Get your Dancing Shoes on with the BalletBoyz Online Teaching Resource

An award-winning dance company based in Kingston has just launched an online teaching resource designed to help key stages two to four in learning the basics of dance. The resource itself consists of a series of lessons, each set for different key stages that covers the deconstruction and teaching of choreography. The lessons also have accompanying videos to help demonstrate the meaning and method of each lesson.

A Great Online Dance Resource

This online resource has been created as a collaboration between the BalletBoyz company and the London Grid for Learning, as a means of increasing awareness about the importance of the arts within our UK schools. It takes into account recent changes in the national curriculum and is an ideal resource for both specialist and non-specialist teachers when teaching dance.

The resource itself is completely free for around 97% of LGfl Schools in London, however, schools outside the capital are able to purchase a copy for themselves. As a way of teaching both boys and girls in school how to dance, this modern resource could pave the way for a whole new generation of potential ‘Billy Elliots’!

Teacher Hacks – Top Tips and Tricks

Everyone needs a hand every now and then. To keep teachers and support staff up to date with the latest hints and tips on teaching, we’ve listed a few of our favourite ‘hacks’ that will help you in the classroom.

  1. Keep it Down

There are noise recognising apps you can install on your phone which sound an alarm when the decibel level goes over a certain amount. If your kids can get excited on occasion, this is a good way of reminding them to keep quiet during lessons.

  1. Prevent Early Finishers from Becoming Class Clowns

Having an ‘I’m Done!’ cup full of extra tasks for early finishers will prevent them from getting bored and trying to distract their classmates. Simple tasks like ‘practice your spellings’ or ‘read a poem from the poems book’ will keep their minds occupied.

  1. Hand Signals Help to Prevent Disruptions

SONY DSCSometimes your kids need a drink, or will want to use the toilet. Creating a series of hand signals designed to prevent disruption will help keep the peace during quiet time. They don’t have to be seriously complicated, but they need to be clear. If you want, you could even incorporate a bit of sign language into your hand signals to keep the learning going.

  1. Home-Made Homework Tray

If you need a quick fix homework tray, try using a simple foil baking tray decorated with some coloured paper. It works and it shows your pupils the power of recycling!

  1. Pencil Dispenser for the Disorganised

Some kids will never remember to bring a pencil. An old straw dispenser will double up as a pencil dispenser for when your pupils forget to bring their stationary. If you want to keep tabs on the number of pencils you have loaned out, attach a coloured strip to the base of each pencil.

Get Your Kids to Read! Dangerous Literacy Levels

The National Literacy Trust has warned that low literacy levels could be incredibly dangerous for our children. It will come as no surprise to many teachers and teaching assistants across the UK that some parents and teachers are having difficulty getting their children involved in reading and reading on a regular basis. Low literacy levels and living in poverty combined can create a reinforcing cycle that will be difficult to break if left unaided in adulthood. So why should we be spending more time on getting our kids to read?

Higher Literacy = Better Communication


If you read on a regular basis, your vocabulary increases as does your understanding of certain terms, more complex words and common phrases.

By not reinforcing the importance of reading in our children, parents are starving their children of the opportunity to engage in worthwhile and intelligent conversation.


Reading Inspires and Encourages Children to Use their own Skills

As a generation, we often rely a little too much on all the technology available at our fingertips. If we don’t know something, we are likely to Google it. In short we have become a little lazy. Just because all this information is readily available, it doesn’t mean we no longer have the need for books and for absorbing information. There may be a time where we don’t have Google, and this is where encouraging children to read on a regular basis can help. They absorb the information presented to them in books and will learn to rely on their own knowledge and experience, instead of just what they can find on Google.

Bilingual Classes for Daycare Children

The Azbuka Foundation Nursery differs from all other London Nurseries in the simple fact that the nursery teachers cover classes in both English and Russian. The bilingual classes are quickly picked up and loved by the under-fives, making it a great way for them to learn two languages at once, which will benefit them in many ways later in life.

Make it a Staple, not a Chore

By integrating the two languages seamlessly together, it makes learning two languages at once seem like something natural and easy to do. When so much worth is placed upon learning a new language, yet not enough is done to teach languages from a young age, it can be hard to inspire children to pick up another language, be it Russian, Polish or even something like French or German. With under-fives learning Russian and English together as the norm, you get rid of the negative stigma associated with a ‘lesson’ about the language.

However, it Needs to be Reinforced

Globe_of_languageWhile bilingual day-cares are a step in the right direction, it is essential that this trend continues on to primary and even secondary education. Bilingual children have a way of breaking barriers, so to provide them with the materials to do so from a very young age and not continue that into primary and secondary school will be a real waste of talent.

Shanghai Maths Teachers to Improve UK Maths

Over the past few years, British maths teachers have travelled to Shanghai in the hopes of understanding what exactly it is that makes children in Shanghai so successful when it comes to receiving high maths test scores. Now it is time to see those efforts come into fruition, with Shanghai maths teachers hoping to make an improvement in children’s test scores within four years.

Using Different, Proven Methods

imagesShanghai maths teachers use a different approach to teaching, which is that every lesson is shaped to cover and concentrate on a single mathematical concept. The class does not move on until every child has mastered that lesson, making sure that each lesson is cemented in the minds of the children.

Hopes for Improvement

Teachers are due to teach children both the mathematic lesson and the law behind the approach we take towards each problem, in order to give them a better understanding of the ‘why’ we do things, as well as the ‘how’ it is done. Government officials hope that this will help children glean better results from tests and improve their mathematical skills overall. As of yet, the experiment is still only in the larval stages so it is too early to see whether or not much improvement will occur, but it could make all the difference to individual children.

Commonweal School Shoebox Appeal

Pupils at the Commonweal School in Old Town have already put their best foot forwards this year in filling almost 100 shoeboxes for the Christmas shoebox appeal. Over the last few weeks, pupils, teachers and teaching assistants have all been getting involved in packing shoeboxes, giving away items such as gloves, scarves, drawing and writing materials, soap and flannel and a range of other gifts for the less fortunate.10174342253_0441ca0df5_o

Seeing the Happiness They Create

The children have an opportunity to watch a short DVD of less fortunate children opening their boxes from previous years, showing the excitement and pure joy that comes of getting something seemingly so small and meaningless from those who care. While it is not very much for the pupils themselves to sacrifice, it makes a world of difference to those who might have not gotten anything at Christmas otherwise.

The Importance of Giving Back

When bringing children up on what is right, it is important to instil a strong sense of morals in them, so that they can bring joy to other people. By helping those in less fortunate situations than themselves, and by seeing the affect it can have on their lives, we show the immensely positive result of simply giving a little back at Christmas time. It is an important life lesson and one that has gone down very well with the children of the Commonweal school.

Careers Day at Parklands Community School

Children attending Parklands Community Primary School in Ellesmere Port had the opportunity to meet a number of different professionals in order to discuss their individual career choices on Thursday the 2nd December. As a foray into the world of work, the children were visited by a range of local employers to give them a taste of what they are capable of and to perhaps inspire them to start looking at potential career choices.

The Importance of Discussing Employment Opportunities

downloadIt can be difficult to decide exactly what you want to do when you get older, so it is essential to instil a sense of importance in young children. They should grow up feeling as if they are capable of achieving great things if they work hard and stay in school. By having these guest speakers share their experiences with the children, it brings them down to a more ‘human’ level, allowing the kids to interact with them and even ask questions on the work required to get into that particular career path.

A Follow up Task

As with any school trip, activity or social visit, it is important to follow up with your class, so the children of Parklands were asked to find out more about what they might like to do in the future. Whether it is applying to be a Supply Teacher, joining the Royal Air Force or going into Veterinary Care, it is important for children to be aware of the work involved in following such a career path. The children were also asked to write and send thank you letters to all the visitors who took time out of their day to visit the school.

Using Minecraft To Teach Chemistry

Minecraft is not well known for its revolutionary graphics or compelling storyline, in fact if you are over the age of 25, you may not have even heard of it at all. It is a PC game loosely based around creating your own space by mining and crafting things together, in a world that looks a bit like a Lego copy. And it is being used in today’s classrooms to help primary teachers and primary supply teachers educate children about Molecular Chemistry.

Learning About Molecules Using a Pixel Based PC Game

A group of university students from Hull created an educational version of the game where players can explore specially created molecular structures and learn about their composition.

The students added all sort of extras and hidden features in order to grab the children’s interest and keep them wanting to learn more about chemistry.

Finding The Treasure

They also added a ‘treasure hunt’ element to the educational moderation of the game. There were treasure chests placed and dotted around the structures, some of which were easy to find, others a little more difficult. These chests contained clues and information about the chemical compounds and how they worked in our world. As an educational tool it was both engaging and fun for the children.

A Mile in their Shoes – Schools Tackle Childhood Obesity

St Ninians school in Stirling, Scotland has been sending out all pupils to walk or run a mile every day for the past three years in an attempt to combat childhood obesity. Statistics have shown that 1 in 10 children aged four or five are obese when they start school, which is a worrying figure.

walking mile

While running or even walking a mile a day might seem like an unfair task for such small children, it is a necessary part of staying active and keeping healthy.

Putting it into other terms, a 25 minute walk to school may cover over half a mile, so an hour out of your day is really not that much when it comes to staying fit.

The best part of the scheme is that the teachers also walk alongside the children, helping to encourage them and keep them going. They end up every day coming back into the school with bright faces and red cheeks, alert and eager to learn.

The scheme seems to be working as teachers from dozens of other primary schools have also started to adopt it, including schools in Leeds, Gateshead and even teachers for schools in London.

How Group Projects can Help Children

A teacher constructing a group project for pupils in a school in Orange County, California, decided to do something a little different and used inspiration from one of her lessons to help encourage the children to work together. One of the books on the syllabus; ‘Hatchet’ is about a young boy who has to learn to survive in the wild after a plane he was on crashes into the wilderness.

Teacher Sara Siebert took inspiration from this tale – where the boy has only a hatchet that his mother gave him as a tool to use in order to help build a raft – in order to create a group project that encouraged teamwork between pupils. The pupils would have to build a miniature raft out of ice lolly sticks, string, duct tape and glue in order to re-create that iconic scene.

The concept of using a scene from a book not only familiarises the scene in the minds of the pupils, they are also able to better relate to the boy in the book after having built their own ‘raft’. They also gain useful mathematic skills needed to check the consistency of the raft and how buoyant it is, as well as seeing how much easier it is to work in a team in some instances than on your own.

Teamwork is an essential part of growing and developing as a child, so making it educational and fun is always a fantastic way of ‘hitting two birds with one stone’.