Better session on our rich task

6 02 2008

Thank goodness it went better today!  Everything that I wanted to get done on Monday but didn’t we got done today.  The children were really well behaved and on task for the first half of the session and although they got noisy in the second half they had got exctied and were noisy as they were trying to tell me so many things for our mind map!

I read them some well known fables first and they listened really well and provided some good thoughts on the morals of the stories.  They are not a class of readers but they really enjoyed hearing all of the stories I told them today which was great.  It is funny how it is often the ones I have to give into the most trouble for various things and who are not necessarily the cleverest children in the class who answer the most questions and they may not be the right answers (although with these questions it was more about opinions) but at least they are showing willing and are keen which is more than I can say for some of the others who I would expect more from.

I then read them a couple of examples of African stories, we talked about those and then I gave them stories in pairs and asked them to read to each other and decide what the moral or main idea of the story was.  They did very well and myself and my supprt assistant were able to go around and help because they were on task.

I had then intended reading them a couple more stories before we did a mind map together of what they had learned so far about the content of African stories.  However we got sidetracked and this is one of the things I love about a rich task/Curriculum for Excellence.  I showed them my book of Nelson Mandela’s favourite African folk tales and asked them if they knew who he was.  A couple of them did and we got into a 20 min discussion about apartheid in South Africa, the slave trade to America, the American civil rights movement and finally the news about Lewis Hamilton being racially abused.  This is where they began to get noisy as then it all started to relate to football and get out of hand!  However they had listened to me and each other really well about something they obviously found interesting and had loads of curious questions.  If one pupil goes away to find out more about any of those things I would be really pleased.  Where were we supposed to have time to do that with 5-14?!

Doing our mind map is where they got a little rowdy but they were full of ideas of all animals and other things that appeared in the stories and about words they did not understand.  I am now looking forward to the next day on this!


Active learning open area afternoons

6 02 2008

We do not do our rich task on Tuedays as we have maths, a football specialist and we were starting our active learning on science in the open area this afternoon.  This works like the infants doing structured play in the open areas in the afternoons.  Last term we did ours on Kidnappit, our Scots book study.  This term we are doing it on Transfer and Conversion of Energy from our Science programme.

It was quite hard to change this into six sessions that the children would do one of each week as if they did not follow the progressive order of the lessons they would have less knowledge for some of the sessions.  I have therefore given written back up or something similar to some of the groups for the first couple of sessions.

The first session always seemed the most rushed as you have to explain each group’s work – once you have done that once I feel you can concentrate on bits the next weeks that need clarified.  This did not leave as much time as I would have liked for the actual activity.

Station 1 is researching non-renewable forms of energy using our non-fiction library and taking notes to report back to the class.  I gave them some books I knew to be helpful and encouraged them to find others too.

Station 2 is researching renewable forms of energy using the internet and making a leaflet.  I gave them some websites I knew to be helpful and encouraged them to find their own too.

Station 3 is discussing all of these forms of energy using the discussion room on GLOW, then looking at a concept cartoon on the computer and again discussing that on GLOW.

Station 4 is an investigation into the power of sails on a windmill.

Station 5 is an investigation into the colours that work best in solar panels.

Station 6 is discussing and reading about global warming and doing a group activity to pinpoint the best ways to save energy.

I have two support assistants with me on Tuesday afternoons for this and they are taking on the investigations and I try to just float around and help and assess pupils where I can.  This I always find very difficult to fit as I seem to spend most of the time making sure the other groups are on task and can complete the task.

They listened very well to their instructions as I was maybe going to let them pick their own groups this time.  I let them have some element of choice and as I suspected for most groups this worked very well.  Even one of my groups of 5 boys worked very hard at station 2.  One group however did not work well at all and basically did not complete any part of the task and this was with a support assistant so I will need to think about what to do with them next week.

I feel it went okay but that for the amount of preparation I put in I did not get the return I would have liked.  I think though this was party due to it being the first week and so they had less time at the stations and partly because they did not take the time to read all of my instructions and help notes.

The group on GLOW were slower than I expected and this was partly due to them being unable to put up some of their posts, I need to check this out and see whether they were putting in too many words.