Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Dear "Inspirational" Education Speaker...

The room's filling up with bums on seats,
The buzz of anticipation.
You're here to teach us something new,
To help us with this "education".

But you ruined it early, the barriers rose,
You went in over our heads.
You uttered those words and they went down,
Like balloons filled up with lead.

So, to help, I have got a challenge for you,
Accept it if only you dare.
To enable you to keep all us teachers on board,
To help us engage with what you share.

Next time you deliver this CPD,
In front of a group of teachers,
Please don't use words like "OfSTED" or "Gove",
Or "Good with outstanding features".

For that's not the reason we do this job,
It's not why we turn up each day.
Not for men in smart suits, who sit behind desks,
And receive more than triple our pay.

They judge us and say that we're falling behind,
And they push us and push us until...
Half of us leave before our sixth year,
The rest of us - still climbing uphill.

You see, the reason you find us here,
For your "inspirational" CPD.
Is because of 30 kids we spend quality time with,
Monday to Friday, 9 'til 3.

We're here to help them succeed in life,
In whatever way that may be.
We do this by knowing them inside-out,
It's about individuality.

Those "above" don't know what we really do,
Just what we achieve day-by-day,
With the children in our classroom family,
Not a number, to us, they're a name.

So if you really want to keep our attention,
Try this next time you come here:
Start with the kids at the heart of this job,
That way, you might get a cheer.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Sorting Out Sentences

This year I have a group of children who are really struggling to write in sentences.  At some point along the way they have not understood how to write clearly.  They are not the weakest readers in the class and nor is their speech and language lagging behind - they simply haven't grasped how and where to put full stops in the right place.

I have tried a few techniques for getting them to correct their work and learn to start a new sentence correctly.  There is not one solution to this problem and neither will the same technique work for every child but you will see that these strategies can and have made a difference to these children.

Firstly, I started correcting the sentences for the children but this wasn't effective.

Next, I began drawing a line to show the children where the sentences go so that they could add in the capital letters and full stops.  This was more successful but they still didn't understand where to put the sentence end in the first place.

I was mostly out of ideas so at this point I turned to Twitter for help.  I cannot find who gave me this idea but someone suggest they write each sentence out in a different colour.  They tried it and enjoyed it and it made the sentences really obvious to them.  It also was kinesthetic; physically putting the pen down at the end of each sentence. For most children this made a difference and, with my help reading through their work, it enabled them to write in clear sentences. 

 However, the journey of one boy in my class was not so straight forward.  I let him write the piece of work independently before I read it aloud as it should read - with the full stops in the wrong place. Next, I would get him to read it to me and I would put in sentences (indicated by a line in the picture below) when he took a breath.

Then, like the other children, he would rewrite it with alternating sentences in different colours.

Unfortunately this still wasn't working so we tried another technique which was suggested on Twitter: highlighting.  He wrote this independently, then we went through it together, highlighting alternating sentences.

He then rewrote it correctly and highlighted the sentence punctuation using the colour key at the top.

After the Christmas holidays, he was doing much better and would independently highlight the sentence punctuation, reading aloud to ensure it was correct.

Below is the most recent piece of work he did.  Not only has he used the correct sentence punctuation but he has also included commas in a list and to show a clause. Big cheer, happy teacher, sentences: sorted!