Plandamonium!

 

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Stephen Lockyer works as a primary teacher in London, and has taught for the past sixteen years. He is passionate about primary teaching, and talks across the country on a variety of related topics. He is prolific on Twitter, and is staggered by the number of followers he has, follow him for even more ideas! @mrlockyer

I’ve always felt that I teach for free, but get paid to plan and mark (don’t tell my Head that). They both seem so time-consuming and arduous, and yet with a little thought and organisation, you can produce marking and planning which is rich and highly beneficial, all in the same amount of time that you would normally spend!

So, here’s the set-up; I find I work best after school, undisturbed and a
t a class desk, but whatever works for you.

You need the results of a a lesson of work from your class, some post-its, your marking equipment and an A4 pad or equivalent. On the A4 pad, draw a line down the middle, and two equidistant from each other across the vertical. You should end up with a 2×3 grid. Draw an arrow from each left to right box, and label the left boxes Red, Amber, Green, or whatever works for you in the way of “no idea/some idea/got it.” The left hand side will be for names, the right for the problems you notice which need tackling (ie your next lesson’s objectives).

On the post-its, write these same three categories, and space them out. With the books, start with one. Mark the work, and decide which category it will go in – red, amber or green. Put your comment at the bottom of the work, and then turn this into an Action Objective for your A4 note section. An action objective is a very clear, clinical objective, leading with a verb, which can be measured. For example:

Expand range of nouns

Increase explanations

Develop counter arguments.

Put this book in the marked pile.

Mark the rest of the books this way. Make a note of repeated objectives to give you an idea of the main areas for improvement – it really makes a difference for your planning. You can add the names to your A4 planner as you go, but I tend to batch do this at the end. Sometimes, if I’m really tired, I spread the piles out in three lines and take a photo of the front covers – I really am *that* lazy/tired!

So, what are we left with at the end of this process? A pile of marked books, with next steps written in. A set of three groups to work with in the next lesson, and a collection of Action Objectives to use in your next lesson. Marking done, and if you add this assessment data to any assessment tracker you use, that’s done too. We’re left with the planning. Look at the overarching need of the groups, and put that into an Action Objective. You’ll end up with three. My theoretical gut teacher says that at the beginning of a topic you’ll have one objective for a new class, and end the topic with many specific ones, but in reality three is manageable (with specific injections for each student).

For each objective, work out the best way to enable them to action it, ie complete it on their own. Remember that one of the most effective ways of doing this uses Direct Instruction: Demonstrate, Practise together, Perfect alone. Decide what measure you would use to ensure that this Objective is achievable – don’t get weighed down with designing something or laminate this or that. Get them to the action as quickly and effectively as possible!

This may seem complex and drawn out, but the more you do this, the fast and more effective your planning will be!

If you want to to know other ways to trim planning and make it more effective, I’m sure there is an excellent book out there just waiting to be used…

For more fantastic ideas from Stephen Lockyer check out his latest book Lesson Planning for Primary School Teachers

Andrew Brodie’s Top Ten Summer Holiday Tips!

Andrew Brodie is a popular and trusted name amongst teachers and parents. He has been producing best-selling educational books since 1992, is still very much involved in education and has a wealth of experience as a head teacher and in coaching children to pass the national tests.

Parents frequently ask me how they can help their child during the long summer holidays.  Here are my ten top tips.

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  • Enjoy the great outdoors. Talk about what you see: trees, flowers, birds – if you’re not sure what they are look them up together in books or using the internet.  Give points for different species: 10 points for a blackbird, 20 points for a swan, a thousand points for a golden eagle!  Who can gain most points in a day?
  • Plan your days out together. This gives another opportunity for researching information.  Where would you like to go? What would you like to do?  The National Trust for example has plenty of wide, open spaces to explore, houses packed with history and, quite often, exciting play areas.
  • Work out costs. What price is entrance to a park for adults and for children?  What is the total cost for your family?  How much will be left over out of your bbrodie2udget of £20, £50 or £100?
  • Go to places that cost nothing! Beaches, woods, hills are nearly all free!
  • Plan your journeys using public transport. Where can you catch a train or bus?  Where will the train or bus take you? How far will you have to walk?  What will be the total cost of the journey?
  • Plan your journeys by car. Look at maps, road atlases or the internet.  Which route will you take?  Which towns will you pass through or go near?  Which counties will you travel through?  How long should the journey take?
  • Encourage your child to read for a short while every day. This should NEVER be a chore!  Enjoy reading stories together or finding out new facts from non-fiction materials.
  • Suggest that your brodie3child writes something every day. Again, try to avoid this being a chore by only expecting a very small amount: for example, suggest one sentence to summarise the day or one sentence to describe the best bit!  Without pressure, your child may decide to write more.
  • Prepare meals together, taking the opportunity to measure out ingredients using grams for weights and millilitres for liquids.
  • Keep up the multiplication tables practice but keep the activity short. Your child may enjoy the challenge of reciting a particular table in less than brodie5one minute, or thirty seconds, or even faster.

 

Of course, you will have lots of other ideas for activities that
suit your own family life.  Above all, make sure that you all enjoy the summer.

Check out the Andrew Brodie book series here

More information on Andrew Brodie’s Apps can be found here 

For even more summer holiday ideas see our Pinterest Board

 

The Bet

New and exciting books from Bloomsbury Education…

Today marks the release of an exciting range of titles from Bloomsbury Education. From thrilling historical adventures to fiction that will grab the attention of the most reluctant readers to a brilliantly witty and engaging collection of poetry.

Don’t panic teachers! We’ve not forgotten you! Get ahead of the game this year and grab one of our great new resource books, guaranteed to get ideas flowing and unbeatable lessons planned.

See below for more details on each new title and  don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @BloomsburyEd for details about our new titles, giveaways and more!

Land of the Gods

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“If they were Romans I was done for: they’d tear me apart, bit by bit, and enjoy doing it…”

When Lucan sees a legion of Roman soldiers near his village it definitely makes sense to hide. But hiding in a wagon could prove to be a dangerous mistake. And falling asleep in the wagon is not the best idea that Lucan has ever had.

Trapped as a Roman slave, can Lucan find his way home… and does he even want to? Find out more here

The Bet

The BetEveryone wants to go on the school trip but no one can afford it. Ed, Zac, Becca and Kat decide to try and work for the money. Soon, it is boys versus girls in a bet to see who can raise the most and that’s when the trouble starts. One thing’s for sure; the competition starts here!

Bloomsbury High Low books encourage and support reading practice by providing gripping, age-appropriate stories for struggling and reluctant readers, those with dyslexia, or those with English as an additional language. Printed on tinted paper and with a dyslexia friendly font, The Bet is aimed at readers aged 11+ and has a manageable length (72 pages) and reading age (9+).                                                                  Find out more here

Sea Wolf

9781472924889Maya’s little brother Ethan is always telling stories about the Sea Wolf, the monster in the sea around Black Rock. Maya doesn’t believe Ethan’s lies but she does believe the sea is dangerous so, when Ethan tries to prove he can kayak to Black Rock, she knows she has to try to save him. Will either of them make it back from the dark and deadly sea?

Bloomsbury High Low books encourage and support reading practice by providing gripping, age-appropriate stories for struggling and reluctant readers, those with dyslexia, or those with English as an additional language. Printed on tinted paper and with a dyslexia friendly font, Sea Wolf is aimed at readers aged 9+ and has a manageable length (64 pages) and reading age (7+). Find out more here

It’s Not My Fault!

Not my faultJoin poets Roger Stevens and Steven Withrow for this magical mixture of poems. Sometimes funny, sometimes serious there’s something here for everyone. Just remember though – whatever happens…
it’s not my fault! Find out more here

 

 

 

 

Bloomsbury Curriculum Basics: Teaching Primary Computing

9781472921024Computers are just for playing games, right? Many of your pupils will think so. It may be a cultural shift for both the pupils and their parents to change that perception of computing. However, the learning gained from the ‘games’ played on computers in the primary classroom is paramount.

The teaching ideas in this book use mostly free tools, which operate across the many platforms that primary schools use. Based on the National Curriculum, the book is split into year groups, and each chapter offers practitioners an essential summary of all the information and vocabulary they need to successfully implement the activity in the classroom. Find out more here

A Creative Approach to Teaching Spelling

9781472922458A Creative Approach to Teaching Spelling will help teachers address the spelling targets of the new English curriculum and can also be used to support and enhance the growing range of phonic based spelling programmes currently used within schools. It provides a basic summary of the major developments in the teaching of spelling over the last 40 years and outlines current research and approaches. The renewed emphasis on phonic knowledge as a key element of all reading and spelling programmes is highlighted, as are those additional complimentary approaches to teaching spelling that are supported by current research.

The games and activities will help to develop and embed children’s phonological awareness, phonic knowledge and auditory memory. Find out more here

The Little Book of my Neighbourhood 

9781472925077.jpgThis book provides suggestions for activities and visits in your local neighbourhood, together with plans and advice on how to fully explore the area around your setting. Extend the learning with fun follow-up ideas that will encourage you to explore further afield. All activities link to specific aspects of the curriculum areas and early learning goals.

Topics include local space, walks, talks from community members, visits and games, stories and songs. Find out more here

 

 

Bye Bye Billy – Creating Characters in Poetry

By Roger Stevens, poet and co-author of ‘It’s Not My Fault’

The summer holidays are here at last. And I expect you will all be outside enjoying the sunshine, running about in the fields chasing cows or investigating rocky pools at the seaside and hiding crabs in Grandpa’s shoes. Anyway, they are all the things I loved doing when I was at school. The only problem in the long summer school holiday was when my friends went away, to Spain or somewhere exotic like Bognor, and I was still at home. Then I had no one to play with. So I invented an imaginary friend. My imaginary friend was called Billy. He was very different from me. I was very good when I was a child and I never did ANYTHING naughty and I NEVER got in to trouble. But Billy was always getting up to mischief.

Bye Bye Billy

Roger Stevens

Billy left my bedroom in a mess
Billy hid the front door key
Billy posted Mum’s credit cards through the floorboards in the hall
Billy ate the last jam doughnut
Billy broke the window with his ball
Billy forgot to turn off the hot tap
Billy put the marbles in Grandpa’s shoe
Billy broke Dad’s ruler seeing how far it would bend
But now I’m twelve and Billy’s gone
I’ll miss my imaginary friend

The poem’s from our new book, It’s Not My Fault. It makes a good model poem. You could try it with your own children, nephews, nieces, grandchildren or neighbour’s children (when they get bored playing on their i-devices) – or with your class, back at school.

First, start with a few character details. When I do this in a class, often as a prelude to writing a story, I ask a series of questions and encourage the children to write the answers quickly, without thinking about them too much. Is your friend a he or a she? How old is your friend? Is your friend big, small, short or tall? Is your friend blond or dark? What hobbies does your friend have? Is your friend a human? What is his/her name?

Next, I ask the children to make a list of all the things that they would LIKE to do – but are not allowed. This works well either as a class activity, or in small groups, as one idea can spin off another idea. Encourage the children to be as naughty and outrageous as possible; although you will probably need to discourage violent or rude ideas. Tell them you are looking for “clever” ideas rather than simply introducing the word “poo” into the list whenever possible for cheap laughs. They could talk about things that actually happened in their own families.

Now choose the best of the ideas and write them in a list. Look at the list and rearrange the events in the best order. It might end with the most outrageous thing, for example.

My poem ends with the narrator growing up, and Billy leaving. And so you might discuss ways for them to end their poem. Finally, check for spelling and read the poem out loud. It should have a nice flow and sound to it.

And in the meantime, enjoy the sunshine, and chasing the cows. Have a great summer.

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Falling in Love with the Romans

Sally Prue is author of our new laugh-out-loud adventure in the Flashbacks series set in ancient Rome – Land of the Gods

The Romans seemed to be everywhere when I was young. There was the Roman ring my dad dug up in the garden, there were scallop shells in the local fields (I didn’t find out until later that they were used as, um, lavatory scrapers) and there were bits of tiles to be picked up in the park. As if that wasn’t enough, the cathedral tower was built of Roman bricks, and a bus ride away was Verulamium, with its Roman walls, theatre, hypocaust, and rather dull museum (now, I must add, hugely improved).

The Romans were everywhere – but, to be honest, I didn’t really think that much of them. Their clothes were ridiculous, for one thing, their gods seemed full of cruelty and revenge. They spoke Latin, which could hardly have been more baffling if it had been specially designed for the purpose.

But then one day on holiday there was a downpour that lasted so long that in the end the Roman museum at Bath was the only place left to go.

And, do you know, I rather fell in love.

The museum revealed to me a dark, mysterious world of curses and magic; of the divine in everything, absolutely everything, every tree and gatepost and pool. It led me to discover Roman generosity in embracing the gods of all peoples, whether it was the goddess Sul who dwelt in the hot springs of Bath, or the Persian god Mithras. I discovered, movingly, the Roman gods of childhood: Cunina, who guarded a child’s bed; Ossipago, who made his bones grow strong; and Levana, who watched over the first time a father lifted his child in his arms.

And there in my mind, quite suddenly, was the story of the irrepressible Lucan, a Celtic boy captured by the dodgiest merchant in Britain. Luckily, as the boy Lucan tells us (repeatedly) Lucan is exceptionally brave, clever and good-looking, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t in great danger, even if it’s not exactly the danger he’s expecting. As a Celt from the edges of the Roman Britain, Lucan knows just about as much about the Romans as, well, I suppose as I did when I was his age.

Lucan’s adventures take him from the borders of Wales to Bath, and they end in the town of Silchester. He meets the weaselly slave Aphrodisius, the centurion Sabidus Maximus, and Claudia, who is possibly the bossiest girl in the entire Roman Empire.

Lucan’s journey was fascinating to research, and Lucan himself proved to be very good company. It was extraordinary to look through the eyes of a child transported in a few days from an Iron Age existence into a hub of Roman civilisation, and to see so clearly that for him the Romans truly were living in The Land of the Gods.

 

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The British Museum – The Perfect Setting

By Dan Metcalf, author of the Lottie Lipton Adventures

Bloomsbury, the area in London that is bordered by Euston Road and Holborn, has a rich history. It is synonymous with the Bloomsbury Group of course, the circle of writers that included Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes and EM Forster. The nearby Atlantis Bookshop was home to the occult meetings of The Order of the Hidden Masters, attended by influential Wiccan Gerald Gardner. Most importantly for me it is the home to Bloomsbury Publishing (also known in my house as Them-who-pay-the-bills). It it also home however, and has been for 250 years, to The British Museum.

When I first visited the museum as a child, I wondered around it as a sponge, soaking up information and images. I clearly remember the mummies, dried out in the desert sand, and the huge Chinese carvings which I got told off for touching. It wasn’t until I revisited the museum around twenty years later that I really got a sense of how important the building was and the work they do. Much had changed since my first visit. The grand courtyard had been enclosed by a towering glass roof. The British Library, who had been squatting in the museum since the early Seventies, had scuttled off to St Pancras. But for the most part, the exhibits were the same.

I find it immensely reassuring that in this ever changing world something so important can remain unchanged. I love that in twenty years or so I could conceivably meet up in London with my sons and take a look at the very same Rosetta Stone that I saw when I was just eight years old. London could be rebuilt ten times over and the British Museum would remain the same.

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When it came to writing my set of books, The Lottie Lipton Adventures, I knew I wanted to set it in a museum. I had long loved to browse museums such as the Pitt Rivers in Oxford, the Bristol Museum and my childhood one in Torquay. When I saw the British Museum (the second time) I knew that it was where Lottie should live. I often explain to children whom I visit in schools that I would love to live in a museum (failing that, a library of course). I want to have access to all that history after the crowds have gone home, to ride my bike around the corridors and shuffle around the exhibits in my slippers.

The important thing about the museum to my writing was that it provided an endless source of material. While I weave in legends such as the lost eagle of the ninth legion or a hoard of gold looted from Roman London by Boudica, there are enough treasures in the 92,000m2 site to keep me going for several books more. Indeed, in the next two Lottie Lipton Adventures, The Catacombs of Chaos and The Eagle of Rome, I haven’t even scratched the surface of the contents of the museum. With over 8 million artefacts within its walls and ornate stone columns, I should have plenty of material to work with.

While I believe that the British Museum is a unique and important place, I know that it should not be taken for granted. It relies on donations and grants to keep going, and while visitor numbers show no signs of dropping, I for one am slightly wary of national treasures being sold off or shut down. After so many public libraries have disappeared in the last few years, I do not want our museums to be next.

 

The Catacombs of Chaos and The Eagle of Rome are published on 28th July by Bloomsbury Education.

 

 

It’s time to… Discover Maths!

By Trudi Fitzhenry and Karen Murphy, authors of the award-winning Time to… Featherstone Early Years series

Creating a positive maths mindset in young children is part of the reason for writing this book.  As early educators we model many of the attitudes and beliefs that young children absorb.  In our experience of supporting early years staff in a range of settings,  many of the adults we work with have a deep reluctance to engage with maths based on their own unhappy experiences of the subject in the past.  If we can offer ideas for making maths fun and remove some of the potential misconceptions held by maths-anxious adults then our youngest learners will benefit!

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Having the confidence to play with maths concepts in an open way, without the fear of being ‘wrong’, is crucial.  A fun way of introducing a maths problem is to allow the children to become the experts and you, as the adult, let their enquiries lead the learning.  So if you are looking at the number 5, you might ask ‘What do you know about the number 5?  Can anyone show me what 5 looks like?’  The children may place 5 objects together or may write the digit 5.  They may draw 5 spots on a whiteboard or show you 5 fingers.  All of the responses are welcomed and valued.  Encourage further sharing of ideas by asking ‘What else can we do to show 5?  Does anyone have another idea?’  Collect all of the children’s ideas and examples and create a book of 5, including songs and rhymes and simple calculations should these begin to appear.

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Taking maths learning outside is a powerful way of engaging children both in the natural world around them and in the natural patterns that exist.  Looking at flowers that grow around your setting allows children to compare petal shapes and quantities.  They can ask their friends which colours they prefer and create a simple tally or chart.  Collecting twigs, cones or leaves to use in a repeating pattern or as tools for counting or measuring engages the children in a worthwhile pursuit.  Looking for the tallest sunflower or widest branch, or seeing who can make the longest daisy chain adds a sense of competition that young children love!

Our message is simple.  If the children see us as adults engaging in exciting maths activities and hear us asking questions and following a simple line of enquiry, they will learn that curiosity is a good thing.  If we share our misconceptions and how we have figured out a solution to a problem, they will learn that this is okay, too.  With this kind of encouragement we can grow a new generation of maths-confident children and lose the all too common fear of maths that many adults share.

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Meeting Alistair Bryce-Clegg

We’ve just attended Childcare Expo in Manchester, and had the privilege of Alistair Bryce-Clegg signing copies of his bestselling book Best Practice in the Early Years and books in the 50 Fantastic Ideas series on our stand.

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To celebrate, we’re continuing our Summer Offer on all Featherstone Early Years books until the end of June! Receive 30% off all of our books with code Feather30 at the checkout.

If you missed Alistair at Childcare Expo, then check out his website abcdoes.com  for lots of fantastic tips on working in the early years, and his brilliant Ted Talk from TEDxNorwichED below.

 

What Happens When a Poem Happens to Happen

By Steven Withrow, poet and co-author of It’s Not My Fault

In my travels to schools and libraries as a visiting poet, I often ask students and teachers if they can tell me what a poem is. I’ve received hundreds of wonderful answers—some serious, some silly. My favorite of all came from a young girl in Massachusetts named Audrey: A poem is when words happen to each other, and you can say it like a song.

Give me a month to come up with a definition, and I don’t think I could outdo that one.

Keeping in mind Audrey’s wise notion, I’d like to give you some small insight into the workings of one of my poems in It’s Not My Fault, my collection with Roger Stevens. Here’s the poem (I suggest reading it silently, once, for the sense, then speaking it aloud, twice, for the sound):

 

Pelican

Steven Withrow

If I can’t get a dog then I guess I’ll get a pelican.

A pelican I’ll get if I can’t get a dog.

Instead of a stick, I’ll toss bright fish right into his pouch.

Instead of a walk, he’ll wing like a kite on the string of his leash.

And late at night he’ll settle his pelican head at the foot of my bed

Dreaming halibut dreams swimming up from the dark sea.

 

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First, let’s think of this poem in terms of the first part of Audrey’s definition: A poem is when words happen to each other. Look closely at this poem, even without reading it, and you’ll likely notice that most of the words are little one-syllabled lumps of language. The relatively few multisyllabic words—pelican, instead, into, settle, dreaming, halibut, swimming—provide contrast, both in sound and sense, from the steady march of monosyllables. The longer words stand out and hold a little more weight in the lines because of this syllabic difference. Poems thrive on repetition, but careful variation is also essential.

Another “happening” among the words in this poem is the way many words almost rhyme…but not perfectly, or at least not in the places you might expect. Think of just a few pairs with linked vowels and consonants: get/guess, walk/stick, dreaming/swimming. And the internal rhymes within and across lines in bright/right/kite/night, wing/string, bed/head. Unity of sound is one of my ideals as a writer, yet here too, careful variation is important.

Next, let’s consider “Pelican” in light of the second part of Audrey’s definition: You can say it like a song. I’d like to think that the interweaving of syllable sounds I mentioned above contributes to the music of the poem, and I hope they help make the poem enjoyable to say. I’d also like to think that the poem is different from, say, a set of song lyrics in that it doesn’t require a specific tempo (time signature or pace) or tune (melody or chord progression) to feel complete. While the tight rhythms of the first two lines might make for a sprightly jingle, the more elongated rhythms of the last four lines feel to me more like speech rhythms than song rhythms. In other words, they are more conducive to being said than sung. But it’s a feeling I have more than a definite division I’ve made.

When I share a poem with students—and I strongly believe that sharing a poem as a gift in itself is a better method than teaching a poem or wringing it of hidden messages—I like to point out two or three happenings in the poem as examples and then ask the students to point out a happening they found on their own. A list of possible happenings in even a short poem is longer than one might expect. Children should be encouraged to contribute their ideas, it seems to me, so long as these ideas do not overtake the experience of the poem.

A poem is when words happen to each other, and you can say it like a song.

Yes, it still holds up. Thank you, Audrey.

I could write much more about my poem and other poems that I love, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts on how poems happen…and how you’re sharing poetry with your students. Also, I’m happy to respond to questions you might have in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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