Monthly Archives: September 2012

Poetry in Motion

A few years ago we worked with three other schools on a performance poetry project that we’re keen to build on this year.   The project was born out of a collective desire to improve the children’s understanding of poetry and to further their speaking and listening skills.   All four schools were keen to work together and share the children’s work.   We had identified Y4 in each of our schools and introduced them to the project agreeing with them clear success criteria and desired outcomes.   We pooled our finances and paid for the poet Paul Cookson to spend a day in each school with an additional fifth day to run a master class for each school’s winning poets and an evening performance to families and friends.

Paul got the project underway in each school, working with each Y4 class in turn.   The children readily responded to Paul’s lead and we began to see some great results.   Once the children had written their poems in small groups, they were then taken to one of the partner schools where their Y4 peers marked their work to  an agreed criteria.   The poems were then retuned, amendments made, and the results video conferenced to each class, enabling the children to give further feedback to each other building a constructive, supportive dialogue across the four schools.   Finally the performances were ready to be presented to the rest of our schools in assemblies and the best three or four from each setting were then chosen to be further worked on in a shared master class with Paul.   He worked with all the chosen children together which gave them a chance to further collaborate, working together to develop their performances before the poetry evening.

Paul compered the evening and recited a number of his own works for parents, families and assorted guests.   The children performed their own poems and a book and dvd of all the works was sold on the evening off setting the minimal costs of the project but more importantly to give the children a record of their achievements.   The project ran over a half term, it fired the children’s imagination, motivated them and help them appreciate poetry.   It helped them develop confidence on their speaking and listening skills and a provided four school communities with a great chance to come together to share their children’s learning.   In these days of web 2.0 I’m sure we can build on such a collaborative effort and I am looking forward to getting involved in a similar collective effort with our partner schools this year.

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Sharing our learning

I’ve been reflecting on the simple things that can have a profound impact and wondering what we can do more of to further the children‘s learning experiences.   Something that was successful last year and is worth taking further is sharing our learning.   Pupil to pupil, class to class and school to school.  The children really enjoyed sharing their learning with others.   Not only did it help consolidate their own understanding, but it also made certain areas of learning more attractive and easier for others to grasp.  We made good use of assemblies to share the children’s recorded learning, they enjoyed using the class blogs, the ‘show me’ app for screen casting and the school’s green screen studio to produce ‘micro lessons’ on a variety of themes.   Children were very keen on suggesting ‘micro lessons’ they felt might help others and much of their content was produced by themselves, in their own time – a real sign that they were enjoying the process. Below are some examples of how pupil to pupil, class to class and school to school sharing helped children further their learning.

Pupil to pupil sharing

All classes make good use of learning partners, which is a simple way of encouraging the children to share their learning, discuss their ideas and provide peer support.   In addition to this beneficial approach the children also made tutorials on the iPad using the ‘Show Me’ app.   They reduced concepts down to two or three minutes and recored simple screencasts to help their peers with tricky areas of learning.   We kick started the idea by showing some of the first few in assembly which galvanised the children to create more.   They were embedded on the school blogs which enabled children (and parents) to easily access them as often as they wanted.

Class to class sharing

As a three form primary I often feel this is an area we should be making more use of.   Older and younger classes really enjoy pairing up, as do classes in the same year group.   The older children loved dressing up on character day and reading to the younger children in costume!   Groups of children going to other classes to share a project or present findings not only gives them a real sense of purpose to their learning but makes a great starting point for further learning for the class.   This year we are keen to look at how class to class sharing can help further the children’s speaking and listening.

School to school

Working closely with a small network of schools can provide some fantastic opportunities to develop projects beyond the classroom.   I have written here previously about the Y6 Space Museum, that not only opened to other classes and parents at our school, but went on the road enabling the children to share their learning with their peers at Heathfield in Bolton.   I have also written about how a group of children used the green screen to make adverts which acted as a lesson starter for children in Hall Park in Bradford.   We have fully enjoyed hosting kidsmeets which is another great way of school to school sharing.  This year I hope to further explore the potential for such approaches to sharing learning.   It would be great to hear from others who are doing something similar.


Curriculum Design – some questions to ask

This week we have been looking carefully at our curriculum design and the matrix below has acted as a prompt when planning.   The first consideration is, does the topic sound exciting?   Starting with a big question or catchy title can act as a great hook to grab the children’s attention.   We make good use of local resources, getting the children out and about or bringing in members of the community to fire the children’s imaginations.

The second big consideration is ‘who is the work for?’ The children love to share their learning within the class, across the school or with their peers in partner schools nationally and globally.   Within school we look for opportunities to involve parents and families, to open classes up as museums or galleries, to put on special assemblies and workshops that give the children a specific audience and outcome to work towards.

We are conscious that inappropriate use of technology doesn’t support the children’s learning so we think carefully at the planning stage about the most relevant use of web 2.0, green screen and mobile technologies.  Staff and children are becoming more and more adept at finding the just the right use of technology to support and enhance learning opportunities.

Giving the children time to reflect on their learning is something that can easily be lost, so we make sure that this important part of the learning process is planned.   We also encourage dialogue around learning outside the classroom, within families and through online forums.   Staff are constantly looking at how make can make the most of every learning opportunity and at the beginning of term it is great to spend some time doing just that.

Immersion activities

Is the topic   exciting?  

 

 

 

Does it sound exciting?   Is it relevant to the   children?  
Does it ask the   children questions?  

 

 

 

What is the entry   point stimulus?   What do the children   already know?  

Audience, purpose,   effect

Who is the work for?  

 

 

 

How does it connect   to other learning? Real life experiences?   Are there   opportunities for independent learning?  

                                              Presentation and review

 
How will the learning   be shared?  

 

 

 

Is relevant   technology employed?   What end of unit   activity is planned?  
Is ample time planned   for children to reflect on their learning?  

 

 

 

Is the work assessed   against clear objectives?   Is there clear   success criteria?