More on children teaching

22 05 2008

I had three girls teaching the class first thing on Monday morning and it was quite different to when the boys did it although there were common factors too.  They were going to be doing fractions, percentages and angles – a bit of an odd combination but never mind.  They explained well what it was the lesson was going to be about so some good WALT and WILF at the start.

They then started off by doing numerators and denominators which I am ashamed to say none of the class knew!  They had various questions and bits of teaching they did on the board to do with fractions which they did well although it was a bit easy.  They were good at trying to encourage everyone; for example they kept asking if there were any circles who could answer (my lowest group) and then later people up at the back when they had not been joining in enough.

They then did percentages which again was a bit easy and it took a while for them to draw their things on the board.  They had good games on the internet that they got the other pupils to do for both fractions and angles.

The unfortunate thing during all of this though was that the listening from the others was really poor.  I did interupt a couple of times to stop it but they were unsettled all day, not just for the girls.  The thing was that the girls were quite quiet and just talked through the noise without feeling able to get the others to be quiet and listen first.  The difference with the boys doing it was that they just shouted over the rest of the class to be heard!!!

They had prepared really good worksheets which had explanations as well as questions on them and were differentiated for each group.

They were trying really hard too and saying some really good stuff and were very enthusiastic so I felt quite sorry for them.  The problem was that my pupils were going for their secondary visits on Wednesday and Thursday and were just as high as kites all Monday and Tuesday.  I found those two days really hard work!

I have just realised that I forgot to do the self-evaluation with them and the class and am disapointed about that as it was really useful last time.

With my class away on Wednesday and Thursday I got the chance to cross off quite a few things on my to do list, although of course in my experience being a teacher means it is never empty, you just keep adding more things on the bottom.

I covered in primary 4 for a while on Wednesday morning though and that was lovely as they are a really nice class and it was a good change having the younger ones.  They actually listened the first time you said something!


A busy week!

16 05 2008

I am shattered and it is only 8.30pm!  Here is a week in the life of a p.7 teacher in May who has a fair amount of extra responsibilities:

Monday:  Took p.7 to Choices for Life at the Clyde Auditorium in the morning, dropped the kids back at school and straight into my car to go to the Advisory Service for an ASG meeting.  After that drove back to school and was supposed to have about 45 mins before a council Curriculum for Excellence meeting but I ended up doing a lot to help set up laptops etc for the people organising it.  That finished about six and I went to Braehead to buy more webcams for the school on the way and ended up playing about with them and with Glow until 10.30pm.

Tuesday:  Out of class first thing as we thought our Glow mentor was coming in the morning so I did some stuff on Glow.  Photographer in from the local paper to take P.7 class photo.  In class from interval to lunch doing reading national testing at levels C, D and E.  Out of class in the afternoon with the glow mentor while my class sat their second reading national test.  Cycling profiency after school, 10 mile run and then some work at home in the evening.

Wednesday:  Out of class until interval having review meetings for pupils going to secondary.  In class the rest of the day.  CAT night after school.  Worked at home in the evening.

Thursday:  Nurse was in to do p.7 puberty talks so a little maths first, then p.7 girls talk.  P.7 boys talk after interval until nearly lunchtime.  Some CCC time after lunch so went down to Cathkin High to collect headsets and things to use with Glow Meet.  In class 2.15-3.00pm.  After school I had the other teachers who did the rich task round to the school for a last meeting and to collect all of their stuff that I had borrowed for the Headteacher’s conference.

Friday:  Out of class until 11.45am having more reviews for pupils going to secondary.  In class for 15 mins and then setting up computers for Glow Meet while the pupils were at ‘Star of the Week’.  In class until 2.30pm and then out doing Glow Meet.

On Thursday I had the first of my kids who were going to be teaching lessons out to do their lesson on decimals.  It was two boys and I think they spent more time arguing between themselves about who was doing what than actually teaching anything.  I recorded the whole thing, it was good fun but I am not sure the children learned much.  The boys did some explanation, using a powerpoint presentation, played some games with the class and gave some written work.  They were not sure enough of how they were going to play the game and the written work was a bit easy for most of the class but they made up for all of this in enthusiasm!  I also recorded a self and peer assessment session at the end of the lesson.  The children were very positive about the lesson – more so than I would have been but they are popular boys within the class and this may have something to do with it.  I prompted the two boys who had done the lesson to say what they thought about controlling the lesson and that was interesting. They thought the listening was quite good, I would have said the class was safe and in their seats but very hyper at some points!  Really looking forward to doing more of this next week.

During this busy week, and last week, I was busy trying to get Glow Meet going in our school so that I could video conference at a conference in Aberdeen on Glow today.  Eventually I managed to get Meet working but then still had to get RM to install the webcams and get the sound working.  This has taken up most of time at school this week!  The webcam on my laptop was set up on Monday and worked fine but when we tried out Glow Meet the sound would not work.  I could hear the others but they could not hear me.  Tried to get RM to install the other webcams on the notebus trolley laptops but this was completed in time, there seems to be some problems with it, and could not get the sound on mine working at all.

I am usually in school at 7.30am but due to all of this, I have been rather earlier this week including 7.10am this morning!  Eventually we had to use my laptop with the webcam on it and log in with another laptop with the sound working on it.  I worried all day that it would not work when the time came but after a slow start to get in it did and I had two girls speak.  They were really funny as they had prepared stuff to say and were ready to do that but were not prepared for actually saying hello or introducing themselves!  They did well when it came to saying their bit.  The last thing I told them was to go slow and for once they actually listened and ended up going really, really, really slowly.  I am biased but I thought they did well!

Photos below of the boys teaching:

Kids preparing lessons

8 05 2008

I had my top maths group doing some more preparation of their lessons for the rest of the class today.  That fab classroom assistant of mine did another brilliant job with them today.  She started talking to them about different ways of learning and how they could help visual learners and not just talk through a lesson.  So they started coming into me asking for metre sticks, giant protractors, card, tissue paper, scissors and more.  I just left them to it as they seemed to know what they were doing.

When I called them back in as it was close to lunchtime I had a lot of trouble stopping them and some asked to stay in at lunch to finish (far too nice and sunny to allow them to do that though)!  What they came in with amazed me.  One group had made a 3D garden to illustrate area and perimeter and came in telling me about how this was to show how maths is needed in real life.  Another group had made up characters to help teach decimals and another had made a 2D house to with removable props for showing different types of angles.

I will need to video these as I think they are going to be really good and I want my classroom assistant to be there when we do them too as she had so much to do with it.

On another plus point the other two groups, particularly my middle group that I am pushing, worked hard today too although I tend to think that was because they were doing written work rather than having me teach them.  They are so poor at listening even though they know they need to.

I have begun to set up my cross-authority glow group and will hopefully be able to put it to the people who were interested over the weekend.  I am quite excited about this, although frustrated with trying to get Glow Meet set up.  The computers are not allowing me to launch Marratech and I don’t seem to be getting anywhere with getting it sorted.

One of those ‘Love your job’ days

6 05 2008

I did maths first thing this morning and it went really well for what felt like the first time in ages.  I have decided to bite the bullet and go with my idea for children teaching each other so this morning I asked them all what things they would like to practice more in maths before the end of the year and from that we made a list of things that the top group could prepare in groups of 2 or 3 to teach the rest of the class.  At first they were very quiet and did not want to admit to the others in the class that they were stuck at anything but we got there eventually and they came up with the following ideas of what they wanted help with:

decimals, especially when related to things like litres and millimetres,

fractions and percentages

mean, median, mode and range

angles and measuring them

perimeter and area

I asked my classroom assistant (the amazing one I mentioned last week) to supervise them in the open area and I pretty much left them to it apart from giving them a couple of different levels of textbooks and the internet so they could research help tips.  We had spent a lot of time discussing how they would do this before so I was not just leaving them with no background help whatsover and Alyson was great at helping them.

When I went out to the open area after about 30 mins I was absolutely amazed at how they had sorted themselves, how well they were working together and how much they had achieved.  Between all of the groups they had made up sheets, lesson plan notes, explanations of how to do things, powerpoint presentations and had saved websites of different games etc to be used on the ebeam to help with learning.

I am thrilled at how  well this went on the first day and how intersested the children were.  I think one of the tricks of making this work will be not to let the planning stage for them go on too long as that is when they could start getting bored with it.  It has occurred to me while writing this that maybe this will help the children realise how important it is to listen as they will be experiencing the amount of prep that goes into a lesson.  That was by no means the reason for doing this though and I felt really excited today to be facilitating the children in leading the learning.  I really hope it goes well in the end as I will be really disappointed if it doesn’t, and I think the children will be too!

My middle group then also worked much better today as well although it was hard going as it was equal fractions and we all made rather heavy weather of it!  I think a lot of this might be to do with parents nights being last night and I could not over-emphasise enough there how much work that group had to do.

We had a parent council meeting tonight and it was really interesting to see how the new headteacher worked with the parents; it will be a great learning experience for me to see that in action.

I loved my job today as I felt I was doing something new and interesting for me and the children; we are all on a learning curve with this!  It is something I really hope will make a difference to their learning and will probably (hopefully) give me some new ideas on how to explain concepts in maths.  A teacher learning from the children!

Children teaching each other

1 04 2008

I either read or saw something recently about the pupils in a class taking on the teaching of a topic, ie a group of 3 or 4 children were given a topic (like a maths concept) and given a week to prepare the teaching of it, mental maths, resources, written work, homework and assessment and then did it with the rest of the class.

I thought about it for a while totally unsure if my class would be able to do it and then decided it might actually work, especially as things become difficult in p.7 towards the end of the year.  I am always telling the kids that shows they have really learned something and understood it if they are taught it and can do it and then can teach it to someone else.  I also tell them that I may not always explain something in the best way and they might explain in a better, or just different, way to someone who will then understand it.

I mentioned it to one of my maths groups today and they were really excited at the idea so I think once I have the headteacher’s conference (!)  out of the way I will try that with the class.

We did our end of topic assessment today for our science electricity topic.  This topic has been newly re-done and I did it for my latest 6 week open area active learning slot.  As it is new I did not do it last year but I would have been really interested to see if another class learned and retained more or less from doing a more class based learning model.  A lot of the time I felt the children were going off in tangents, not necessarily in a bad way, and not learning what they were meant to be.  A combination of factors led to this such as not enough initial explanation and teaching before we started the open area slots and their continued difficulty in finding information and taking notes whether it be from the internet or reference books.  I will need to refine it a bit for next session.  As for the results of the test – good from those I would expect, not so good for those with reasons and a fair few in the middle who could have done better but have difficulty in listening, and/or working!