Friday, 28 November 2014

The use of Skype in the classroom at Christmas

One of my focuses this year has been on helping the learners to experience a variety of cultures and early on in this academic year I spoke to my headteacher about a plan for a European Christmas Market.

Using both the etwinning website and Skype in the Classroom I managed to find 6 schools interested in Skyping with my class to talk about Christmas. The idea being to allow learners to research items for their Christmas market by talking to children from that country. 

The Skype conversations have been fantastic experiences especially singing with other schools from around Europe. However it did take a lot of work to organise and hopefully I can re use the links i have forged in this project in future projects. 

I did find that my learners were not really able to use the schools as a form of research in unstructured conversation due to the language barrier. If i was to plan the conversations again I would perhaps focus more on more of a show and tell rather than just a tell. Seeing items and pictures brought in and completed by learners throughout Europe was interesting and avoided difficulties in translation.

Friday, 14 November 2014

How should remembrance be taught in primary school?

The underlying focus of this week has undoubtably been on Remembrance but it is a topic that is difficult to deliver to primary school children.

Firstly it can be over glamorized with learners thinking that war is “cool” and not thinking about the emotional costs involved and the lasting impact that war has.

Secondly it can become overly depressive with learners getting upset remembering loved ones they have lost.

Therefore I have tried to deliver the topic in a balanced manner focusing on the costs of war, giving thanks and an understanding that we need to think about both sides in any conflict.

This week the lessons I delivered focussed upon the importance of remembrance and learners listened well to my own thoughts and were happy to share there's. I believe the learners give extra weight to my thoughts in this area due to my involvement with the army reserve.

On Tuesday afternoon learners practiced their handwriting by copying out Ode to Remembrance however only some of the learners were able to understand the words and the message they conveyed.

One thing that the learners did do which worked well and which I will do again was to record a short sentence from the learners on their thoughts or remembrance. This video was very effective and although learners found the technical issues amusing they showed some great maturity in their thoughts.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Effective strategies for teaching numeracy

The focus of my thoughts in school this week has been numeracy. With assessments, a course and a chance to observe another teacher in this area all taking place. 

In terms of assessments it was interesting to find the success in mathematics that can be had by some learners with poor reading skills when questions are read out for them. Potentially this should be the way all learners are assessed in maths as ability to read does not effect practical maths skills. It was also disappointing to find some learners greatly underachieving in tests when their work in class is much better it is imperative to find out what it is about tests that is stopping these learners showing their true potential.

The course i took part in was hosted by GWE and focused on numerical reasoning. The three key things i took away were,

1) RUCSAC approach to problem solving (read, underline, choose, solve, answer, check)
2) Identifying 10 different problem solving strategies (see below)
3) Using numeracy as the starting point for cross curricular and thematic planning.

Today i was lucky enough to work with @davidleighevans some fantastic work on STEM and numeracy that will stick with me and the learners for some time to come!

So to summarise what I have learnt this week is that to be effective in teaching numeracy it needs to be fun, it needs to be used throughout the curriculum and learners need to learn how to develop their own problem solving strategies.