The Big Dig: Our Own Excavation

You may have seen, earlier this term I posted my plans for a ‘Big Dig’ topic all about rocks, soil, minerals, excavations and dinosaurs. Some of the kids had been asking since September to cover dinosaurs and I felt it was time that we did just that.

I’d also felt as though, following the Victorian topic where we didn’t have a school trip, it was something I wanted to make a thoroughly hands-on wow topic. I mean, I always try to do this, but sometimes you know exactly how to capture children’s imagination… and sometimes, for all you try, it’s much more difficult.

It all began when I revealed that the British Archaeological Association had contacted me with a letter expressing that we may have a prehistoric remain with significant importance. Read more

Ideas for a ‘Reading Week’

Our staff meeting this week was cleanly split in half; and one of the halves was all about reading. Whilst a lot of the focus was on phonics, correct pronunciation of the phonemes (no ‘uh’!) and how phonics leads on to blending – there was a clear mention of the need for reading to be a fun and enjoyable experience.

We were told another OFSTED ‘horror story’ about how an inspector had asked one of the children what their teacher was currently reading. I’m quite sure that’s not in the curriculum. (I can imagine the learning objective for the lesson: “To be able to identify the types of genre Mr. B likes the most and explain his choices.”)

The point behind the question (we’ve got to assume there’s a valid point behind inspectors seemingly random madness) was to infer whether reading was being put across as something for pleasure, with meaning, and whether a ‘love of reading’ was being instilled in the children.

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Mental Maths Magpie

Mental Maths Magpie

Mental maths, but not as you know it. A game used when on placement with questions from Pitch and Expectation, newly typed up and prepared. Time to get the kids outside and enjoying mental maths.

This is an active mathematical game based on a PE game. Rules, answers and differentiated (four ways) questions are included. The idea is that the children run from a corner, grab a question and work it out to earn points for their team. This mental arithmetic game has been made for my KS2 class – hence the differentiation four ways – but could be easily adapted by adding/removing questions.

The Experience

Last week we had our Christmas staff party. Whilst there one of the other teachers mentioned something that set my mind into motion.

Apparently, during one of their previous observations, the teacher I’m referring to was asked why she had the children cut eye-slits into role-play masks, instead of having them pre-cut. “It’s about the children’s experience as well as developing their skills” was her answer.

It’s something that I’ve always known subconsciously but haven’t started to think about properly until over this week. It’s also particularly evident this week as it’s Christmas madness and we’re a little off-curriculum, as it where.

Today we went to the pantomime and the children thought it was brilliant. They were in stitches at some point and it was really nice to see. And this brought it into clear perspective that, as teachers, we have a responsibility to make sure the children are not only learning but are enjoying learning too.

I know I’ll be trying to plan a heap more of stuff to help children enjoy their learning and put an equal balance on progression and enjoyment.