Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Using the affordances of technology to support learners!

This term I have been working on how to support learners who are still learning to build a sentence. I wanted to have an activity that these students could work on while I am working with the students who are learning to edit and enhance their stories.

I decided to use Explain Everything and with the app I built an activity where the students were given the first sentence of a narrative story "Once upon a time there was a ........." They then had to choose whether their character in the story was going to be a "little princess" or a "big dragon". Students would drag this word into the space and then write the sentence into their story book. The advantage of Explain Everything was that the students could also listen to each word as I had recorded a soundbite and attached it to each word. On the next day the students would complete a similar slide in which they could then write about the setting. 

As the students gain confidence, the words could be muddled on the slide and they could drag and organise the sentence on their own. Below you can see how the activity looked:

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Using film to guide a writing lesson - an example!

This year I have started using the Literacy Shed to guide some of the writing lessons in class. This week we began writing narrative stories. In order to get the students thinking about narratives and to generate some vocabulary and ideas, we started by watching the video The Clocktower.

The video is about a little girl who works in a clocktower where she has the job of dancing around and around to turn the clock. One day she ventures outside and everything stops as she is no longer dancing and keeping time moving.

At first I wasn't sure whether the students would engage with the many ideas that needed to be interpreted by thinking carefully about what was happening in the movie, but they loved it! We started each lesson by discussing what was happening and how the girl felt and then also would sing and act our sentences with descriptive vocabulary which could then be used in the story.
The students came up with some amazing stories so I thought I would share an example here:

The Clocktower - By Gabriella

Once upon a time there was a little girl that lived in a clocktower and the clocktower looked like a tornado. The little girl's name was Rozy and the little girl had a cog on the little girl's dress. The little girl had a shiny crown on her head and earrings on her ears. When she turned the world turned and the little girl was time. The little girl had to dance because it was her job and the little girl went outside because she wanted a balloon. She wanted to have a friend and I know she wanted her mum and dad.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Inquiry - How to teach and learn basic facts!

My inquiry has gone off on a slightly different part in that I am now focusing on the basic facts within the friends to 5 and 10 and family of facts. By using the family of facts students are starting to see the connection between addition and subtraction. Over the holidays, I am going to look into a way that I can establish a classroom routine where there are basic fact iPad activities that the students complete each day as a follow up or warm up activity. These activities will be designed at specific levels through which the students can progress through as they begin to retain the facts as knowledge. Watch this space!

Friday, 3 March 2017

Engaging kids in writing through film!

Last weekend, I was trying to think of ways to teach writing in a more engaging way that would motivate the whole class and different ability levels. I thought back to my placements and remembered how I was once shown The Literacy Shed (an online bank of short films). I had used this on a Year 4/5 placement, however I thought why not have a go with my Year 2' was a huge hit!

I started the lesson by showing the class the first part of the movie (I used the movie Taking Flight) three times. We then talked about what had happened and made a class storyboard with specific words beside each picture. Once we had a clear idea of the sequence of events and some good words we could use, the kids set off to retell the first part of the video. I worked with my beginning writers on the mat, constructing simple sentences and finding words on the butterfly cards while the more confident writers took off to have a go on their own. Walking around the class while the kids were busy writing, I was amazed at what they were coming up with! Once we had written the first part we then came back to discuss what we thought was going to happen next and then watched the last part of the movie.

It was amazing to see how the class were motivated by not knowing what would happen at the end and by the animation which included little speech. Collaborating as a class gave us the opportunity to explore how we had all interpreted the movie and seen things others may have missed. It created a bank of resources and ideas from which students could pick and choose what they would write about. I would definitely recommend The Literacy Shed to teachers of any year level. Each video includes so many great ideas on how they could be used in a writing session!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Inquiry 2017: How to make basic facts more basic (easier to learn)!

After analysing the maths data I received from students' JAM results in 2016, it was evident that basic facts would be an area that a majority of the students needed work on. Last year I struggled with teaching students basic facts as I knew that  many students were still grasping the basic idea of numbers and what they represent. Although in saying that we had begun teaching students basic addition with small numbers so technically teaching quick fire addition and subtraction facts is very similar. Over the next week, I plan to look into some literature and ask colleagues in the junior school how they approach basic facts in year 1 and 2, so that I can create an action plan for my teaching inquiry this year. Watch this space!

Figure 1: Student data from 2016 JAM:

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Round 2 - The year of 2017!

As I began the first few weeks of my second year of teaching, I was quickly awoken out of holiday mode and was back into the full swing of teaching a beautiful class of Year 2's. Moving from a shared space into my own class was definitely a challenge and I was quick to learn the "Dos" and "Do nots" for the start of the year.

Here are some of the main gems or lessons for next year taken from this year:

Do: Take the time on the first day to have fun with the kids - Although I made sure that we set clear expectations and started routines I also wanted to make sure that we took the time to really build relationships. Together we created "Mini-Mes" and shared something special about ourselves. This is definitely something I would do again in the future.

Don't: Feel pressured to get through everything. The first few days I often forgot to really scaffold what I wanted the class to do. I realised this when I briefly demonstrated how to write an "About Me" for their blogs with an example I wrote on the board (It was a few sentences about who I am and what I like to do). I then sent the students to write their own and many returned with an "About Me" saying their name was Miss Peck, they were a teacher..... I had obviously not made it clear enough that they were to write about themselves.

Do: Take the time to try again. After the not so successful "About Me" writing lesson I was unsure of whether or not to try again the following day or to leave it a few days. I finally decided that I would retry the next day and I am very glad I did, as after discussing and scaffolding the lesson it proved to be much more successful.

Don't: Dwell on not having it all sorted in week one. After my first few days, I felt overwhelmed with a to do list that seemed never ending and which grew larger rather than smaller. I decided to take a step back and dedicate a task for each day which I knew was manageable. After the first few weeks, I felt much better and had a clearer mind as to what I was trying to achieve.

Do: Realise you will always be learning. Often I feel the need to perfect everything and this year I know that I sometimes need to realise that not everything will work out to the perfectionist standard I set. Instead I will work to do my best, ask for help, and keep inquiring and learning.

Heres to another great year at Point England School!

Friday, 9 December 2016

Oh what a year it has been in 2016!

To each and everyone who has been a part of my 2016 in both the smallest and biggest ways - thank you! This year would not have been without many others and to those individuals I will be eternally grateful. It has definitely flown by and been a huge learning journey, however one I am glad I endeavoured on and am very proud of. Look forward to seeing you all in the new year!

Here is my end of year reflection for my first year in the MDTA.