Thursday 22 January 2015

Using Highlighters in Primary

In recent weeks, there have been a couple of blog posts (from Alex and Jon) about the use of highlighters in school.  Reading these made me think about my use of highlighters so I decided to go on a highlighter hunt in books for how both the children and I use them to have an impact on learning.  I was completely surprised by how much they are used in my classroom so here are some examples of what I've found they can help with.

Sentence Structure
I have written previously about how I have tried to help children sort out there sentences.  Below, you can see how the child has serious errors in their sentences.  Using the highlighters to indicate a change of sentence makes it very clear.  The pupil can then re-write the work in the correct structure.  For more information about how I tackle ingrained misconceptions about sentences, please click here.

Maths Word Problems
I know often teachers ask children to highlight the information in work problems.  I get children to highlight the question as many times children have done the working out right but have chosen the wrong piece of information for the answer.  This helps them answer the actual question they are being asked.

Thinking Blocks
The children also use highlighters in their workings out.  As a school, we use thinking blocks to help children visualise mathematics.  Sometimes, it is necessary to colour some blocks so using highlighters is much quicker than colouring in or shading.  The child below is finding fractions of a number so she has used highlighter to indicate the amount which showing her understanding of the maths concept.

Here you can see highlighters used in fraction word problems and the calculation of the answers.

Long, Chunking, Bus-Stop, Column Division Method (Or whatever else you want to call it!)
Here, highlighters help the children locate where the answer is in their working-out notes.  

Subordinating Conjunctions
When using subordinating conjunctions at the beginning of sentences, children often forget the comma.  I can't remember whether this highlighting was done by a peer or the children themselves but it has helped to highlight the important parts of the sentence: conjunction at the beginning, comma after the clause and ending punctuation.  This serves two main purposes; it helps the children do corrections if they have missed elements and it highlights the key learning so it's easier for me to mark.  

I have a few stampers which give different options - highlighters make it clear which part refers to the work.  Our success criteria is organised into Good/Amazing/Awesome and I have a stamp to indicate that a child needs to remember Capital Letters or Full Stops.  You can see these highlighted below. 

Addressing Misconceptions
For children who can read and understand my comments, highlighters help me in explanations of their misconceptions.  Below, I have written out the calculation and the highlighter has helped me focus her attention on her target.

Many primary schools use this: Pink = Tickled Pink = Evidence of great work  Green = Growth = Things to improve.  As you can see from the photos below, I use this across their work and on our success criteria which is titled Good / Amazing / Awesome (inspired by Ian).  Sometimes I provide corrections for the green areas but often it is the child's job to correct their work.  A simple pink or green mark near the end is accompanied by a comment to show an overall assessment of their work.

Monday 19 January 2015

Scribble HQ - Writing Working Wall Display

Inspired by FootieFanMiss' Working Walls, this year I have kept a writing display as a fluid way of recording what we are learning and to help children improve their writing.  This is definitely a work-in-progress but the kids are really enjoying using it at the moment and it is having more impact than many of my displays have before!  This short, photo-heavy post will be a quick tour of what's on there and why!  To start with, this photo shows the wall as a whole.  I've called it "Scribble HQ" after the the location in my favourite children's book, Scribbleboy by Phillip Ridley.  I tend to read part or all of this book to every class so they understand the link! 
We are really focusing, in year 4, on word types so we have some mini word - clouds.  Some of them are pre-made but most are the children's ideas, sometimes with names or initials to give them ownership of the words.  
There is a space for our Alan Peat sentence of the week.
Next to this are some examples of the Alan Peat sentences in the books we have read as a class.  The children have got really good about pointing these out as we're reading so I try and bookmark them and write them up! 

When children bring in work which they've done at home linked to our writing, that goes on Scribble HQ too. 
I can use the display to address any little misconceptions which are consistent across the class.  Here you can see they are struggling to differentiate between these two words so this should remind them, complete with my lovely stick men! 
These post-it notes have been added this week because we are working on inverted commas for speech.  I stole some words instead of "said" from children's work, wrote it on a speech bubble and put their initial on it.  We'll add to these over the next few weeks so that children can have a variety to choose from. 
As I said, this is just a start and something I'm experimenting with this year.  I was a bit hesitant at first as I was unsure that it would be used by the kids and was worried it would take forever to do.  However I've found most of the content can be added in lessons and the kids use it all the time! 

UPDATE July 2015:
This is how the Scribble HQ display looks at the end of the year (minus my finger  and stapler - sorry!).  There are a few additions that are probably quite unclear:
th (top left) - lots of my class use f or v instead of sticking their tongue out for th. Cue a quick doodle to model it correctly. 
cos > because (at the bottom left) - I'm trying to counteract this lazy speech.
Tricky Spellings (top in the middle) - I just keep adding to this when particularly hard spellings crop up. 
TiP ToP paragraphs (top right) - just a quick reminder. 
Prefixes and suffixes (top left) - trying to make this part of their everyday language.