Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Lucky or Unlucky Draw

As a trainee teacher, I sometimes use lollipop sticks within the classroom when teaching. I usually write the names of each child in the class onto a lollipop stick, corresponding to the colour of their table and place them into a jar. When carrying out whole class teaching children often have a reluctance to put their hands up, even though the majority of the time they know the answer to what has been asked. Also I have found some children deviate off task. The use of lollipop sticks help to keep children on their toes (anyone can be picked), encourage fair participation and also add excitement to the classroom. 

An alternative could be to draw a coloured lollipop stick and ask a child from that coloured table to contribute to the discussion. Other uses could be to determine which child takes the register or collects the books in at the end of the lesson. There are many ways in which you could use them, however it is important to use them sparingly, or the excitement generated by their use could be impacted. 

I hope you enjoy using them, 

Ben :-)

I would personally like to thank Professor Valsa Koshy, of Brunel University, for the critical analysis that she provided on this concept (in the comments below). She is a very experienced teacher and mathematical author, with many publications to date. Therefore I am delighted that she took the time to visit my blog.  

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The 'Coin Game'

The 'coin game' is one of my favourite mathematical mental and oral starters, the children always look forward to taking part in the activity. To carry out this with your class all you need is a mug and twelve 2p coins. 

"The aim of the game is to support children's counting and also reinforce learning of times tables". 

I usually begin by selecting a number to count in, corresponding to the relevant focus times table for the week. For example 2's, therefore the 2x table in this demonstration. The first stage of teaching usually involves the coins being dropped into the mug one by one. As the children hear a sound from each coin drop, they count on 2 from the previous number and chant the new number out loud as a class. To challenge the children I tend to increase the speed of the coin drops.

The second part of the activity involves the children closing their eyes and listening carefully for the coin drops (you need to be vigilant as some children try to peek!). This is where I begin to develop children's times table knowledge, the amount of dropped into the jar would represent how many lots of 2's. I usually drop a random number of coins into the mug one by one and then make the children write their end number onto their whiteboards. For example if we were counting in 2's, then should 5 coins have been dropped into the mug we would end on the number 10. 

I have recognised that there are two methods children regularly use:
- Listening to how many coin drops and then multiplying the amount of coin drops by the number we are counting in (Higher ability skill).
OR- simply counting on in the required number for coin drop. 

To reinforce learning you could ask questions like:
-If the answer is 10 how many coins were dropped?
-If 5 coins were dropped, how many lots of 2's make 10? 
-Can you give me the multiplication number sentence for that?
-If 2 coins were dropped we found the answer of 4, what would the end number be if I dropped 4 coins into the mug?
(Sometimes I allow quick bursts of paired talk so that children can work together in learning)

Finally, I like to let the children take control of their own learning. I give them the opportunity to come and 'be the teacher', sit on the 'teacher's chair' and drop the coins into the mug. They really enjoy this element of the game, but it is important to monitor which children have had a turn. This is to ensure all pupils have a fair opportunity to lead the activity.  

I HOPE you have as much fun using the activity as I do.

Ben :-) 

Monday, 28 January 2013

The Learning Tree

The 'learning tree' is a concept I was introduced to by one of my lecturers. It can be used either in the form of a classroom display, or as an activity children carry out independently. It is a good strategy to use when introducing a topic, particularly within the foundation subjects. 

The idea behind it is that the roots of the tree symbolise the skills needed for learning and the main part of the tree illustrates the potential learning that will take place. This allows children to have the opportunity to take control of their own learning. They will be able to hang or write onto the 'learning tree' the skills they believe they need for subject and things they find out from studying the new topic.  

I personally have not seen this used in school, so I would be delighted to hear from you if you was to use it as I believe it has huge potential!

Ben :-) 

Phonics Kites

Here are examples of phonics kites that I have used when teaching phonics in the primary classroom. I have found them to be a fantastic way to engage children in their learning, they also support visual learners. The words displayed on the kites were taken from the word banks within the relevant phase of the letters and sounds scheme. They can also be used to create a super display for your classroom wall. 

To make them I used: 
-Mount board 
-Coloured paper 
-Metallic paper 

AND of course....
-A stapler 

But ultimately, be creative there are many possible ways you could chose to make them. 

Good Luck 

Ben :-) 

Welcome to 'Being Ben'

Well I'm very pleased to be making my first of hopefully many posts...

I believe that sharing resources and ideas is a key element in teaching, this is what encouraged me to create this blog. I hope to network with other primary educators and inspire young teachers with 'useful' teaching and learning strategies for the classroom. I will also share some of my own personal teaching experiences along the way too.  

Ben :-)