June 15, 2012

Reading Poetry – Task 2, Activity A

I have few memories of being read poetry at school. I remember learning Shakespeare’s ‘Hubble bubble toil and trouble’ in Year 5. We were required to write our own version based on the witches in Macbeth. I also remember being read a poem called ‘It’; also in Year 5. However, I do not recall the author. We had to write our own poem based on this also. The next poem I remember writing was one about a pirate. This was Year 5 homework. I remember my poem off by heart because I loved it!

There was a pirate long ago

With a big, black beard that took years to grow.

He had one eye and an evil grin

And everyone was afraid of him.

No left hand, just a hook

Whatever he wanted he just took.

He was a wicked man with an evil soul

And on his face was a hairy mole.

He reached his end upon the rope

No more to be seen, at least we hope.

Not to be too arrogant, but this is my favourite poem. It has rhyming couplets, alliteration and is excellent to use in lessons. I’m totally biased though. My other favourite poem is Matilda (who told lies and was burned to death) by Hilaire Belloc.

I do not remember studying any more poetry at school until Year 9. We then focused on personification, similes, metaphors and imagery. I studied poetry extensively throughout my GCSE and A-Level years. I loved poetry. When I was 15 I wrote a poem called ‘Heartache’ which was published in a Future Voices Anthology. I spent years writing loads of poems, my favourite ones always rhymed and had hidden meanings.

I think it is important for children to learn poems because it helps them to really think about the language used. I also think it will help them to become better writers themselves.

Reflecting on PP3 – Reading for Purpose and Pleasure

My third professional placement was with a Year 5 class. The class teacher appeared to be a committed and enthusiastic reader of both adult and children’s literature. We talked at length about our favourite authors and novels. The text the children had for Shared Reading was ‘There’s a boy in the girl’s bathroom’. The teacher read this with enthusiasm and expression. She used a different voice for each character and really brought the book alive for the pupils. This was a new text to me and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. As I started my placement half way through the unit, I had missed the first half of the book. However, I borrowed one from the school and read it one evening after school. I loved it!

Reading was really important throughout the school. The children were required to participate in reading quizzes every week and these were monitored both by the Class Teacher and Headteacher. The children were given time every morning to change their reading book and were required to read silently during morning and afternoon registration.

It was ‘World Book Day’ whilst I was on placement. I dressed up as Alice in Wonderland and the Class Teacher was Snow White. It was great fun to guess which characters people were. In the afternoon I ran a session where the children talked about the books their characters were from. They read their favourite part and talked about why they enjoyed the book so much and why they had chosen to dress up as a particular character. They also asked each other questions and answered them.

January 27, 2012

EAL Task Peer Review

I have reviewed Rosie's EAL Task which was based on the book: 'Stick man' by Julia Donaldson.

I have really enjoyed reading Rosie's EAL task blog. She has given many insightful observations regarding how the text could be used, especially for promoting discussion.

The suggested activities using Cummins' Quadrant (A, B and C) are fun and interactive. They are appropriate for children whose English is an additional language and will promote inclusion.

January 19, 2012

Reading to Children

Evidence of reading to children observed on placements.

In Key Stage 1 there was a great emphasis on reading to children. The Teacher read aloud to the entire class and used the IWB to show pictures of the story. She also held the picture book so that the pages were visible as she was reading to the class.

However, the Teacher in Year 4 did not read to her class at all whilst I was on placement. I read a section of a book with the class and also took a group of children for two Guided Reading sessions. The children were really enthusiastic and appeared to benefit greatly from the lessons.

I know that the Teaching Assistant listened to children reading one-to-one every week. The children were also required to read at home to parents and had a reading log which the parents and T.A. wrote in to communicate with one another.

I think it is a shame that less emphasis appears to be placed on reading longer texts to older children. It is definitely a fading aspect of practice. It is important that teachers continue to read to children, whatever age they are. The teacher should set aside time every week to ensure that the book is finished in a timely fashion so that the children do not lose what has happened previously in the story. It is also important for children to read aloud during lessons as this can help to build confidence and skills which are essential later in life.

January 10, 2012


Why children enjoy listening to stories:

Stories are valuable to children because they can help them to make sense of the world. Listening to stories can capture a child’s imagination and curiosity. Once a child is interested in something then they are more likely to be enthusiastic about it. Listening to stories is important because children may learn from the experiences that the characters have, making them less likely to make the same mistakes. They could also help children to develop emotionally, for example, experience feelings of empathy. Listening to stories is pleasurable and that is why children enjoy it.

In order to be an effective story teller it is important to get into character. Facial expressions, tone of voice and expression of voice are all extremely important factors to consider when telling a story. Language can be used to create an atmosphere and enable the listener to picture the scene.

Having the opportunity to tell stories enables children to develop their language skills. It can also enhance their imagination. Children may be able to excel at story telling without the constraints of writing, spelling, etc. It may help them to develop social skills by having the opportunity to share their story with their peers. Telling stories can help children to gain confidence.

Evaluation of the two Video Clips:

I enjoyed listening to and watching both of the video clips. The man in clip 1 had an expressive voice and face. An atmosphere was created by him telling the story outside and the sound of birds in the background. He used rhetorical questions to keep the listener’s interest and gesticulated with his hands to show action. He got into character by asking questions as if he was experiencing what was happening in the story first hand and articulated what he may have been wondering if he was actually there.

I thought that the second video clip was easier for children to relate to. There were no distractions and so the focus was always on the story teller and what he was saying. He changed his voice for each character which helped you to imagine them better. The story started with issues which the children may encounter in their lives, for example, an elderly relative having to move in with the family. The story kept the listener’s interest throughout and left us wondering what was going to happen next. I also felt that the story could lead to discussions about the characters, e.g. Billy’s parent’s behaviour; and the relationship between Billy and his Granddad. I especially enjoyed the ending where Billy was able to metaphorically put his parents in his granddad’s shoes.

My personal philosophy of reading:

I love reading and feel that I am able to be transported into another world when I am reading a novel. I completely immerse myself into the character’s lives. I would like to convey this to my class and help them to feel passionate about reading and understand the value and enjoyment that can come from books.

January 09, 2012

Reflection on PP2 – Promoting Reading for Purpose and Pleasure

During PP2 I was based with Year 4. The teacher did not strike me as a particularly avid reader of either adult or children’s literature. In her classroom there were shelves of books for the children to read, and around twenty were written by Michael Morpurgo. When I asked the teacher about these books she said that she had inherited them from the previous teacher. The children were aware that they could access these books, but I did not notice any encouragement to do so by the teacher.

There were no guided reading sessions and when I asked the teacher about this she replied that she does not do them. In order to carry out my SBT for English I had to go to Year 2 and observe the Literacy Co-ordinator. She said that she hadn't done a guided reading session for a while but would do one for me to observe. She did not appear to be very enthusiastic or passionate about the session. However, I had previously observed her taking a shared writing lesson and she was able to motivate the children and really get them to focus on the story.

In Year 4 the children were required to read to themselves when they came in to the classroom prior to morning registration. They also read if a lesson had finished early to fill in the time. The T.A. listened to children reading throughout the week and set them reading targets which they had to complete at home. I did not notice any encouragement for the children to read for pleasure.

The teacher did not introduce me to any particular books/texts and she did not appear to inspire interest and enthusiasm about books and reading with her class. However, the layout of the classroom did convey the message that reading is important and the school library was situated directly outside the room.

Ofsted had inspected the school in July 2011 and had commented that the writing levels needed to be brought up to the same standard as reading, therefore the school focus was very much on improving writing attainment. This may have impacted negatively on reading. However, I am unaware if this is the case as I had not visited the school prior to PP2.

Despite a lack of obvious encouragement from the teacher, the children seemed to enjoy reading and were enthusiastic about discussing with me the books they had read and who their favourite authors are.

December 05, 2011

Review of Celine's e–learning task – Introducing Density Using Liquids

I watched Celine Szustakiewicz's science investigation which was based on the book, 'Harriet's Home at Sea'. Celine outlined the book and showed how the story could be used as the basis for a scientific investigation.

In Celine's presentation the instructions for the investigation were very visual which made it clear and easy to follow. There was a noticeable safety warning which is always useful. The investigation was linked to the National Curriculum and it also highlighted cross-curricular links. I enjoyed watching it.

Thanks Celine!

October 07, 2011

Reflections on my PP1 Reading Experience

During my PP1 I read to a Year One class. I originally chose to read 'A Squash and a Squeeze' by Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler. I chose this book because it has lots of rhyming words which five and six year olds are able to predict and enjoy joining in with.

The children were sat on the carpet facing me at the front of the classroom. I was sat on a chair so that all of the children could see the pictures in the book that I was holding up. At first it was quite a challenge to read whilst holding the book so that the pictures were visible, however, I soon got used to it.

I projected my voice so that the children could all hear me clearly. I gave the characters their own voices and read with expression. Because the children were joining in with the rhyming words it was easy to look at them and make eye contact. I felt comfortable reading to the class and found it enjoyable. I think the children enjoyed it too because I was asked to read another story. The next book that I read was 'Hairy Maclary's Caterwaul Caper' by Lynley Dodd. This was chosen by the Class Teacher.

After each of the stories I asked the children questions and we discussed the books and the characters in them. I am looking forward to reading to a class again during PP2.

October 05, 2011

A Reading Autobiography

Mary had a little lamb

I remember my older sister reading 'Mary Had A Little Lamb' with me when I was about three years old. She taught me how to memorise which words went with specific pictures and when I should turn the page. I always think of this as the first book that I learned to "read", although I could not really read the words. I went to school in Wales which was "Rising 4's" and so at the age of three I was in Junior School. I managed to convince the Teacher that I could read this book fluently and she was very impressed. We moved back to England and I was too young to go to school, so I had to go to 'Play School'. However, my life-long love of books had begun and with the help of my sister I had soon learnt to read properly.

Goosebumps book coversWhen I was in Year 5 I loved reading ‘Goosebumps’. I had every book in the collection. In Years 6 and 7 I had progressed to ‘Point Horror’ books. I thoroughly enjoyed these but was not allowed to read them at school because they were banned. I could hardly wait to get home to finish reading the book I had started. Image of book cover

I also loved Judy Blume. I remember an extremely embarrassing moment whilst reading ‘Forever’ when I asked my Dad what a “bosom” was and my sister exclaimed, “What are you reading?!” He made me read the sentence out and when he explained that it was a woman’s breasts I was mortified.

At the age of fourteen I remember reading ‘Onwards and Upwards’ by Arabella Weir. I thought that it was really grown up because of the content. I tried to read it again when I was older but found the language too childish. It is quite shocking that the book was written specifically for that age group because it does not allow for innocence regarding sexuality.

My favourite author growing up was Enid Blyton. At every stage of my reading development there was a book by Enid Blyton in my collection. My overall favourite books were ‘The Naughtiest Girl in the School’ series. I found it fascinating to read about a girl who was home schooled and then had to learn all the rules of a boarding school as an older child. I remember begging my parents to send me to Boarding School as it sounded wonderfully exciting, like a giant sleepover every night. It was interesting to see how the characters developed through the series and share the knowledge they gained. I felt that I was learning and growing along side them.The Naughtiest Girl by Enid BlytonEnid BlytonEnid Blyton - Book Cover

For GCSE English Literature we studied ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee. I adored this book. I read it four times and then after my exams I read it another three. For years it was my favourite book.

Recently I have read ‘The Red Queen’ by Philippa Gregory. It follows on from ‘The White Queen’ and is about The War of the Roses (Lancaster vs. York). I love Philippa Gregory. She has brought History alive for me. A subject which I never took much interest in at school is now full of fascinating facts and stories. The first book of hers that I read was ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’. She is amazing at bringing her characters to life and portraying them exactly as she wants the reader to perceive them.

At the moment my favourite book is 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte. I have a completely eclectic assortment of books. I choose a book based on its title; from recommendations; what the cover looks like (gasp in horror, but it’s true) and whether it is a classic which I think I should read.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte The White Queen by Philippa Gregory The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper LeeEnid Blyton Point Horror CollectionPoint Horror Collection 2

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