July 03, 2012

Final Post

So, here it is... the final entry!

This year, I think the range of new children's literature as opened up to me. I have been introduced to a variety of new authors, many of which I intend to use in my teaching next year. I think this has been one of the most helpful aspects of this year. I have also been introduced to the idea of using literature across different subjects, such as Science and DT, as a hook into the main teaching. This is an idea which had not necessarily occurred to me before, but which I intend to use!

The children in my placement classess all had time to read, although the levels of enjoyment depended greatly on the manner in which the reading was presented to them! In my first class it was very much seen as a necessary evil. My final class, however, saw it as a treat that they could read. The latter class were read to regularly, using a variety of texts. It was the enjoyment of the teacher that allowed them to enjoy reading too. I hope I can keep this up with my new class! The school I am going to have a policy of reading a class mnovel, for at least ten minutes every day. This will allow the children to have access to literature which they may not necessarily have chosen themselves.

One of the books which the children particularly enjoyed having read to them was 'Three Little Wolves and The Big Bad Pig'. The twist on the classic tale was an absolute delight to them, a joke which they could share in and understand. The slight repetitions in the text allowed them chance to join in, and helped the EAL learners to access the text as well. It was a joy to share it with them, as it had been a favourite of mine as a child!

Over the summer I intend to finish reading several books which I have started but not yet finished, including the Millenium trilogy.

April 25, 2012


Whilst at school, I remember not really liking poetry. At secondary school I developed an irrational hatred of Carol Ann Duffy's poems, which I think mainly stemmed from being forced to study them to death! At primary level, I remember adoring the sillier poems, and collections such as 'Please Mrs. Butler'. Many of the lines from this poetry book have become family jokes, particularly those which resonated with our own school experiences! I only really fell in love with poetry at university, where I had an inspiring lecturer who gave me a sense of the purposes of poetry within society.

I have several favourite poems, from different genres. I will always love 'My Last Duchess', because it was the first poem that I really understood and enjoyed picking out all the different elements. In a similar vein, 'La Belle Dame sans Merci' will always be important to me as it was part of a play I performed in with a friend, and it took on a greater meaning through being linked somehow with the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima. (The play is called 'Cuba', by the way, and is a fascinating piece of drama). I also love Byron's 'Don Juan' because it is an incredibly funny poem. A children's poem I've always loved is 'The Jabberwocky'. Despite being a bit cliche to love it, I just find the words fascnating, and they've always stuck with me.

Having said this, I know no poems completely off by heart. I can remember several large sections of different poems, but none in their entirety. I think it is important for children to learn some off by heart, just because of the memory skills and use of brain that it encourages. Although it may be unnecessary to know whole poems from memory because of the internet, I do think it is a good skill to be able to remember large amounts of texts. It stands children in good stead for later life moments, such as exams, and helps to keep the brain agile well into retirement age!

April 24, 2012

Reflection on PP3

My teacher was definitely a committed reader outside the classroom, and brought this knowledge and experience into the classroom. We had several discussions about books, and she introduced me to some children's books about which I had not previously heard. These included some poetry collections, which provide some good poems to use with children, in particular 'The Poetry Store'.

Within the classroom, she asked the children to read every morning when they came in, and allowed them to read their own books rather than just the reading scheme books. This gave children a sense of ownership over the literature they chose to read, and made it a more enjoyable experience. The importance of reading was made obvious and clear, and it was one of the school's priorities to get children reading for pleasure. Within literacy lessons, the importance of reading was linked clearly with writing as we were studying stories from other cultures.



January 31, 2012

Ellie's Blog Review

Eleanor Hobday's EAL task focused on the book 'Elmer', which I felt was an excellent choice. It is well knwon by most British children, and Ellie rightly said that the repetition within the book would aid children with EAL. One thing which I had not thought of before was the idea of the celebration of individuality being a key point in the book which would help those feeling isolated. This made the text selection an even better choice than I had first thought!

Another positive from her task is that the three task show a clear progression across the quadrants. They are varied both in nature and in difficulty and yet all tie in nicely together, which is hard to do! So well done, I really liked the ideas and will definitely steal them if the opportunity arise!

EAL task

Text selection – Language has a rhythm to it, and introduces the idea of rhymes and subtle changes to words completely changing the meaning. Lots of repetition to help reinforce language ideas. Can guess ending!

Clear illustrations, can show where he got the ideas from to change the shopping list from what it was to what it is. They add meaning to the words being said.

Shows an experience of shopping in Britain, but possibly outdated – can lead to a discussion. Gives experiences of outside space.

Not particularly challenging ideas, but has plenty of language which is challenging for EAL

Year 2

LO: To explore and create rhymes.

PNS Literacy Year 2 strands 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Quadrant A

Create a shopping list in groups, comprising food which is taken from cross cultures – write it in both 1st language and English, and other children on the table can write the food names in the other children's home language.

Quadrant B

Acting out the shopping in the role play area – different areas on playground, walking along and speaking it out loud, but having to remember the shopping list! Try to remember some of the changes in the list by having pictures taken from the book around, e.g. Six Fat Legs near six farm eggs.

Quadrant D

Try to find a recipe (using books or internet) which contains food they like – either British or Home food. Create a rhyming match with the words, similar to the book, but not the same – i.e. you cannot use legs to rhyme with eggs.

January 11, 2012


There are a number of reasons why children enjoy listening to stories, not least because they are often exciting and transport children to any number of different worlds. Stories let us engage in things we are familiar with and things we have never experienced, and it is this mixture which makes stories so enjoyable for children. The humour which is often found in children's stories also makes listening to them a happy experience!

I think that, to tell a story well, it is essential not to be embarrassed by putting on silly voices or sounding really enthusiastic about a story you may have told ten or fifteen times before. Varying the pitch or dynamics of your voice add an extra element of excitement to the tale, and hints at which bits of the story are most interesting. If you are engaging fully with the ideas in the story then so will the children. As a book may not be in place, it is also important to feel able to act out some elements of the story - just a few simple actions which the children can join in with will add an extra element to the story.

For children, it is important to listen to stories so that they experience different narrative techniques, different situations nd most importantly a vast array of words. Children cannot be expeced to have a vast vocabulary if they do not experience one in their every day lives. It is important for them to tell stories themselves in order to engage their imaginations and get used to thinking creatively.

Ideas about storytellers from the videos:

Important to sound like the story has truth in it.

Plenty of detail, setting the scene clearly.

Engaging with the audience by referring to them.

Speeding up and slowing down your voice. Creates suspense and excitement.

Repetition for effect, to emphasise some componenets of the tale.

Eye contact with audience members to make them feel involved.

I think I preferred the Robin Hood story. This is partly beacuse it is a story that we are all familiar with, and partly because I felt the outdoors setting was very atmospheric. I didn't engage with the Grandad story as much, partly because the storyteller's eyes scared me! I felt in terms of the voices that the Grandad storyteller did a better job of creating characters, and yet the story about Robin Hood caught my attention more. I think that it was because that story held more suspense and danger, which made the storytelling experience more exciting.

Personal philosophy on reading:

This is quite hard to put into words! I've always been a great fan of reading, and I can't ever remember not having a book on the go - I sometimes have two or three going at once! I guess I would just try and communicate my love of reading tothe children and hope that my enthusiasm inspires them. I owe a lot to reading, not least a love of language. One of the main benefits of reading that is often overlooked is they way it increases your general knowledge. I certainly know a lot more about history, politics and other subjects that I've not studied than I would have if I hadn't read as much.

December 11, 2011

Promoting Reading

My teacher didn't strike as a particularly enthusiastic reader, aside from finding books to study in class. In this regard, they knew an awful lot of the classic works such as 'Charlotte's Web' and 'The Railway Children'. They didn't know a lot about more recent children's literature, like the Alex Rider series - which were hugely popular in the year six class I was working in!
Having said this, whilst the class were studying 'The Railway Children' as a tie-in between literacy and the Victorian topic work they were doing, the teacher did inspire the children. Almost every one of them ended up loving the book, despite some reservations to begin with. Reading in general in the class though was only present when cihldren had completed their mental maths warm up. It was almost presented as a time filler rather than a pleasurable activity. The importance of being a good reader was present, as they were all told that they would not achieve level 5s in SATs unless they read a lot of the time.
At school level, a similar message was presented. Although children produced some wonderful work using books as a stimulus, it never seemed as though the school suggested reading could be an activity outside learning! Although some of the children independently loved reading, the school ethos was not one that focused on how brilliant reading can be. The most reading-focused person I met in the school was a TA who ran guided reading. They really enthused the children with the idea of books being something amazing that can take you out of this world. Of course, it helped that they were reading Roald Dahl, who is still one of the children's favourite authors.
What really stood out for me was the difference between what boys and girls read. One of the boys told me that he 'only reads things about war and guns and stuff', and it struck me that he is missing out on so much wonderful literature! During one PE lesson when he had forgotten his kit, I took him into the library and showed him some books he hadn't considered. One particular series I introduced him to was the 'Artemis fowl' series, which is a good crossover book that both boys and girls seem to love.
My other favourite moment was when I accompanied Key Stage 1 and Foundation Stage on a trip to see 'The Tiger Who Came To Tea' at Warwick Arts Centre. It was absolutely brilliant! The children all got really engaged with the text through the play, and were joining in at all the right moments. They were enthralled by some of the special effects that were used to have the tiger eating all the buns and sandwiches from tea. It was a really good way to bring the children into the text in a more imaginative way.

December 04, 2011

Science e–learning review

I had to look at Emma Young's e-learning task for this review, and here are my thoughts on it!

First of all, excellent choice of books. Almost all the boys in the year 6 class I had on PP2 were reading one of the Alex Rider series, and demand for them from the library was high! So this is my first positive: this task would really engage the boys in their learning. (Girls too, I was a massive fan of the series when I was younger. I don't mind admitting that I own them all, even the latest one!)

My second positive is the range of possible ideas presented to the children. Giving several different areas which could be investigated gives the children some clue as to the direction their experiment could go whilst still allowing them some independence. Year six is all about transition between Primary and Secondary education, and giving them this sort of sounding board to develop their own scientific experiments properly helps ease them into the changing scenario.

I have to say, it was hard to choose which two positives to write about as there were quite a few! The science behind it is well thought out and clear, and targets several areas of the curriculum too which is a bonus!

October 03, 2011


Well I've started the directed time task, and am already loving dipping into some of my old favourite books. The first of these was 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' by Michael Rosen.

Bear Hunt

It's such a fun book to read! I think it'd be perfect for a regular story time for those in Reception/Foundation stages of school. There are also some really useful resources available for free online just by googling the book. For example, I found a powerpoint presentation of the book which was available to download. The only downside to that was that it didn't use the original drawings from the book, and they are well worth keeping in an e-version of the text.

The book allows plenty of scope for action and adventure to take place in a drama setting in the classroom, which children would absolutely love. It also allows for a good exploration of phonics and of onomatopoeic language. I loved reading it again. Not sure if that says more about the book or about myself...

September 27, 2011

PP1 experience

Smartest Giant

I read this book to a year 2 class, who absolutely loved it. I would say it is appropriate for any KS1 class, but it worked particularly well with this age group. I chose to read it partly because it fitted in nicely with the PSHE topic of feelings and helping people, but mostly because it is an enjoably book! Also, it is written by Julia Donaldson who wrote 'The Gruffalo', so I knew it was likely to be well written. It follows the trials of George who is the scruffiest giant in town. He then buys some smart clothes to feel better, but ends up giving away various items to help animals. As in most books for children it all ends happily, with him back in his comfy and familiar clothes and with a golden crown given to him by all those he has helped.


To read to the children I had them gathered on the carpet around the chair I was sat on, so that they were comfotable and could see the pictures as I held up the book. During the story I asked them questions such as "What do you think will happen next?" and "Was that a good idea?" It promoted discussion and allowed the children to get really involved. I also encouraged them to join in with the repeated rhyme that went through the whole book.

I think this was my favourite part of PP1, as it was the first time I was really engaging with the children. It was also one of those moments that the children enjoyed and allowed them to learn some social messages without experiencing a lecture. They loved and engaged with the beautiful pictures as well as the actual text. After I read it I asked a few cihldren what their favourite part of the story was and why, and I think that helped them to think about the text further, so I felt I was teaching and not just reading a story.

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