January 29, 2012

EAL self study task

EAL Self Study Task

Five minutes peace

I have chosen Five Minutes Peace to use with a year one in a class that includes EAL learners. I have chosen this book because it's beautifully illustrated and the pictures accurately support the text on each page. Children who struggle to follow the English will be able to use the pictures to help them understand the story. Five minutes peace is written in the active voice. Books written in the active voice are easier for EAL learners to access. Because this book is about elephants, one doesn't have to worry about whether ethnic minorities and their cultures have been accurately represented. This book also contains some basic number language which will help EAL with number vocabulary, for example: 1 min, 3 1/2 times, 4 1/2 pages and 3 min 45 seconds of peace. The theme of this book is one that I imagine is universal to all cultures. Children from all cultural backgrounds will share the experience of their parent or guardian wanting to get a bit of peace from the children.

The learning objective for my sequence of activities comes from the PNS for year one strand three: group discussion and interaction, take turns to speak, listen to others suggestions and talk about what they are going to do and strand four: drama, explore familiar themes and characters through improvisation and role-play.

At the beginning of this sequence of activities, the class would read through the text at least once.

Quadrant A (context embedded, low cognitive demand)

The pictures from the book Five Minutes Peace could be scanned and put on the interactive whiteboard. Using these pictures in sequence, the children could play I spy with my little eye. Playing I spy with my little eye would help EAL learners to become familiar with the vocabulary involved in this book. After playing I spy, the teacher could go back through the pictures with the children and they could re-tell the story using the vocabulary acquired. The children could then work in groups using elephant glove puppets to retell the story using the pictures to help. By the end of these activities the children should be gaining familiarity with these texts. Going over the story in these various ways would help EAL learners become familiar with its theme.

Quadrant B (context embedded, high cognitive demand)

Staying within the context of the book Five Minutes Peace, I would increase the cognitive demand by asking children to think about what happens after Mrs large has had her three min and forty five seconds of peace. The book tells us that Mrs Large’s children come to join her, but what do they do? Have they come to apologise or are they still seeking her attention? In mixed ability groups with EAL children spread around the class, workings with children where English is their first language, I would ask the children to discuss what Mrs Large’s children do. I would also ask them to discuss what they would do if they were Mrs Large’s children. The children would then act out their new scene after being given time to practice and refine it.

Quadrant D (context reduced, high cognitive demand)

Taking the theme from the book of needing five minutes peace, I would ask the children in their groups to come up with a little role-play of a teacher needing five minutes peace at break time. The children would need to think about what had happened to the teacher that morning that meant she felt like she needed five minutes peace? The children would need to think about where the teacher was going to go to get her five minutes peace, does the teacher get five minutes peace or is she interrupted? If she is interrupted, who is she interrupted by and what do they want? In the group the children would need to think about the emotions of the teacher, how are they going to use drama to convey these emotions to their audience? The children could then perform their drama to the rest of the class. The class could then do peer assessment, in pairs they could discuss what they liked about the drama and how it could be improved. These thoughts could be then fed back to the rest of the class and the group who has shown their drama could uses the ideas to improve their work.


January 23, 2012

Story Time, Storytelling

Storytelling is a wonderful part of childhood. Through it, children’s vivid imaginations are used to their full potential, dreaming about situations and scenarios, bringing colour and life to favourite stories that are told over and over throughout a child’s formative years. Reading to children enables them to access texts that would be too difficult for them to read alone. When they are being read to, children can use the energy that would be used in decoding the text, to concentrate on the structure of the story, on the shape of the genre, on the characterisation and use of language. As all of these are internalised by the child they become part of the child’s storytelling vocabulary: the bank of words and ideas that the child can draw on in their own story making and writing. Giving the children time and stimuli to tell stories to each other, through dialogue and role play, further reinforces the child’s confidence and creativity when it comes to their own written outcomes.

Both of the storytellers in the short video clips brought life to their respective stories. Both had clearly thought about their presentation and had a good command of intonation, facial expressions, annunciation, speed and emotional engagement with the characters in their respective texts. I particularly enjoyed the second storyteller who gave the different characters in his story different voices, delivering their speech in a convincing and often humorous way. He had quite obviously thought about what sort of characters they were and had chosen a voice for them accordingly. He brought warmth and likeability to the story in a way that the first storyteller, through his more intense and commanding style did not convey to the same degree.

Personal Philosophy about books and reading

First a few words form Northanger Abbey…

‘ They determined on walking round Beechen Cliff, that noble hill, whose beautiful verdure and hanging coppice render it so striking an object from almost every opening in Bath. ‘I never look at it,’ said Catherine, as they walked along the side of the river, ‘without thinking of the south of France.’ ‘You have been abroad, then?’ said Henry a little surprised. ‘Oh, no, I only mean what I have read about. It always puts me in mind of the country, that Emily and her father travelled through in the “Mysteries of Udolpho”. But you never read novels, I dare say?’

‘Why not?’

‘Because they are not clever enough for you; gentlemen read better books.’

‘The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. I have read all Mrs Radcliffe’s works, and most of them with great pleasure. The “Mysteries of Udolpho”, when I had once begun it, I could not lay it down again; I remember finishing it in two days, my hair standing on end the whole time.’

Whilst I am not advocating the compulsory study of Gothic novels in the primary classroom, nor that every NQT should deem those children who take little pleasure in half an hour in the book corner ‘intolerably stupid’, as Jane Austen’s Catherine might if she were to undertake a PGCE, I am wishing to highlight the fact that books can transport one to all sorts of exciting places. Places that we may never get to visit in person. Whilst we can do a Google search and within five seconds have a thousand pictures of the south of France, this would not compare in the slightest to the satisfaction of discovering such a place through our imagination as we turn the pages of a book. This is often done in the early hours of the morning when we know the sensible thing would be to put the light out and go to sleep, but one can’t, we just have to know what happens next. A book and a torch under the duvet when we know we should be asleep is one of the thrilling rites of passage for young readers. No film, computer game or modern technological advance in entertainment can replace the pleasure of turning the pages of a gripping novel, of not being able to lay it down until we are done with it, like Catherine in Northanger. I am no psychologist, but I am sure that the development of the mind and imagination, of the ability to focus for sustained periods on a text and loose oneself in another world (without, I might add, tweeting every five minutes to tell the world) can be replicated by no other medium.

In my professional practice it is this love for literature that I would wish to foster in the children I teach, that children might know that ‘I just can’t put it down!’ feeling that books of all sorts of genres can create.

In my experience in school, both on placement as a trainee teacher and before as a teaching assistant (TA) I have seen varying priorities give to reading out loud by the teacher. My experience comes from the KS2 setting. When I was a TA there was a half hour slot once a week for ‘story time’ where the teacher or I would read from a book, usually relating to the literacy topic. Whilst we were studying Roald Dahl we read The Witches to the children. It was a great opportunity to model expressive reading. ‘Story Time’ was a very positive experience for that class and one which they enjoyed. On my PP2 placement there was not any story time or reading aloud by the teacher outside of modelled work as part of the whole class teach at the beginning of literacy. I look forward to making reading to the class an integral and enjoyable aspect to my professional practice.


January 22, 2012

Placement Two. Thinking About Reading

My PP2 placement was a very positive experience. I worked with some exceptionally talented staff whose enthusiasm and commitment to the children’s learning was inspiring. The year four class I worked with were enthusiastic readers and enjoyed reading and sharing what they had read with others. I think that the children’s enthusiasm for reading was fostered by parents who supported and encouraged reading at home and a class teacher who made it a priority in the classroom.

The class teacher was very proud of the rigorous way in which guided reading was done in her class. She commented that there was no point her guiding a group unless she was actively moving the children’s learning on. There was therefore lots of questioning and discussing prompted by the teacher, enabling the children to explore a text to a depth and at a pace that they would not be able to without her input. The guided reading I observed, both in year four and across the school, was delivered in a well organised and high quality way. It was expected that texts were chosen to match the ability of the children based on assessment of those children from previous sessions. The session was expected to be planned out properly with clear objectives, which were shared with the children at the beginning of the session, for example they might be doing some sentence level work or thinking about reading with expression. The teacher made notes on her plan during the session to keep a record of the children’s responses relating them to AF levels in the plan. During guided reading there was plenty of paired talk and group discussion, ensuring that the children were learning from each other and not just back and forward questioning and answers between teacher and pupils.

The children in both year four classes enjoyed spending time in the reading corner. The reading corners were set up as Viking long ships and the children sat in the ship on little benches that spanned its width. The benches were covered in comfortable blankets. One group would spend the guided reading session in the reading corner each day and would be asked to make notes on what they were reading and share interesting facts with the class at the end of the session. As children were coming in in the morning there was often a group allocated to reading corner time.

The children did not have time set aside during the school day for changing their home reading books. They were encouraged to do this just before or just after school with their parents when they had finished a book and they needed to change it for another. All the home readers were on book shelves down one of the corridors. I thought that this was a nice way of helping the parents to feel involved in their children’s learning and encourage them to promote reading at home.


October 05, 2011

Remembering Reading

My memories of learning to read were reawakened a few years ago when my aunt, as a joke Christmas present, gave me a set of One Two Three and Away books by Sheila McCullagh. They may no longer be the scheme du jour for teaching reading at my aunt’s school, but Roger Red Hat, Billy Blue Hat and Johnny and Jennifer Yellow Hat and the village with three corners were very much part of my formative years as a reader. I also enjoyed the Puddle Lane Series by the same author. My attention was captivated by what went on at the mysterious magician’s house at the end of the street as well as with all the other interesting characters who populated Puddle Lane; Tessa, Mrs Pitter Patter, the Gruffle and the Griffle. In these books there were separate pages for the child and adult to read so were designed for shared reading with a more able reader. I have memories of reading with a number of different adults: the teacher at her desk, in the school library with the teaching assistant or a volunteer parent and at home with my parents. A Home School reading record would be filled in by the adult who had listen to me, commenting on how well my reading had gone and any words that I had struggled with.

Looking back over my years in primary school, the year that stands out as most significant for reading was year six. In year six we studied the Second World War and this topic really sparked my interest. It was at this time that I was finding out more about my grandmothers history. She was a German Jew who had fled from Nazi Germany in the 1930’s. The topic seemed so relevant to my family and me and came alive as I devoured books based on the period. Goodnight Mr Tom, I am David, Silver Sword, Judith Kerr’s books: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, A Small Person Far Away and The Other Way Round and Christabel BielenBurg’s The Past is Myself were all notable favourites that still have a place on my bookshelf today. Reading Bielenburg’s book felt very grown up as it wasn’t a book that was written for children. From this list goodnight Mr Tom stands out as a particularly special read. It was so wonderful to see Willie blossom under the care of old Tom, a glimmer of hope at a very dark time.

Having studied theology at undergraduate level, much of what I choose to read is theological. I very rarely choose to read fiction, although I have enjoyed Kathy Reichs books based on her professional life as a forensic anthropologist and have a Gervase Phinn novel sitting on the shelf awaiting my attention!


June 2021

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  • I also like to reminisce about my earlier reading years. Somethimes i feel like i have lost a lot of… by Oritseweyinmi Barber on this entry

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