2023 is here with a new set of students and, strangely for me, a whole new year group. For quite a few years I’ve been working with fabulous year 6 students, but this year I’ve been given a year 5 class. Apart from the obvious adjustments that I’ll have to make to my usual teaching (not to mention the different curriculum), the blogs will also have to undergo a total rethink. I’m not quite yet sure whether I’ll be using blogs with the whole class, but I’ll certainly be carrying on with my class posts. A new year, new students, new year group and lots of exciting new challenges – 2023 is already promising to be very interesting.
Time just flies, doesn’t it? Our year has now come down to just a handful of days, very soon the students of 2022 will walk out of the gates for their final time. This particular group of students have been a real pleasure, they’ve saved my sanity a number of times (tested it on a few occasions too) with their humour, kindness, smiles and friendships. This has been a tough year, personally, and the classroom has been my “safe place”, my retreat from the many many pressures that this complex and demanding job too frequently subjects teachers to. Teachers may tell you, the students are the reason we do what we do and the rewards we receive from being with them each feeds us with energy and purpose. Regardless of the constant pressures, once we step through the door we remember why we do the job we chose, and it’s that feeling that ensures we keep returning. On 15th December, the students will leave LA1 for the final time, but I’m sure they won’t be forgotten.
For a moment the scene resembled something quite dramatic and sinister, bodies were lying on the ground throughout the library. These bodies, though, were clearly not injured, in fact the only thing they were suffering from were fits of giggles. First aid training can be a little confronting at times, but our presenter was fabulous and she did a great job ensuring the students felt at ease with the whole process. We learnt plenty of new skills and information, although these are the types of skills that will need to be refreshed every once in a while; I found that I’d learnt some new things that I’d either forgotten or never knew in the first place. The students went through their role plays and were able to demonstrate their new knowledge, I only hope they never have to use it.
Take a word like door. Just an everyday kind of word, one we wouldn’t give a second thought to. However, that simple word could be the basis for a world of dreams and adventure, drama and romance, thrills and tragedy. In LA1 we’ve been working all year to develop engaging openings to our writing, particularly with regards to our narrative writing. For example, let’s get back to the word door: This was the moment her life could change forever, she just had to open the door. What door? Where is she? Is it a real or metaphorical door – we MUST read on! such is the power of being able to turn a bland, everyday word into an engaging story starter.
For this task you need to use the word door to create 3 different and engaging story starters. Try changing the genre of the story (thriller, horror, comedy, romance…) and give different feelings to your sentences.
This may be controversial but hear me out. All nations strive to be the best in their education systems, after all, it’s only natural that we want the best for our children and the best for us as a nation moving forward. But what if we’ve got it all wrong? Many nations, such as Australia, USA, UK, Korea… put a lot of weight into their testing processes and even create league tables for the results. A school is generally believed to be doing well if its test results are good. However, none of these countries sit at the top of the table; the nation which is believed to have the very best education system is Finland – and they have NO standardised tests! In fact, Finland only has a single test, and this is voluntary, at the end of high school. So, why are we testing? Are we testing our teaching or have we become nations which teach kids to pass a test? I only bring this up because the students are currently undergoing two whole weeks of testing, so make sure you check in with them to see how they’re going and that they’re not too stressed out by what appears to be a very important process.
Hollywood here we come!
Anyone as old as me (very old) will recall the old stop-motion special effects in movies such as Jason and the Argonauts by the legendary Ray Harryhausen. As a kid, these movies were thrilling, state-of-the-art masterpieces that wowed audiences and had us mesmerised. Following these early great movies came the likes of Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit, still created using the “old”, hands-on process, handling and moving the modelling clay in slow, step by step movements to create a smooth animation. The kids of today are probably more familiar with animations created digitally such as the Toy Story movies, amongst many others by the Pixar studios. This term, as part of our design and technology learning area, the students of LA 14 have begun work on their own stop motion animations; they’ve made the plans, created storyboards and have made the characters, now all they have to do is begin filming. Who knows, we may yet have another Ray Harryhausen or Nick Park just waiting to take the movie world by storm. Watch this space!
It’s great to watch our children having fun with their games and belongings (“toys” sounds a little inappropriate), but once the fun’s over the serious work of persuading them to tidy up begins. This is a side of play that has a serious side to it and can be a positive learning experience for youngsters. Once LA1 had finished using the Meccano sets (see the previous post, “STEAM Power”), they became responsible for accounting for all their pieces and ensuring that the next group of students would have an opportunity to use a full and complete set. Accountability and responsibility are very important life lessons, as is making sure you are doing something for the benefit of others. The students had to sift through all their pieces, arrange them and count them against the parts list in their sets. The students did a great job and appear to have not lost a single part; bear this in mind next time they claim it’s too difficult to tidy up and check they haven’t lost anything.
On this particular day a strange, pungent smell wafted through the class, and pairs of little eyes stared around with wild curiosity. No, not just an ordinary day in LA1, but a special day when Mrs Kendall brought her ferrets in for the students to see. They’re strange little creatures (the ferrets) and some of the students got to hold them, although not everyone was a fan (me included) and some decided to stand a safe distance away from such sharp teeth and claws. A huge thank you to Mrs Kendall for taking the time to give the class a different kind of treat.
Students, this is a special, new blogging task just for you. This term has been a crazy one with so many things happening and lots of unpredictable ups and downs. But, what events or activities stick in your mind? Was it the swimming? Was it the faction carnival? Perhaps you were devastated when your favourite teacher (me) took time off sick. Did the Meccano or the QR Maths hunt leave you exited and wanting more? Whatever it was, write a post about it. Remember all the things we’ve been doing with our writing, especially our engaging openings and descriptions.
Teachers never switch off! It’s just our nature, whenever we’re walking around (or doing pretty much anything) we always have our job subconsciously at the back of our minds. Quite a few years ago I started using QR codes, a Japanese technology which was invented for tracking automobile parts during the manufaturing process. The original purpose was quite dull, but in the hands of teachers they can have a much more enjoyable role. This week the students were allowed to run (well, walk quickly) around the school on a treasure hunt. Not that there was any treasure at the end of this particular hunt, just the satisfaction of completing a revision exercise on our previous Math concepts. A number of QR codes were placed around the school with a selection of questions covering the topics we’ve covered this year. The answer to each question was a clue to the location of the next question. The students carried their Math books with them so they could refer back to jog their memories. The students all had fun (with a little frustration added in) and learned, at least remembered, what they’d forgotten they’d done before!