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This morning I woke up with what felt like a huge bruise on my bottom (teacherlanguage alert!), most probably the result of sitting on the little year 1 and 2 sized chairs in the classroom. Even though there are big wheely chairs for the adults, they are mostly being used for the real teachers, but also, I must make a note to myself that being at a higher level than the children when they are sat on the carpet in front of you may result in them getting an eyeful! So I have to be aware of what I am wearing, and how I am standing. A rather valuable lesson that I had not yet thought of! (It is very cold though, I have been wearing my teacher trousers, so these children are safe for now!)

Anyway, this morning, I arrived bright and early and helped with breakfast club, which included drawing lots of castles and princesses and princes and a dragon that looked more like a crocodile than an dragon…2013-11-21 20.04.50

As it was my class teacher’s PPA; planning something and assessment (ahem), a sub took the class, and we shepherded year 2 down to the kick boxing studio for them to do ‘dance’. Now, I put that in ‘ ‘ because, as you may or may not know, I have been a dance assistant at my dance school for about 2 years, and I do know a thing or two about dancing. And this was not anything that I have done before. The only thing I can think of is a mix of yoga/interpretive dance… it was all about ‘making shapes with your body’ and with a partner, and just an overall bizarre experience. The man taking the class pulled me to one side, and very kindly told me that I could stop the class at any point if I had anything to add or say, but really I had no idea what he meant by that!!! I couldn’t exactly just stop the lesson! But I appreciate the sentiment anyway. It was also a  veryveryvery cold experience. We had no shoes on in a remarkably unheated hall with a chilly floor; I was quite glad to get back into my socks, let me tell you! I am looking forward to Friday, a there is a street dance session, which isn’t one of my favourite dances, but I have heard parents and children alike saying very good things about the class.

Herding children across roads quickly and safely is not as easy as it sounds (!) especially when you have to start avoiding massive puddles as well (Why did no one tell me how rainy it would be down here?)

After another story time (I actually think that it is such a good policy to read to children when they have spare time, as it really gets them to calm down, and see reading as a good and normal thing, however I have not seen much independent reading. That said, I think some went on today while I was busy doing another activity, but I think I would like to see more of it. My partner and I are going to help set up the library tomorrow morning hopefully, as there isnt really one; I think the books only came in the other day. Like I said, this is a very new school!) -apologies for such a big bracket, lets start again!- After story time, a quick handwriting class was taught; ‘id’ ‘ig’ and ‘ic’ these are called joins, as that is what the classes are working on; their joined up writing. I was never really a fan of teaching joined up writing because I generally find myself writing ‘not joined up’, but then again it depends on what I am writing, when I am writing it and how fast it needs to be. But anyway, we were discussing this in a lecture a few weeks ago, and we were told we teach joined up writing because it is quicker to write that way (i.e. the fewer times you take your pen off the page, the quicker you will be finished writing), and as we all know, time is money! Well, near enough anyway. This substitute did a couple of things I really liked; for example, he got the children to read the joins off the whiteboard, in order for them to really recognise the words, and then he got them to trace the letters in the air, which was also nice, as it is a multi sensory manner of learning, especially for kinetic learners (if you believe in those groups of learners anyway) Another nice thing he did, was  to see if the children were finished with their handwriting, when they were at their tables, he asked them to put their pencils down and cross their arms. This was a really good way of scanning the class quickly to see how the majority were getting on. Something I will say about this class, so year 1 and two, is that each teacher seems to have a different way of getting the children to be quiet, or listen to them, and I’m not sure how useful they all are. For example a clapping sequence is completed for the class to repeat, however I’m not sure how well it has been explained to them, as not many will respond to it. A teaching assistant actually clicks at the class, which I really do not like, personally, i feel like it is rather derogatory to the children. Its seen as bad manners to click at a waiter, so why would you at a child? The same could be said of clapping, but to be honest, that is the method I prefer at the moment. It is quick, loud and can really startle children into behaving, or listening, if it has been properly implemented. Another method I quite like, is one where the teacher will just raise their arm, and wait for the class to do the same. However, I think you need to have a certain amount of confidence to start with, and also perhaps have introduced it before, else you risk standing with your arm up in the air while absolute chaos reigns around you! It is a method that works though; one of my lecturers is a huge fan; he uses it in our seminars and lectures, and it is always a competition to see who will put their hand up first. (if anyone is wondering, it is nearly always me, however I do suffer from an occasional sore shoulder from having yanked my arm into the air so fast….)

Anyway, onwards and upwards (ha) I didn’t go out for breaktime, I stayed in with a group of children who had been doing a science experiment with gingerbread men. The topic for the next few weeks, is gingerbread (I am going to wear my gingerbread earrings tomorrow if I don’t forget!) so they have linked the story ‘the gingerbread man’ to maths, english, science (and music apparently, not seen that yet!) So for science, they were under cooking, cooking and overcooking gingerbread men in the kitchen (i.e. the far side of the classroom) and then completing worksheets on them. It was about observation, which was really good, I might include this into my assessment, if I have words left over, and I can think of a way of putting it in) There were several different sheets, some quite difficult; for example synonyms and antonyms of the word ‘gingerbread’. I struggled with that myself, but we got there in the end. Another sheet was about the sound, smell, taste, feel and look of gingerbread (observation yay!) and another was to recreate a gingerbread man using playdough. The children were asked to show their work to an adult before joining the others in their independent reading (this is when it occurred!), and I came across one boy who had barely filled in one box of his worksheet. So I sat down with him to do some one on one work, which I really enjoyed, even though it was very maths based. This particular sheet was about estimating and then measuring different lengths of a gingerbread man. At first, the child would guess widely inappropriate numbers, for example 16 cm, for a gingerbread man which was obviously (or maybe only to me) not that long, and 15cm wide….. But anyway, we did measuring, making sure that the ruler and the biscuit was lined up to 0, and then did counting on with the ruler, like we had seen in yesterday’s lesson. What I was really happy was with circumference. As we had no measuring tape, and only a ruler, it was all very approximative, but anyway. I showed that the circumference of the narrowest part of the biscuit could be worked out by adding the length of the narrowest part twice, and then adding 2cm (one for each height of the gingerbread man from the table, so the two sides) – i obviously explained that a lot better for him!- He then, to work out the circumference of the widest part of the biscuit, took what i had taught him/ told him, and used it to work it out correctly! I was so proud! I don’t think I have explained properly, but it just made me feel quite happy that I had taught him something that he may (or may not) remember, but also that he seemed to understand it when I asked him about how he had worked it out. I may find him tomorrow and ask him if he remembers, just as a follow up, so fingers crossed.

After this, all the children were seated on the carpet, and this is actually the quietest and most concentrated I have ever seen them. The substitute teacher was asking them to copy him make shapes and actions with his hands and they were completely engrossed with it, I was very impressed! The phonics class was afterwards, talking about a trigraph, which one child correctly defined as three letters which make one sound (for example ‘igh’ as in ‘i’ like in ‘light’). I have been given basic phonic training, and at first I was very against phonics, as I did not understand (and to a certain extent, still do not) how children can learn words such as ‘split digraph’ and ‘phoneme’, and know their meaning, at the same time as learning to read. It just seems incredible!

I actually helped groups of children work on their handwriting, so missed most of this, but I did hear them talking of sound buttons! The children then played a game which promoted listening; a child was sat in the middle of a circle with their eyes covered and one child would take a noisy object for example keys out from under the chair and hide them behind their back. Child A would then have to guess who had taken the keys. The class seemed to really love this game, and could, to a certain extent be part of a phase of letters and sounds, and phonemic awareness (think I’ve got the right one; distinguishing between speech and other sounds). After this, it was DPA which is daily physical activity, however when we got down into the playground we found it to be pouring down, so we turned back around and had another story.

My lunchtime was spent (after eating my lunch) doing the washing up, and helping rearrange the classroom ready for the next activities, one of which would be singing; ‘let it be’ by the beatles. After a run through, year 1 and 2 joined Reception to sing together, and it was lovely to hear them all singing together, awh! I think the university students are bringing in their musical instruments so they can accompany the guitar and drums that the two adults who run the singing play. I believe that there is going to be a performance at some point also.

The other activity was linked to gingerbread men, especially the ending of the story. At the end, the fox asks the gingerbread boy to to jump onto his nose while they are crossing the river, but then eats him. This science lessons investigated what would have happened if the biscuit had instead fallen into the water. It was a tiny bit hectic as there were work sheets to fill out, and experiments to run, but we got there in the end! A gingerbread (santa) was put into a bowl of water, and after 5 minutes, the children were asked to record what had happened. The statement I got most was that he had peed in the water, as the yellowness of the ginger had seeped into the water, It also had started to disintegrate, which was not too aesthetically pleasing!

I also stayed behind for afterschool club, which I really enjoy (and not just because I get to take part in snack time, and eat left over food – apple crumble and freshly made bread…-) so I did some more drawings (my nana will be getting a few in the post i think!) A trademark of mine (any of my friends from 6th form who had to sit next to me in class will agree) is the drawing of a heart with wings2013-11-21 20.04.38

(many an hour was whiled away drawing these on the book of the person next to me). I am not joking when I say that I had to draw at least 7 of them for various children ( i of course let them take the credit for them!) and when one of the boys started drawing one, he rather defensively said “sometimes its not just girls who draw girl things” which while quite sweet, was quite pertinent too (and if I wasn’t so exhausted, I would definitely expand on this, but I think that is a topic for another day)  My goal in life is to teach this drawing to all my future classes, so that one day, one of my ex classmates will have their child come home with this particular design on a drawing for the fridge, and be forced to remember the brilliant times they spent with me in various classes. It could happen!

I was actually asked to lead the circle time in the after school club, which means taking the register and then asking the children to showcase things they have made and are proud of, which I really liked to do! It was a break from teaching, and more like I am normally used to being with children; in a more relaxed setting (even though the school day here is very relaxed anyway!)

I actually left school at 20 past 6 tonight, so it is understandable how tired I am! I did have a meeting with my class teacher, and I am so glad that we did, because now I feel a lot better about our involvement, as she said that we are being very helpful to her. She is also going to send us various plans and class lists, so i also feel a lot more organised in relation to my placement folder which needs to be neat neat neat, for when we get observed, which is next Tuesday! I am not too worried at the moment, but that time will most certainly come!