Assessment is an area that I am constantly striving to improve within my Professional Practice. Prior to Phase 1b I had a very basic understanding of how assessment can be used successfully and effectively, as well as methods that can be used.
One form of assessment that I used in each lesson on my Phase 1b practice was traffic lights. I found that this was a very simple way of assessing the children’s confidence and understanding of the work completed. Children would colour in the traffic light red, orange or green, in accordance with how they felt about that piece of work.
Red – the child was unsure about the work and found it difficult.
Orange – the child found the work OK, but struggled at times.
Green – the child understood and was happy with the work.
This allowed me to see the children’s own opinion of the work and I was able to compare this with the outcome/results of the work completed. I was able to then use this to decide which direction I would proceed in that would allow the child to make progress and deepen their understanding.
I found this method very helpful, however it may not always be accurate. Some children may just copy those around them or due to confidence may not always be truthful. With this in mind, I would have conversations with children to gain a deeper understanding.
TARGET: Continue to find different ways of formative assessment to ensure children’s progression.
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.
An area that I am always striving to develop is behaviour management. Throughout Professional Practice Phase 1a I began to feel more confident in using behaviour management within the classroom. From this I therefore decided that for Phase 1b I would focus on acquiring and implementing a range of pause/stop strategies that will gain the full class attention.
Team Stop – This was a strategy that I observed during my first week on my phase 1b practice. The teacher would say “Team Stop” and the children would respond to this by stopping everything that they were doing and listen. The use of ‘Team’ encourages the children to persuade those around them to stop also.
Team Double Stop – There were times when I did not have the class’ full attention and therefore I would then say “Team Double Stop”. Children would respond to this by stopping what they were doing and raising both hands (that were now empty) in the air. This meant that the children had no distractions and ensured their full focus was on me.
1, 2, 3. Look at me – This was a fun chant that I picked up from one of the teaching assistants within the school. The teacher/TA would chant “1, 2, 3. Look at me!” to which the children would respond “4, 5, 6. My eye’s are fixed!”. This was a fun way of encouraging the class to stop and focus.
These strategies had all been implemented in the school and therefore children knew how they should respond. In the future I would like to implement my own strategies and how out how I should go about this.
TARGET: To introduce my own behaviour management strategy to a class.
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.
Mental health affects all aspects of a child’s development including their cognitive abilities, their social skills as well as their emotional well-being. It is therefore important that we support children ‘to be resilient and mentally healthy’ (Department for Education, 2014: 6).
One factor that can cause a deterioration and poor mental health in a child is the impact of family relationship problems. The picture above shows the research I have undertaken about the issue.
It is important as teachers that we are aware of the signs of distress that the children show and how we can use strategies to support them through this. We should always try to encourage positive mental well-being throughout every aspect within school.
TARGET: To continue with research around children’s mental health and ensure that when in the classroom, I create a safe and stimulating environment for children.
DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION, 2014. Mental health and behaviour in schools. Departmental advice for school staff.
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.