The life of me

Can I go and play now?!

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.

Take a look at his blog for more details:

Can I go and play now

As always let me know what you think!

#MissPinnock

The life of me

WANTED!

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!

Creativity is key,

#MissPinnock

The life of me

The three little pigs!

I recently planned a lesson of the three little pigs – with a twist! I started off by using a story map to recap the events of the three little pigs…

Here is my lovely art work of course šŸ™ˆšŸ˜‚. I think showed the children a letter which we read together. It was from the big bad wolf! Explaining that he was going to come back and he was now bigger and stronger!

The children had to make their own houses using a range of materials including lolly pop sticks, tissue paper, foil and plastic.

The children then tested their houses using a big bad blow dryer! (This was inspired by Pinterest).

Through this activity children learnt the names of different materials and started to understand the properties of them. They also worked together with their partner to problem solve, linking to design and technology objectives too!

The engagement of the children was amazing and a planned follow up activity linked to writing for purpose as the children wrote a letter back to the the little pigs explaining what they should do!

A perfect year 1 lesson,

#MissPinnock

The life of me

Early writing -AP Literacy part 2!

  1. 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.

Keep a look out for more writing posts!

#MissPinnock

The life of me

Writing with Alison Philipson

Teaching early writing skills for children in Year 1 has always been a topic I continued to reflect upon. I didn’t feel 100% sure whether the writing opportunities we offered them really met the potential of all of the children’s needs.

I really really wanted to make children much more independent with their writing. As the class teacher I also wanted to feel much more confident when assessing what the children can do without a heavy amount of adult support.

I just couldn’t put my finger on how I could do it.

Until Alison Philipson arrived!!!

So many questions I have been itching to know have been answered.

What does it look like for a child to be meeting in writing?

What is greater depth?

What is classed as children writing independently?

Children can have prompts during independent writing such as ‘what should go at the end of your sentence?’

To me, this simple question makes much more sense to help facilitate children’s writing without heavily telling them – you need a full stop at the end.

After the talk I was motivated and recharged with new ideas. I looked around my classroom and reflected on the session.

Do I give children opportunities to use their environment to help them independently write?

The answer was clear to me- no! Most of my displays were focused on showing off children’s end outcomes, which I still think is important. But… I realised my focus on maths was much stronger than writing.

Now it seems so obvious. I am constantly reminding children to remember capital letters, full stops, finger spaces. Let’s have it visual stuck up on the wall – around the classroom to remind them.

I’m constantly wanting them to use and spell high frequency words in their writing. Let’s cover my display in high frequency words. Let the children create a bookmark full of the words and have that in their writing books.

After looking in further detail at the National Curriculum expectations for writing with Alison Phillipson, it is clear to see that Year 1 needs that practice, practice, practice of an objective. It needs to be instilled before the greater demands of year two!

I could literally talk about this session for hours on end. I feel so passionately motivated about it now! It has always been in the back of my mind but now it all makes sense!

Here is my plan of action!!

  • Children will hand write every afternoon during registration. Not handwriting random letters but handwriting the 100 high frequency words, numbers in words, spellings based on certain phonemes that they need practice with.
  • High frequency words will be sent home to practice reading and writing every week.
  • Children will write about what they did at the weekend in new writing books every Monday afternoon. We will also use part of Monday afternoon to discuss misconceptions of writing and play a phonics / sentence structure game.
  • I will remove part of my maths display and create a working wall including the things children need to remember to include in a sentence.
  • My working wall will have a WAGOLL on and it will be broken down into simple steps of what we want the children to achieve over the half term.
  • Children will receive a special pencil if they write neatly and form letters correctly and consistently and can use this at all times.
  • Every half term children will write independently based on a taught topic. This will be used to assess where every child is at and what they can do on their own!
  • We will use Alison Philipsons writing grid to assess all children at different points of the year.

Take a look at Alison Phillipson’s website for further ideas. It is truly amazing!

https://apliteracy.com

I am so excited to get started with all the new writing ideas. I will blog again with lots of pictures of my changed classroom and evidence of improvements in the children’s writing!

#MissPinnock