Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Using Thinking Hats

Are you trying to develop thinking skills amongst your children? Do you want them to be aware of which thinking skills are needed for a particular situation? Are you seeking to develop self-aware and independent learners? 
Of course we do…duh!!!

These questions, along with many other tricks from the AFL bag, have punctuated the majority of my teaching career thus far (and I am sure many of yours too). 

Of course, the teaching of thinking skills is by no means a new idea, many famous approaches have been around for the best part of the last century and it is often upon these long established methods we fall back upon in the classroom. 

P4C is widely loved as is the 'Building Learning Power' approach but personally I love to use Edward De Bono's 'Thinking Hats' to focus my children and develop their thinking skills in a range of situations. 

If you have never come across the thinking hats approach before then click here to visit the 'De Bono for Schools' site. 

My main reasons for loving this approach are:
1. It is visual and colour-coded
2. It makes sense!
3. The children love it
4. It is easily applicable to a wide range of classroom activities 

De Bono in a nut-shell
There are 6 main strands to thinking- Processes, Facts, Emotions, Positives, Negatives and Creativity
Each strand has a colour (enter the visual) which is a attached to a hat… ever heard 'Which hat am I wearing now?'(enter the making sense). Esentially, the hats focus the children's thinking to the particular strand e.g. if you are wearing the black hat then you need to focus your thinking on the negatives of a situation- 'What can go wrong? What is the problem here?'
De Bono in my classroom
Most teachers who use De Bono display hats in their classroom…I have sparkly hats which we like to wear (enter why the children love it!)
Of course, some strands are easier to teach than others so I like to introduce the hats in a 
step by step manner. 

I usually start with the white 'fact' hat and often introduce it at the start of the year through a range of activities such as 'All About Me' fact files and KWL grids at the start of our new Learning Challenge/ topic then build this skill into information seeking activities during 
Guided Reading and Literacy lessons. 

Following this I introduce the red 'emotions' hat when looking at characters and their actions in narrative texts and I also like to use the red hat during PSHE lessons. 

Once the children are comfortable with the two most familiar ways of thinking, I then introduce the green 'creative' hat. I love to use it during a P.E. lesson- YES I'M TEACHING THINKING SKILLS IN A P.E. LESSON-where the children are faced with a problem and encourage them to discuss ideas, ANY ideas, for solving it before then moving on and introducing the yellow and black hats.The children are then able to weigh up the positives and negatives of each idea and decide on the best approach to solve the problem. 

Finally, when I am confident the children are comfortable with the other strands of thinking,  I introduce the blue 'process' hat. 

I usually start off our next Learning Challenge/ topic with a 'Blue Hat Challenge' where we think about our BIG question and what we are going to need to do or learn in order to be able to answer it. 

The final step is to introduce a situation where the children must work as a group, each taking on the role of a hat with the blue hat essentially facilitating the session, bringing everything together and charing the thinking in a similar way to a Reciprocal Reading session…I'll be honest, I'm yet to have this work as I would like it to with my 6 and 7 year olds but I've not given up hope and WILL try this again this year!

The whole process usually takes a term, or sometimes 2 depending on the class so please don't think I am hailing this as a quick- fix approach to developing thinking skills, it's not! But what it is is a tool for children to latch their thinking onto and, like all tools, we have to know how to use them in 
order to be successful.

I'd love to know how you develop thinking skills in your classroom-
Do you have a blog post I should read? 
Do you use De Bono? 
Comment bellow and let me know...

Monday, 23 March 2015

March Madness Give-away

Well I'm sad to say that my March Madness team lost :( 
By all accounts the game between the Jayhawkes and Shockers was close and exciting but they got the better of us and Kansas lost. 
So in the spirit of the match-up, our loss is your gain!
I'm giving you the chance to win my 'Time-tastic Bundle' which is currently on TpT for $5 for FREE! 
All you need to do is click on the rafflecopter and follow the steps to be in with a chance. 
To visit the other bloggers in the match up and find out about their freebies click here

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Sunday Scoop

Wow- it has been a mega weekend for year2tastic and I am worn out! I'm taking some time before bed to link up with the lovely Teaching Trio for this weeks Sunday Scoop…
It is our last week in school before Easter Holiday and as always I'm thinking ahead! Our next Learning Challenge is based around the theme of Island Life and we look at both an Island in Scotland and The Galapagos- I love teaching it and the kids love learning about it! 
As I'm away for almost all of the Easter Hols then I HAVE to get my planning straight this week and I'm looking forward to sitting down with my teacher BFF to talk over our ideas and plan out the WOW moments we love- I"m more than HAPPY to have her round and I HOPE we get stuff done rather than just sitting and gossiping but I can't promise! 

It's been 3 weeks since I last had my nails done and I'm in need of a new design for my travels! I love getting my nails painted and I usually go with my aforementioned teacher BFF but not this week- I'll miss her! 

My final Role Play of the year will be a pirate ship to fit in with our theme of 'Ship Shape' but I'm struggling for something for this half term- usually I go for a Post Office to fit with the Katie Morag stories but any ideas would be very welcome! 

So… here is to a week of mini fluffy chicks, stressing over folding baskets correctly and coming home with random goggly eyes stuck to my trousers! 
Happy last week guys! 

Oh and just incase you missed them… I now have new Social Media buttons at the top of my blog- click to have a nose!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

March Madness blogger match-up

Look familiar...
You must have seen it, it's all over IG!!!
 Myself along with 62 other fabulous bloggers have linked up with the lovely Ashlyn over at 
The Creative Classroom to cheer on a March Madness team.
 'What's the point?' I hear you ask well.... every blogger has a team- mine is Kansas (Go Jayhawks!) and just as our teams go head-to-head so will we, only rather than our pride being at stake if we loose, we must run a giveaway for a product of at least $5 value to all of our lovely blog readers!

Here is the product I'm giving away should my team loose-
Why not hop over to one if the other bloggers taking part to see what their give away will be-
Learning with Mrs. Langley cheering on Belmont
Second Grade Stories cheering on Indiana
The Neat and Tidy Classroom cheering on UC Irvine
Live, Laugh, I LOVE Kindergarten cheering on Coastal Car.
Miss Johnston's Journey cheering on Maryland
The Creative Classroom cheering on San Diego State
Fifth in the Middle cheering on Wichita State
Lessons with Coffee cheering on Arkansas
The Kinder Garden cheering on Notre Dame
Exploring Elementary cheering on NC State
Inspired Owl's Corner cheering on Oregon
Frampton's Fundamentals cheering on New Mexico State
Learning in the Little Apple cheering on Michigan State
NC Teacher Chick cheering on Utah State
A Tall Drink of Water cheering on Baylor
Sara J Creations cheering on Oklahoma
ELA Everyday cheering on Duke
The Blessed Teacher cheering on Lafayette
Mrs. 3rd Grade cheering on VCU
Rock & Teach cheering on Albany
Create Teach Share cheering on North Dakota State
One Happy Teacher cheering on Gonzaga
Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas! cheering on Iowa State
First Grade Roars! cheering on SF Austin
The Learning Chambers cheering on Hampton
Teaching is Sweet cheering on Eastern Washington
Sounds Like Fun cheering on Louisville
Confessions of a Teaching Junkie cheering on Cincinnati
Year2tastic cheering on Kansas
Sparkling in Second cheering on Wyoming
Making Meaning with Melissa cheering on Purdue
One Sassy Teacher cheering on Villanova
Brittany Kiser cheering on Texas
Coach and Teach 24/7 cheering on St. John's
Hardcore Teacher Resources cheering on LSU
The Whole Wheat Class cheering on Oklahoma
Mixing It Up In The Middle! cheering on Mississippi
Teaching Maddeness cheering on UAB
Its Elementary My Dear cheering on Ohio State
Live Love Serve Teach cheering on Providence
 Education Kingdom cheering on North Carolina
A Dab of Glue Will Do cheering on Dayton
Learning to be Awesome cheering on Kentucky
Technology Timeout cheering on Harvard
Kovescence on the Mind cheering on Butler
Blossoms of Blue in 2 cheering on North Eastern
Mrs. D's Corner cheering on Robert Morris
Where the Wild Things Learn cheering on Buffalo
Bright Concepts 4 Teachers cheering on North Iowa (UNI)
A Trendy Teacher cheering on Valparasio
Lucky to Be In First cheering on Wisconsin
O-H So Blessed! cheering on Virginia
Tales of Teaching with Tech cheering on Woffard
Very Perry Classroom cheering on Arizona
A Kindergarten Life for Me cheering on Georgia
First Grade Buddies cheering on Iowa
Miss Case's Classroom cheering on Georgetown
A Grace-Filled Classroom cheering on West Virginia
Third Grade Cupcakes cheering on SMU
The Class Couple cheering on Xavier
More Time 2 Teach cheering on Georgia State
Owl-ways Learning cheering on UCLA

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Sunday Scoop

It has been a while but I'm back linking up with the Teaching Trio again!
I love the Sunday Scoop but this week was a challenge- I've got a lot on!!!
It's time for our next round of Performance Management observations and I am quite looking forward to this one- we're exploring synonyms through 'The Emperor's New Clothes'. There should be lots of talking, acting and up-levelling of language choices going on- fingers crossed! 

If you read my blog then you will know that I have recently moved house- I hate unpacking with a passion!!!! We have been trying our best to get on top of the boxes but my clothes are still (mostly) in cases- I'm going on holiday in 2 weeks and believe me, I wish I could just pick the case up and go but I'm not sure the jumbled contents will cut it in Vegas! 

This half term is sooooo short (5 weeks) and full of 'fun' activities such as World Book Day and Comic Relief…plus we had the chicks! I am looking forward to getting a week of full lessons in!

This Saturday I am off to the Education Fair in Birmingham and hope to attend a talk by the wonderful Pie Corbett (if you don't know who he is then click here) I'm hoping to meet up with the lovely Paper Obsessed Teacher and family while I'm down. 

What are your plans for the week ahead? 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Scavenger Hunt Blog Hop

I am so excited to celebrate reaching 500 Instagram followers with you all!

What you could win…
Here is how this blog-hop works…
1. Read this post and make a note of my letter
2. Click on a link at the bottom to 'hop' onto one of my fab blogger friends posts
3. Read their post and make a note of their letter
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3!
5. Head back here and use the 'Contact Me' section to submit your letter string- 
There is no particular order to record the letters in- just ensure you have 6!
6. Once you have submitted your letters follow the steps on the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
You can enter as many times as it allows you to over the course of the weekend.
Names with incorrect letter strings recorded will be deleted from the Rafflecopter 
and IT will then decide the winner!
So, seeing as this is a celebration of my Instagram milestone and the fact that all 6 of us bloggers in this hop have met through IG, I thought it would only be right that I tell you a little about my love for the social network!

I began my teacher's IG journey last August (I have had a personal account for a few years now) and I can tell you now… 
man, has pushed me to up my game when it comes to resources and classroom decor! 

There are many things I love about it but here are a couple of my absolute favourites-

I love how supportive the place is! If I have a new idea, resource, blog post or TpT product and I want honest, constructive feedback then I know IG is the place to post my picture. I have been pushed to try things I've been hesitant about through IG such as attending next weekend's Education Show in Birmingham- I'm really looking forward to it despite how nervous I was when booking- thanks IG! 

I have made some awesome 'friends' all around the world! I know it is cyber space and people can appear to be whomever they wish to be (I'm up on my Internet Saftey!) but I truly believe I have made some real connections and mostly with people from miles and miles away from where I live. Take this blog hop for instance, I have never met any of the other 5 teachers and yet they have been kind enough to dedicate some of their precious time to helping me out!

Yes, I work with some amazing co-teachers and I'm luck enough to have a wonderful Teaching Assistant to work alongside day in, day out - real people, real conversations and real hugs when needed but what happens if you don't? I can tell you now… all of my 500+ followers and anyone else who needs it…I will always offer an IG hug if one is needed!

I have found Instagram to be a place where I feel inspired, important, included and invigorated so for this reason my letter is 'I'. 

Have fun on the rest of your hunt and 
don't forget to 'Contact Me' with your letter string! 

Why not keep up with further give-aways by clicking the social links at the top of the page? 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Rolling with the Chaos! A week with chicks...

Does your day often differ to the one you had planned? 
Another class using the hall scuppers your plans for an amazingly outstanding Numeracy lesson? 
A child being sick all over your carpet mean you have to wave goodbye to your classroom for the best part of the morning? 
The photocopier breaking down means you can't use that scoot activity you had planned?
I don't know why I'm asking these questions because I know the answer is
'HELL YEAH!!!!' 

Let's face it… thinking on your feet is a crucial part of the job and no 2 days are the same. 
It's part of the stress charm of teaching and how we respond to these surprise events can often make a huge difference to a child's enjoyment of learning that day.
Thanks to Keep Calm-o-matic
Well this week we had one massive change to our plans occur…..10 eggs arrived! 
'Oooooo exciting!' I hear you squeal and indeed it has been but they were due to arrive in May!!! 
When I would deliver impeccably planned lessons with egg'tastic resources and cross- curricular learning the likes of such the world has never seen before! 
This was not to be….our lovely eggs arrived right in the middle of our theme on Fairytales… perfect! 

The thing is… it has been perfect! 
I learnt a long time ago to roll with the punches and embrace the chaos! 
So whilst the children were in assembly I quickly printed an 'Egg Diary'
(lets face it, they were never going to concentrate on my planned activities with 
such an eggciting arrival in class!) 
We spent time discussing what was going to happen over the next few days.
 I carefully and sensitively explained that most likely not all of our 10 eggs would hatch… unplanned lesson numero uno- coping with loss. True enough not all of our eggs did hatch and one of our chicks was unwell and passed away. My 6 and 7 year olds amazed me- they took the news in such a mature manner because we had taken the time to discuss what could happen, the reasons for it and the   emotions they might experience. This was such a poignant lesson for my class as, even at such a young age, several of them have already had to deal with such experiences on a much larger scale. This was a subject we would probably only have discussed through a text (such as The King of Tiny Things) but here we were all living through the experience together thanks to the unplanned arrival of the eggs. 

As the week has gone on the children have eagerly taken responsibility for monitoring the living conditions of the chicks, cleaning their bowls and measuring out their food and they have learnt the importance of taking care of animals….unplanned lesson number 2!
For some of my children, especially those who are on the Autistic Spectrum, the change to our routine has been a challenge but they have risen to it. They have understood that at some points, the needs of the chicks outweigh the needs of the children and they have happily stood by and watched as new chicks have hatched or poorly chicks have been looked after. Lesson 3 has been a huge learning curve for my littlies- putting others needs before your own!!! 

One of the most magical parts of having the eggs in class has been getting to watch the chicks hatch first-hand! It has been such an amazing thing for the children to see and my heart has melted each and every time! 
The look of awe, pride and compassion on their little faces has blown me away- having the chicks in class has most certainly taught my children that life is an amazing thing and nature is truly magical… unplanned lesson number 4 in the bag!

Our observation skills have been on overload this week- sitting watching the chicks has not only been therapeutic (believe me… I've pulled up a chair several times!) but has also prompted our inquiry skills. Every day there is something new to take notice of and the children have enjoyed making up their own investigations to gather even more information on the chicks.

A favourite has been 'What is their favourite colour?' I have no idea if the chicks see in colour but my children can say with confidence that they like white!! How do they know? Well they tested them of course!! They cut pieces of different coloured paper and then moved them up and down in front of the Brooder window, the only piece of paper they followed was the white one!! I'm not sure about the scientific reliability of their results but heyho… they devised it, carried it out and made a conclusion… an unplanned science lesson in action! 

This week the chicks are finally big enough to be handled and it has amazed me to see just how brave some of my more hesitant little friends have become. I have watched with pride as a few of my 'lively' little ones have learnt to be quiet and calm around the chicks so as not to scare them and all of them have totally understood the importance of our 'kind hands' classroom rule! Now to see if they can apply unplanned lesson number 6 in their everyday lives…hum!

It has been amazing to have the chicks in class this past week- even if their arrival was unexpected and we will miss them so much when they make the move to a friend of the school's farm on Friday.
There are a million more lessons we have learnt over the past week too- all of them unplanned- such as how many days a chicks hatching cycle is, the importance of washing our hands after handling them, the fact that before they are even 7 days old they begin to grow feathers and (disgustingly) that their poo sticks to their bottom and that's just part of chick life! 

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