Friday, 28 October 2011

Space & Aliens

After a conversation on Twitter with a few people (specifically Nicki Allman & Dawn Hallybone) I had some help in brainstorming things I could teach over the next few weeks.

I should mention at this point, that I've not taught so far this academic year, due to breaking my leg just before the end of the summer holidays, so I still need to get to know the class. Nicki very generously sent me some fabulous plans for work based around Dr Who (the BBC Schools links are here). I'm definitely going to do a few weeks based on that, but I felt I needed a buffer, or a 'getting to know each other' week - but one that would allow a good deal of learning to take place.

I've created a topic plan for a week's worth of lessons (not including Maths, which I keep as stand-alone lessons) based around the book The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers
Please bear in mind that there are gaps & not a lot of detail, but if you can pinch an idea or two, then please feel free to. You can access the doc here.

Monday, 24 October 2011

100 Word Challenge week 16

Both images courtesy of Julia Skinner's blog

This week's 100WCGU has to use the following picture prompt from the view of vegetarians. I couldn't decide what to do, so if you'll forgive me, I've attempted it twice. Good luck to me...

Attempt Number 1:
Vegetarian:(waving leaflet) "Do you know that McDonalds bid against Pedigree Chum for their meat consignments?"
Me: "Actually yes, I did."
Vegetarian: "And that there's more chicken in the packaging than in the nuggets."
Me: "I wouldn't be surprised."
Vegetarian: "You should try mung bean burgers. They're scrummy."
Me: "Why? I like the other sort - with meat."
Vegetarian: "That's disgusting. Do you know how many cows died to provide meat for your burgers last year?"
Me: "No, but..."
Vegetarian: "..7 million- and that's just the UK! Do you want to sign my petition?"
Me: "No, I want a Big Mac."

Attempt Number 2:

My wife is a vegetarian. She had never eaten meat. Her sister was the militant; forcing the family to become anti-establishment foodies, spouting the cause in favour of free-range goats & McEvil McConsumerism. Everyone else grew out of it, but Pam, well, she was institutionalised. She told me that it was the chew

"Nothing vegetarian has the resistance of a good slab of beef." 

I tried everything to cure her, but she resisted. Imagine my surprise when I came home to find her tucking into a corned beef sandwich. All it took was a dose of pregnancy. 

6 weeks left.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

ICT Self Assessment booklet

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across ICT Teaching & Learning Framework 2011, which was written by Matt Lovegrove and included contributions from Steve Greenfield, David Sheppard & Claire Waite.

Here is the Framework which can be found on his blog.

The beauty of this work was that it was licensed for sharing, remixing and adapting. This is exactly the type of thing we should all be doing in my opinion and I must sincerely thank those who wrote it for saving me a tremendous amount of time by not having to write my own.

What I did do, however, was to create a self-assessment booklet that can be used in conjunction with the framework.

I hate assessment, but this book allows the children to assess their learning at the end of the week. I've factored in time to my timetable to allow reflection. This, in turn, feeds into my planning & because it's done on a weekly basis, it's easy to keep on top of and lasts about 20 mins.

Here's an example copy of what I've done. Please help yourself to the word docs at the bottom if you want to amend and change things.

If you can't see the box below, please use this link to access the files

Monday, 17 October 2011

100 word challenge

Little puffs of brown meander their way to the hardening ground. The vibrant colours of endless summer have abandoned the world. Muted, the autumn leaves lead us inexorably towards the bleakness of winter. Our world is numbing. Fingers creep inside pockets. Coat buttons are done up. Smiles become grimaces.

Spelling Clouds

I hated learning spellings as a child. My mother would despair of me, because I would learn 7 of the pre-requisite 10 weekly spellings, as I figured out that my teacher would accept 7/10.

I hated the boredom associated with lists. Some people thrive on lists (my wife is the casing point) but I am more visual.

It was a tweet from @halfpintgill that sparked my interest.

I thought that was a fabulous idea - and one that I could turn into an ongoing record for the children.

At my school, we use Learning Logs for our homework, as a lot of schools do. I encourage the children to complete the work in a lot of different ways, online, through models, practically and so on.

This is an 'add on' to their homework where we will create a word cloud of the half termly spellings, where each week they gain another part of the puzzle. The idea is they can see their knowledge building 10 words at a time and can identify the amount of work that can be built upon gradually. 

All I ask is that they learn the spellings and create at least 5 sentences that incorporate as many different words as possible.

Here's what I mean:

In class, I separate children into 3 spelling groups in the traditional mode. Each group would be given their spelling list as a small image 5cm x 7cm (ish), that could go into their learning log on a designated spelling page.

Each week, the design is different, so that a collage of spellings can be created over time that will be eye catching. 

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Independent Learning

This evening on #ukedchat, the discussion was about 'independent learning' or 'IL' and it's importance in the curriculum.

In my opinion IL is an umbrella title, one so multi-faceted that we probably need to invest a lot of time determining the rationale behind it.

One point that came across was from Miles Berry that Independent Learning is something innate, present from birth as a survival mechanism so teaching it is contradictory. This is something that I agree with and yet we are in a system that has institutionalised our lives to the point where children are taught out of this. They become so reliant on being told what, when and how to do things, that they forget what they are genetically programmed to do.

And there's my mistake. I'm talking about these children in the third person. The point is that we have all fallen into the habit of providing knowledge as teachers. There is no blame associated with this, we are as caught up in the status quo as they are. We know, however, that we need to change and this evening was so refreshing to be able to see so many educators out there are changing or challenging the regime.

Independent Learning Opportunities in my class.
In April of this year, I created a Project Day. I looked at the work that Oliver Quinlan had been doing, to great success, at Robin Hood Primary School with his Year 4 class. I liked the independence they showed and the desire to see things through.

I spoke to my class, explaining that they could do whatever they wanted to do as a project, providing that they could produce an end product - and by that I mean that they could reach their goal in a day.

I provided a Project booklet, as a guideline, (which once I find on disc I will upload) and explained that the children had to book adult help. My teaching assistant & I blocked out 20 minute sessions and left the blank paper on the wall.

Creative Commons LicenseMy Project Book by Jim Maloney is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

If they didn't plan for help, they wouldn't get it.

The result was that the children went away, thought about what they wanted to learn, planned a learning journey, resourced the project themselves, showed time management skills, identified areas where they needed support, problem solved, adapted, communicated but most importantly, learned. Not just about the project, but about themselves as learners. They identified skills they didn't think they had and fell short of things they took for granted.

Here are some photos of the kids in action and a link to their comments on last year's class blog.

One child chose to compose and perform his own song.

Cakes created in an Easter basket. They were good.

snake skin modelling

Art Attack style fish tank.

A model of the Windmill in Staining. Detailed down to the door colour

Working on each other's project, to help everyone to finish

A wooden model of the Empire State Building. Eventually!

Book about his pets

Stop Motion animation

Water scenes.