Getting set for the first day!

Well it’s the definitely the of the Summer holidays now!

After spending time today preparing for my class, tomorrow is the first day for my 5th & 6th Class.

Classroom Organisation:

I have set my class into 6 groups, 3 for each class level. Each group has a small basket and in it are the children’s free writing copies, spare pens and pencils, mini whiteboards, scissors and dictionaries. The children can be more independent for their own belongings and items they made need during the day.

Plan for tomorrow!

I’ve have lots of different activities planned for tomorrow. I downloaded some great back to school comprehensions from Classroom Secrets which i’m hoping my class will enjoy. I also have some team based activities to encourage group work in the class. I have a Character Education Kit where you teach one character per month and tomorrow I am starting the respect unit. This will also form the basis of my classroom rules and expectations.

Displays:

As mentioned in an earlier post I am hoping to focus on working displays and working walls this year to encourage the children to become more involved in their own learning. I will post photos as they are ready.

New Resources:

Over the last year I have gathered some new resources which I hope to use more in the class this year. I have the Maths Boxes and Problem Solving Cards from Prim-Ed which I found very useful last year so I will implement them more this year. I want to develop more problem solving and encourage a visual approach for some children so I recently purchased I See Reasoning to encourage and develop mathematical thinking and talking. Another blog post on this resource will follow soon.

Best of luck to everyone going back tomorrow!!

Looking forward to a great year.

A.M.

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About me – Aistear Muinteoir

Hi to all my new followers!

In light of recent posts by other bloggers (not just teacher bloggers) regarding keyboard warriors I have decided to add this blog post to my page.

I’m Aistear Muinteoir. I have been teaching for a number of years and have worked with infants and 3rd to 6th Class. I have also completed research in play-based learning in infant classes. I will be teaching 5th & 6th again this year.

I set up this blog last year with the encouragement of friends and some of my colleagues. I had finished my research and my M. Ed. and was moving from Infants to Senior Classes and to be honest I had put so much work into Aistear I couldn’t let it go :)! My main intention for this blog was to highlight the importance of play based learning and Aistear and offer some insights into how I used Aistear in my classroom when I was in Infants.

The majority of my posts are about what has worked well for me in my classroom. In my school we had a WSE while I was in the infant classes and I received good feedback about my classroom set up and strategies I had in place. While my strategies might work for some I understand they are not ideal in every situation and similarly not all inspectors are the same. While our cigire liked some strategies in my room others may not have the same opinion. My opinions and posts are not steadfast rules and are only suggestions to maybe help my followers in their own classes.

I was so enthusiastic with my blog last Summer and really tried to work to keep it updated while I also battled to stay on top of work in the Senior Classes. But I was also aware of the negativity that surrounded all bloggers really. I tried to ignore it and keep doing what I was doing but at times it was hard.

Over the course of the year I was contacted to review products which I will happily do with my class, I received some products but was not paid to feature them on my blog. I explained to my class that we were lucky to get the opportunity to try these products and review them and the review posts that followed were a mixture of both my views and the views of my class. I felt this was a fairer way to review the products.

I have featured other shops too on my posts but these are not sponsored or an add in any form. Anyone that knows me will know that I always look for bargains for resources/stationery/necessary teacher supplies. While previously I shared them with some of my friends and colleagues now I add them to my page. It saves endless messages to my colleagues!

I want to thank everyone for their support over the last 12 months. I have been overwhelmed by the response to my page and to the lovely comments. I will continue to work as Aistear Muinteoir this year but will try include more posts on Senior Classes for new followers.

I think it’s important to focus on the positive side of teachers blogging – sharing and valuing good practice! While there may be some negativity towards bloggers I hope to focus on the positive this year. I hope you will too.

A.M.

To-Do!

I seem to have spent more time writing a to-do list this week than getting organised for back to school!

As you may know I am heading back into the Senior Classes again this September. My school reopens with the children on Wednesday so I have spent some time this week trying to get some way organised.

Here is my to-do list at the moment:

Sort book rental and put on the shelves for both classes.
Sort stationery order too and label if necessary.
Decide on groupings for both classes – how big is too big for group work?
Put some order back in my classroom.
Check displays from last year but print new display for English!

Finally

Decide on activities and lessons for Wednesday!
Get me long term plans finished!

And when all that is done relax and chill with friends before the holidays are over!

What’s on your to-do list this week?

 

 

Getting your classroom ready – Senior Classes

So it’s almost that time, time to get your classroom set up for the new school year!

I am hoping to return to my classroom later this week and get it ready for reopening on the 30th August. Last year I moved into the Senior Classes so I put up different displays, this year I am hoping to use the displays as more of a working display and get the class involved where I can.

I am hoping to develop the creative writing in my class by expanding their vocabulary. I love these figurative language posters from The Teacher Next Door. I hope to add these to my display board and add blank cards/post-its so that the children can write out phrases and words from their own reading and match it to the figurative language. I also hope to use this Grammar bundle in the same way.

In Maths I have a RUCSAC display for problem solving, I also have other maths vocabulary displayed at the Maths area. I love using Brain Snack in the class and I add one card to my Maths display each week and the children can write down their answers on a sheet next to it. At the end of the week I explain the puzzle to them and then one child with the right answer will get a prize. This encourages critical thinking but not within a time constraint so everyone can have the chance to participate.

In Science I like to have the steps to an investigation displayed along with language that the children will be using. This can change from topic to topic. This year I am hoping to make my science area more interactive so that the children can work at the area for indoor breaks and if finished early.

For my Gaeilge board I am working on a resource for the pupils to encourage more oral work. I am trying to develop a Balla Ceist for each topic to encourage the pupils to engage more in oral work. These will also be displayed on my board along with other vocabulary, verbs and question word.

Once I have my displays ready I will add them to this post.

If you have any questions please send me an email or a PM.

A.M.

Getting your Classroom ready: Infants

I will be heading back to get my own classroom ready later this week, but where to start?

There are so many displays for the infant classroom!

In Maths, the Ready Set Go training recommends one maths number line on each wall. I tried to link one of them to my Aistear topic when I could. I always had number lines with pictures, figures and words on the other walls. As they will be on the wall for the duration of the year it might be worth investing in a durable one such as this one from Crafty Art (based in Galway) Alternatively you can download and print number friezes from twinkl or Sparklebox.

In English it is important to have an alphabet frieze and a phonics frieze depending on the programme you are using. An alphabet frieze will help the children to identify letters in alphabetical order. Check out this one from Crafty Art. While the alphabet frieze may be a long term display your phonics frieze or phonics wall will be a working display, you may add or change it as the year progresses. If you have multi classes up to 2nd class you might be interested in these phoneme friezes too. These can become part of your working display that the children can add words to.

If you intend to use Aistear in your class you will need a playtime schedule/timetable. I photograph the areas in my own classroom and use them for the schedule. The children are grouped into fruits/colours etc and those pictures rotate each day so the children know which area they are in.

Other classroom displays could be Birthday display or months of the year display. These displays are also readily available to print and download from Twinkl or Sparklebox and can add some colour to your classroom.

Finally don’t forget to have a display for classroom management or classroom rules. Sometimes pictures help to remind the children of expected behaviours. Alternatively a colour coded system such as traffic lights can be a visual reinforcement too.

If you have any questions on this post please send me an email or a PM.

A.M.

Back to School with Euro Giant

I visited my local Euro Giant this week to stock up on some ‘necessary’ school supplies.

I love these Worry Monsters I have one in my class that any child could use but the little one on the keyring is perfect for one child to have themselves. Even though I had the Senior Classes they loved the fluffy worry monster.

It can be hard to find some resources for Small World but check out these resources. I found it hard to source Sea Animals when I covered the sea topic in Aistear so was delighted to see these sets for €1.50. The Zoo animals were similar and would be ideal for a story sack on Dear Zoo. I already have a few of the airplanes for Small World for the airport or holiday topic.

These pipe cleaners were ideal for Junk Art. There are lots of different types and are easy for little fingers to manipulate. The fun dough looked great too, perfect for fine motor or even to add to Story Sacks in the class.

Euro Giant also has lots of resources for Role Play Area.

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Finally I love this game for Senior Classes. It is a fun way to develop Critical thinking. This game is also available on an app but it’s easier to visualise the solution with the game itself. A bargain at only €5!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Shopping!!

A.M.

Aistear Topic: Shops

Shops is a very broad topic for Aistear but it might link well for a teaching practice unit of work.

A broader theme will also allow the children more freedom to explore the topic and to choose their own shop for role-play each day.

Stimulus: There are lots of different books suitable to link with the Shops topic from The Smartest Giant in Town to Topsy and Tim go shopping. Children may have their own storybooks with their favourite characters too.

Role Play: Children can have the option to change this area each day and explore a different shop or create their own department store. There are lots of opportunities to explore vocabulary with the children in this area and within discrete lessons too.

Small World: Children can make their own shops and shopping centres.

Construction: Children can build different shops or different departments within the shop.

Sand: Children could play a shopping bingo game by hiding different cards in the sand.

Junk Art: Children could make items for the shop or posters to display in the shop too.

The Aistear areas allow for natural integration to curricular areas but there are lots of ways to integrate with discrete lessons too.

Gaeilge: Ag siopadóireacht, you can use your role-play area within your discrete lessons and encourage the children to use Gaeilge during Aistear time.
Maths: Explore coins and money to link with the topic.
Geography: People at Work
History: Looking at shops long ago and all the different types of shops.
Science & SPHE: Buying a healthy lunch

There are many opportunities to explore this theme which would be ideal for TP students.

If you have any questions about this post please send me a PM or an email.

A.M.

Back to School with Dealz!

Recently I visited my local deals and I spotted lots of nice resources for an infant classroom. Ideal if you have a limited budget.

 

These resources were in the half price sale section. Finger puppets for the water area if you had the pirates theme and some Sofia the First reward stickers.

There were lots of cars and vehicles suitable for sand or small world.

 

Teacher Diaries – always an essential, check out these fab diaries and calendars!

 

Read it Yourself Books: I spotted the box on the book shelf it has lots of different levels. I love these books for story sacks or as additional readers in the classroom.

 

 

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Looking for a nice book for the first few days in Infants. I love this book. Sammy does not want to go to school but it hears all about the nice things his siblings and friends do at school so he changes his mind. Perfect for any child who might be a little reluctant in the early days.

 

 

 

 

Finally some nice resources for your art and writing areas. I like the emotion stickers for SPHE too.

 

Assessment in the Senior Classes

Are you heading to the Senior Classes in September. Here are some ideas for your assessment folder.

Set Up:
If you are lucky enough to have a filing cabinet, I would add one suspension file per student. I had a similar set up in infants and I could hand the file over to their next teacher at the end of the year. In the Suspension file you could add some square cut folders for each student for literacy, reading records or ongoing assessments.

Report Cards:
If possible get a copy of the report cards from June. I read through the cards and highlighted any areas that were of interest to me. You could also use their results for groupings at the start of the year if the class are totally new to you. By October you will be able to set the groups up based on your own observations.

Assessments:
There are many different assessments for 5th & 6th class. I have used the Schonell Reading and Spelling test in September and repeated it another 2-3 times during the year. Similarly I also use the Ballard and Westwood tables test in September and revisit it again later in the year. You could also add your own tests or copies of their work for observations.

Self Assessment
Self Assessment is highly important in the Senior Classes, it will develop the children’s intrinsic motivation and confidence. There are lots of different types of self assessment for Senior classes. In Science I like to use a concept map. At the beginning of the topic I get the children to create a concept map with all the vocabulary they have and where possible to link them. We revisit the concept map at the end of the topic and with a different colour pen the children can add more information or vocabulary. They can also write a reflection at the end to show what they learned during the topic. It is an alternative version of KWL charts.

Reading Records:
In my class I use reading records to keep track of the different books they are reading in Book Club or for reading challenges. I also ask the children to add new and interesting words to their reading record. I file their reading record at the end of the Book Club in their file. It shows their progress throughout the year and can be handy to have for parent teacher meetings.

These are only examples of content for your Assessment folder, of course your school might have their own policy for the Continuum of Support so it is important to check that out first.

If you have any questions please send me a PM.

A.M.

Topic – Owl Babies

In other posts I have mentioned using Storybooks with every topic. However sometimes you can create a whole topic around one Storybook. This can be helpful for thematic planning for teaching practice students too.

I love the story Owl Babies and the children really enjoy this story and it can reassuring for some students who might find it hard to leave their parents in the morning time.

There is an animated story here which you can use to introduce the topic.

Socio-dramatic play can be hard to link when using a storybook but I like to use puppets and encourage the children to create their own puppet shows to retell the story. I love this set from amazon however if you have a limited budget you can make your own puppets. Ideas for making your own puppets and for some craft activities in Junk Art can be found here. You could also include a CD of the story and CD player for the children to use in this area.

In Small World the children can also retell  the story, you could use puppets for the owls or if your budget allows you could get an owl family from the Sylvanian Families range. There are different sets available on ebay. 

In construction you could use lots of materials to build a house for the Owl Family. There are lots of ideas for Junk Art but the children will also have their own idea.

In sand you could bury a game for the children to match daytime and night time activities.

This topic might be a little abstract but some children might really enjoy the puppet element of the Socio-dramatic area. A topic plan will be available in my Mash.ie store soon.

If you have any questions on this topic please send me a PM.

A.M.