In my Phase 2 placement, the school took a differentiated approach to Maths. This meant that they planned their lesson daily, with the first lesson being a whole class input and the follow up lesson being planned for differentiated groups.
I really enjoyed this approach as it allowed all children to progress to the level which suited them. It gave children the opportunity to either revisit a particular area or to attempt the next steps at Greater Depth.
Although this meant that they was more preparation for the lesson, with many activities being planned, children progressed at significant amounts.
Above are examples of the differentiated activities. The main focus of the class was to try and get on to the next steps which was problem solving.
TARGET: Continue to explore differentiation techniques.
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.
The area that I found most difficult during Phase 1b placement was modelling. Having not much experience in a Year 1 classroom, I was unaware of the need to model when setting tasks for the children to complete.
Even though I was giving good explanations of what the children had to do, I was finding that their completed work was not what I expected. Following a discussion with the class teacher, it was highlighted to me the great importance of modelling. From then on, I ensured that I used this technique.
One of the best ways of modelling was printing out an enlarged version of the work that the children had to complete. I would then begin to complete it on the board, asking the children lot’s of question to ensure understanding and knowledge. I found that this was a very effective approach, with children completing the work to the standards set. I was able to use modelling within many of the lessons taught, including English, during which I would model what was expected using guided writes and class writes.
As a trainee teacher, it can be rather intimidating to enter a school and work with the class Teaching Assistant (TA) who has quite often had many more years experience in a school setting.
When I first started my Phase 1b placement, I felt that it was very important to build an effective relationship with the class TA. This allowed us to create a mutual respect and increase my confidence.
In each of my lesson plans I included a section that was specifically for the role of the TA. In this, I included great detail so that the TA understood their specific jobs for the session. I always aimed to give the plan to the TA the day before the session allowing them the opportunity to reflect on their own knowledge and think of any questions that they may need to know before the session. Each morning I would meet with the TA to ensure they understood what they were doing, as well as gain their opinion of the session.
As easy as it is to assign the TA to the lower ability children, I did try to use them in the most effective way. I found that the TA was great to extend the higher ability children’s knowledge. A TA can also be very helpful when it comes to assessment if you make sure that you outline what, who and how they should assess within the lesson.
TARGET: To continue to look at the most effective ways using a TA within the lesson.
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.
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!
Having lived in rural Cumbria all of my life, being in the outdoors has been the norm. Many of the lessons that I can remember from my own time in primary school were the ones that took place outside; observational drawings and science investigations to name just a couple. I personally felt the benefits of being in the outdoors, but also from my reading of this particular area in education it is clear to see that there are great benefits for children’s learning and development that can be gained from the outdoors.
During my time helping at Morland Primary School I was given the opportunity to take the nursery children for a lesson. With the weather set to be fine, I decided to take the children outside to explore the school grounds and see what they could find.
Before leaving the classroom I made it very clear to the children that even though we were staying within the school grounds it was important not to run off and I needed to be able to see them at all times. This made for effective teaching and it also made it easier to communicate with the children. Setting out these behavioural expectations allowed the smooth running of the session.
The children were excited to be going outdoors and we started by visiting a pond in the school’s Wildlife Area. A couple of weeks previous to the session, the children had visited the pond and had seen tadpoles and this was therefor a time for them to see if the tadpoles had grown into frogs – unfortunately there were none to be seen! However this was a good opportunity to discuss with the children what the tadpoles would look like now and where they may have disappeared to. Following on from this children were left to roam in the Wildlife Area freely. I encouraged them to work together and collect natural items which they thought were interesting and would make a good picture. Allowing the children to roam freely increased both their independence and confidence to discover and explore. (I was always within eyesight of all the children.) Once the children had had time to explore, we moved down onto the school field, I asked the children to find twigs and branches from the field and use them to create the first letter of their names. For some this took them no time and therefore I asked them to try and spell their whole name. We collected our final natural items and headed back to the classroom.
Once back in the classroom, the children stuck what they had found on to paper, with some creating unique pictures out of the natural resources. The children seemed to thoroughly enjoy this activity and really embraced the outdoors.