Monthly Archives: February 2007

2007
02/17

Category:
Teaching

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…and there’s the half time whistle!

Or should that be “half-term”? Both, I guess as this marks the half-way point of my! Eep! Where has the time flown? (Don’t answer – that’s a rhetorical question).

And so concludes the first part of my training. After half-term I’m working in an infants school (year 2) for four weeks, to fulfill the twin DfES requirement to have experience of two key stages (predominantly KS2 at my main school, KS1 in my second placement) and of two different schools.

It’s been a roller-coaster of a start to a new career… and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m certainly not going back to office life (dull dull dull). There is a certain amount of trepidation regarding the second placement (being among the “little people” for starters) with the school being so much bigger (9 classes of just infants compared to my main school which has 5 classes for the entire primary school), but I’m continually being reassured by the staff at my main school that I’m doing fine and will continue to do fine.

So that’s nice.

As a final “icing on the cake” moment, a few of my children had spent quite an amount of time – I’ve been aware they were working on something for the last few weeks in their playtimes – on a presentation, which was duly played at the beginning of my last lesson with them on Thursday. 41 slides!

Not quite “The Return of the King” (thankfully significantly less than the 251 minutes of the extended edition) but not a bad effort for a trio of 9-10 year-olds – obviously the sequence of work we did on multimedia (working up from posters to presentations) did pay off to some extent.

*sigh*

2007
02/12

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Teaching

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Book Review – How Children Think and Learn

Gaaaaagh! Have finally (all but) waded through one of the hardest books I’ve ever had to read. Wood’s How Children Think and Learn was the driest, most densely written texts I’ve ever had the misfortune to wade through. It was on our “recommended reading” list so I figured I’d give it a go… after the first chapter or so it became a matter of pride that I would finish the damn book! I’m glad I did, as it not only produced that wonderful quote about tribes in Papua New Guinea having a base 27 counting system but finally had some useful information (in the final chapter, wouldn’t you just know it) for my assignment. But… at the risk of repeating myself… gaaaaagh!

I was eventually reading it section by section (no more than a few pages at a time) of an evening as I sat outside Ted’s room while he settled. The last time I had to work so hard to read a book was for my OU studies (and that was Wide Sargasso Sea, if you’re interested in knowing another book that I’d thoroughly recommend you avoid if don’t absolutely have to read it).

Still – I did finish, and it did contain some useful information. *phew*

2007
02/10

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Teaching

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Progress

Today was a definite milestone.

I’d asked my class teacher to assist in a particular part of the lesson as I’d had to miss a staff meeting the other week where our head (a literacy consultant in his previous life) was demonstrating a particular technique for getting children to think about what they’re writing (he has them wear one of two hats – a “reader” and a “writer” hat – according to what they’re currently doing, and then gradually gets them to merge the roles until the children become aware that they need to wear both hats at the same time, really, as they work).

Although my class teacher had tried to explain it through for me, I wasn’t sure enough to stand up and try and teach it.

But, for the first time that I can remember, as I was watching them teach I realised I was also evaluating it and thinking how I’d have built on that, done it differently, and generally made it in some small, way, “mine”. It’s kind’f a nice feeling, to be aware that I’m starting to evaluate other teachers in that way and not just “soaking up” the experience.

*grin* A good day.

2007
02/08

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Teaching

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Book Review – Formative Assessment in Action

A bit of a cheat this one, as I’ve not strictly finished reading it… but I’ve been finding it so useful that I’ve actually returned the library copy and bought Formative Assessment in Action: Weaving the Elements Together, by Shirley Clarke, for myself.

It’s a wonderful book, demonstrating how to go about personalising learning for children (i.e. tailoring the meat of your lessons to their interests and needs) whilst still meeting the curriculum.

The book covers a whole plethora of strategies to use, from talk partners to questioning styles, through how to set “decontextualised” (ugh!) learning objectives (which, from my perspective as an ex-computer programmer, means “abstracted” – so the LO for the lesson isn’t tied directly into the current topic in the children’s minds) and success criteria, to self-assessment and even peer-assessment where the children learn, are able and profit from marking their own and others’ work.

Funnily enough, it’s not straightforward – but it is worthwhile. We’ve been using elements of it at my school, especially in literacy, this year (helped largely by the interests and leanings of the new head – an educational consultant in literacy in his previous role) – and the results have been excellent! The children are all thoroughly enjoying literacy, with some excellent work coming out of (very nearly) all the children – even the ones who, traditionally, haven’t given their all to the subject.

All in all, thoroughly recommended.