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Sunday, 29 September 2013

The further adventures of Stickman

At the time of  my last post (ha ha that doesn't sound right somehow) we had completed making our Stickman and had begun the preparation for writing the further adventures of The Stickman or in the case of some of the girls in my class the further adventures of the Sticklady love.

On the Friday after making the Stickman I made sure I had taken photographs of  all of them as a prompt for their stories as I knew very well the whole class were chomping at the bit to take their creations home to show their adults what they had done.

So there we were on Friday, my fabulous TA and I giving out reading journals, Friday books ( I will come to these in another post), letters to go home about Meet the Teacher evening and finally The Stickmen and women. Now for those of you have taught Primary children and especially KS1 children you can picture the chaotic scene, especially when we realised that our diligent labelling of the said Stickpeople with Sharpie pens had actually been covered over by their recently added clothes.

Now add into this the boy (who shall remain nameless) proclaimed every single Stickperson we held up to be his own and you can imagine our eventual meltdown into hysterical laughter.. This was also compounded when it became clear that one of the girls in our class had lost her Sticklady love but we simply couldn't figure out who had hers. I then took the very reluctant, yet selfless decision to hand her my Stickman, you know the WAGOLL, or Blue Peter Stickman that I had lovingly made and now found myself inextricably attached to.  Guess what said little boy said?? 'That's mine!" Now it was at this point I became a 6 year old when I replied "I know for absolute certain L.......... that this is definitely not your because guess what it's mine"

Result an absolute breakdown into hysterical laughter by myself, my TA and the rest of the class.

Thankfully every child even L... went home with a Stickman or Sticklady at the end of the day and as for the stories well again true to form with year 2 lots were well structure re-telling's of the original story but thankfully also some very original ideas for further adventures.

What I do know however, is how much the children have enjoyed the whole experience and even the children who re-told the story rather than coming up with their own ideas actually wrote so much more than they have before that the progress is clear to see.

On that note why oh why do I feel the need to protest that they made progress I don't know? Wait yes I do it is the system that we are working within at the moment. I at times like this, reflect that to me, progress is often not measurable. How can you measure the effect that making those Stickmen gave them, the group work, discussion, team work when constructing them, the independent choices they had to make in the material for the clothes and yes the absolute joy of that chaotic afternoon, breaking out in spontaneous laughter as a class and then finally going home, Stickman held aloft!

It is therefore a very valuable, personal reflection time writing this blog as it reminds me of all of those precious 'teaching moments' that often get lost in the stresses that the outside pressures bring us. I do hope however, that my musings are at the very least an entertaining distraction for you the readers of my blog.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Stick Man

As part of our topic we recently read The Stick Man by Julia Donaldson. It is a typical Donaldson book, it has a rhyming pattern, repeated verses and great illustrations. It links in wonderfully with our Down in the Woods topic as the pupils have been furiously collecting lots of items for our Nature Box (both in and out of school) and amongst the collected items there were lots and lots of sticks.
Now as always with teaching (well the way I teach anyway) one thing led to another, first the sticks, then the book, then the making of  The Stick Man!Well it would have been rude not to now wouldn't it?
Next? I hear you ask. Hopefully a story, telling the further adventures of The Stick Man. We have looked at Story Maps today in preparation and as you can see taken pictures of all of the Stick men to stick into their books (forgive the pun.) The children have also worked in pairs (Think, Pair, Share) discussing their ideas. This will all then be followed by a bit of talking homework and then hopefully a story.

The topic is then going to take a turn away from fiction (Minpins and The Stick Man) and will move towards non fiction looking at animals and trees and plants found in woodland areas.  

A very successful topic so far with lots of cross curricular links, science, maths, literacy and even PSHE (we did conscience alley - discussing whether Little Billy from our Minpins story should have gone into the woods without Mums permission.)

Have I said this already? I'm loving Year 2!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The day the Minpins moved in

The Day The Minpins Moved In

As part of our class topic in year 2 we have been reading The Minpins by Roald Dahl.  I have read lots of Dahl books but until stumbling across the Minpins had never heard of it myself, neither have many other people I have discovered.I would highly recommend it as a class reader and a lead into topic work as it has so many great teaching possibilities. So if you get a chance give it a go.

Basically it is about mini people (Minpins) that live inside and on trees. They wear suction boots to prevent them falling from the trees, they move from tree to tree via birds and they live in fear of the Gruncher a creature that eats humans and Minpins.

Today the Minpins moved into the tree right outside our classroom:

The children were so excited, they were even pointing out the knots on the tree and saying 'Look Mrs Kenny, it's a window.' It was truly magical, I mean what could be better than witnessing that sense of awe and wonder, the pure innocence of children.

So next time I am listening to the news, or reading a paper be moaning the teaching profession or Mr Gove telling us to go 'Back to Basics' I will let it all roll over me and remember that moment of magic.
A moment I am sure my class will never forget.

Monday, 9 September 2013

I'm getting the hang of this now!

What a hectic, exhausting, non stop, fun, entertaining, productive day today has been! You can't tell we've been using 'wow' words today can you?

 One of the things I love about teaching is those days when you have a plan, you know exactly what your doing for the day, you've even got all of the resources ready and then Bam! It all goes out of the window and your day takes you off in a direction that is a success but wasn't what you had planned at all. Well that happened today.

 I had on, Friday set a homework task which was to go on a 'nature scavenger hunt' at the weekend and bring into school what you find. Boy did my adorable class come up with the goods! The children greeted me on the playground with excitement, chattering about where they had been a d what they found, it was a lovely start to a Monday!

We went into class and spent most of the morning sharing what we had found. Items ranging from a toadstool (sensibly packaged in a sealed box), to acorns, pine cones, leaves of all shapes and sizes, berries and an echinacea flower !

We got speaking and listening, maths (sorting and grouping, and counting) science classification and identification, literacy 'wow words' the list of things the children learned goes on. Mind you I don't know if Mr Gove would approve after all we were doing group work and dare I say the words collaborative learning!

The children loved it and learned so much and guess what I learned a lot too. Mainly to relax and enjoy, let the children discover, explore and make sense of the world with a little input here and there and a little steering in the right direction.

So yes I think I'm actually turning into a KS1 teacher or am I just realising that its not the different to  KS2 after all.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Feeling better

Feeling better and a lot more confident

After the exhaustion and worry of yesterday I gave myself a good talking to and came into school today with more optimism, determined to have a 'positive day. I have to say, sat in the PPA room now at 1.45 my day so far has been a positive one. 

First I took the register but with a twist, asking each child to say good morning followed by their cheesiest smile. Now who could fail to feel cheered up by the sight of a class of 34 six year olds grinning at them, missing teeth and all! 

This was followed by me beginning to read our new class reader 'The Minpins' by Roald Dahl. I absolutely love reading to children, the looks on their faces as you begin to draw them into the world which the book creates is wonderful. Up until I began my preparation for this new topic 'Down in the Woods' I had never even heard of the Minpins before and if you haven't either I suggest you give it a try. Basically it is a typical Dahl book in as much as it has made up words and made up creatures which most children absolutely love but it is very similar to the Borrowers by Mary Norton. It is about a boy who runs off into the woods to explore, he is chased by a 'Dahl' creature and is saved by a group of people the 'Minpins' who are tiny and live in the trees in the forest.

As I was reading it to my grandson, who is often my guinea pig, I was overwhelmed by the possible activities the book has as part of my topic, including:

  • Drawing the creatures the book describes
  • Discussing if the main character should have gone into the woods alone
  • Writing what happens next
  • Lots and lots of art work possibilities from nature collages to leaf prints
  • Adjectives to describe the little boy, the forest, the monsters
  • Synonyms for some of the words in the story
  • Onomatopoeia poetry to link with some of the words Dahl uses to describe the monsters noises

After break we then did some counting in 1s, 2s and 3s but as I intend to so some drumming with my class to teach them about pulse and beat, we did our counting to different beats e.g. 1, 2, 345, 6,7 8910, 11,12, 131415 and so on. Great fun! Then we completed a 'Pinterest activity' Math About Me. Which enables the children to see how we have numbers all around us from the day we are born. Finally before lunch it was  outside for another nature scavenger hunt to find resources for all of the art work we have to come over the next few weeks.

So yes looking back on the day so far it has been great. It really does prove that it is all about mindset. My 'happy' mindset has also been helped by one of my summer holidays reading books -


An amazing read!! But if I am ever to get next weeks planning done that will have to wait for another day.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Day 2 and already behind

Day 2 and already behind!!

I am definitely back in school there is no denying it. How do I know? A restless nights sleep, when I eventually got to sleep that is. I went to bed at the normal school night time feeling exhausted after my first day back with my class, confident I would be asleep as normal, forgetting that of course the normal I was referring to was actually 'holiday normal' not 'school normal.' You see holiday normal means going to bed and after a little bit of reading straight off to sleep and waking the next morning feeling refreshed and ready for the day. Whereas school normal is difficulty getting to sleep, despite exhaustion, followed by a restless night and waking up feeling far from refreshed.

Oh my goodness how quickly I have fallen back into those bad habits! I tried to remedy my sleeplessness by putting a list of 'things I need to do tomorrow' in the notes section of my phone. This did work in s much as I was then able to go to sleep but unfortunately did not cure the tossing and turning, restless, rest of the night.

I have had a relatively successful day. I sat with a selection of groups throughout the day in line with my 'Immersion Vow,' I took groups outside to do a 'Nature Scavenger Hunt,' which was hugely popular, the children thoroughly enjoyed it. I chatted to lots of children during my two playground duties and we had a short 'show and tell' at the end of the day (very KS1). However, I haven't started phonics yet, given out reading books, read to the class, set up the relevant assessment files and I haven't even looked at the IEPs! Maybe its like this every year and I have forgotten or is it the change from KS2 to KS1 has meant me putting unrealistic pressures upon myself? Thinking and reflecting now and thanks to a chat from the supportive colleague who I did the Key stage swap with, I suspect its the latter. 

So my new vow to myself ......... Lighten up ........... Don't sweat ........ It will all come out in the wash ...... Remember its a marathon not a sprint!

As for that essential list I was writing at 11.30 last night? 
Sort phonics, guided reading and assessment folder and check out the IEPs!!!
Did I do any of them? noooooooooo

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The first day of term

What a Day! Fun and Exhausting!

Today was the children's first day back to school as year 2s and my first day as a KS1 teacher so the atmosphere was one of both anticipation and excitement. I arrived at school at 8 o'clock but due to my many trips to school over the summer and all of the work undertaken on Inset Day I actually didn't have much to do besides setting up the computerised register and switching on the Smartboard.

After a quick cuppa and our regular morning 'staff briefing' it was time to collect my class from the playground. They stood there in line all shiny shoes and brand spanking new uniforms, buzzing with excitement about all the news they had to tell and the friends to see for the first time in six weeks. The biggest cause of most of their excitement however, was their new bags and lunch boxes which ranged from Moshi Monsters to Monster High and from Batman to Superman. 

Their relevant adults stood their all proud, smiling and I'm certain a little bit relieved at being able to get back into a routine that would finally ease their bank balances after the long, expensive summer. Just in time for a quick goodbye before I led them into their brand new classroom complete with new furniture.

After taking the register, sorting out coats, lunch boxes and water bottles it was time for their first back to school assembly and time, thanks to the head saying we didn't have to stay in to take quick breather. 30 minutes later it was back to class for our 'Good Morning Song', very cheesy but such a hit I can see it becoming a regular feature.

Next they were given 10 minutes to tell their partner two of the best things they did over the holidays. It was lovely to listen to some of the things they were sharing with each other and to see the genuine pleasure in their eyes as they re lived some of their holiday highlights. Then off for break - I made sure they had had milk and been to the toilet before letting them loose on the yard. One of my pupils has Cystic Fibrosis so I have to make sure they have 3 Creons before having milk and a fatty snack, then 4 more Creons before lunch. I never fail to be amazed by some children's absolute resilience and the matter of fact manner in which they handle things. (Oh if only they were all like that!)

The rest of the day consisted of class routines, rules and expectations and a great activity, drawing onto a photocopy of a pair of sunglasses what they had told each other earlier about their holidays.(Another idea from Pinterest) as well as some 'choosing' time. Well they are only 6 bless them!

 The most challenging part of my day however was to keep to the promise I had made myself when agreeing to take a year 2 class and that was 'Immersion' I vowed to help the pupils to become immersed in whatever it is they are doing but also to be involved in that immersion myself and not to be tempted to leave them to it and go off a do all of the thing we teacher have to do every day.

Why immersion you may ask? Simply I think if you want to learn to swim you need to enter the water, you cannot learn to swim in the desert even if you study it for years. Perhaps this link in with my pragmatic style but I also see it as similar to becoming totally immersed in a book, that feeling of being totally lost in the moment, submerged, immersed in another place, time, world. It's pure magic!

Well did I manage it? No not yet, I realised it is not an easy task I am setting myself but I will over the next few weeks, months blog about my attempts at this for me and my class.

In the attempt though I had a very enjoyable but as I said in the title, absolutely exhausting day. Oh and think I may need to ditch the heels if I am going to survive in KS1!!!

Monday, 2 September 2013

A Hectic Inset Day

Today was my first 'official' back to school day. I arrived at 8.00 this morning and am still in class now 5.30! I am sure once the children are in tomorrow it will be just the same. Despite the long day I am so pleased with all that we (myself and my great T.A.) have achieved. Our class looks fantastic, check out the pics.

   Door sign (inspiration Pinterest.)       Spot our class fish Spongebob.
Children's faces instead of name.              Map of U.K. (Lots of uses)
           (Again Pinterest)

      Our class reading area
                                                           Smartboard with lots of storage
                                                           underneath for construction toys
                                                               (essential with 22 boys!)
But the best part of the day ..... My tables arrived!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Why am I so nervous?

I have as I have said before been teaching 15 years so you would think by now I would be used to the start of a new year. But no I am not! I am nervous, excited, a bit scared and its only an inset day. If the children were back in tomorrow I think I would be even more nervous.

So why am I nervous? I think it's because I know the year ahead will be exciting, fun, challenging and I'm absolutely certain exhausting. I, like the majority of teachers, throw myself into each year completely and utterly. It is an all consuming job that takes over every aspect of my life. That means I am realistically giving over my life for the next year.

One of the reasons I began this blog was to force myself to reflect more. Reflecting upon my feelings now I realise how much I am still utterly passionate about teaching. I think that makes me lucky, I wonder how many other people are going to work tomorrow to do a job they are passionate about?

So yes it's all consuming, infuriating and exhausting but I know I am lucky to have found a job I am

passionate about and one I think I am pretty good at. I also know that despite my 16 years experience I am still learning, honing my craft and that's why it's so exciting. Teaching is a job that is constantly evolving it never stays still and that's not just down to the politicl interference. It is due to our changing world, new technology, the economy, parents and obviously the pupils.

So yes I am nervous and yes I will not sleep much the next couple of nights and indeed for much of the coming term but guess what? I wouldn't change it for the world!