In teaching I think we need to continue to think ‘outside the box’ which does not always mean more time, more exhaustion, more resources. We have selected a Guest Blogger to talk about how they improved the enjoyment and progress rates of the children in their Year 5 class – enjoy!
As Good (and Outstanding) teachers we have two main objectives: enjoyment and progress. These are two intertwined entities that go hand in hand like the best of friends. But sometimes it is difficult to know how to get there. We are bogged down by objectives, new curriculums, new assessments, meetings with parents, meetings with staff, professional development, marking, etc., etc., etc.. The bigger picture is not always clear to us; planning and resource making become more time consuming than the actual lessons we teach – as does the marking.
During my time as a part-time consultant, my classroom teaching was completely turned on its head with startling results. My teaching became less meticulously planned and I relied on the knowledge and natural instincts that made me a good teacher in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I was still doing a 14 hour day and working weekends and holidays like normal but I had a much better time doing it!
I did three things:
- Often, I allowed for looser planning that sometimes went with the ideas of children and for maths was heavily dominated by problem solving. Lots of observations with annotated assessments and small group work. Sometimes I would even let the children move the lesson in a completely different direction which may last for a few days. I went with my instincts and knowledge of what we were covering and where it linked in. However, despite looser planning in that way, I ensured in my normal planning each child had the activity they needed to progress. I had some groups starting an activity while I taught others in a whole group situations, children working on a problem ready for me to come and work with them after starting the others on another activity and went off traditional ways of teaching a class.
- Lots of practical work and small focused groups with sometimes very little being conducted (shock horror) in books. Obviously, children need to learn about writing neatly in books and layout out nicely but there is a time and a place and different ways of doing this. If a child can use column subtraction what is the point of them doing this for half and hour in a book. Firstly, they will get extremely bored and secondly, this is not an outstanding lesson as they have not learnt anything they are just going over (and over) a skill they can already do.
- Lots of higher-level thinking and metacognition for the children. Getting them to think about things on another level and think about their own learning; with this comes talk. Talk for writing, talk for maths…talk, talk,talk. I thought about the way something could be done in a more interesting way.
What happened? Well primarily we had fun. the classroom became a hub of excitement with children’s motivation to learn going through the roof. We were all smiling and laughing and having a jolly good time! But children also progressed – A LOT! They made immense progress compared to their starting points and parents still stop me now to thank me for how I changed their child’s attitude to learning.
Here I put a few ideas that show how you can teach something slightly differently:
PSHE – How you view yourself : children can create wordles that represent them using a free site such as wordle.com. This can give you a real insight into the child and stimulate discussions on the words and sizes used to get children thinking about how they view themselves.
MATHS – number bonds to 10, multiples of 10 and 100 : use a multiple of 10 piece puzzle but with pieces missing. Think about using ones that are in rows of ten first and then challenge pupils later with different dimensions containing the same number to ensure they are using mental strategies. Children can problem solve, use pieces taken out to show the number bonds. Just a little different from the normal Numicon, Dienes (H,T,U) etc.
ENGLISH – The missing chapter. Turn writing on its head with a story already written with a missing chapter. Get children to analyse characters, plot and think about what could have happened in that chapter.
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking. As you can see they do not require huge amounts of resources or time to put together.
Thank you for reading,
Mr Guest Blogger!