Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Catalyst Discovery Centre

We took our Year Three pupils to the Catalyst Discovery Centre in Widnes. We had a great day out and we were well looked after by the staff.

We had the chance to try various science experiments (all with a practical industrial theme). There were lots of problem solving activities to explore. We watched a film all about recycling. We were able to find out about industry in the area and enjoyed looking out through the observatory across Cheshire and Merseyside.

The best part of the day was in a data logging workshop. We are expecting a delivery of a class set of data loggers in September so this would be a great opportunity to see how they can work with a whole class. The challenge was to investigate which sunglasses were best by finding out how much light they let through. We then explored best colours for sunglasses which prevented light coming through (purple was best!)

Data logging provided a real, practical application of science investigation and I'm looking forward to using them next year!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Promoting wow words and understanding connectives

The idea of using Ros Wilson's VCOP to improve children's writing is one that I've fully embraced. Although it should be used carefully, when I teach it well I find that it can really help to scaffold a piece of writing.
For anyone who doesn't know, VCOP stands for Vocabulary, Connectives, sentence Openers and Punctuation. It's actually a simple but brilliant concept that will help a child's writing mature (and it will help with SATs scores!). I find that I need to introduce a couple of things at a time to allow them to master their use and experiment with their new skills.

One way I've tried to encourage children to use 'wow words' (ambitious vocabulary) is to record exciting words for all the class to see when a child has used one. We discuss the word and its meaning and at the end of the lesson we make up sentences together so that we can see how the word is used. The children loves to have their word on show for all. We also have a tally to record when other children have used it too.

The children love to see how many words they can use each day. I've seen a big improvement in descriptive writing. It's also really encouraged children to try to think of new words and to have a go at coming up with something different!

With connectives I tend to teach a few connectives at a time so that the children are really clear about how to use them. As many connectives can also be sentence openers, it helps to spend a little time teaching how they are used to extend sentences.

But whilst we only look at a few connectives at a time, many words are displayed on the classroom wall and I encourage the children to listen out for their use by adults. It really helps them to understand how they are used and it provides a good context for each word. Again, the words are displayed on the classroom wall and it is fun to discuss which words have been spotted and remember how they were used. We also use the opportunity to put them into new sentences and situations.
A quick search on Google will bring up tonnes of VCOP resources. I'd love to hear how others use the skills with their class.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Primary Deputy

This time last year I was preparing for one of the biggest changes in my teaching career - I was moving to teacher Year Three after nine years in Year Six. I can't say I found the change easy but I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I was expecting to remain in Year Three for a while.

After a number of staffing changes in the school it has become necessary for me to have to move year groups once again. Next year I'll be in Year Four! Whilst I was looking forward to building on what I've achieved in Year Three this year, there are many positives about moving to Year Four (which I'll discuss at a later date).

As a result of this move I've decided to change my blog to Primary Deputy. Please alter your feeds. I've also changed my Twitter name to primarydeputy. I was amazed that the name was still available! I wanted to pick a name that I hopefully won't have to change for a while!

Thank you to all readers of Year Three Teacher and I hope that you'll stick me through this latest change!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Monthly Review: June 2011

Busy is the word that would sum up my June!

Holiday in Wales
We are fortunate to have two weeks' holiday at Whit (I say fortunate now, but I will say the opposite when everyone else is off before us in July!). We had a lovely few days in New Quay in South West Wales. It was our first time taking Lily away and we had a great time visiting places like Tenby, Fishguard and Carmarthen.

School University
I need to write a separate blog post to explain this properly. Much of my time has been spent arranging the university, negotiating with local high schools and members of the community to ensure brilliant courses for the children to attend.

Grandparents' Tea Party
The School Council helped to arrange a tea party for our grandparents. It was a lovely afternoon including refreshments, a tour of the school, performances by the choir and orchestra and a gallery of work. The grandparents were very appreciative!

Report writing
We have changed our report format slightly this year which has made them slightly less time consuming. However, they have still taken me lots of time! I'll be so glad to be finished in the next few days.

Ofsted and ICT
I attended a course about the Ofsted inspection requirements for ICT. It was an interesting course and I've picked up some particularly good ideas about e-Safety. I need to write a post soon

Neglecting stuff
I feel that I've neglected many things this month as I've been so busy with work. Unfortunately this is likely to continue into July which is usually our busiest month in school!