Key Stage 2 Space topic

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Our science topic for spring term was space so I’ve decided to share the display that came about through the children’s learning. Each term I have a science display in my classroom linking into the science topic which runs separately to the main topic for upper juniors. The above picture shows the display for our … Continue reading

Kids are easily hooked

One issue many teachers talk about is hooking children into their learning yet once they’re engaged in the topic, they will put more effort into their learning and if they enjoy the lesson it will be better remembered without having to spend hours of revision on it later.

In my, so far short, experience of teaching as well as previous work with children, I have found it easy to ‘hook’ children and my professional development has focused on my pace to increase the impact of learning within the lesson. I was always insanely bored at school and not much has changed, I am easily distracted and always found it hard to keep focus at university or during staff meetings and the reason for this is that I have a vivid imagination that takes over my conciousness when the real world bores me. This must surely be the case with many children that struggle to pay attention in class.

As much as I can, I link my lessons to my own hobbies and interests – at first I thought that my class would get bored of lessons linking to wolves, rugby, Dr Who etc but it has been the opposite. Younger children like to see enthusiasm in an adult they look up to and it is extremely hard to fake enthusiasm. My class enjoy our history lessons through Dr Who, Maths through Rugby league scores and writing reports on the Grey Wolf. Once you have merged your class’s learning into your own hobbies, they are also easier to hook into other lessons because lets face it, you can’t have EVERY lesson your own way!

 

Next time you think a child isn’t putting 100% into their learning imagine some of these thoughts that I know I had as a child:

“You want me to measure these triangles? But it’s snowing outside!”

“I KNOW how to multiply… I DON’T know what that pigeon on the windowsill will do next”

“You expect me to focus on my writing when that spider is about to be noticed by those girls, ha!”

“There was an ‘after that’? But I was too busy carrying out the first instruction”

“This question is similar to the last 8 I answered in my maths book… I wonder if my friend wants to play out after school”

Sparta or Athens? Radio broadcast

Today I did a lesson on the differences between Ancient Athens and Sparta as part of our Ancient Greece topic. The children really enjoyed it and were engaged throughout so I thought I’d share it.

I used Dr Who as a hook, something I’ve used previously in History lessons as the children can relate to the series. This time, I played a clip of him talking to the camera but turned it down and played the Dr Who theme tune over it so you could just make out his muffled voice. This added a realistic side as they believed the background story and on the second playing, some children even went up to the speakers to try and decipher what he was saying. I explained that he had left this message for our class (year 5) asking them to help him decide where to land when he goes back to Ancient Greece; Athens or Sparta. After deciding on where he should land and why, they will be sending him their own radio transmission back.

I had spread out envelopes around the classroom containing ‘evidence’ of life in each city state and children had to gather this evidence and make notes, moving around the class to share these pieces of evidence. Each evidence envelope contained an information card on an aspect of either Athens or Sparta. After some time gathering evidence, children used a picture of a thermometer to label what was ‘hot’ and what was ‘not’ about their city state, which was randomly allocated to them.

The class were on task and engaged throughout which showed that my hook work as they are a challenging class to keep on task. After a full lesson on this, we had a debate with half the class allocated Athens and the other half Sparta. On Wednesday we will be using our ICT session to record a radio transmission to send back to Dr Who as part of our podcasting topic. I’ve rushed through this post trying to get as much detail in as possible and after Wednesday I will share more, being Easter and having the time to catch up on life!

Engaging LAPs in recount

Today I delivered a literacy speaking and listening lesson to feed into a writing session on recount, in the context of a diary entry.

What struck me most was how engaged my LAPs were (lower than average ability) and they in fact seemed the most keen on transferring their work into a written activity. To warm them up into speaking and listening I displayed the question ‘how would you decide who to share your sweets with if you only had two left?’ and got them discussing this as soon as they walked into class. This question, by the way, directly related to my input which was a Pixar clip relating to a similar decision.

The clip was ‘one man band’ and lacks any dialogue. After watching the clip, children had to write down how each character would have felt on post-it notes, sticking these onto character pictures in small groups. They also had to stick speech bubbles around the characters to indicate what others would say about them; here I extended the above average children by going into how others would feel, as well as how they would describe the character.

Following this activity, the groups hot seated each other as one of the characters and we looked at questioning techniques. They were able to take any ideas that came up for their diary entries into their literacy books.

This is where my LAPs seemed to shine; when I brought the groups together into 3 big groups for hot seating, the children who usually struggled were better able to get on independently.

On Monday we will be focusing on writing and creating a diary entry as one of the characters. Lets hope this engagement feeds into their writing :). Obviously this isn’t a minute by minute guide to my lesson, I’ve just included the main activities. If anyone is trying to teach recount writing to level 2 writers then ‘one man band’ may be a good idea to hook them in.

Country of the week

I’ve noticed that a lot of adults, let alone children, have a terrible knowledge of political geography. Many have not even heard of some countries, let alone know their capital cities or where they are in the world. To help my class get one up on the world I’ve been running ‘country of the week’ where we have a small display and link each country, however I can, to the current topic. A lot of the work we put up is now done at home by choice and therefore doesn’t take up any class time.

To start with I used my guided reading sessions and had one group focusing on sentence work using information books on that country. I still do this now but also offer team points for any work brought in from home which encourages the children to write at home.

We started with European countries during the Autumn term. This half term we are doing North America and after the half term holiday we will cover South America. For now I’m going to recap the links I made for some of the countries and after this post I will start writing a weekly, detailed post on each country we cover; this week is Mexico. Since the photos of my displays are on my phone I will also post a separate, photo only post to go alongside this one (apologies for this being text only, I always find them less enthusing).

Great Britain
For our first week back in September, we focused on our own country so the children could write about places they had visited within Great Britain over the summer holidays. We also recapped and discussed the Olympics.

France + Norway
The topic for Autumn term was ‘Defending the Realm’ with a starting focus on the Norman Conquest therefore it was ideal to have our 2nd and 3rd countries as France and Norway; this way there was an instant link with William the Conqueror and Harald Hardrada. We also did some French since this is the language our school uses for MFL.

Bulgaria
One of our children is originally from Bulgaria, so this was an opportunity to explore their culture and it helped them overcome some reluctance to writing. This is a good idea for any classes with a large proportion of children with English as a second language.

Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland
We went through these Scandinavian countries towards the end of the term so there was a good link to descriptive writing and winter scenery. It was also possible to link Christmas activities to country of the week through reindeer in Lapland.

USA
This term the science topic is space. To hook the children into this topic I used NASA as a link to country of the week. There will be a post shortly on some of the science lessons I’ve taught around the national curriculum ‘Earth and beyond’.

Photo’s to come soon 🙂

Tissues

I’ve come to find that there is a direct relationship between children in my class being refused permission to go to the toilet and their sudden ‘runny’ nose. Where else are the tissues kept for this ailment other than the porcelain heaven they wanted to visit 2 minutes earlier. Needless to say, a box of tissues is the newest purchase for my class :).

It would be good to hear anyone else’s pointless classroom stories!