If you are a teacher within the Early Years or KS1, there must have been a time when you have called a child to the table to complete some work with you and they have replied with – can I go and play now?
I was lucky enough to meet the amazing author, Greg Bottrill, who has written the book ‘Can I go and play now?’ Listening to part of his talk was extremely inspiring and linked to all of the reasons and values of why I became a Primary School Teacher.
Greg discussed the importance of inputs and hooks for children’s learning – ‘learning should be like poetry,’ with children’s interests woven into how we teach the curriculum.
I love Greg’s idea’s about the magic door. Greg’s suitcase is the planning, and he walks through the magic door into children’s adventures. He provides the skills children need within that adventure and then he lets them continue with their adventure.
No child wants to go on your adventure! Just like us, as adults we are more interested on going on our own ‘adventure.’
Everyone wants to go on a journey, but their own journey. Children learn so much more from going on their own adventures.
When having a discussion with Greg he pointed out a really interesting fact.
Every Roald Dahl books shows the importance of children. Children are portrayed as the ‘magical characters’ and the adults are less important. It gets you thinking right?
Greg also speaks about the ’emotional connection.’ I talk about this a lot in my blog. Children need that emotional connection with others.
Building that emotional connection with pupils is something I really ensure I do. Having a sense of humour, listening to the child, having empathy and showing care is all so important. As recently shown on my blog, I remember packing away all the things in my classroom and a child gave me this card. She waited patiently until I opened it and my eyes filled with tears as I read it. My mission was complete. I had built an emotional connection that will be remembered forever.
‘Children don’t learn from people they don’t like!’ – Rita Pierson
Children don’t always remember what you have taught them, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
Greg discusses the constrains of the curriculum demands, school assessment policy, Ofsted…that get in the way (known as the grey area).
He discusses the Yellow area – children’s curiosity, creativity, the skills needed for the unpredictable jobs and future ahead.
Unfortunately this yellow area often gets covered by the grey area.
Greg also talks about the emotional connection known as the black area. Emotional connection in learning and through building positive relationships. Children sense the energy of a teacher and the enthusiasm. Throughout my year of teaching Reception every few minutes a child is proudly showing me a model. I constantly hear:
Miss Pinnock come into my castle or would you like some tea over here? Come to my party , its about to start – I will give you cake!
After talking to Greg I have realised that the children are inviting me into their magical world. Their own adventures linked to their interests and that’s the moment I can use my skills, to get down to their level and provide them with further skills before letting them continue in their magical world.
Children are magical. Children see things completely different to us. They are magic and learning needs to be magic – not like robots. -Greg Bottrill
To enhance the learning in maths this week I have planned a shape hunt that consists of 2D and 3D shapes. Letting children move away from the ‘focus table’ and explore their surroundings by searching for shapes in the environment brought so much creativity, curiosity and interests. Children found shapes in objects I would have never even seen as an adult. As we grow our imaginations get squeezed out of us but a child see’s the world in a completely different way.
This activity meant that all children were engaged and learned the skills needed to name each shape – 2D and 3D. A child picked up his shape hunt sheet at the end and said – “Can I bring it home?” And I never heard the words.. ‘Can I go and play now?’ Why? Because to them they were playing and playing was valued!
Greg is such an inspirational person. He has lots of talks and visits to offer schools.
I created this lesson for a Year 2 class and it worked really well!
Children saw a huge mess and lots of crime Scene tape. A suitcase was left at the scene with lots of items inside.
Who could it be?
What has happened?
Why have they entered school?
The children were full of curiosity and were eager to write a wanted posted using expanded noun phrases to build up a better description than the one I showed them.
After describing items set out on each table the children were eager to draw their description.
They made predictions linked to the story through what they saw eg, I think it’s the smartest giant in town because of his smart clothes. I think it’s Jack and the Beanstalk because of these strange beans.
To encourage editing and checking their work I asked children to swap their writing with a partner and read their peers work.
It was great to see children giving feedback to their peers and changing mistakes when needed in an encouraging environment.
I left blank flash cards on the table for children to write different expanded noun phrases on to share with their peers.
English lessons can be full of excitement and curiosity, from a simple learning objective of using expanded noun phrases, the pupils were extremely excited and all succeeded!
I always start the day off with a morning activity with my class. For this half term most of the morning activities consisted of a focus on reading to help embed any sounds children struggle with. I have used twinkl’s phonics activity to help with this.
When you download this from twinkl you will find a folder full of all the phase 1-5 sounds with real and nonsense words in!
My class absolutely love colouring in the read words and nonsense words. It has been a fun way to start the day and I can definitely tell it has had a positive impact on my classes ability to grasp certain sounds they struggle with.
The split sounds such as:
This was my main focus as children always find them harder and it has really helped! After a crazy week of phonics screening, I am sure that the twinkl resources for phonics has helped make a positive impact on children’s consolidation of sounds.
Twinkl is also great at other morning activities to hit those strange KS1 objectives. For instance, my class have easily reached the objective of spelling days of the week through the simple, already prepared resource meaning all I had to do was press print!
Activities like these are also great to send as homework or use for extra interventions too.
Twinkl has a huge range of resources online that can are of easy access and are affordable too! Take a peak….
Whether you have been teaching 1 year or 20 years there’s always that talk of never having enough time and a work life balance!
As a teacher in my third year of teaching.l, I often find myself so engrossed into a topic that I sometimes spend a very long tome thinking and planning it! But you definitely need to switch off and enjoy your life too!!!
We are juggling like crazy through the day…
So here are my top tips!
My first rule – is never ever ever ever do work on a Saturday! I have always stuck to this rule, because you need at least ONE day off! So Friday evening the books, laptop and everything else are stored and Its time to catch up with family and friends! I have done this since my NQT year and it works a treat.
Never mark books at home! For me marking at home is super depressing, so I would much prefer and early start in the morning than a big pile of books in the evening!
Whilst we are onto the topic of marking, evaluate the effect of marking. Will it impact learning? If not Don’t do it!! Your wasting your time. For me instant feedback and self marking where possible works a treat.
Plan effectively and when needed… my smart boards are my plan. If you know wha you’re teaching and all the little steps of it, who is a typed up plan for??!
Leave early on Friday! It makes you feel refreshed and energised ready for a good well needed rest!
Organise days out away from home to avoid sitting in doing work / chores. I am always out 80% of the time on a Saturday.
No when to stop. A teachers to do list is never ending, so prioritise your workload, share workload through team work with others and no when it’s time to sit down and relax!
I hope it is a helpful blog post! Although teaching is an amazing career it can be super time consuming if you don’t work creatively.
So I recently blogged about my passion and eagerness to get started with all the things I have learnt through the training with Alison Philipson.
I feel like our ‘Theme’ subject in year one has had a great turn around. The children have formed simpler sentences and we have spent more time practising and creating actions for sentences before writing them down. This has allowed children to focus on remembering capital letters, full stops and finger spaces and we are just practising that non stop!
I also encourage children to use their environment to help them write. Including prompts and tricky words that are displayed on a working wall.
Here is an example of how the use of talk for writing has helped a child write independently:
We used talk for writing to create a recount of our winter walk.
As you can see, this child hasn’t constantly remembered to use capital letters and full stops but has attempted to use them in most sentences. This is a child that previously forgot to put them in at all without a prompt! This child has also done a brilliant job at using their phonics knowledge to spell words.
I think for the end of January this writing is great and I can’t wait to see the outcomes in July!
Many more writing outcomes to come!
I have also set up an assessment folder based on AP Literacy assessment. It gives a clear link to the National Curriculum and where a child is at if they are working towards, meeting or greater depth.
I am going to assess each child with this, noting down what they can do independently.
As previously mentioned on my last blog post, I am trying to engage parents in reading with their children more. I have started to invite parents in on Monday mornings to listen to their child read for 10-15 minutes.
This has already started off great and children were really motivated when their parents were sat by their side in the classroom. Some children that are usually reluctant to read and really struggle were so engaged so it was great to see!
I would love you know what other reading strategies are good to implement in the classroom / whole school!