Category Archives: Uncategorized

How To Get A Four Year Old To Write – EYFS

Mamuna Ahmed

When children start school in Reception, it is not uncommon for them to have significant difficulties in reading and writing.

I’ve had moments where I’ve found it a struggle to decipher a starting point to build upon and enable me to maintain my sanity, but the truth is that it doesn’t matter where you start as long as you do!

Children are wonderful creatures that will do what they are shown but sometimes we forget to do the showing. If we don’t model the expectations, how can we expect children to meet them? Often we become frustrated because a child ‘isn’t listening’ or ‘won’t do as he/she is told’. If we don’t model what good behaviour is, we mustn’t expect it. If we don’t show children what good sitting is, we shouldn’t complain when they don’t do it.

Writing requires the same strategies: model what you want the children to learn.

View original post 727 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Story time in EYFS

Mamuna Ahmed

The Very Hungry Caterpillar? No.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears? No.

Matilda? YES!

Each year, I ask my class to choose a book from the Roald Dahl collection in our classroom  as a way of exposing children to stories beyond what they can read independently.

Children often look forward to story time as it marks the end of the day when they can wind down, listen to  a story, drink their milk, and prepare to go home. You would imagine that the thought of going home would excite them, but often, they would rather stay in school as they are engrossed in what is unfolding in the story and so that we can ‘read just one more chapter’ together! Their groans as a reaction for being told to get their things and to go home as their parents stand glued to the window bring a different kind of satisfaction. We have the luxury of…

View original post 568 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

How can a child catch up to learn times tables in one term?

Children should know all times tables by the end of year 4, but there are children that slip through the net, taking much longer to learn them.  There are also children that may seem to have learned times tables by the end of year 4, but forget and have to work into upper key stage 2 to relearn.

This post describes a plan to get children who are in year 3 and 4 and who are not on track to understand times tables by the end of year 4.  The plan is also for children in year 5 and 6 who still do not know their times tables.

A fact a day for a term

The basic structure of the plan is to work on one fact per day.  Working with commutative facts such as 3 x 4 and 4 x 3 together, and taking into account that familiarity with tasks should accelerate the work the longer it goes, a term is a sensible time frame to work in.  This will be systematic, working from x10 to x5, then x2, x4 and x8, then x3, x6 and x9, finishing with x7, x11 and x12.  This is to enable links to be made between times tables.  Within each times tables, we’ll work in increasing order of times tables (i.e., 10 x 1, 10 x 2, 10 x 3 etc.).  Of course, different children will have different starting points, not all starting with 10 x 1.  As days pass, children will consolidate their understanding of a times tables through repetition, multiple representations, counting and low stakes testing.

Multiple representations

For times tables to stick and to be useful in other areas of maths, they need to be rooted in secure understanding.  To allow this to happen, each fact will be represented in different ways, in the first instance by the teacher but increasingly by the child.  The first representation is Numicon, using the example of 4 x 5:

TT numicon

Using this we can explain that 4 x 5 means 5 lots of 4 and that by counting in multiples, we can find out that 4 x 5 = 20.  Children will have done this for 4 x 1, 4 x 2, 4 x 3 and 4 x 4 in the preceding days so they should be able to count in 4s.  However, they may need to do some skip counting, where they whisper or say in their head each number except for the last on each Numicon piece (1, 2, 3, 4; 5, 6, 7, 8; 9, 10, 11, 12…).  The Numicon also helps to lead into other representations:

Repeated addition: 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 = 20

Bar model:

TT bars

Number line:

TT number line

All the while, the child is practising counting in 4s, and thinking about how 4 x 5 = 20.

Commutativity

One more representation can lead the child into working on the related commutative fact.  An array gives a little further practice seeing how 4 x 5 =20:

TT Array 1

Rotating the array shows how 5 x 4 has the same product:

TT Array 2

This can lead into counting in 5s to get to 20 and showing that 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 = 20.  Then, repeating the representations of Numicon, a bar model and a number line will help to internalise the commutative fact.

Low stakes testing

Having worked on this new fact (and its commutative relative), the child can then work on remembering facts that have been previously worked on in days gone by.  Practising recalling times tables is of course a great way of ensuring that they come to mind immediately when needed.  Quick, effortless recall means that little cognitive effort is required to summon the knowledge, thereby keeping as much working memory as possible freed up to solve a problem that needs the times table fact in the first place.

There are two ways of working on quick recall of times tables.  The first is if the child has a reliably secure understanding of multiplication.  In this case, simple testing such as asking ‘What is 3 x 5?’ or the use of individual flash cards will be fine.  However, if a child is still not quite there with conceptual understanding, testing by using objects or images can help to get them to think mathematically instead of guessing.  The teacher shows any of the pictorial representations already described to prompt thinking about the number of groups, the size of each group and ultimately quick recall of the whole.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Maths, Uncategorized

On meeting your new class…

Grow your teacher reputation

Teacher-student relationships exert a strong influential role in personal development. Establishing relationships that will allow the children in your class to learn effectively take time and effort.

  • Assure them that you are great at helping children to learn and that you believe that they can all improve. Your assurances will be backed up by teaching great lessons.
  • Quickly learn and use their names.
  • Tell them stories of past students who have had success with you.
  • Speak with a warm, friendly tone but patrol boundaries consistently and fairly. Have a controlled, firm tone ready for appropriate times.
  • Tell them exactly what behaviours you expect from them – that everything you ask them to do will be chosen carefully and you’ll never waste their time or let them waste theirs.
  • Explain what they can expect from you.

Talk and model the vision

At Penn Wood, better never stops. Having sky high expectations from the first moment will pay dividends later in the year.

  • Explain what ‘Better never stops’ looks like in your classroom.
  • Mastery – the urge to get better and better at something that matters.
  • Telling a story is a great way for them to get to know you and to see that you embody ‘Better never stops’ too.
  • Tell them about your class tree, making links to mindset and vision

Expect a growth mindset

Working harder makes you smarter. It is through struggle that children learn more deeply and they should expect to find work desirably difficult.

  • You’re going to practise lots because that’s how you get better – sustained effort is the route to success.
  • Share stories, photos of work or books that show excellence from your current class.
  • Describe the behaviours for learning that you expect to see.
  • Explain the expectation of standard of work.

Set your working expectations

First impressions last a lifetime. The quality and amount of work that you expect in this session should set the tone for the year ahead.

  • Books are at the heart of our curriculum. Choose quality texts to convey your messages.
  • Expect children to think hard about content.
  • Explain how you expect them to work in your classroom so that everyone can work hard and concentrate.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

I did what I knew. And when I knew better, I did better.

Having signed up to an interesting project called #blogsync, I find myself writing a response to the question: ‘What is the change you’d like to see in education in your lifetime?’ When I think of change I recall a quote from Maya Angelou- I did what I knew. And when I knew better, I did better. This seems to sum up the process of change; how the way we teach and train our teachers can stagnate if we’re not careful.

The question breeds further, much more complex musings. If a great change is required, then one needs to pinpoint the problems or inefficiencies in the current system. It’s easy to regurgitate the popular gripes: teacher workload; Ofsted; exams; politicians; attitudes towards the profession in the media; family life etc but to me this seems a fallacy. Many of these issues are beyond the control of the humble teacher.

Therefore, great teaching has to be the priority. Again, easy to say. Teachers need the time, the trust and the guidance to become truly expert. This is not necessarily achieved through such arguments as aiming to attract the most talented graduates, nor expecting teaching to be a post graduate qualification.

In school CPD has to be sensible, yet brave. Sensible enough to avoid the nonsense, flavour of the month type training, yet brave enough to commit to longer term development. One off days led by educational consultants who are not currently teaching well consistently, and who churn out the same presentations regardless of the school they’re visiting, clearly is not the way. Head teachers would not allow this sort of model for the children they are tasked with educating, so why should it be sufficient for the education of teachers?

CPD can make a difference if it is led well. Teachers should be trusted and supported to develop pedagogies in a way that is appropriate for the children that they teach. One size, contrary to popular belief, does not fit all. Pedagogies that stand up to action research in the classroom and avoid the fate of brain gym and the like take time to develop and need to have a thread through regular CPD in school.

So the change I’d like to see is a sensible, yet brave model for CPD across our schools. Weekly topics arbitrarily decided with little or no follow up development is no longer appropriate to develop excellent teachers.

1 Comment

Filed under CPD, Uncategorized