It’s been 3 weeks since my last blogpost – this is probably the longest time I’ve gone without writing a blogpost in the 3 years since setting up Irish Primary Teacher. I have a huge amount on at the moment and I simply don’t have the time to write blogposts unfortunately – but hopefully things will have settled down in the new year and I’ll have more free time. (Fingers crossed). This is just a quick update of some of the things that are working well in my classroom at the moment that you might find useful/like to try out.
I had originally planned on starting Literacy stations in September but I decided against it for a few different reasons. I started Literacy stations about 3 weeks ago and they are working well. For my class, we do literacy stations every day from 9.30am – 10.00am. I have 4 groups and each group covers a different area each day and then Friday is a catch up/finishing day where the children can finish off anything that was covered in one of the stations on the other days.
My groups are differentiated by ability at the moment. The four stations include;
- Comprehension (We use The Comprehension Box from Prim Ed.)
- Free writing (I choose 3/4 topics or titles and write them on the board – the children then choose 1 to write about).
- Vocabulary (These are based on the vocabulary packs I made during the summer. The children look up the words in the dictionary and write the definition. They then put the words into sentences)
- Working with teacher (This group reads aloud, discusses the story, and uses comprehension strategies (predicting, visualising, questioning, connecting and summarising)
I’m lucky to have a SET teacher in with me during this time so sometimes she works with one of the groups (usually the comprehension group) so the children’s reading is heard twice per week by a teacher.
This was a fantastic idea that a colleague shared with me that has worked so well! I’ve found my class can get very loud during independent work and this can be very distracting for some children. When I set independent work, I watch to see which child has started working quickly and after 3/4 minutes I choose this child as the quiet monitor. The quiet monitor then stands at the top of the room and after 2/3 minutes – he/she then chooses the next quiet monitor. In my class, if a child is chosen as the quiet monitor they get 2 dojo points. So far it has worked extremely well, as it gives me the chance to work with individual children or small groups, it encourages the children to stay on task and work quietly.
Hot Chocolate Challenge
This is very similar to the Ice Cream Challenge which I do at the end of the school year. We started the hot chocolate challenge on 1st December. Each child started December with 0 points. Throughout the 3 weeks (leading to the Christmas holidays), the children try to earn Dojo points. For my class;
- 10 points is a cup
- 20 points is a cup with hot chocolate
- 30 points is a cup with hot chocolate and marshmallows
- 40 points is a cup with hot chocolate, marshmallows and a chocolate sweet (I bought chocolate baubles in Lidl)
- 50 points is a cup with hot chocolate, marshmallows, chocolate sweet and a candy cane.
I’ve found this is working really well in my classroom. It gives a focus and challenge to the children to continue to work hard during this time while also enjoying lots of Christmas activities!
We’re about 3/4 of the way through Wonder and the children are really enjoying it. I read aloud to them for 15 – 20 minutes most days and we stop and discuss the novel and the characters. We’ve done lots of work using the novel from Kindness posters to writing kind things to one another.
We’re still enjoying Go Noodle and I try to do 1 video every day. They can be hit or miss with my class so I’ve saved a few that they like.
In an effort to be as organised as possible, I make short powerpoints every evening for the following day. They include the learning objectives and steps to success for each lesson as well as short introductions etc. I also include relevant links. This has been working really well for me and the children like it too. I also display our visual timetable on the board and write a brief summary of the plan for the day.