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.

20170816_140432

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.

 

 

20170808_115058

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.

Book Clubs with Senior Classes

Have you ever tried running a Book Club in your class?

Last year I decided to do book clubs in my class. I grouped the children by level so that the group could read a book appropriate to their level while also encouraging discussion and comprehension strategies. Depending on the policy in your school it might be an ideal opportunity to explore the comprehension strategies with each group.

Set Up:

The groups ranged from 4-6 pupils and all children had one copy of the book. I sourced a lot of my books from Scholastic. They often had books for ranging in price from €2.50 – €5. I’ve sets of My Story Titanic, Roald Dahl Life in Stories and The Jungle Book for my class. I also used Audio Books for struggling readers so that they could participate in the group discussion.

Recording Progress:

I designed my own book club journal for the groups. It included a vocabulary section to record new words and a reading record for parents to sign. Usually my book club ran for 5-6 weeks, up until midterm breaks usually. The Book Club Journal also included a section for a book review and about the author.

Book Club:

The week of the book club day I gave the children pointers for the discussion in book club, whether we were focusing on scene setting, interesting characters or what they were left wondering after they read the book. The children also got to bring in some home baking to share with their group for book club. As they were the Senior Classes they loved sitting and chatting about their book while having a treat. On days of midterms I also gave them an extra special hot chocolate treat too!

At the start of book club I reminded all the groups of the pointers for the book club discussion. Initially they were unsure to share their opinions especially if they didn’t like the book, but over the course of the year they became more confident in expressing their opinion and the reasons why. I do remember The Jungle Book was not a favourite of my class. I always popped around to each group to ask questions about the book and to check their reading record. As the groups were ability based I could vary my questions for each group.

I ran different book clubs throughout the year, and if we were working on a class novel we held a class book club with our reading groups. This always encouraged lots of questions and debates on opinions. As the year went on the children found extracts from books in their class anthology that they wanted to have for book clubs. They were keen to suggest more books that were sequels to novels we read or books they read themselves. We worked on Junior Entrepreneur last year and we used some of our profits to purchase some sets of books for book club.

I really enjoyed book club with my class. They became independent readers and often were encouraged to read books that other groups had as they had heard so much about it.

If you have any questions about my Book Club please send me a PM.

A.M.

Thematic Planning in Infants

Where to start with Thematic Planning in Infants?

As I prefer to choose one topic per month in Aistear I try to link the topic across the different curricular areas where I can. Choosing a topic can be tricky, you want something the children may be somewhat familiar with but I always try and link my topics to a storybook too.

Beginning with a story allows you to link it to Literacy straight away, you can use it as your big book and of course the children will need to learn specific language for the role-play area. I like to link my big book to the comprehension strategy for that month also. At times it might link in with the writing genre too.

Each play area will have direct curriculum links.
The construction area alone will always link to 3D shapes in Maths and also the construction strand in Art.
Similarly the sand area will always link to Capacity and Weight in Maths.
Small World and Socio-dramatic will link directly to drama. The junk art area will also link directly to many strands in Art.

In other curricular areas it can be useful to have chosen a storybook that links to your topic. This will link with the story strand of History. Similarly choosing a topic that is within the children’s everyday lives may link to the Human Environments strand in Geography.

Science can be harder to link at times, myself could be linked to the doctor, optician and dentist topic. Some other topics might link easily to environmental awareness and care. It is important to look for links where possible.

You could also choose a song that links to the topic to integrate with Music.

If you use a traditional tale with your topic you might also be able to find the tale as Gaeilge. Bua na Cainte from EdCo have lots of traditional tales and other stories that might link to the topic. The children enjoy watching the little clips and can also learn some language associated with the topic. You could use the Socio-dramatic area during your Irish lessons too if it links directly. In that way the children could see the language being used in the area not just for Aistear time.

There are many ways to link your Aistear topic across all the curricular areas both in discrete lessons and in the Aistear time.

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

A.M.