Sunday, 26 April 2015

A teachers gotta plan...

                                                 Hi friends how is your weekend going? 
One thing I know all of us teachers have in common is planning but how we go 
about it…well that's a little more unique!
My school has a set planning format for both Literacy and Numeracy on 
offer if you wish to use it and up until Christmas this year, I did. 

A few years ago (political comment coming up) the current government made some 
changes to work and pay conditions. 
Needless to say the Teacher Unions were not impressed and, along with a string of strikes, called for teachers to work to rule. Obviously each teacher's stance on this was very personal however as a school we had to make some common decisions- if one person said no to doing something then it 
meant no for all of us and in our school this ushered in the end to planning scrutinies. 
Make of this what you will but whilst I still continued to plan away to my usual standard, others relaxed somewhat and so long as they were covering the non-negotiables this wasn't a problem. 
Why then was I still typing page after page? Well… if I am being totally honest, I was afraid! Afraid that if I didn't then I would a) be told off and b) forget something! 
Neither of these things has happened but why the sudden change to the way I plan?! 

A number of years ago a fell over and broke my left wrist (Yes! I had had a couple of glasses of wine…how ever did you guess?!) and it has never felt quite the same since. 
This hasn't been much of a problem though up until the past 8 months when my right wrist has suddenly begun to ache and go stiff and the fingers sometimes get a bit numb…
all when I have been typing a lot!! 
I thought about it and the 2 occasions I spend typing the most are (surprise, surprise) when I am blogging and when I am lesson planning! 
Well…a blogger gotta blog and there is no way around using the computer for that but, whilst a teacher gotta plan there is another way…write it out! 
I noticed on Instagram that a lot of my US friends hand wrote in pretty planners rather than typing-
 I love a diary and couldn't live without my multitude of sharpies or washi-tape collection so this totally 
seemed the way forward for me! 
I did some research and fell in love with the Erin Condren planners but, oh the price! 
I needed to know if this way would work for me before I shelled out on a beautiful, but costly notebook. So I decided to buy a basic Puka Pad and section it off myself.

I included an overview of the units to be covered each week and then dedicated a page to Literacy and a page to Numeracy. I made sure I included the nonnegotiable elements at the top 
(WALT and Success Criteria)
I simply made notes for the rest of the lesson with post-its for extra detail or changes I need to make.
This has been the biggest change for me- I am a self-confessed over planner! 
Notes just felt wrong somehow but I reassured myself that, having taught the same year group, in the same school, the exact same units for the past 8 years and having kept all of those in digital, 
if not hard copy, then I would be fine! 
Should I need more detail- all I had to do was pop my pen drive in and pull up the relevant lesson plan. Of course, I have continued to formally plan on the school's planning sheets for observations but other than that I haven't looked back! 

Yep I took the plunge! It was a hard choice between the Life and Teacher planner for me but having read Sailing into Second's post and watching Dairy of a Not So Wimpy Teacher's video about how they use their Teacher Planners I was sold! 
My Erin Condren Teacher Planner is on its way…I can't wait! 

If you decide this is for you or if you already have one but would like something else from her store then why not use my discount code?!
How do you choose to plan? Are you a Condren Convert? 
I'd love to know...

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Stop, Swap & Roll Baby!

I am so EXCITED!!!!
Today I am linking up with the lovely Melissa over at Jungle Learners to tell you all about the fab product swap I have been a part of.

I was partnered with the super Ashley of Anchored in Learning fame. 
Anchored in Learning

When I visited her store I was really confused because there was so much to chose from- 
click here and check it out for yourself!

I could easily have chosen loads of the general classroom resources she has on sale but I stopped myself and thought about what I would actually be teaching over the coming week.

So…as I was planning on looking closely at 2D shapes in my BUILD sessions this week I chose Ashley's 'Button Sorting Task Card Center' 

What you get
The title of the product claims it is a 'task card center' but I found it to be oh so much more! 
The pack is a comprehensive practical sorting activity which allows for open-ended discussions and gives the opportunity for an independent demonstration of understanding.
Lots of discussion about how to sort going on amongst my kiddies
The pack includes pictures of large button jars, pictures of buttons, criteria cards (including sorting by more than 1) and cutting and sticking sorting sheets.
I loved how easily the children could sort by a range of criteria using the same picture cards. Due to the fact the buttons were different shapes, colours and sizes and had different numbers of hole on them, this product could be used time and again to fit in with units on both shape and measure as well as straight forward sorting units. 

How I used it
Over the past few weeks I have restructured my normal Numeracy lessons to include B.U.I.L.D rotations on a Monday and Tuesday (read the hows and whys here).
To continue revisiting previous learning I have used the 'L' as 'Linking Learning' so children use our week's focus alongside a previous skill- this week we were investigating shape so our 'Linking Learning' activity asked them to use their sorting/ data handling skills also. 
The 'Button Task Card Center' was perfect for this!
Each group who visited the Center entered in to lengthy discussions over how they would
sort and what they would do with the items left out.
They then independently recored their sorting so I was able to reflect on their understanding later on.
Recording their sorting independently!
How you can get a copy
The super thing about the 'Stop, Swap and Roll' link up is that you don't just get to find out about a wonderful product but you also get the chance to win it! 
Follow the 'Rafflecopter' steps below to be in with a chance of winning your very own copy of Ashley's 'Button Sorting Task Card Center'

What did I swap?
Anchored in Learning chose my 'Superhero Addition and Subtraction Games'
Head over to Anchored in Learning to find out what Ashely thought of my product and to 
enter her give-away.
Don't win? Don't worry- click here to visit my TpT store and snag it for 
50% off until Wednesday! 

Thanks for stopping by- click on the buttons below to visit lots of other lovely bloggers and enter their giveaways- stop, swap and roll baby!\

Friday, 24 April 2015

Five for Friday

It has been a loooooong week my lovely friends but never fear the weekend is here! 

I am so pleased to be linking up with the lovely Kacey over at Doodle Bugs Teaching- it's been a while since I last managed to post a Five for Friday but here goes…
In at number 1 is some lovely, none school related news…I got to meet one of my besties beautiful little girl for the first time yesterday and received the wonderful news that a dear friend is also growing a bump…It must be something in the water! I think that this serves as a beautiful reminder that as much as we love our jobs, there is so much more to life out in the big wide world- family and friends are everything and should never come second- take some time to smell the rose and give your loved ones a hug this weekend. 

If you could go on a voyage to anywhere in the world, where would you go? 
This is the BIG question we have been thinking about this week in Year 2. 
It's such an exciting question to me….Maldives, Peru, Canada, New Orleans….the choices are endless! However, pose this question to a group of 6 year-olds and you are bound to get some cracking answers! The best of the bunch has to be when one little boy asks 'Miss how do you spell KFC?' in my head I was screaming 'ARE YOU KIDDING ME' but instead I calmly if not somewhat bemusedly replied 'It's K.F.C'  obviously not satisfied he replied 'I know it's name Miss, it's my favourite place to go but how do you spell it?' 
 I don't know what got me more- the fact he chose KFC to visit out of all of the places on this whole entire Earth or the fact he asked me how to spell it?! Kids!

I know I've mentioned it in a post already this week but I am just so in love with this product from Linda Camp on TpT

We have loved using it (and of course singing it!) during our B.U.I.L.D sessions and I even went 
'off- product' and used some of the large shapes to investigate lines of symmetry! 
If you are looking at shape any time soon then I suggest you check this out for straight forward, comprehensive and fun activities. 

Are you due to be moderated? What is your experience of it? 
Today I was out of class all morning at a Cluster Moderation Meeting for Numeracy. As I am year 2 and my children, just as all others across England, are in the midst of their SAT's this term so levelling is a top priority for me. Obviously, because we mark them internally, we need to have an eye kept on us! Although having your levelling moderated can be daunting, I am lucky that my cluster puts on CPD sessions like those today in preparation for formal External, County-wide Moderation. I was formally moderated last year so today was more useful for me to ensure that I had continued to act upon the knowledge of levelling I gained last year and to reassure me that I had justifiably levelled my children- we all know about those Level 3's being a 3B don't we!  If you're due to be moderated this term here are my top 3 tips-
1. Take work from across the curriculum with you as well as Literacy/ Numeracy books and tests.
2. Take a look at the National Curriculum level descriptors and compare your children's work against those not just the scheme tests or writing criteria your school uses
3. Print picture or take your iPad/ camera with you- even better if you can make a couple of notes about what the child is doing in the picture- this is fab if you blank out!
Finally- breath, you've got this, you know your kids like the back of your hand! 

Finally, a little bit of a cheat but hey, self promotion never hurt anyone right?! 
Tomorrow I am taking part in a wonderful link up with Jungle Learners. I have used and reviewed a super product from Anchored in Learning and you could win it if you check out my Stop, Swap and Roll post when it goes live at 12 midnight PST 

Looking forward to seeing y'all again tomorrow….

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

BUILDing our session

Well hello friends- sorry I've been missing all week but I've been exhausted!
If you read my post last Tuesday (click here) then you will know that I have shaken things up and introduced rotations to my Numeracy sessions. 
I have chosen to use the B.U.I.L.D. acronym to help manage the rotations and have been very impressed by the progress my children have made so far. 

So, as well as the increase in 'face time' I spoke about last week, my children have also benefited from the chance to revisit old skills and apply them in a new context and the opportunity to practise new concepts in fun ways during 'Buddy Games'. 

As this is quite a big change for my little friends I have found it important to lay down ground rules for each activity. I have been displaying them on the SMARTboard and reinforcing them just before the children go off to their first station. 
The main issue I thought we would have was children going off task as this was a problem 
when we first introduced a carousel of activities for Guided Reading.
Here are some of the rules I have chosen to include-  

So far the kiddies seem to be following the rules and I truly believe it is because the children are enjoying their learning and understand how these rules help.

To keep us all on track I have set up a rotation board using very cute figures from Glitter Meets Glue Designs to help both my team and children know who should be where-

All of my children are in a numbered group based on their general understanding and level however I have moved individual children around in sessions in response to their particular needs. 
 After about 20 minutes I call 'Wiggly Fingers' and we tidy up. Thanks to the board the children easily move onto their next activity and we are all set to go again in a matter of minutes- fab! 

As this is all new to me I've felt the need to keep planning in a similar way so to help keep track of the activities I have planned to use and of which children have visited which activity,  I have devised this simple but effective planning sheet. Once I've noted down how I will introduce the session and the activities for each area I simply highlight each letter with the corresponding colour for the group who will visit it. I've included a space for notes after each rotation which has been useful for responding to grouping the following day. 

Click on the image to download your own copy 
This week we have looked at 2D shape and extended our knowledge of polygons and symmetry. To recap the properties of 2D shapes we have loved using this fabulous resources 
from Linda Camp on TpT
It is worth every penny!!! 

How do you run your rotations? 
I'd love and appreciate any tips you have for me!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

BUILDing our confidence

So this week in Numeracy I've changed things up, I've tried something new, given it a go, winged it!!! Read on to find out why…
Well…..just as all year 2s across the country are, my little ones are facing SAT's over this next half term and I have been looking at my latest Numeracy assessments analysis and biting my nails. I see holes, big holes!!! Holes and gaps everywhere!!! I thought things were going well! 
As the saying goes 'if children aren't learning the way you teach, teach the way they learn' it was clear that something wasn't working for this group of kids. My typical lesson follows a 4 part structure- Mental/ Oral starter (10mins), Intro and whole class teaching (15mins), group work(20mins), plenary (10mins) often with groups missing parts of the Intro and whole class teaching section to work with a TA because they a) are already beyond this and need extending or b) they are not ready for this and need more consolidation. M/O, group and plenary include appropriate levels of differentiation. 'Hum….sounds similar to my lesson structure' you might think…..'This is what they tell us to do' you might think….'This is tailored to children's abilities' you might think….'What's up with this way of teaching?' you might think and my answer would be- yes it is differentiated, what they tell us to do, tailored to abilities and nothing is wrong with this way of teaching the problem is it's not right for my children at this moment in time, it's not closing their gaps, ultimately it's not giving them enough 'face time' and my children need 'face time'. 

So what have I done about it?

Well I've shopped around, I've researched and I've thought about what already works well 
within my class. 
The 2 established routines which work the best for us are Guided Reading and Basic Skills Friday both give the children quality 'face time' and plug specific holes in their learning, both include the opportunity for games and consolidation of skills, both utilise the skills of our class TA's, both are fun, both include rotations of small groups. 

So I've decided to use the B.U.I.L.D acronym to manage small group rotations within my Numeracy lessons on a Monday and Tuesday. You may have seen B.U.I.L.D on Instagram or Pinterest before and wondered, just as I did, what it was all about so for more details I headed over to  'Adventures in Teaching'  and 'Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits' for further information (don't you just love how the blogging community works?!) and came away feeling as though I had made the right choice. 
Glitter Lego men are from Glitter Meets Glue
I've opted to only devote 2 days to rotations for 3 reasons- a) we have a lot of content to get through before the end of May and I felt the effort that would be required to do a full week of rotations would tie me to the same area of maths for too long b) I have a trainee TA as well as our class TA in on Mondays and Tuesdays so an extra pair of hands is available and c) I'm giving this a go, its a change for us all, for the better I hope and it may be that I move full time to small group rotations but I'd rather dip a toe in first! 

Everything I have read about B.U.I.L.D reassured me that is is a management system which is easily tailored to the needs of your particular class and, after 2 days, I'm convinced! I've altered some of the meanings to suit my setting and children without taking away from the Guided element I love so in our classroom it looks like this-
B remains the same Buddy Games, 
U remains the same Using Manipulatives although I've opted to word it is Using our hands, 
I remains the same Independent (Indie) although I've not included reading, 
L I've opted to include this as 'Linking Our Learning',
D remains a teacher/ TA led activity and I've phrased it as 'Dive In' to encourage the children to dive deeper into the concepts covered in the introduction section of the lesson. 
The structure of my Numeracy lesson now looks like this- Intro and a quick game or activity to practise the skills needed for the independent activities (10mins), First rotation (20 min), Second rotation (20 mins) then 5 min review/ plenary activity. As I have 3 adults in the room it means that over the 2 days every group gets a minimum of 20 mins 'face time' with a maximum of 80 mins 'face time'! That number amazes me- 80 mins- almost an hour and 1/2 of adult 'face time' with 3 days learning still to go!  

I'm not saying this is a quick fix but here is an example of what a group who have had 60 mins of 'face time' these past 2 days have accomplished- 

Our WALT has been 'use addition and subtraction to solve problems involving money' so on Monday day we focused on simply adding and subtracting amounts- the 'Linking our Learning' task was partitioning coins with 2 digit totals out into 10p (Tens) and 1p (Units). It was clear from my marking that they all got it so today I pulled them for 'Linking Our Learning' again and guided them to partition to add 2 sets of coins- applying and pushing a skill they already had into a new context- after 20mins they were confidently portioning to add 2 sets of coins with 2 digit totals so when they moved onto their 'Dive In' session guided by my TA they were able to use the CUBES method we had looked at in 'Intro' along with partitioning to solve money word problems. BOOM! 

Another group took a similar journey only within 40mins they had developed a solid understanding of pounds representing 100 pence, partitioned into HTU, used partitioning into HTU to add 2 amounts together, begun to understand how a decimal point works when dealing with money and used this to convert their totals back into pounds. BOOM BOOM!!! 

So it's clear to see from my post so far that I'm pretty impressed with how BUILD is working out in my classroom after only 2 days….check back next Tuesday to see if I'm still as impressed plus grab a free download of my B.U.I.L.D display and find out how I manage the rotations.  

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