Friday, 30 January 2015

TGIF Wall Paper!

Hello! So this is my first TGIF (Teachers Get Inspired Friday) post of 2015 and I must say I am loving what I am about to share with you all!

Back in October one of our parents brought in sample rolls of wall paper from Laura Ashely (she works there don't worry!). They hung around the staff room and we all ooo'ed and ahhhh'ed over the different designs and a few of us took a role or two but then after a week or so most of them were binned as space is precious.
My roles have been clogging up my supply cupboard ever since and I've been muttering to myself about doing something with them ever since. Well…. this last couple of weeks I've stuck to my word and I love the results-
I know, I know…I could of at least matched the patterns up right?! It will be covered in work soon enough (weep) but for now I'm loving just looking at it! I am mostly pleased because this board has bugged me all year- it never fitted with my colour scheme or the feel I was wanting to create but I was hesitant to take it down as it was new paper and boarder but since we are half way (yikes) through the year and I have had numerous working walls up on it then I felt it was ok to change it- please tell me it was ok!!! 
I'm also totally in love with the bunting- I keep telling people I made it and whilst this is true…all I did was stick the letters on some already cut flags and then threaded them onto string- but I totally made it  right?!             
I also revamped my Parent's Notice Board using the free wallpaper, a planner board from Home Bargins for £1.79 and plastic frames from Poundland- it's like I've lifted a wall from home and put it in my classroom… well it may as well look like my house- I do practically live there! 
So… wallpaper as backing paper? Who'd of thunked it! 
Feel free to link up your own TGIF post bellow- just click and save the image, included in your post and then head back here to join in! 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Independent Play in Year 2

As teachers we want nothing more than to have children who keep themselves clean and tidy and never make a mess right? WRONG! What I think a lot of people presume is that if children are sat listening attentively and then carrying out instructions to do exactly what you have just told them to do then they are 'learning' WRONG (please feel free to read any political angle you like into this post!)!!!

Anyone who spends time with children knows full well that messy and chatty usually means investigating, enquiring, collaborating and learning is taking place.
However, I am often surprised by the amount of people (I sadly include some teachers here too) who once the children are past Foundation Stage, totally expect them to have 'grown-up'- I'd like to hop in a time machine and see how 'grown-up' they were at 6 and 7!

Yes, I totally accept that quiet time where children get on with the task at hand is, by Year 2 anyway, a common and necessary part of the day- hey, I am not judging, certainly if you walk into my classroom this will also be the case- particularly every Friday morning as we engage in our BIGwrite, but this is definitely not the norm!

It's lucky then that I get to work in a school which believes that learning through play is not something to be left behind in the Foundation Stage but which should be embraced throughout out the children's time in school. My classroom is rarely at voice level 0 (no matter how hard I try during 'Reading to Self') but I can honestly say it is worthwhile, task focused chatter which fills the air, especially during independent time.
Polar themed Small World and Reading Den
I only get 2 uninterrupted afternoons with my children (by this I mean where I am actually in class and we don't have to go out for P.E.) and half of one of these is Golden Time so it's vital I squeeze every opportunity for learning in that I can.  The obvious joy of independent play is that they are learning without really realising it- they think it's all their own idea and often it is!

Here is an overview of how our only 'whole' afternoon session runs-
We discover our new Learning Challenge question (we follow the Focus Curriculum) and usually spend 15-20 mins discussing, thought showering, exploring a stimulus and planning our next steps in learning. I then work with a small group at a time on an activity relating directly to the LC question whilst the rest of the children explore the independent areas.

Opportunities for independent play on offer on any given afternoon include a range of continuous provision activities (CPA) including-
Role Play Area, Small World, Dressing Up
Space themed Small World
           Interest Table, Research Table, Computers,

Independent Research
Listening Area, Reading Den, Writing Table,
Puppet Theatre, Craft Area, Maths Area,
Space Dough in the Creative Area
Creative Area- Messy Play
Independent Maths

Construction Area
Rockets in the Construction Area
These are always enhanced with new elements each week or half-term to reflect our Learning Challenge.

My children rotate around these areas and activities in a very free and relaxed manner- they know the rules and are not allowed to leave an area until I call for the next group and can only then join an area if there is space- they cannot demand that someone leaves. I know that at first glance you might think that the same children will gravitate towards the same areas every time but I always start the session off by offering each area at a time and we have a number limit so I simply 'fill' each area with the children I want in it so that those who would normally stick in a particular area are forced to choose somewhere else by default, plus this is only how 1 and 1/2 of my afternoons run so its not like 'Little Jessie' is in the Construction Area EVERY afternoon!

One of the things I try hard to do is ensure that each area offers the children the chance to either write, mark make or develop their motor skills and if I can squidge a little maths in there too…mores the better!

I am blessed with a class who are very self motivated but this is due to the fact that they have worked this way for all of their school life and have received nothing but positive praise and rewards for their learning and development during independent time- whether that be for the learning of a new fact, solving how to get the pompoms down the tube run, persevering with a jigsaw, writing a story or simply (hey lets be real) collaborating in a kind and productive manner with others. They have learnt that independent play is truly learning for learning sake and not mine!

Do you embrace Independent Play?
Any and all ideas are welcome so please feel free to comment or contact me

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Sunday Scoop

This past week has been fantastic- I'm rather sad it's over and I'm about to start a new one but hey ho!
I'm linking up with the fabulous Teaching Trio to set myself some positive goals so that this week is just as fab as last. Check it out…
So tomorrow is class picture day- I'm never very good at nailing the look and I've not been able to get a hair appointment for months so I just know tomorrow is going to rock- NOT! 
We follow the Assertive Mentoring programme at my school and one of the best parts are the 1:1 meeting I get to have with my pupils- they feel awfully important and it works like a dream for engaging them in their own progress and target setting.
We were due to move house back in October but things stalled and we have been hanging on for news…this week it came! Moving house is bitter sweet for me- I love the house we live in now and totally fell in love with it from the moment we stepped inside but the new house is beautiful and I can totally see it being our family home. Whilst I'm excited… ugh the thought of packing boxes makes me weep!! 
Last week my average time to get home was 6:45pm which isn't too awful but considering I leave the house at 7am it makes for a very long day- this week I'm hoping this isn't the norm and I get to be tucking into my tea by 6:45 at least once!
I know it's cheesy but last week was just as I had predicted- fantastic! We topped it off with a fabulous trip to Jodrell Bank- an 8 hour round trip which proved to be (almost) painless and I would totally take my little ones on a huge trip again! 
Although we live in such a beautiful part of the country, visiting museums, art galleries, theatres, science centres etc is near impossible so knowing they can hack such a big trip is wonderful!
This week we are mixing our Numeracy and Science lessons to experiment with rockets- its going to be immense! 
As it's quite an action packed week we will be in the need of some down time- I've prepared by making some of the most amazing play-dough EVER!!! 
I followed this recipe I found on Twodaloo (a fantastic blog you should totally check out!) - it was quick, easy and super effective!
I'll keep you posted on all of the fun we have with it!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Sunday Scoop 18th January

It's Sunday night again and I am in no way, shape or form disappointed! I've had a awesome weekend (I managed to meet up with girls for our cuppa and see my amazing sister & niece just like I had planned) and I just know that I'm going to have an awesome time with my class this week!
To help me prepare for it I've linked up with Teaching Trio again so take a peek at my Sunday Scoop

I know they are an important document and all of the information is already in my head but IEP's are something I dread sitting down and doing! Hey ho… it's off to IEP land I go!

I've tried to jazz up my subtraction lesson for tomorrow and provide a reason for the children to be using the skill so I've developed a jigsaw for them to solve. Each group has a target number and scattered around the classroom will be jigsaw pieces with subtraction calculations on them. They must solve the calculations and if they total their target number then they can bring the piece back to their table. Once they have all of the pieces then they can turn it over and piece it together to reveal the planet they will be planning a mission to during the rest of the week. It is available in my TPT store now!

In last week's Sunday Scoop I mentioned that I had to get my children to stick their work into their books as soon as it was marked…so far so good so this week I HOPE to keep in top of it!

Anyone else got formal lesson obs coming up? We have one per term and I always like to start gathering ideas as soon as I book it in but find if I actually plan it closer to the date then I stress less as I don't have as long to tinker with it and critique it- how about you, how do you approach them?

Last week was ace with my class and I'm really excited about seeing them tomorrow- we are ending our week with an amazing trip to Jodrell Bank Space Centre- it's a 6 hour round trip but I just know it will be worth it and we will all love it!

What are your plans for the week ahead? Why not link up and share your Sunday Scoop?

Saturday, 17 January 2015

You oughta to know…about Reciprocal Reading!

Hi there- this week I am very pleased to be keeping one of my New Year's Blog-olutions and taking part in my very first blog hop!
You ought to know about Reciprocal Reading. If you have children who are super decoders but need more practise of the explicit skills needed for comprehension, take their time with reading as it takes them a while to think about the content, struggle to identify the explicit skill they need to use to answer a question then this is an excellent approach to use. It was developed in New Zealand during the 1980's and still isn't as widespread over here in the UK as I believe it should be. 

The approach splits reading comprehension up into 4 strands-
1. Prediction
2. Questioning
3. Clarifying
4. Summarising  

This approach can be used as an intervention, during whole class teaching or as a form of Guided Reading. I personally find it fits my Guided Reading sessions perfectly as each child can take on the role of a particular strand and you can also introduce a 'boss' who essentially facilitates the sessions instead of the teacher. 

As I teach Year 2 (1st Grade) children I tend to use it with my more able children who are strong (National Curriculum) level 2s to really extend their comprehension skills and push them into level 3s whereas my KS2 colleagues find it works well with their middle ability readers. 

We dedicate a session to each strand and I model how to take on the role whilst encouraging the children to engage and develop the skill also. Once the children are confident with each strand I then begin to share out the roles, often pairing the children up as 'Predictors' and 'Questioners' first then in the next session 'Clarifiers' and 'Summarisers' before finally running the session with the children taking on the roles individually (if you have more than 4 children in a group, as I do, then I have found it best to team up the clarifiers or summarisers). 

As the children mature and become more independent it is totally possible to introduce the 'boss' role who will facilitate the session by indicating which role is needed at a particular time and moving discussions on. Once this is possible then your role is redundant and you can have a Reciprocal Reading group running whilst you take another Guided Reading group. When I have managed to get to this stage in the past, I have left a tape recorder on in the centre of the group so that I can listen back and assess the progress made (and smile at how clever they are) plus the children are aware of it and are more likely to stay focused and on task!

Obviously a big part of Guided Reading is the texts you choose to use and the 'Connectors' scheme from Scholastic is fantastic as a way of bridging the step from you as facilitator to the children taking on the role. 
For a fantastic overview of how the 'Connectors' series works, further details on Reciprocal Reading and the opportunity to buy your own sets then click here and visit the Scholastic site.

And as a thank you for stopping by- click the image bellow to get your very own year2tastic Reciprocal Reading role cards freebie! 
Now take a look at where to hop on over to for more fantastic 'you oughta know' posts

Friday, 16 January 2015

Five for Friday

Put your hands up in the air…put your hands up in the air…it's Friday people!!
I have had an awesome week how about you? I thought I would link up with the lovely Kacey over at Doodle Bugs to share with you all of the highs from class 2T this week…
In at numero uno is the amazing snow dancing!!! Just as we were about to sit down to our BIGwrite one of my lovely little ones spotted that it had begun to snow- knowing full well that at 6 and 7 there is no way you are going to concentrate on your work when it is snowing outside and that at 33 all you want to do is catch snow flakes on your tongue when it's snowing outside, I declared that we should down pencils and head out to run and dance in the falling snow for a couple of minutes- no coats because we are hard northerners and hey… life's too short right?! AH…MA…ZING!!! 
Do you use Accelerated Reader in your school? Well we started using it this school year and it has taken me a while to embed the whole 'read a book, do the quiz, earn points' ethos into my year 2s as they have either abandoned doing the quiz altogether or whizzed through their book in order to do the quiz and totally failed as they've not taken the content in but it has all changed this week! I don't know if it was the Christmas break, the weather or what but suddenly is has sunk in that if you actually read the book and pay attention to it then you are more able to answer questions and thus earn points and that your chances of earning said points are significantly heightened if you actually do the quiz!!! Woohoo- we have lift-off!!!
It might not seem like such a big deal but this week I created my first 'Bundle' item for my TPT store- I think it's pretty good value for money as you get 3 products which, if bought separately, would total $5.50 for just $4!! I love saving money and I'm sure you do too so why not head over to my store to check out my Math 'Problem Solving Mnemonics Bundle'… 
We started our first week of Space Camp this week and it rocks!!! The kids were so excited to take each others measurements and then use them to create their very own space suits- using and applying at its best! 
Do you want to know a secret? 
Tomorrow I get to keep one of my New Year's blog-olutions and take part in my very first bloghop! 
I'm linking up with Mrs McClain for the super duper 'You Oughta Know' 
So be sure to check back tomorrow for my post and links to other wonderful bloggers to get the low-down on just what you oughta know! 

It's been a smile of a week for me- how has yours been? Link up with your Five for Friday now and let us all know!

Until tomorrow 
(because I know you WILL be back for that blog-hop)

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Sunday Scoop 11.1.15

Well it's that time of the week again and I'm linking up with the lovely ladies over at Teaching Trio for the Sunday Scoop to help to focus my mind! 

Not that we do lots of worksheets because we don't but I am useless at getting the work stuck in the books asap once its been marked….3 weeks later and a pile the size of a house has appeared in my 'marked work' box!! 

We have been doing AR since September and up until now we have just been using the quizzes and test but are set to get the competitive/ self motivation side of it up and running- I've found some lovely clip charts over on TPT but need to put a plan together for how I'm going to disseminate the info to the rest of the staff- any ideas would be very welcome!

IT IS THE WORST!!! I hate having to unpack my case, get the washing done, sort out all of my make-up and jewellery etc but I suppose there has to be a downside to holidays just to even the awesomeness out!

I love teaching GR and have a blog post planned for next week but I often find I am planning the session the night before I deliver it so this weekend I have brought all of the texts I am using this half-term home with me and shall endeavour to have the sessions planned and support materials printed before the night is over- wish me luck!

As I was away for NYE I've not met up with my girls since Christmas Eve and I am desperate to hear all of their gossip- cuppas and cake are a must!

My wonderful little sister is 25 this week but as we live 3 hours away from each other I will have to wait until the weekend to celebrate with her but flowers and a card are all preordered to surprise her on the day- single mums rock and need a little spoiling too! 

I am entering this week with a PMA…I've planned a whole Space Camp themed Numeracy unit so the little ones should be fully engaged…should!!! 
Here's to a fab one

You my also like to link up with my blog-olutions post here

Friday, 9 January 2015

Blog-olutions 2015

Well hello you lovely people and welcome to 2015!
I welcomed 2015 in with a bang and boy did I pay for it the next day but unlike most I didn't utter those fateful word- 'I'm making it my New Year's resolution to drink less in 2015' as I'm not really one for making them. You may be wondering then 'why the blog-olution title then?' and I can totally understand your confusion. 

As all good bloggers do I set out with the intention of being a dedicated, organised and planned blogger but then as the weeks ticked by I turned into a crazed, frantic looking blogger despondently reflecting on how long it had been since I last posted something and feeling guilt ridden that I had neglected my new and shiny blog baby. BUT NOT IN 2015!!! Oh no…in 2015 I will be the hight of blogtasticism and this is how I shall do it…
So there you have it… my New Year's Blog-olutions for 2015…in black and white…published for all to see…I best keep them then huh!!! 
I'd love to know yours so why not link up following the steps bellow…

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