Thursday, 29 September 2011

Olympic values in the classroom

In light of the Olympic Games taking place next year, our school has adopted the Olympic and Paralympic values as part of its ethos. These are the values that athletes follow and they could easily be applied to education.
These Values are:
  • respect
  • excellence
  • friendship
  • courage
  • determination
  • inspiration
  • equality.

We are spending time in assemblies and in class thinking about how these values can help to guide is in school.

(I tried hard to find an acronym for the values to make them easier to remember for the children. The best I could come up with is FED RICE.)

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Harry Potter Teaching Resources

Many years ago I remember using a brilliant website which shared resources to teach Harry Potter in the classroom. It was run by Gareth Pitchford from Primary Resources. Unfortunately, I believe the site was removed for legal reasons.

I recently discovered that the site has been archived online at You can find out ideas for using the first four books.

Sunday, 11 September 2011


I guess we are relatively late in jumping on board the Purplemash bandwagon as we have only had a subscription since September this year. However, our school is increasingly becoming hooked!

We have signed up so that we can access Mash through our Uniservity learning platform. This way the children can save any work created using Mash into their own space easily. Once into Purplemash there are thousands of activities that can be used in all parts of the curriculum.

These are the activities I plan to use in Year Four this year:

  • Postcards - at the beginning of the year we will send postcards to our headteacher.
  • Newspapers - we will use the grids in 2Publish extra to write newspaper reports.
  • Roman and Viking resources - lots of cross-curricular work can be done here.
  • 2Investigate - to explore the idea of databases.
  • Logo - to introduce programming.
  • 2Animate - to create a slideshow about our residential later in the year.
  • 2Graph - to enhance our work in handling data in maths.
  • 2Type - to continue to develop our typing skills.
  • Maths games - we tried some of these in Year Three and they proved to be popular, so we'll give them another go.
  • 2Sequence - to bring ICT into music.
I'm sure they'll be loads more facilities that we'll use, in particular in 2Publish and 2Publish Extra.

I love the fact that we can start something in school and then it can be finished at home!

How do you use Purplemash in Year Four?

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Good features of planning

During the year we are reviewing our school planning format. In David Dunn's book he writes about the most important features of planning that are needed to have an outstanding lesson.

He makes it clear that planning doesn't have to be incredibly detailed - just delivered well.
"Your outstanding judgement is based on how well the children have learned, not how many words you have on your detailed lesson plan. I have seen lessons planned on the back of a cigarette packet (well, not literally you understand, but you get the idea) that have been outstanding; and I have seen lessons that have had the planning equivalent to a Tolstoy epic that have barely been satisfactory... It's quality, not quantity, that counts." David Dunn, How to be an Outstanding Primary School Teacher.
The most important aspects are:

  • Objectives
  • Differentiation
  • Support/Teaching Assistants
  • Assessment
  • IEPs/Special Needs/G & T
  • Resources
  • Questions
  • Key information - putting the plan into context.

 What key features do you include in your planning?

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Building Great Relationships with Parents

 In his book How to be an Outstanding Primary School Teacher, David Dunn talks about building relationships with parents. He makes some great recommendations. Communication with parents must be:

Dunn says that regular communication must be, "Quick, easy and profitable!" It must be as regular as you feel would be of benefit, but it must be brief. He also advises against only making contact when there's a problem - they love to hear something positive too.
Simple ways of communication could be:

  • Whole class email
  • Home/school diary
  • Reading Records/Homework diary
  • A quick word on the playground.
"Be honest but professional."

"Be helpful /committed to helping their child(ren) to learn and develop." Always find the time for the parent who wants to help their child(ren) at home.

"Have an open-door policy; be approachable." Make sure that if they ask to speak to you, you find the time to do so, or at least call them back as soon as possible.

"Always be professional. Parents will respect you for it."

As far as communication goes for me personally, I'm making a few resolutions:
  • I will try to be outside to meet my class and chat to parents at least two minutes before the start of every school day, instead of being so busy I run outside at the last minute.
  • I will speak to different parents each week about how pleased I am with a pupil.
  • I will send a text to parents each day about how pleased I am with a child's work/attitude/progress.
  • I will continue to send out messages to parents each week in our Reading Records/Homework Diaries.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Recommended book: How to be an Outstanding Primary School Teacher

I recently read this superb book. It's not often that I feel inspired by an professional book, but I certainly was after reading this. It's well worth a read and I hope that a few readers will buy a copy of the book after reading my blog. The author, David Dunn, is on Twitter, and you can also view his website here.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Monthly Review: August 2011

The summer holidays don't half go quickly, do they?! Five weeks sound like a long time at the beginning. By the end it feels like just a quick break!

It's been lovely to spend time with my family, in particular looking after our baby. It's amazing to see how much she has developed over just a few weeks. I will miss this when I return to work.

Knee operation
In the second full week of the holidays I had an arthroscopy operation on my knee. I'd never had an operation before and wasn't sure what to expect. The general anaesthetic was just awful. They told me it would be in my system for 36 hours and they weren't wrong. I felt terrible. My knee was injured in April and I've been hobbling around since then. It's so frustrating not being able to play football or go running. In the arthroscopy they removed a lot of my miniscus cartilage and found that I have a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). Before the operation I didn't even know I had an ACL! I've been having physiotherapy and it's making a big difference, and I'm getting into the habit of doing my exercises at home. I am doing plenty of walking (with the baby) and that helps. I now need to start cycling too. But I've got to wait three months before I see the consultant and find out if I will need further surgery on my knee.

Setting up my new classroom
Of course I'm moving to Year Four. I'm also moving classrooms again. Moving classrooms is so hard. I'm moving into a classroom in which the previous teacher was in for a long time, so there's quite a bit of rearranging to do (just like someone would have to do when I vacate a room!) I'm looking forward to getting started in there.

Days out
We've been on a few days out over the summer. With a baby in a pram our choices are limited to a degree. But I loved visiting Llandudno and Conway, Lymm Dam and Blackpool in particular.

There were really only two films I wanted to see this summer and, with the help of babysitters, I was able to see them both: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two and The Inbetweeners Movie. They were both absolutely brilliant! We've watched tonnes of films over the summer at home.

And so it's back to work on Monday and, five minutes in, it will feel like the summer holiday never really happened!!