Tag Archives: English

The Story of Me – increasing vocabulary recognition.⤴

from @ Pedagoo.org

I am a primary school class teacher, based in Scotland. I teach Primary 2 (age 6 -7 years). I designed the Story of Me project to promote recall of vocabulary. It was inspired by an article I read recently by Turk et Al (2015) which found that children were more likely to recall target vocabulary if it […]

Children’s Library Club⤴

from @ Pedagoo.org

“Children can only aspire to what they know exists.” Glasgow Children’s University, 2016 This statement illustrates the philosophy behind the Children’s Library club, offered to pupils of St Mungo’s Primary School every Wednesday from 3 o’clock, with students from the School of Education at the University of Strathclyde having full responsibility for planning, organising and […]

Educational reforms.⤴

from

As soon as the PISA results came out, the questions, accusations and incriminations began. Blame it on the CfE, blame it on the SNP, blame it on the boogie. I’m not going to blame anyone, there’s plenty of stuff written by plenty of people on the internet already, indeed I’m not sure the PISA results are something to aim for or worry about – Finland seems not to be too concerned – but I am going to write about working through major education reforms in my career to date.

The two major reforms which took place whilst I’ve been a teacher occurred in England and Scotland. In England, I taught through the time of the National Literacy Strategy, the National Numeracy Strategy, the QCA units, the QCA unit plans, SATS tests and OfSTED inspections every four years in a range of schools in England.  In Scotland I’ve taught throughout the implementation of the Curriculum for Excellence, and seen at first hand via The Girl, the national assessment procedures.

The reforms in England were massive and to a large degree micro-managed. The Government wanted improvements in literacy and numeracy and wrote strategies to make sure this happened. If there was debate around what ‘good’ literacy and numeracy should look like, I wasn’t part of (I was in my 20s though, so I knew everything anyway). The strategies were written by a group of literacy experts and then rolled out to schools in the autumn and winter to be put into place for the start of the next school year.

I recall the literacy strategy being rolled out in 2 hour staff meetings after school – I hate after school meetings, I’ve done a day of teaching, there is assessment to do and I’m tired: You’re not going to get the best out of me. These meetings were scripted by the government, the trainers read out what we needed to know and we worked through units of work which explained how the strategy worked, how we should plan, how we should teach reading,writing and spelling. We soon spotted that the answers to the trainers’ questions were usually on the next page of the document! For this training we were given a complete strategy, various unit breakdowns of our own, resources (which we needed to make up in school) and some examples of expected work. It was a slog but by September we had stuff in place and away we went with it. The lessons I taught from the strategy weren’t perfect, but there was a structure in place to help me.

Of course, your school didn’t HAVE to follow the literacy strategy, but if you didn’t and the OfSTED or local authority came a calling, your school literacy strategy had better be an improvement on the national strategy. If your SATS results weren’t up to standard then OfSTED might make an extra visit and again, you’d better be getting the national strategy in place or else (or else usually meant your HT retiring or resigning).

Once we had successfully implemented that – well actually by October of that same year – the National Numeracy Strategy was launched. If you’ve had the misfortune to chat to me about this, you’ll know I love the NNS! The Government spotted some of the problems with the literacy strategy and made some key improvements.

The NNS contained examples of questions and ideas you could use, straight out of the folder. The document, like the NLS had learning objectives for each term of each year group (meaning for differentiation there was a progression mapped out). However, the NNS was supplemented with two things I thought were brilliant.

Firstly, there was a 5 day maths course for every teacher in the UK. 5 days out of class (in a hotel at times) to discover the document, talk about it with colleagues from other schools, plan how you would implement it with your class, look at all the resources. Like the NLS it too was scripted, so the Government really were leading this change in EXACTLY the way they wanted it to go. The 5 days were back to back. A full week thinking about nothing more than numeracy. It changed my teaching approach to maths from ‘here’s the book kids’ to something I love to this day. And really it bloody well should have done, bearing in mind the cost of this to the UK taxpayer.

The other wonderful thing was the resources the NNS team made and shared. They created some wonderful teaching programs which I use to this day and they wrote the unit plans. These were highly detailed documents for each unit of work. Unit one was place value it contained 5 plans, one for each day of the week. Each plan was A4 and was pretty much a script for the lesson. There in the same folder (and latterly on CD-ROMS) were the resources (including worksheets) you needed for the lesson. Differentiated. The idea was that these plans were a start point, you changed them to suit the needs of your class. Lots of teachers did and that was great, but even if you didn’t (because you were, like so many teachers lazy ? what you delivered was good quality, written by numeracy experts, lessons. If you were new to the job it allowed you to know where to pitch an average lesson and how to piece your maths teaching together over a term. I loved them and still did out the ideas for a concept which my class find tricky to see if I’ve missed anything.

After a year or two, the Government did it again. They released the QCA topic documents. These detailed the teaching for all of the non-core subjects on a lesson by lesson basis. Again, all the information you needed to teach the lesson was contained in the folder. You adapted it, changed the order, added bits in, took bits out but the basic lessons for all your Art, DT, History, Geography, Music, Science, RME and PSE were there. Concurrent to that, the Government noticed that problem solving and investigations was not progressing as well as they wanted, so they created more problem-solving resource and ran another 5 day maths course for two teachers in each school to upskill them in teaching this. Again, resources and knowledge I still use to this day.

Looking back, it seems a great time, with resources aplenty, cash aplenty, but it was hard, hard work at times, with the pressure of OfSTED ready to pounce and the pressure of SATS scores needing to meet targets for school and local authority. For me, giving me start points close to a finished article of a lesson plan or termly plan allowed me to focus on the delivery of the lesson, moving children to their next target (of which they had many) and how I might make these at time dry lessons interesting and meaningful for the children. For teachers, new to the profession it certainly offered a proven scaffold to begin their careers. I loved the support the strategies and unit plans gave me and the time it freed up to think about the needs of the children in my care.

I will discuss the education reforms since I’ve moved to Scotland in my next post. I think it’s possible I moved out of England before things took a turn for the worse, but I’m happy to hear comments from people who disagree with that thought or with things as I recall them from the late 90s and early 2000s

Translation is Back! 20 Ideas for Teaching Translation⤴

from @ My Languages

Last month, I was delighted to publish a translation resource on the fabulous Teachit site.
The resource is not language-specific and the ideas can be adapted to many languages.
I hope it is of use!




The resource can be downloaded as a free pdf at
http://www.teachitlanguages.co.uk/searchresults?resource=26267

Translation is Back! 20 Ideas for Teaching Translation⤴

from @ My Languages

Last month, I was delighted to publish a translation resource on the fabulous Teachit site.
The resource is not language-specific and the ideas can be adapted to many languages.
I hope it is of use!




The resource can be downloaded as a free pdf at
http://www.teachitlanguages.co.uk/searchresults?resource=26267

Blendspace⤴

from @ Pedagoo.org

As one of our digital leaders at school, responsible for raising our digital prowess and use of technology to enhance learning (rather than just a bolt on), I am often asked what are my most recommended apps/tools to use in the classroom. I am by no means an expert – in fact, quite late to […]

Motivating Tools for Reading and Writing in the EAL and MFL Classroom, Practical Pedagogies, International School of Toulouse, 16th October 2015⤴

from @ My Languages

I had a fantastic time at  #pracped15, the Practical Pedagogies conference organised by @russeltarr at the International School of Toulouse. It was great to meet new people and finally meet people I have interacted with online for a very long time. Last but not least, it was fabulous to learn so much from them in such a great location-but I would say that, wouldn't I? ;)

Here are the slides I used for my session:

 

Motivating Tools for Reading and Writing in the EAL and MFL Classroom, Practical Pedagogies, International School of Toulouse, 16th October 2015⤴

from @ My Languages

I had a fantastic time at  #pracped15, the Practical Pedagogies conference organised by @russeltarr at the International School of Toulouse. It was great to meet new people and finally meet people I have interacted with online for a very long time. Last but not least, it was fabulous to learn so much from them in such a great location-but I would say that, wouldn't I? ;)

Here are the slides I used for my session:

 

Poetry By Heart Scotland: calling S4-S6 teachers and students⤴

from @ Pedagoo.org

Poetry By Heart Scotland is a competition from the Scottish Poetry Library that gives students in S4-6 opportunities to learn by heart and perform poems from our specially curated database. Students compete at school, regional and national level, culminating in a final event in Edinburgh where they have the chance to perform in front of […]

Review: Languagenut, a Language Subscription Site with a Difference⤴

from @ My Languages


Created in 2009, Languagenut promotes a fun, simple and engaging approach to language learning for KS2 and KS3 pupils. Although Languagenut has its HQ in the UK, it now has users all over the world in 32 countries, from Puerto Rico and the US to Asia and it has adapted its platform to meet the curriculum needs in those different countries.

The range of languages offered is truly global but also supports heritage languages including Gaelic and Te Reo Maori. This is complemented by a unique range of EAL resources which supports the children in the UK who do not speak English as their first language.

The MFL and EAL resources rely on simple games, engaging students in simple, fun and effective learning activities. Students explore a set of words or phrases through the “presentation” feature, and then reinforce the language working across the key skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. All resources are organised by topics and graded by difficulty, with each topic also offering a song and a story to practise key structures in a different way. Each topic can also be assessed via the platform.

Teachers can also track and reward pupils’ progress through the activities whether they are completed in class or independently at home. All progress data can be exported into an Excel spreadsheet and progress reports including graphs can be produced easily. Reward certificates can also be generated automatically.

In addition, the “My content” allows teachers to use Languagenut’s framework of presentations, games and assessments for their own words and phrases. Sound and pictures can also be uploaded and the newly created exercises are automatically trackable by teachers as soon as they are published.
All exercises can also be assigned to specific groups of pupils or individuals, which can help differentiation for class work and homework.

Healthy competition is also encouraged via the lingualympics board, which displays the sign-in name of the top 20 students and 20 schools worldwide.

I was lucky enough to be taken on a guided tour of this excellent platform by the delightful Liz Brewer and I would advise to get in touch if you are considering languagenut as it does offer a lot more than your usual language subscription site…