The final term for the year is well under way and the big countdown has begun (only 9 weeks left). Whilst the students are largely focused on their transitions to high school, we have lots of work to get through before the year ends and a lot of fun stuff, too. One of the more challenging topics we’ll be looking at in history will be the early migration of the human species out of Africa. We’ll be examining the evidence which supports the scientific theory including DNA evidence, climatology and archaeology. We also have a lot of fun things to prepare, too, especially the graduation performance and the Chritmas carol song. So much to squeeze into such a short time – the pressure will be on!
The end of term holidays (in this case the end of term 3) can be a bit of a barren area when it comes to thinking of a blogging topic. Whilst some of our more prolific bloggers (Demi, Aimee, Abbey, Caitlin and Georgia) have managed to post there’s not a great deal for me to write about. I thought, therefore, that I’d give a quick mention to how the term went.
To be honest, term three was a bit of a weird one – full of ups and downs, positives and negatives, but on the whole it ended with a sense of the students showing real signs of growth and change. Of course, not all the changes we go through are positive, but if we are prepared to use them in a positive way and learn from them then they can become some of our strongest and most influential experiences. I’ve had the pleasure in seeing some of the students work through adversity with courage and dignity, yet emerge with their values and personalities in tact, even stronger in some cases. I can honestly say that there are some young people in this group who leave me with a strong sense of pride. When I see the things they do, the things they say and the way they behave it leaves me with an enormous respect for the amazing people they are. I know if I compared the person I was at their age with the people they are now then they’d be head and shoulders above me for all the right reasons.
Unfortunately, this group only has another ten weeks together. When they return to school they’ll only have a brief time before they wave goodbye to each other (no doubt through floods of tears) and go their separate ways. As we adults know from experience, nothing will be the same again. Some students will be the only ones from the class going to a particular school and may never see many of their friends again. Even those who go to the same high school will find their friendships change as they throw off their connections to their previous life and build new connections to their new one. Either way, things will change and mostly for the better. Change is good, it helps us to grow into the adults we eventually become. What we need to remember, though, are the lessons from each other, that no matter how “different” situations may become we can hold onto our values, our personalities, the things that make us who we are and that have helped us to get this far. All we need to do is look around us and we’ll see all the role models we need, right within our own classroom. I do, I see people who inspire me everyday and feel privileged to have shared their journey.
Enjoy the remaining time we have together!
The students from LA 19 have lately been in great demand due to their expertise in all things technological. Last week we buddied up with some of the year 2s to help them with a QR code maths treasure hunt. The students used iPads to read and answer maths questions and follow clues around the school. We’re working with the remaining year 2s this week. We’re also helping the year 1s to create artistic masterpieces of themselves with the Brushes app, again on the iPad. With school photos and interschool competitions also happening this week it promises to be as hectic as usual.
This week our incredible Art specialist, Ms Sveinbjornsson, gave an in-depth interview to our very own budding reporter Ritihia (aka Rii Rii). The finished product, which can be heard below, is the culmination of a process of trial and error which occurred over the last couple of years. If you’re interested in the techie bits of that process and how we came to this final, quality product check out the previous post, The Podcast’s Evolved, below. The great thing about this (apart from Rii Rii’s awesome interview skills and Ms Sveinbjornsson’s openness) is that I had no part in the process – Rii Rii did it all herself, from start to finish. Have a listen to what I hope is the first in a series of Chatting With Rii Rii interviews.
This week we had a “dress up as a book character” day. I took part myself and dressed up a Matt Smith’s Doctor Who and, if I say so myself, I looked pretty cool (well, bow ties are cool). Unfortunately, I didn’t have any photos taken of myself, but I did have some taken of the students who actually looked even better than I did! It was an amazing day, organised by our incredible Yorkshire import, Mrs Brayshaw. Often on dress up days we have a few people who make an effort, but this time we had probably the biggest and most impressive turnout ever. Check out the photos below for a glimpse of the quality efforts from LA19.
This term we’ve been busily working through our new novel study, Mr Stink by David Walliams (see my bookshelf on the right). We’ve been using an audiobook to listen to the chapters which are read, very entertainingly, by David Walliams himself and Matt Lucas, both of Little Britain tv fame. The audiobook means that all students, regardless of reading ability, can work together at the same time on their studies to help develop their comprehension skills. We listen to two chapters per week and I’ve created questions and activities, thoroughly researched, which we work with after every listening. Recently, the students were required to create a diorama of one of the scenes, either a scene of the characters in a coffee shop or of the characters in a shed. The students seemed to really enjoy this creative task and a couple of their examples can be seen below.
This is a short post to give a bit of a “shout-out” to a few bloggers who’ve recently gone above and beyond the usual expectations to demonstrate their blogging and writing ability. The blogs are an incredibly useful asset for myself as they give a great insight into the ability of the students. As the students are producing writing that’s visible to everyone (myself, school admin, parents, friends…) the assumption is that the finished product is representative of the type of work the students would be proud to have displayed, in effect their best work. Blogs can also reflect the attitude of the students. Whilst some rarely post unless instructed to do so by myself, others make a great effort in order to demonstrate their ability in such diverse styles such as recipes, personal thoughts, holiday posts, formal school tasks and hobbies. Some students who deserve a big pat on the back for their great writing and inspiring efforts are Aimee, Demi and Kianne.
Anyone who happens to be a regular visitor to this blog will know that we’ve been podcasting for some time now. Over that time we’ve experimented with various ideas in order to produce a finished product, but at last I think we’ve finally found the best way.
We originally started by doing the whole lot on the iPads using Garage Band. Whilst this was totally adequate for us at the start we found that as our skills developed we needed a better platform that would allow us to be a little more creative. The iPad’s inbuilt microphone proved inadequate when working with large groups and younger students with quiet voices. To compensate for this I purchased the RM Easi-Speak Pro microphone and what a great tool it is (check it out on their site).
Having sorted the microphone out we returned to the iPad and Garage Band to create the theme music with each student producing their own original track. To edit them and put them together I tried Audacity and it worked perfectly (another great integrated learning opportunity for the students). To gauge the final product for yourself check out Rii-Rii’s podcast below. Bear in mind this was a casual, fun first trial!
Last week we spent a little time revising some of the mathematical topics and concepts we’ve been learning in the classroom. However, we didn’t simply open up our books and start reading (I’m much too kind to do such a thing), instead I created a set of QR codes with maths problems on them and put them onto laminated A4 sheets. I also wrote clues for the students to follow (like a treasure hunt) and an extra code on each card. The extra codes were all a part of an order of operations problem so they had to be placed in the correct order for it to give the right answer. It all sounds tricky, but the students enjoyed it. The cards were placed around the school and the students, in groups, set off with their maths books (for reference) and an iPad (to scan the codes) to follow the clues and solve the problems. I’d have to admit that it was tricky to set up, but I’d also say it was worth it. Check out the photos.
Watch this short video from BTN which is all about “Web Secrets” and tell me in at least two substantial paragraphs what you think. Do you do anything that your parents don’t know about? Do you create fake profiles? How much would you be happy with your parents seeing? Why do you think parents want to check what you do? You can answer all these questions (and more) and give reasons for your opinions and answers. What do you think most kids opinions are on web privacy and what are some of the things they get up to? Remember, parents have been around long enough to have experienced consequences of the actions they made as kids – you have not, you still haven’t experienced the full force of some really bad decisions (and you may not for years). So, who knows best?