Without this, grammar becomes a very abstract idea and leads to misunderstandings. In very simplified terms this can be shown by the fact that when looking at word classes we don’t say that a word belongs to a particular word class, e.g light is a noun. It could be used as a verb, noun or adjective depending upon the context it is in.
The language in the model is about the technical terminology so we call a verb a verb rather than a doing word. This means that when children are talking and investigating a particular aspect of grammar we are using the terminology and actively encouraging them to name it in their talk, not as rote learning but as a way of describing what they are doing and what they are trying to achieve.
The images is an interesting aspect because we don’t have images for grammar but we could! The idea behind our Sentence Toolkit is that for each element we have a real tool that provides a way of linking what can sometimes be quite an absract idea to a concrete one. For example, we use a tape measure for expanded noun phrases and as we model ways of making noun phrases, we stretch our tape measure. This then brings in the fourth element which is an action. Here the stretching symbolises what is happening when we modify the nouns. Hammering our fist into our palm when we hear verbs reflects the necessity for a verb in a sentence and indicates where it is.
All of this brings us to our connective model of grammar learning. We have the context, terminology, symbol and action all connected by talk. Without all the elements, the connections will be shallower and the learning less useful to the children.
It provides us with a useful model that enables us to build rich learning experiences for children that will help them develop their writing and pass the grammar test.