During a Science session at university, various different hands-on approaches were discussed and demonstrated within the seminar. One explore how to create the digestive system using physical objects.
Many different everyday objects were used to show the process that helps a human body digest food. Bananas and weetabix were mixed together to show the food that was eaten. This was pushed through a series of objects, including a pair of tights. Finally the end product was produced to show the feces.
This activity allows pupils to visualise each stage of the digestive process within the human body. Activities such as these help to facilitate children’s learning and acquisition of children knowledge. This learning experience help to support my own personal understanding of how the human digestive system. Furthermore, it enabled me to discover the importance of planning lessons that promote curiosity within children, as this motivates children’s learning, supporting their knowledge development. Depending upon the year group my next practice will be based within, I will ensure I use this activity or a similar activity with the children I work with.
When carrying out my second year placement, I was placed in a three-form entry school. Within the year group I had been place, planning was shared and one topic was planned by each teacher, each term. During my practice I planned for Maths. A strategy introduced from the teachers at this school involved using pre-tests to inform planning and grouping of ability groups.
The day before PPA the children would complete a specialised pre-test for the topic they would be studying the following week. Each child would have the same test, and the same amount to complete this in test conditions. They would self-mark their test, allowing them to notice the areas they were weaker within. The following day, during PPA, whilst planning these pre-tests would be groups into ability groups. This differed week-on-week, as all children were stronger in various parts of the subject. Activities were then selected appropriately to support learning of pupils. Attached below is a basic pre-test used during practice.
Using and adapting pre-tests to inform planning and support identification of ability groups was an effective strategy; it highlighted the areas children were stronger and weaker in. Furthermore, using these allowed for appropriate and effective differentiation to meet all needs of the learners. As children marked their own tests, they were able to reflect upon their own knowledge and identify the areas that they needed extra support within. One disadvantage of this was that all children had the same test, regarding that there were a wide range of abilities within the group. One target from this would be to ensure that pre-tests were created for different ability groups.
Within my final placement, I worked with a child with special educational needs. There were a wide range of different strategies that had been put into place within in the classroom to support his needs, including a work station and a behaviour chart. During my time working with this class, the class teacher had a meeting with the SENCO, where they invited me to listen to and input on the target setting for this child.
During the meeting they reviewed previous targets set to support this child. They identified how strategies had been used to promote his progression within class. Next they discussed his physical, social and intellectual development. This child found it difficult to take turns with other within class, and was isolated socially. Although this did not effect the child currently, it was an issue the SENCO was concerned would effect him in the future.
In order to support this, I implemented ideas to support this. We devised a strategy where this child was to listen to others read during morning registration. He was able to chose who he wanted to read with; this supported his relationships with his peers in the classroom.
As I was able to work with child after the target had been set, I was able to see the positive effects that were drawn from this strategy. Once he began building relationships with the other children in his class, it was evident that these children wanted to spend time with him outside the classroom, as well as being his partner within classroom activities. This experience allowed me to understand the importance of setting targets for all children to meet their individual needs, and support pupils progression. From this experience, I will ensure that incorporate target setting to monitor progression of all pupils within the class.
Whilst carrying out teaching practice, during my second year placement I taught a mathematics lesson based upon fractions. The children engaged with a starter activity, and returned to the carpet for the input of their main activity. Once we had discussed the approach as a class and identified the strategy they were to use, children returned to their tables to carry out their activity.
Through supporting the class, I wondered around the room working with different groups of pupils. I had noticed that the middle ability group had began to complete their task, however, had incorrectly used the strategy. I stopped the two groups for this ability for a mini plenary, asking them to explain to me how it was they should use the strategy. Once I was re-insured they knew what to do, I allowed the children to continue their work. Moving around the class again, and returning to this group, I identified that they had still not understand how the approach they were using, worked. I pulled this group of pupils back to the carpet, and used a different method to explain what they had to do.
In order to ensure they had all understood they strategy after the final explanation, I implemented it as their starter for the following day.
Demonstrating the ability to draw mini-plenaries and stop children to re-enforce learning is an essential skill. This showed that I had a secure understanding of the subject knowledge for the lesson I was teaching, in order to present the strategy to the children in a different way. Implementing this supported children learning and progression, as I was able to identify the children who had misunderstandings about this area of Maths. Drawing on this, I will ensure that I continue to pull children aside if they had developed misconceptions of certain areas, making sure I address misunderstandings as soon as possible. Moreover, this will be used to inform future planning.
During my final placement I worked with a child who had Special Educational Needs (SEN). It was evident this child had difficulty concentrating for long periods of time and presented challenging behaviour when given an activity the child did not wish to participate in.
Lessons I had planned catered for this child and as they had one-to-one support, the support staff was deployed well. However, an effective strategy was introduced by the SENCO at the school, called a ‘task slicer’. The image below shows the basic design of the slicer. It was laminated, and there were various different ‘task cards’ made for the slicer.
The task cards would be put onto the slicer using velcro, and set up the activities the child with SEN would carry out in the day. These activities were short, and still included tasks with the other children. For example, in the morning the child would pratise spelling whilst the other children were completing a starter for their lesson. Once the child had completed their spellings, they would join the rest of the class to participate in the lesson, for example English. The task slicer would show this activity, so the child was aware of what was expected of them. Once this child had completed the expected amount for that lesson, they would use their task slicer to see that they would have a 5 minute ‘play card’, where they were able to play with something of their choice.
Below are two examples of activities.
This strategy was effective for many reasons. It support the learning and individual needs of the child, as it gave them a structure to their day. They were able to see what they were expected to do, and how much work or time they would have to take part in until their next task. Furthermore, this was beneficial to the other members in the class, as this child often became disruptive when they were presented with the same activity for a long period of time. Activities shown on the slicer were adjustable so they could be changed in order to suit the plans for that day within school. I will take this strategy into my teaching practice, and ensure that it is use effectively if required. As a target for this, I would ensure the child who the task slicer is created for, has an input into the planning and activities they will take part in within the day.
When creating SMART Notbook presentation for lesson, success criteria’s were implemented in order to set goals to challenge pupil. Each success criteria was differentiated by ability group, showing different activities they were to complete within their task. This strategy was often used to support children when reflecting upon what they had learnt; they use the success criteria as a checklist to identify the different hings they had included within their work, or activities they had completed.
Below shows an example of a success criteria implemented into a literacy lesson, to support children writing skills.
During my final professional practice, this approach was implemented in to a wide range of lessons. The technique was beneficial for children as it helped them identify outcomes of the lesson they had engaged with. Furthermore, it supported children’s independence; they were able to assess their own work and review mistakes they may have in their work. Children responded well to this approach, as it kept pupils on task; in addition when children did not have a success criteria they would often ask what their next task was. This gives time for the teacher to spend more time supporting and scaffolding pupils. In relation to using this strategy in future practice, I would ensure the success criteria is always available for pupils to review and refer to when completing their work. I would also adapt a strategy to ensure there was as little text as possible for children.
Creating and Algorithm
Within this lesson, children created an algorithm using Beebots. They had to work in small, mixed ability groups to get the floor-robot to move away from the Great Fire of London. They were given a mat, which had different paths they had to follow from start to finish. Collaboratively, they used a trial-and-error technique in order to find the correct algorithm. The children wrote their step-by-step algorithms on whiteboards, altering the sequence when they noticed a mistake.
Adapting this activity into topic was effective, as it was a subject the children had recently learnt about, and were excited about the context of the task. Allowing the children to work in mixed ability groups was beneficial, as they were able to support each others questioning and knowledge. The lesson was engaging for pupils, and allowed children to each take turns at testing the Beebots. Within the future I would ensure children were able to test their peers algorithms to see if they could unpick the sequence if mistakes had been made.