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.
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.
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.
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.
There are many ways that schools can increase parental involvement, whether this is inviting parents into the classroom or updating them at the comfort of their own home.
Obviously it can be most effective to speak to parents face to face, but with many parents having long working hours and very little time to go into school, other options must be thought of. The increasing popularity of technology is an ideal approach to use, whether this is through social media or blogging, parents can be kept up to date on activities happening within school. Or for a more personal update on their child, some schools opt for electronic student profiles, allowing both teachers and parents to comment and discuss the child’s work. These can be updated regularly and kept as an electronic copy over the internet allowing for easy access.
Other options to increase parental engagement involves inviting parents and family into school for them to join in with the children’s learning. From this they may learn new information and approaches that will enable them to support their child at home.
TARGET: Look at how schools use social media to update parents.
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.
Tuesday 28th June saw a fun filled day all based on Space at Morland Area C of E Primary School.
Being a teaching assistant at the school, I expected to just be helping one of the teachers with their activities. However I was soon volunteered by one of the teachers (who knew about my science specialism) to lead one of the sessions.
The day ran as a carousel with the children split into the three houses. There were three different sessions run by the teachers as well as an hour spent at the pop up Planetarium which visited the school. Each session lasted 1 hour and the groups of children were of mixed age (5-11 years). I took this in to account and when planning the activities I ensured that all children would benefit from effective teaching.
My session was based on the phases of the moon. I started by asking the children if they had seen the moon the night before. I then asked them what shape it was and if they could describe any other shapes that they had seen the moon before. Having done this, I asked the children if they knew why the moon changed shape. They were not aware of why and so I showed them a rap that taught the children the different phases of the moon as well as how this happens. The rap reinforced my teaching and enabled me to eliminate any misconceptions that children had (the rap is available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBc8QHSsFgE) . This was enjoyed by all children and they were then fully engaged and encouraged to take part in creating the phases of the moon using Oreos. Having never worked with some of the children before I made it clear to them my behaviour expectations – especially when using the Oreos! Children worked in mixed age and abilities to create these and once completed I then assessed that the children understood the names of the different phases of the moon by having a quick quiz and asking the children the name of the phase. I knew that this may not last the full hour with some groups and therefore had prepared for children to discuss and design a new space suit for Tim Peake. As a group we talked about what Tim would need to survive in space and then allowed children to add extras and make the suit look exciting rather than being plain white.
The children seemed to thoroughly enjoy my session and their achievements through the day were relayed to parents through the school’s Twitter Account as well as speaking to parents at the end of the day.