April 25, 2012


Only as an adult have I realised the joys of poetry. I remember enjoying poetry in Primary years especially texts such as 'Please Mrs Butler' and would love any book that rhymed. However, by the end of secondary school I had slightly lost my enthusiasm for poetry. We were made to analyse endless poems in anthologies and poetry just seemed to become a little dull and tedious (although this may also be due to my adolescence!) Only in the last five years have I really begun to rediscover and enjoy poetry and am fascinated at how powerful poems can be. From some I gain much solace. I love reading John Betjeman, a favourite being his 'Christmas' poem that conjures up so many familiar images. I am intrigued by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and am of course a fan of Wordsworth and Shakespeare. Sonnet 116, I'm particularly fond of as I chose it to be read by my sister in law on my wedding day! Rediscovering poetry and my new found enthusiasm for it, has made me want to teach it in a way that children will enjoy and embrace.

I was lucky enough to teach poetry in both PP2 and PP3. For my link tutor observation in Year 6 I taught performance poetry. The children had to 'translate the page to stage'. They worked in small groups and performed their own poems. I was amazed how creative they were and it was lovely to see every child joining in and engaging in the task. On PP3, in year one, we looked at poetry focusing on rhyming and counting poems. I discussed with the children what they enjoyed about the poems and most seemed to enjoy the pace and rhythm. I read them a poem called 'Raindrops' which they clapped the beat to and then I got them to clap everytime they heard a rhyming word. This was a good way of getting a quick overview of which children were understanding the concept of rhyme. Counting poems allowed for the lessons to be cross curricular due to the numeracy link. Overall I have enjoyed my experience of teaching poetry and look forward to building on what I have already taught as well as continuing to expand my poetry collection!

Reflection of Reading in PP3

Reflecting on reading in PP3 I have to admit I was rather disappointed with the reading I encounted in PP3. Little time seemed to be given to reading despite 'class novel' being timetabled every day, I rarely saw this happen. I was told there was not enough room in the timetable for both Phonics and Guided Reading, however, the Literacy co-ordinator was currently reviewing this in order to achieve an improved balance of both. As time progressed and I taught more and more of the time table I endeavoured to read to the class most days, as I found this was a nice calm time when even the unlikliest of children were suddenly engaged. I understand the time pressures put on teachers but I thought it was a shame that reading was not often shared.

There was a book corner with colourful cushions and a few shelves of books, though children seemed to only go over there once they had finished an activity and it was never the centre or focus of learning.

January 20, 2012

Review of Scott Wilson's EAL Task

The book chosen by Scott for his EAL lesson was Michael Rosen's 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt'. This seemed a more than appropriate choice and was a book I nearly chose myself for the task!

He recognised the importance of illustrations as visual aids when understanding a story and the use of repetition and lively language in order to engage children.

His link to a YouTube video of the story is something that could be shown along side the book, and would provide further visual stimulation.

His Learning Objective was inclusive and allowed for differentiation by outcome.

LO: "Can I tell a simple story?" The success criteria for this would be:

  1. I can place the events of a story in the correct order
  2. I can use subject specific vocabulary to be able to describe different parts of the story
  3. I can create my own frame for a story
  4. I can create my own events and characters
  5. I can place events in my own story in the correct order.

His activities followed a logical progression and seemed appropriate for EAL children to contribute and achieve.

His first activity (Quadrant A) was getting them to put the pictures of stories in order, followed by explaining and describing why they had made their decisions using words such as 'beginning', 'middle' and 'end'(Quadrant B). He suggests EAL children could work with a more knowledgeable other (MKO) here in order to help them express their opinions. For the final activity (Quadrant D), he suggests children creating their own story, in pictures, on a story board, using 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' as inspiration.

Overall I thought his activities were suitable and engaging for EAL children to access the curriculum and be included in the lesson.

January 15, 2012



Why do you think children enjoy listening to stories?

I believe children enjoy listening to stories as it allows them time to engage and imagine, without having to concentrate on the task of reading. Thus giving them more freedom and time to wonder. Children who find reading challenging are given the opportunity to access texts they might find too difficult to read otherwise, it is therefore inclusive.

What skills do you think are involved in telling a story well?

To tell a story well one needs expression, clear and appropriate voice projection, intonation, alongside gestures, actions and above all, charisma. Having props e.g. cuddly toys can help particularly young children imagine. One story teller I’ll always remember is the local vicar . When he came into school for assemblies he always brought Winnie the Pooh characters to help him with his stories and to convey his message. This was always enjoyable and engaging, inspiring me to read more winnie the pooh!

Role play, and getting into character is important when bringing books to life.

What value is there for children in listening to stories...and telling stories themselves?

There is great value in storytelling. Being read to well can be crucial when inspiring children to want to read and even make up their own stories. Telling stories themselves allows them to develop oracy skills and participate in role play, using their imagination and gives them an opportunity to explore and express themselves.

Video 1

I preferred video 1. Its nostalgic, sepia footage and birdsong in the background created an atmosphere that helped transport the audience to the scene. The expressive delivery from the reader captured my attention and kept me engaged.

Philosophy on reading:

I firmly believe it is important to encourage reading from a young age and a teacher’s enthusiasm towards books is imperative in order for the children to be intrigued, engaged, and inspired to carry on reading, independently and beyond the classroom. Reading allows children to discover, wonder, and escape into magnificent worlds where anything is possible. Some children will be at a disadvantage when being read to at home and it is important that they experience a wide range of books when being read to at school in order to appeal and cater to different children's personalities. A valuable teacher is one who provides the opportunity for children to recognise these possibilities and exposes them to great storytelling, providing them with opportunities to create and deliver their own.

Think about the evidence of reading to children that you have seen on your placements so far. What priority was it given in your school?

It was given little priority due to time constraints.

What priority was it given by your class teacher?

The class teacher appeared to be an enthusiastic reader, though low priority was given to reading and story telling due to sats practice.

What reading to children have you done?

I didn't read to any children in PP2, where I was placed in a year 6 class, but I read some stories to KS1 children in PP1. When working as a TA in a Reception class, I found children were very enthused if asked to help act out parts of the story. This involved and engaged them. We often did this with ‘The Gingerbread Man’ and even developed it into a game in PE!

Is reading longer texts to older children a fading aspect of practice? How can this be addressed?

From the experiences I have had in KS2, it appears to be a fading aspect of practice within the classroom. This is a great shame, as being read to can inspire children to continue with reading beyond the classroom, and influence them to write their own stories. They are also disadvantaged when it comes to being introduced to new authors and texts. Being read to well, models to chidren how important it is to show expression when reading and the abundance of techniques a skilled storyteller uses, which they can then try and apply themselves.

It often seems that allocated time for reading is swallowed up by other areas of the curriculum and I think it's important for teachers and schools to re-prioritise and be disciplined when it comes to 'story time'. However, I sympathise with the fact that reading to older children is dwindling due to the pressures of meeting targets and assessments such as SATS, which becomes a wider, national issue.

January 13, 2012

EAL Task (Collaborative working with Gill Pether)

Age range: Key stage 1, year 1

PNS strand 8: Engaging with and responding to texts.

The following text was chosen for its repetetive language and simple structure, as well as being very visual with charming illustrations, making it engaging for those who may struggle to access books due to language barriers. The pictures of popular animals provides the reader with much context and will be something many children would be familiar with. The animals being assigned bright colours, gives the book a humourous and appealing tone.

'Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?' By Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle

Brown bear


Quadrant A: Low cognitive demand, content embedded

Having read the book, the children could be taken on a trip to a farm or zoo to explore and observe the different animals and colours they see. The teacher could remind them of the repetitive theme in the book and ask them, “What do you see?”

Quadrant B:

Progressing into quadrant b, animals could be classified into categories such as big or small, whether it can fly, does it have fur or scales?

Teacher to model and introduce new descriptive vocabulary such as ‘scales’, ‘fur’, and names of animals and colours, allowing children to extend and stretch their descriptive vocabulary.

Hoops could be displayed on the ground to form a Venn diagram, with descriptions such as ‘fur’ and ‘orange’ making up the categories. Children could then be given pictures, cuddly toys and figures of different animals and take part in an interactive sorting activity. This should appeal to kinaesthetic learners, as they’re physically involved in the sorting process. Teacher to encourage the children to give a reason for their choice.

Quadrant C:

Children to work on a 'think, pair, share' activity, with the aim of those who require (EAL), working with a more knowledgeable other. In their pairs they can think of their favourite animals, and colours.

The teacher can then explain to the children that the author might want to add another page to the book. Their task is to choose another animal that isn’t already in the book, and using one of the adjectives to describe it, create their own additional page with text and illustrations. For example,

'Brown bear, brown bear what do you see?

I see a green giraffe looking at me'

Another activity would be for the children to go onto performing the book on stage. They could make masks and dress up as different animals, acting out the sequence of the story.

- As well as Literacy, these activities provide cross curricular links with Maths, Science and Art.

January 06, 2012

PP2: Invitation to Reading

On my second professional placement (PP2) I was placed in a year 6 class.

Due to the time of year, the main concern in the classroom was to focus on assessments in preparation for SATS. This meant guided reading was often not carried out due to the timetable being changed in order to prioritise with SATS practice.

Reading was encouraged every morning under the 'ERIC' strategy 'Every Child In Class reading' and also during registration in the afternoons. However, I'm not sure how much reading was actually achieved, as children were often chatting quietly, and the quality of the texts was questionable. This was due to the children being able to bring in magazines, so many of them were just discussing pictures in car magazines for instance - without actually paying much attention to the text.

During my placement there was no whole class reading of a text, again due to time constraints (according to the teacher).

A shelf containing recommened texts was available for children, but most of them were reading books from home and the shelf and it's contents were never mentioned or referred to during my time there.

The teacher did seem enthusiastic about books but the lack of time made for reading and discussion centred around books was due to pressures of SATS and targets. Therefore I do not think the absence of reading in the class reflected the teacher's view on reading, but meeting targets meant a constant battle against the provision of reading. This seemed a great shame and I hope to encounter more reading in my next placement, as rich reading experiences should allow children to develop and apply their knowledge and skills acquired across the curriculum.

December 01, 2011

A Science Investigation…

Having reviewed Tom Higgit's Science investigation, I'm thoroughly impressed and aim to use it in my next placement if in KS1.

Based on the book 'Little Boat' by Thomas Docherty, the investigation explores whether certain objects will float or sink, and asks why, giving explanations at the end.


The constant visual reminder of water as the background is inviting and engaging, and the link to the 'Float or Sink' game on http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/digger/5_7entry/8.shtml is a great hook to get the children excited about their pending investigation.

There is a judicious suggestion of a cross-curricular link with Maths, where the children measure the objects, perhaps in size, weight, or both.

The tone of the investigation should appeal to children as it's direct but humorous too.

I look forward to using this investigation in a KS1 classroom soon...thanks Tom!

September 28, 2011

Reading…from the early years to the present…

A Reading Autobiography

The pleasure of reading is the ability to escape the present and travel into another world, where you can imagine and discover other lives and experiences, thus broadening our own senses.

Acquiring the ability to read is I’m afraid something I’ve quite forgotten. However, my earliest memory of looking at books is with my twin sister. In the mornings we’d trudge along to our parents' room, arms heavily laden with books to look at and read with them. My sister and I loved ‘The Baby’s Catalogue’ by Janet and Allan Ahlberg and used to constantly compare ourselves to the twins, and spot the similarities! ‘Peepo’ and ‘Each Peach Pear Plum’ were also firm favourites. We’d spend hours just looking at the intricate illustrations and often doing our best to copy them. Before I was able to read independently, I think it was important to find books that were visually appealing, so that the illustrations alone could convey the story and encourage me to want to read and understand more fully.

Baby each-peach-pear-plum-400x300.jpg shirley hughes

‘Alfie and Annie Rose’ stories by Shirley Hughes were always a pleasure to read, and again the details in the illustrations were both captivating and engaging. They allowed the reader to know so much more about the characters and the scene, than just the words on the page.

For my nephew’s first birthday, I decided to give him a collection of books to go towards his own library. I made sure ‘The Baby’s Catalogue’, ‘Peepo’ and ‘Each Peach Pear Plum’ were all included. I wouldn’t want him to miss out on such inspiring children’s literature.

Of course authors such as Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis all featured heavily on my bookshelf as I got older. One of my favourite stories that I particularly treasured as a child and even now as an adult, is Lewis’ Narnia; The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe.

I remember my Godparents reading this to me and my siblings, every evening when we were staying with them on holiday. I loved the fantastical land described and the subsequent imagery it evoked. Lewis’ descriptions of his weird and wonderful creatures and the four children are vivid and enchanting.

I particularly enjoyed the fact its protagonists were four children, two boys and two girls. Being one of four children myself, I enjoyed making comparisons between us and Lucy, Susan, Edmund and Peter. We often played games whereby we would all become a character and re-enact our favourite parts of the book.

The triumph of good over evil and the apparent allegory of the crucifixion make this a powerful tale.

 Codling Village Mrs Pig

But one book that particularly stands out from my childhood is, ‘Stories from Codling Village’ by Susan Hill. It was one of her few children’s books and a very memorable read for me. I would regularly get it out of the library and reread my favourite stories, look at the pictures and of course study the map! Codling Village appeared to be a rural idyll, which greatly appealed to me and my desire to live in a village. The detailed map on the inside cover of the book, enabled me to envisage the place as if it was real.

On reflection however, my favourite book as a child was 'Mrs Pig's Bulk Buy', written and illustrated by Mary Rayner. It's a humorous story about the dangers of indulging in too much of a good thing, in this case ketchup!

At Junior school, we had a ‘Meet the Author day’ with Paul Stewart, author of ‘ The Weather Witch’. He came in and read extracts and ran workshops. I remember his impact being very powerful and inspiring when it came to my outlook on reading and creative writing.

Today I enjoy reading historical novels, Scott’s ‘Kenilworth’ was a rather sober read but very interesting, a book I was encouraged to read by my father since moving to Warwickshire. However, I was rather relieved when I got to the end. ‘Lady’s Maid’ by Margaret Forster, was a fascinating read, which inspired me to read more of Elizabeth Barret Brownings’ works and led me to read ‘Flush’ by Virginia Wolf, life with Elizabeth BB through her dog’s eyes!

I have just finished a very current book, ‘One Day’ written by David Nicholls, which was a very easy and enjoyable read. Reading is great escapism as well as having the potential to educate you on the past and current affairs. 'Brixton Beach' and 'The Kite Runner' are both books which opened my eyes to worlds far from my own.

I am sometimes partial to the odd aga-saga and would choose Rosemunde Pilcher or Joanna Trollope to satisfy the craving!

Austen is always a great read, my favourite being ‘Sense and Sensibility’, she has the ability to make you both laugh and cry.

 Love in a Cold Climate Rebecca

My favourite book as an adult, is a tough choice between ‘Love in a Cold Climate’ by Nancy Mitford and ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier. Both take the reader back to England’s recent past in the early to mid 20th century. I can just close my eyes and imagine the splendour of Manderley with it’s vast grounds that extend to the coast and see the curtain twitching from Mrs Danvers at her window.

‘The Mitford Girls’ by Mary S. Lovell was a biography that fully engrossed me and led to me to want to read more around the family and the sisters’ novels.

I tend to read books that are recommended to me by friends or family members, in particular my sister and parents, who are all keen readers. Also books that are well reviewed in the media, or of particular interest to me. I particularly enjoy reading books on design, specifically relating to textiles and interiors, such as 'Pattern' by Orla Kiely. The enjoyment and fulfillment of one book can often lead me to another, such as Forster's 'Lady's Maid' and 'Flush'.

A Reflection of my PP1 Experience


In my Professional Placement 1 (PP1) I read ‘A New Home for a Pirate’ by Ronda Armitage and illustrated by Holly Swain, to the Reception class. The teacher recommended a few books for me to read, and I chose this book as it was colourful, full of rhyme and repetition, and its context had the potential to appeal to both girls and boys. It wasn’t a ‘big book’ but I held it open as I read, and the children were sat close to me on the carpet so they could see. When I read the dialogue I attempted my best pirate impersonation, which seemed to capture the children’s attention and kept them engaged. I was nervous at the thought of doing it and being observed, but once I got into it, I enjoyed the story and the fact the children were reacting in a positive way and participated when I invited them too.

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  • A really good set of activities for the age range suggested thank you very much for the ideas! by Scott Wilson on this entry

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