Having experienced different formats of planning, I have been able to see the different ways that teachers differentiate their planning.
On my current placement I have been introduced to the schools format of maths planning, in which teachers plan daily. The first lesson is a whole class input, with children completing the same activity. This is differentiated through teacher/TA support and resources, as well as implementing next steps for the children to attempt once completed. Through formative assessment and summative assessment of the children’s work that lesson, the teacher decides what to do in the next lesson. This may be moving on to a new area of the topic, or to revisit what the children have just done in the lesson.
When revisiting, children are grouped in to 3 different groups (working towards, expected greater depth – though children are not aware of this) and the input and activity is differentiated according to how these groups of children managed the previous lesson. Each group has their own teacher input at various times throughout the lesson and of various lengths of time depending on their needs. Whilst a group is having the teacher input, the other two groups work on an activity that reinforces or further develops that learnt previously. A TA works with these two groups to support them.
I have found that this planning approach is extremely beneficial, as teaching is adapted appropriately so progression is ensured for all children. It is extremely important to be aware of the children’s prior knowledge and to build on this, but also to guide and allow the children to reflect on the progress that they make throughout. However this approach will only be fully successful with a TA, so that the children maintain their focus and have someone to go to without interrupting the teacher input and other children’s learning.
TARGET: To continue to explore differentiated teaching methods.
I am a strong believer in hands on and practical science. I have seen for myself how it can engage and motivate children to investigate further and ask questions which help to develop their understanding.
In the final few weeks of the summer term, children planted beans as part of their science topic ‘Plants’. Children planted these themselves, cared for them and kept a diary, recording their observations of the bean as it grew over the weeks. I found that this was a great way for children to take responsibility for their work and you could see that the children had a sense of pride when their bean began to grow.
Even after the summer holidays I have received an update onthe beans (they could challenge Jack and the Beanstalk!!), showing a positive impact on the children’s attitudes towards learning and their development of understanding.
TARGET: To continue to include physical and hands on experiences and experiments with in science topics.
During my Phase 1b placement I produced and delivered the topic lessons that were based on The Great Fire of London. Although there were not many lessons available to spend on the topic, I believed that it was right to give the children the opportunity to explore, discover and ask many questions.
In the first lesson, I introduced children to 1600’s London by showing a picture of current day London and a drawing of 1600’s London. Children were then given the opportunity to explore the pictures, discussing the similarities and differences they could see. Children fed their ideas in to a class discussion which prompted further questions to be asked and allowed children to think critically and develop their own understanding and perspectives.
In the next lessons that followed children engaged with creating a timeline of The Great Fire of London, focusing on key events and times. They developed their understanding of how we know about events that have happened in the past and used a variety of historical terms.
I was also able to spare time for the children to create their own Great Fire of London landscape. Children painted the background and buildings and added coloured squares of paper for the windows and doors of the buildings. Although the format was given to the children, the children’s creations were all different and presented their own ideas and understanding of the Great Fire of London. Children were able to develop their skills and techniques, creating effective and colourful pieces of work for the class display.
If I was to do this topic again, I would allow for the children to partake in more independent investigative work.
TARGET: Use activities that will allow children to investigate further about the topic.
As part of our science major sessions we had the opportunity to deliver a workshop to local school children, based on the topic “Our Fragile Earth”. Children worked in small groups and visited the separate activities in the form of a carousel.
The activity that I ran was based on the effects that humans have on animals in their habitats, focusing specifically on the journey of a fish down a river and the pollution that it comes across.
The story was read to the children and at each stage they added substances, representing the pollutant, to the water. At the end of the activity, the foam fish was turned upside down and children were able to see the impact the pollution had on the fish.
This activity was aimed at KS1 children and allowed children to meet the observation ‘Working scientifically’ (DfE, 2013: 147) expectations. Children observed throughout the activity and were then able to use their observations to ‘suggest answers to questions’ (DfE, 2013:147).
Children worked collaboratively, discussing ideas and making suggestions. This encouraged children to challenge and defend their own and others opinions developing them both cognitively and socially.
TARGET: To use this activity within the classroom as a starter/plenary activity.
DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION, 2013. The National Curriculum in England. Key stages 1 and 2 Framework. London: The Department for Education.
In a recent science seminar we looked at how scientific skills can be developed through practical enquiries.
Enquiry skills include:
- Raising Questions
- Using Observations
- Planning and conducting investigations
- Interpreting evidence and drawing conclusions
- Communicating, reporting and reflecting
We can develop these enquiry skills by:
- Providing children with opportunities to encounter materials and phenomena first hand.
- Providing challenging tasks whilst also providing scaffold support.
- Teaching specific techniques needed for advancing skills.
- Helping Children to record their ideas in ways that support systematic working and review.
Working scientifically includes:
- Observing over time – Magic Flowers. Cut out a paper flower and fold the petals inwards. Place the flower in a tray of water and observe what happens. The paper absorbs the water up the petals causing the petals to drop and the flower to open.
- Pattern Seeking – Reaction Strips. Drop the strip and see how long it takes for your partner to catch the strip. See if the times get better or worse. Reaction times can be affected by many thing (e.g. tiredness, concentration etc.)
- Identifying, classifying and grouping – Animal Sort. Sort the animals in to groups. There are many ways in which animals can be sorted depending on your focus.
- Comparative and fair testing (controlled investigations) – Bubbles. Blowing bubbles. How do you make it a fair test? Same person would blow each time, at the same rate, same mixture of bubbles etc.
- Research using secondary sources.
It is important when teaching any science lesson that a working scientifically learning objective is included. This therefore allows the child to progress in both areas of science, developing their skills and knowledge.
As a reward for their good behaviour and progress in their work, Class 2 at Morland Area C of E Primary School were taken for a day out tothe Westmorland County Show.
This may not have been a particularly appropriate reward for some children, however with the school being in a rural setting and many of the children from farming families, this was an ideal treat for the children – and an educational one too!
Th children visited the education tent, looked at the stalls and watched a very entertaining display by The Sheep Show (http://www.thesheepshow.co.uk/) learning about the process of wool. They also had the opportunity to get close to the animals learning about British Agriculture and the process of how the food that the children eat, reaches their plate; something that is not widely taught in schools.
For me, I benefitted from this experience as I was able to learn about the process of organising a school visit. The class teacher involved me throughout the whole process, increasing my confidence and encouraging meto arrange class visits in the future. The key aim throughout the organisation, and the visit itself, was keeping the children and adults safe throughout their experience.
Everyone (including myself) had a highly enjoyable day even with such atrocious weather and being covered in mud from head to toe!
TARGET: Arrange a class visit.
It is all well and good for children to learn the skills and theory taught in maths, however if they do not know how to apply it, how can they use it in the future?
It is important that we consider the needs of all children within our lessons. Children with ASD tend to have difficulty in applying skills learnt to real life contexts and therefore we must approach this issue and give them the opportunity to link theory with reality. One approach for this is by taking children out of the classroom.
The specific example above shows an approach for taking a class of year 5 children to an airport with a specific focus on the measurement strand within the primary maths curriculum, although there are many cross-curricular links available to other subjects.
From just one setting there are many possibilities that will engage and motivate but also assist children in their learning. This will not just benefit the children cognitively but also socially and emotionally, with many of them increasing their confidence when in public places. We are encouraging children to think and reflect, being conscientious about their work and others.
TARGET: To continue looking at different approaches of encouraging children to apply theory learnt with reality.