A blog for students on the FDLT and BALT courses at the University of Northampton

at Leicester and UN

March 21, 2018
by Jean
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The Lost Words

You may already have seen this wonderful book by author, Robert MacFarlane and artist, Jackie Morris called ‘The Lost Words’. 

Here’s a link to a blog post by Jackie Morris about why the book is so important for children (and adults). She explains the significance of keeping hold of words for wild places and the natural world as well as the collaborative process of planning and writing the book.

There is also a free “An Explorer’s Guide to The Lost Words” by Eva Muir to accompany the book and encourage us to explore it further. It is available here along with posters and ideas about how to use the book to inspire learning and enjoyment.

If you use the book as an inspiration for learning you can post what you make on this Padlet. It is also a source of ideas for your work with children of course.

A successful crowdfunder campaign was run to get the book into every school in Scotland and this has been followed by other counties in England. 

Here’s one of the beautiful pages from the book:

 

 

 

January 12, 2018
by Jean
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500 words – live lesson!

On Monday 15th January at 2pm there’s a live lesson available to watch to inspire your participation in the BBC Radio 2 500 words writing competition. You can see information about the live lesson here.

Calling all story writers!

Now in its 8th year, Chris Evans’ 500 Words is one of the most successful story writing competitions for kids in the world and is open to every 5-13 year old in the UK. Its mission is to get children excited about reading and writing, regardless of their ability.

We’re creating a literacy Live Lesson to celebrate the launch of this year’s competition on 15th January. Content and resources will be tailored to different levels, but some of the higher-level content will be more appropriate for ages 7 and up.

Joining our hosts Helen Skelton and Barney Harwood, are acclaimed authors and 500 Words Judges Charlie Higson and Frank Cottrell Boyce who will be on hand to help and inspire children. The lesson will be brimming with top tips, and will provide pupils of all abilities with an essential story-telling toolkit to get them started on their stories.

We will also be featuring a follow-up programme called Live Lessons EXTRA. This will not be broadcast live but will be published on our website a day or two after the live broadcast, and will build on the outcomes of the live programme and put more of your questions to our experts.

Want to get involved?

Closer to the lesson date, we’ll be releasing more information on this page, including a full lesson guide for teachers and downloadable activity sheets.

If you’d like to be reminded by email or sent more information about the Live Lesson, contact live.lessons@bbc.co.uk. Also, please send your 500 Words related questions for our special guests, authors and 500 Words judges Charlie Higson and Frank Cottrell Boyce.

We love to hear from you and see photos of your class at work. If you are sending in any images or videos that feature children, please ensure that you have parental permission, as they may be shown during the Live Lesson and on our website.

In the email, please confirm your official relationship to the child/children featured, e.g. teacher, Brownie group leader, sports coach etc. and confirm that you have sought prior parental consent. Please also ensure the material is not sensitive or controversial.

Read our Terms and Conditions for more information.

Please note that this page is for the 500 Words 2018 – Live Lesson only. The 500 Words story-writing competition opens on 15th January and competition entries close at 7pm on 22nd February 2018. Full details on the 500 Words 2018 website here.

Reference:

BBC. (2018) 500 Words 2018 – Live Lesson. [online] Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2yRxNT9ws7MkJsFvbxPfhry/500-words-2018-live-lesson [Accessed: 12/01/18]

 

December 21, 2017
by Jean
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Good deeds!

I came across this great idea from Action for Happiness on Twitter.

Its a calendar encouraging people to be kind throughout December (and beyond). Its also available in Italian, French and in a decoration free version.

The organisation Action for Happiness says:

“If we agree that for all human beings it is important that they experience happiness and escape misery, then it follows that the best society is the one in which there is the least misery and the most happiness.

On this basis, everyone’s happiness counts equally. This includes the happiness of everybody now alive as well as that of future generations. So it is important that we act in a way that takes the happiness of all into consideration. If we can agree on this then we’re one step closer to achieving a happier society.” (2017, lines 25 – 31)

They have designed a resource for schools called “Keys to happier Living Toolkit for Schools” for children aged 7-11.

You can see information about this here.

You can follow Action for Happiness on Twitter @actionhappiness and on Facebook here.

We wish you all happy holidays and enjoy your break!

 

 

References:

Action for happiness (2017) Why happiness. [online] Available from: http://www.actionforhappiness.org/why-happiness [Accessed 19/12/17].

Action for Hapiness. (2017) Kindness Calendar. [online] Available from: http://www.actionforhappiness.org/kindness-calendar [Accessed: 19/12/17]

December 1, 2017
by Jean
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Record Playback

This week the year 2 students used their phones or tablets to make short films exploring terms and ideas used when learning English.

Their challenge was to define and explain their word in a one minute film using just the materials available – their own digital devices and card, paper, scissors, tape and sticks.

Below is the YouTube channel playlist where you can see what they made.

It was interesting to see that students also used resources from their devices eg sounds, music, backgrounds and screenshots as well as some of them editing their films using imovie.

When trying this out it is important for the film makers to devise a story or presentation that will explain and define the term clearly and without leading to any confusion for the viewer. Using examples, familiar contexts, stories and combining words and pictures can be useful devices here, as can devising quiz type scenarios.

This is a practical and creative way of exploring some key subject knowledge which leads to a shareable bank of short films which can then be used for revision or as lesson starters.

November 23, 2017
by Jean
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Classroom Adventures!

The FDLT Y2 Leicester group used their creative skills and Book Creator to make a collaborative book about some unexpected happenings in the classroom.

Here’s the whole book on Google BookCreator:

Classroom Adventures

Here’s a version on YouTube:

When making a collaborative book it is essential to agree on the format of the pages – landscape or portrait. This story couldn’t be included in the main book because it was made in the wrong orientation:

After the session one of the students went away and made her own book with her son.

 

October 20, 2017
by Jean
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The secret life of Park Campus – an interactive digital book.

This week the FDLT Year 2 UN group explored the tools available in BookCreator in a session about supporting learning in English through using digital technology. You can read more about BookCreator and see some great examples here.

They explored adding their own photos and video to pages; adding written text, speech bubbles and thought bubbles and recording speech that can be listened to. We used the context of ‘the secret life of the campus’ to plan and write imaginary stories as a context for this exploration.

You can see the book on YouTube here.

You can also use this link to access it as an ebook through Google Chrome.

September 29, 2017
by Jean
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Children’s Laureate

The current Children’s Laureate is Lauren Child and she is in this role from 2017 to 2019. This is what the Book trust said about her:

“The role of Children’s Laureate is awarded once every two years to an eminent writer or illustrator of children’s books to celebrate outstanding achievement in their field.

Lauren Child is a multi-award-winning, bestselling writer and artist whose books are known and loved the world over. She is the creator of characters such as Clarice Bean, Ruby Redfort and Charlie and Lola.” (Book Trust, 2017, lines 3-7)

Book Trust, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can read more about her role here.

You can hear an interview with her here.

Last week in a newspaper article she argued that children should be given more time to “daydream and dawdle” and  be allowed to have free, unstructured time in which to be creative and improvise. (Child, 2017, line 10) Supporting children to be creative is something you might consider as a TA. How do we provide conditions or an environment that will encourage creativity in school? What is the adult role in this?

References:

Book Trust. (2017) Waterstones Children’s Laureate. [online] Available from: https://www.booktrust.org.uk/books/childrens-laureate/ [Accessed: 29/09/17]

Child, L. (2017) We should let children dawdle and dream. [online] Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/sep/09/lauren-child-let-children-dawdle-and-dream [Accessed: 29/09/17]

 

September 22, 2017
by Jean
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Changes to assessment in primary schools

Last week the government published plans for changes to the way pupils are assessed at primary schools. You can read the announcement here.

“The reforms will:

  • improve the way that writing is assessed, so that teachers have more scope to use their professional judgment when assessing pupil performance
  • introduce a new assessment at the start of reception from September 2020 to act as the start point for measuring progress, so we can give schools credit for the progress they help pupils make in reception, year one and year two
  • remove the statutory status of end-of-key stage 1 assessments at the earliest possible point, from the 2022 to 2023 academic year, once the reception baseline is fully established
  • reduce burdens for teachers by removing the requirement to carry out statutory teacher assessments in English reading and mathematics at the end of key stage 2 from the 2018 to 2019 academic year onwards
  • improve the early years foundation stage profile, including revising the Early Learning Goals to make them clearer and align them more closely with teaching in key stage 1
  • introduce an online multiplication tables check, to be taken by pupils at the end of year 4, from the 2019 to 2020 academic year onwards.”

(DfE, 2017, lines 8-24)

The announcement also refers to the Rochford Review (2016). This will be of interest to those of you working with pupils working below expected standards.  It also provides links to revised teacher assessment frameworks, with further guidance and exemplification materials available later in the year.

If you are in FDLT year 1 you will be exploring assessment in the coming term so you will be interested to read the DfE announcement and follow the links to the Rochford Review and the teacher assessment materials.

Reference:

DfE. (2017) Improvements to the primary assessment system announced. [online] Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/improvements-to-the-primary-assessment-system-announced [Accessed: 22/09/17]

Rochford, D. (2016) The Rochford Review: final report. Review of assessment for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests. London: Standards and Testing Agency.

 

August 25, 2017
by Jean
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No more boys and girls

Over the last two weeks BBC2 have screened ‘No More Boys and Girls – Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?’ and it is also available on iPlayer until mid September. You can read more about it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 1

Dr Javid Abelmoneim poses some of the most profound questions facing the UK today. Is the way we treat boys and girls in childhood the real reason we still haven’t achieved true equality between men and women in adult life? And could stripping away the pink and blue – and the other more subtle ways that boys and girls are shaped to be different – be the way to raise kids with abilities and attitudes that are the same regardless of their gender?

In two hour-long programmes, Dr Javid sets out to find answers in a bold but simple experiment. He is taking over Year 3 in Lanesend Primary School on the Isle of Wight, aiming to remove all differences in the way boys and girls are treated and to see if, after a term of gender-neutral treatment, he can even out the gaps in their achievement across a range of important psychological measures – from self-confidence to emotional intelligence.

Episode 2

Dr Javid Abelmoneim poses some of the most profound questions facing the UK today. Is the way we treat boys and girls in childhood the real reason we still haven’t achieved true equality between men and women in adult life? And could stripping away the pink and blue – and the other more subtle ways that boys and girls are shaped to be different – be the way to raise kids with abilities and attitudes that are the same regardless of their gender? Dr Javid is taking over Year 3 in Lanesend primary school in the Isle of Wight, aiming to remove all differences in the way boys and girls are treated and to see if, after a term of ‘gender neutral’ treatment, he can even out the gaps in their achievement across a range of important psychological measures – from self-confidence to emotional intelligence.

Before he begins, he wants to understand what the kids themselves think – and their comments are shocking. Aged just seven, these kids have already absorbed the idea that boys are more important than girls, that strong is a word than only applies to boys and that the only thing that girls are better at than boys at is being pretty. As a doctor, Javid knows that there are basic biological differences between the sexes, but he believes our biology can’t fully explain why men and women’s life chances in the UK are still so unequal. He believes that how we treat our children in childhood has to be the deciding factor – and the latest research in how brains develop backs him up.

A visit to Prof Gina Rippon at Aston University, one of the UK’s leading experts in brain imaging and neuroscience, reveals that there is no such thing as a male or female brain type. Instead the brain is a plastic organ, shaped and moulded by experiences in which childhood is key. Giving boys and girls different toys to play with and different experiences as they grow up means that the genders develop different skills and different behaviours. So in theory, giving kids a childhood in which their gender doesn’t define how they are treated should enable to them to develop more equal abilities and attitudes – and ultimately allow them to forge their own paths in life regardless of their gender. But to be sure that his changes really do make a difference, he commissions Dr Stella Mavroveli from the psychometric lab at University College London to record what level of difference there currently is between the boys and girls across the spectrum of school subjects, but also in a range of behaviours and psychological traits from confidence and self-esteem to empathy and social skills. However much he was expecting to find differences between the boys and girls, Dr Javid is shocked by the test results. Girls show a consistent pattern of underestimating their academic abilities and lack confidence and self-esteem in comparison with the boys, while the boys demonstrate a worrying inability to express their emotions in comparison with the girls. The test results are enough to convince class teacher Graham Andre to adopt a broad range of changes and to eradicate from the classroom anything that reinforces the idea that boys and girls are fundamentally different. From the books the kids read to the way they are spoken to, the mission is to emphasize to the kids that gender makes no impact on what they are capable of achieving.

To achieve deeper transformation, Javid designs a series of focused interventions to target some of the children’s mostly deeply held views – from transforming their view of which jobs men and women are able to do to shocking them with the fact that contrary to what they have always believed, girls at their age are just as strong as boys. An emotional breakthrough for shy and under-confident girl Lexi convinces Javid his gender neutral approach is starting to work, but if he is to achieve real change he realises he is going to have to take his mission out of the school gates and into the kids’ home lives.

Out of school, Javid is astonished at how much childhood has changed since he was growing up. Clothes and toys have become a tsunami of pink and blue – ensuring that boys and girls play with toys that encourage very different behaviours. Boys playing with construction toys develop spatial awareness skills that girls simply don’t while surrounded by princess play outfits and dolls. He challenges the parents of Mr Andre’s class to clear out all of the gendered toys and clothes – and to change the way they divide housework and childcare. Will the parents get on board? And will Dr Javid’s gender neutral mission have produced meaningful change when he repeats his tests at the end of term?

How do the experiences shown in these episodes relate to your school and the pupils you support?

August 17, 2017
by Jean
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Social media and study

Many  of you will use social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and some of you might read or write blogs. You might find some of these useful in your study and support for learners as well as your social lives.

There are many teachers, TAs and academics on Twitter and lots of opportunity to share ideas and resources and interact with others. This article is a good place to get you started with thinking about Twitter in education. You can find and follow other TAs and people with interests in the same areas and subjects as well as join in with chats such as #ukedchat which is from 8 til 9 pm every Thursday based around a different theme each week.

There are also many people in education who share ideas and resources through their blogs. An example is Nancy Gedge (@nancygedge on Twitter). She is a parent, teacher and writer and her blog explores her experiences as a parent and educator. You can read it here.

Another example is a blog by teacher John Mitchell (@jivespin on twitter) who uses his blog to share resources and teaching ideas for secondary history. You can access it here. Many of his creative ideas for using resources can be adapted to other subjects and age groups.

Finally a site that many of you may be familiar with is The Literacy Shed. The Literacy Shed has a blog as well as lots of resources based around using film and animation to inspire writing in English and across the curriculum.

If you have a favourite blog or site feel free to add below in the comments section.

I am @JeanEd70 if you want to follow me on Twitter.

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