Delay to Formal Schooling Proposed

[redbox] school news blog

Last month The National Union of Teachers announced the wish to call for children to be released from normal timetables until the age of seven. This is because that the Union worries that starting children too early in a strict teaching regime can be damaging to children of a young age.

children playSurprisingly this is completely the opposite of a topic covered a few months ago by our blog, with compulsory testing said to start at age four. Activists used the Union’s annual conference in late April to demand that the ‘play-based’ curriculum period was extended to allow the children to develop appropriately for their age, with activities based around play and less focus on formal education until the age of seven.

This would also be in conjunction with the boycott of the Governments  new reading exam which is taken by 600,000 six year olds each year to determine their aptitude.

At Redbox Teachers we understand the importance of proper development in the foundation stages of early learning, which is why we go to every effort to ensure that all our Key Stage One and Key Stage Two teachers and teaching assistants are paired with their perfect schools in and around London.

 

KS1 and KS2 Subject Guidance

English

If you have more time to plan in the morning you can choose something that will build on what the children have previously been learning. There are plenty of ideas contained within websites like Primary Resources and Times Educational Supplement (TES), (See list of useful websites). As we all know, you can never fully rely on technology so, just in case, here are a few tried and tested ideas!

Year One/Two

Starters

The alphabet word race. Encourage the children to take it in turns to say a word starting with a letter of the alphabet

How will you get across the river? Ask the children to think of as many ways to get across the river as you can. The children can start off giving very simple ideas like, ‘use a boat.’ Then, sometimes with a few prompts to use their imaginations, the idea builds to ideas such as, ‘use rocket boots to fly across!’

Main activities

Recounts. Ask the children to recount what they did at the weekend. I would model this and give them sentence starters to help using: What, Where, When, Who and Why. E.g. ‘At the weekend, I went to…’, ‘I went with…’ ‘We went because…’

Retell a story. With the children read a book and add a little numbered sketch on the board for each part of the story. As a class, use a sentence for each picture to help retell the story. Next, get the children to use these pictures, to tell the story to their partner. The children could then create a sentence for each part of the story for their activity.

Setting Descriptions. Show the children a big picture of a setting and words to help on the board. Try to make it a familiar setting so they have the words to help describe it. Get the children to think about what they can see, hear, smell, touch and taste in the setting. Model the sentences for the children e.g. ‘I can hear…’, ‘I can touch’…Then set the children the task of writing sentences about another setting you put up on the board.

Year Three/Four

Starters

Animal Alliteration. Give the children a letter from the alphabet, firstly come up with an animal that starts with that letter, and next come up with a few adjectives and verbs. Finally, put these together e.g. mean mouse munching, malicious moose mimicking. Set the children the challenge with a new letter.

Imaginative nouns. Show the children a picture of a noun e.g. a moon. Now ask the children to come up with as many new ways of seeing a moon as they can e.g. a moon is…an eyebrow, a smile, an earring etc

Main activities

Animal Acrostic poem. Following on from the animal alliteration game, this can then by made into an acrostic poem e.g. an athletic ant acting. A brave bear boxing. A cautious cat cartwheeling. Take this as an opportunity to remind the children of when to use ‘an’ and when to use ‘a’

Setting Description. Choose a picture of a setting that will capture the children’s interest such as a painting by Salvador Dali. Begin by naming the nouns in that setting. When a noun is named ask the children to extend with an adjective and a verb. Have the TA write these onto the board e.g. ‘The melted watched stopped ticking.’ Now pause and explain that we can improve the sentence by adding a connective so the sentence becomes, ‘The melted watch stopped ticking because…’ ask for the children’s ideas, the more inventive the better…so perhaps, ‘because the battery had stopped’ but maybe more interesting, ‘because it was bored.’ Continue in this manner and then show the children a new image and get them to create a series of sentences about the image.

Character Descriptions. Show the children a description you have written of a character e.g. ‘She flies across the night sky on a broomstick. Her hair is as black as the night. Everyone says she is very ugly because she has a wart on her nose. When she cooks anything she uses a large cauldron. Her favourite animals are cats, bats and toads.’ Ask the children if they know who the character is. How did they guess? As a class choose another character to describe using the same sentence starters. Get the children to choose their own character to write about. A fun plenary would then be to get the children to read their character descriptions to one another to see if they can tell which characters they have invented.

Year Five/Six

Starters

Quick sentences. Ask the children to think of a number between 5 and 10. Ask the children to share the number they thought of, then on individual whiteboards come up with a sentence that contains that number of words. E.g number= 5 ‘Monkeys swing through the trees. ‘You can make the sentences relate to the topic the children are studying too. So if the topic was Ancient Egypt and the number 4: ‘Canopic jars contain organs.’

Kung Fu punctuation. Teach the children the different actions for each of the punctuation marks e.g. full stop: a punch and a ‘huh’ noise, a comma: a slash through the air and a ‘ssshhh’ sound, an exclamation mark: a line drawn through the air with a ‘shhhh’ sound and then a full stop punch accompanied by a ‘huh’ noise etc. When taught, read through a passage putting in the punctuation in the Kung Fu style.

Main activities

Mr. Zigger and Mr. Zagger. Show the children the video of Mr Zigger and Mr Zagger by Pie Corbett (see the list of useful websites). Watch this a few times and then focus on the part where Mr. Zigger and Mr. Zagger meet. Use this as an opportunity to model how to correctly use speech marks and as a class create a conversation between Mr. Zigger and Mr. Zagger. The children now create their own conversation between the characters.

Playscripts. Take a well known story such as ‘Cinderella’, ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ or ‘Jack and the Beanstalk.’ Recap on what happens in the story and then write the opening to it in play script format. Model part of it, pointing out and using all the conventions required.

Guided Reading

Do find out what the usual routine is for this subject as there is a great variety of ways this session is delivered across London schools. A session normally lasts around 30 minutes, but some schools this subject may last an hour.

Often, the groups will have a preset book which they will either read independently, answer questions,or complete a short activity on it. The class will usually each have an individual reading book which they may read in the ‘Guided Reading’ session. Some children may listen to the story on CD or go onto the computer to research an aspect of their book.

If nothing has been left for you, use this opportunity to share a book with the class. As the book is read, ask simple comprehension questions and then ask the class to complete a short activity based on the book.

For year one and two, the children may write or tell you what they liked or disliked about the book, act out a favourite part with a partner or draw a part from the story that was read. These activities may also be appropriate for year three classes too.

For the older year groups I would set them something a little more challenging, such as writing a short diary entry from a point of view of one of the characters, creating 5 questions to ask the author about the book which has just been shared or summarising the story.

Phonics

For children in year one and two, a phonics session is usually about 15o20 minutes, often built in as part of an English session. However, for many schools this session continues into year three too.

Try and discover what phase the children were on and use the session to revise what they had been learning.

There are many different phonic schemes currently being used across London primary schools. One of the most popular is the ‘Jolly Phonics’ programme, see link in ‘Useful Websites’.

Spelling

In the older year groups, the time taken for phonics is replaced by a spelling session. Again, there is a huge variety across many of the schools but a tried and tested method is to say the word given first. Explain it’s meaning to the children, giving examples of its use in a sentence. Next encourage the children to clap out each syllable as the word is said then draw as many lines on the board as there are syllables. After this, get children to tell you which set of letters should go into each part. Finally, rub out the word from the board, say it again and tell the children to write the word and then put the word into a sentence of their choice. When you see the children are all busy writing their sentence reowrite the word on the board so they can check they were correct. Share examples of sentences created to show comprehension.

A helpful list of spelling and phonics words produced by Bellenden Primary School which is available on ‘Primary Resources’, see link in ‘Useful Websites.’

Maths

If no plan or resources are available, here a few tried and tested ideas!

Starters

Each of these starters can be adapted according to the different year groups.

Counting aloud. You may use the resource of a counting stick or number square which will be visible in most classrooms to count aloud. Count in 2s, 5s and 10s with year one and two. In 3s, 4s, 6s and 100s with year 3 and 4. In 7s, 8s and 9s with Year 5 and 6. Do count up as well as down. If you find that the class find this easy start from another number e.g. count in 3’s from 1 so: 1, 4, 7, 10, etc…

Shape guessing game. Year one and two; Have a feely bag full of 2D shapes for the children to describe the number of sides that they have. Can the children guess the shape from the number of sides it has. Replace 2D shapes for 3D shapes for year 3 and 4 and extend with asking for the number of edges and vertices. Ask the children in years 5 and 6, to ask questions themselves to determine the shape which it is. Recap on the link between faces, edges and vertices.

Mental addition/subtraction. Have a list of questions using appropriate numbers for each year group to complete in a few minutes. When the children have completed these, ask the children how they solved the problem rather than answer straight away. You will find that children will use different strategies so encourage this but focus on the ones that are most efficient.

My secret number. Explain that you have a number written down on your post it note and the children’s challenge is to discover what it is. You may only answer yes or no and each time a question is asked a tally mark will go on the board. Play this a few times and watch the children improve their use of questioning.

Main activities

Problem Solving. An example of a ‘stand alone’ session is to teach Problem Solving. There is an excellent booklet entitled, ‘Mathematical challenges for more able pupils’ which is freely available by using the link contained within the useful website section. As the title suggests, this booklet was originally designed to stretch higher achievers but is actually great to develop all children’s problem solving skills. Start the session with an introduction to problem solving and then look at solving one problem as a class before setting the activity of solving another in pairs with a piece of squared paper to jot down ideas. I would also show the children how to record the answer and a short explanation of how it was attained.

Maze maps. Teach directional phrases appropriate for each year group e.g. left, right and straight, north, south, east and west or coordinate phrases such as A5, B4, or (1,2), (9,10). Now using this knowledge model how to produce a maze map. Model how to write directions to get out. Children then design their own. For the younger children it has been fun to build the maze a pairs using cubes and then to direct a cube through, taking it in turns to say the directions needed. This does need careful modeling first.

Symmetrical Robots. For year 3 onwards creating symmetrical pictures can be a good stand alone session. Model for the children how to create a symmetrical robot or alien and then the children create one of their own.

KS1 and KS2 Subject Guidance

Foundation Subjects

Stick to the timetable for which lessons the class would normally have. Here are the majority of lessons you may be required to teach; History, Geography, Science, Art and Design, Design Technology (D+T), Personal Social Health Citizenship Education (PSHCE), Physical Education (PE), Music, Religious Education (RE), Information Technology (IT) or even A Modern Foreign Language (MFL). This is not an exhaustive list, however, I have taught sessions on subjects like Philosophy too!

In most schools, if these subjects are not covered in a cross curricular way and taught discreetly, the planning for each half term will already be in place.

If there is no plan in place, you can use one of the recommended websites to find an interesting stand alone session to do or simply use your imagination!

Teaching Acronyms – ATL – Association of Teachers and Lecturers, D+T – Design Technology, EAL – English as an Additional Language, FS – Foundation Stage, IT – Information Technology, IWB – Interactive Whiteboard, KS1 – Key Stage One, KS2 — Key Stage Two, LSA — Learning Support Assistant, MFL – Modern Foreign Language, NASUWT – National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, NUT – National Union of Teachers, PE – Physical Education, PSHCE – Personal Social Health Citizenship Education, RE – Religious Education, SEN – Special Educational Needs, TA – Teaching Assistant, TES – Times Educational Supplement