Monthly Archives: September 2011

Writing Club update

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Today I put out a sign-up sheet for my writing club and was amazed and delighted to have 103 children sign up to take part this year!!! It has grown and grown, from 40 kids the first year I ran it, to 60 last year and now 103 this year! The great thing is that there are pretty much equal numbers of girls and boys and also quite an even split between years 5 and 6.

The only trouble is that there are only 18 computers in the ICT suite. Several people are going to pair up and work together, but there still wasn’t enough room for everyone in 3 sessions a week. I asked the Head if I could do an extra session, but she quite rightly said that I might burn out if I try to take on too much and that 3 lunchtimes a week was quite enough with everything else I have to do too! So I have decided I will split them into 2 groups and children will come every other week rather than every week. That way, everyone gets to take part without it overwhelming all my lunch breaks. The children will be able to work on their novels in between sessions and I have advised them to bring a USB stick or to learn their email address so they can use google docs or email their book to themself.

I’m so happy that so many children are joining the club – I never thought it would become so popular. Can’t wait to get going on Monday!

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Say hello to the new Drama Co-ordinator!

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Found out today that I am going to be the new Drama Leader in school, as well as continuing to co-ordinate RE! I am very excited about this new opportunity! I’m hoping to be able to help everyone to integrate drama seamlessly into their planning and share lots of ideas so that they feel really confident and happy about using it in class.

I have already started off by arranging for two drama teachers from Australia to come in to school to see how we use drama in education in the UK. To be fair I had already organised that before I knew I had been given this responsibility – it’s like it was meant to be 🙂

I’ve also completely revamped our RE planning using the Cambridge scheme linked to by @theotheralig. Everyone was really pleased and happy to be given the chance to change things up a bit – our old plans were getting a bit stale so this has come at a great time for everyone.

We had a good day today overall. Lots of information was given out in the mornings and we had some good discussion about how we do spellings, homework and what “outstanding” teaching looks like. At lunchtime we had a shared lunch where everyone had brought in something to share such as quiche, couscous salad, cheese, bread, tabbouleh, cookies and cakes. It was delicious and really nice to catch up with everyone!

I was starting to feel a bit frazzled by the end of the afternoon with all of the things we need to remember to talk to the children about, routines, plans and everything else. Feeling a lot more ready now though, I just need to write everything down in a list to make sure I don’t forget anything! Looking forward to seeing the new class tomorrow!

Setting up the classroom

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Today I have been working hard on setting up my classroom!


Here is my desk – tidy for once! I have this tucked in the back corner of the room. It’s my own personal space, but I never sit at it when the children are in the room! You can see my poetry books, NaNoWriMo winner’s certificates, magic wands, a little sparkly heart-shaped mirror I got as a present from one of the children, photo of my mum with Felix when he was one day old, and you may be able to see the little finger puppet – Pablo the Peruvian Thought Fox who used to help me teach Spanish when I taught Year 3!

Here’s the idea I got from @egalr’s NQT blog! One pencil pot for blunt pencils and one for sharp pencils! Children come up and swap a blunt one for a sharp one! I have Y6 classroom assistants who will be happy to sharpen the blunt ones for us 🙂

I don’t have any room for a proper reading corner, but I have covered a cupboard with this nice blanket and put out a selection of my most popular reading books along with my guided reading things.

This is my maths zone, featuring cubes, protractors, compasses, calculators, 3D shapes, dominoes, and the (rarely ever used) textbooks. I love having these things all on offer, especially during class maths when the resource managers are able to come up and collect anything they need. I’m only teaching maths in my own room twice a week as I will be taking my little group out to another room for their lessons. I have prepared a basket of equipment to take up with me, containing pencils, whiteboards, whiteboard pens and rulers.

Here is the class computer – I have also set up a mini display using the model Titanic we made last year, books and posters, including a book written by one of my class’s grandad!

Our classes this year are all named after British Olympians and Paralympians. I got an idea from @amyxxx21 about encouraging the children to aspire to the Olympic and Paralympic values – equality, excellence, courage, determination, inspiration, friendship and respect. This display should help us get off to a good start!

Here you can see all my tables set up! I am having 6 tables of 4 and 2 tables of 5 as I have 34 children over 8 tables – I find group work is best in small groups. Each table has a caddy of stationery and a basket of felt tip pens. On the back wall I have put up the shields that my class drew on the changeover day back in July, and I am keeping up my maths target board and literacy “planets” target board. On the maths board the children are aiming for layered targets and can move their darts up through the targets as they achieve them, with some aiming for platinum. In literacy, the children have their own individual targets and have a rocket that they colour in which moves up towards the planet each time they can show me they have achieved their writing target in a piece of work.

My windows have been fixed over the summer and now all open to let in the lovely fresh autumn air! Under the windows I have my exercise books sorted into boxes, which is very handy. You can also see on the radiator our class cuddly toys – Punky on the left and Steven Gerrard on the right. He doesn’t look much like Steven Gerrard but I won him in a “Name The Teddy” contest the year 6s were running a few years ago and that really is his name!

I had a great time setting my room up today and by the end of the day I was sitting there feeling very comfy and cosy. All it needs now is some great children to come along and do some learning!

New year – new challenges!

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Time to set targets for the upcoming year!

1. Go through threshold

I’m due to go onto the upper pay scale this year, so I want to make sure I have checked out all the paperwork thoroughly and fulfil all the criteria. A striaghtforward goal but important!

2. Improve organisation

I want to work really hard on improving my personal organisation this year. This means having a level of filing and paperwork that I would describe as “Ofsted Ready”! We are expecting them this year so I want to make sure I am totally on top of things. Even if it wasn’t for Ofsted, I would want to get this sorted anyway! I have developed a great system at home – when post comes in, it comes to the kitchen table to be opened. All the junk goes straight in the recycling bin, things to be actioned go on the pin board, and I have a hole punch and lever arch file with section dividers in the kitchen right by the table so that important paperwork gets filed immediately. This has been a revolution – saving me lots of time hunting for paperwork and also getting rid of the old towering intray I used to have. I want to set up similar systems in school – so that planning, assessment, absence notes, APP, anything I might need to file has a definite place to be and goes there straight away.

3. Be a good _____ co-ordinator

Still waiting to hear which co-ordinator post/s I have been allocated, but I intend to work really hard on doing a great job with these!

4. Continue to integrate ICT and drama across curriculum

I want to continue with the work I started last year, making sure I don’t get complacent and am always looking to make good use of drama and ICT. We have already written a new topic called “PROGRAMMING” into our ICT curriculum map for the year, which will be great! I also want to introduce other staff to ideas that they can use so that they can see the effect it can have on learning too. I am hoping to possibly persuade one or two to have their own blog and maybe even Quadblog by the end of the year! This autumn I am in a quad that includes schools across the UK and also in Australia, I’m really looking forward to connecting with them!

5. Maths teaching

I am having a complete change in focus with my maths teaching this year. I will be teaching the small group (about 15) of lower ability children for 3 days a week, then teaching the same children combined with the 3rd set on the 4th day of the week, with the final day being class maths. This will be a new challenge for me, as for the past 5 years I have always taught either the 1st or 2nd set, which is a completely different way of working. I will have to do lots of research and find great resources. I am looking forward to hopefully building their confidence in maths and helping them to succeed!

6. ‘Big writing’

We have decided to try to take on some of the Big Writing principles in school. We are going to teach literacy units as normal, then plan in opportunities during our Creative Curriculum time to use these skills in a piece of cross-curricular writing. For example, we are beginning the year with “Significant Children’s Authors – Michael Morpurgo”, so next half term when we study migration I might ask the children to write a story about someone who was forced to leave their home, writing in the style of Michael Morpurgo. Of course I’ve used literacy skills across the curriculum in previous years, but not in such a structured and deliberate way. I’m hoping this will be great for enabling the children to revisit topics and embed their understanding of the different genres, in a way that is hopefully interesting and relevant.

7. Self-directed learning

This was working brilliantly towards the end of last year, so I want to make sure I introduce this right from the start of this year. This is where children set themselves a target of something they would like to improve, and work towards this in specific scheduled time or whenever theyhave completed their class work early. I look forward to seeing what impact this has!

Those are my main targets for the year ahead – I’m also keen to run a few more extra-curricular clubs – I have Creative Writing Club, which will of course continue, and the newspaper club, which is going completely online this year. I would also like to run a Scratch club and maybe even offer Latin! I’m going to wait and see how my workload is first though and make sure I have the time and energy to do them justice.

Looking forward to a great year ahead!