Friday, 29 July 2011

100 words for grown ups

Waiting for the moment, the one chance he would have, Kit crept forward along the narrow ledge. Taking careful aim, he deliberately pulled the trigger . A flash of impossibly bright light followed by an explosion.  Countless shards of shattered egg shell spattered the sheer rocks below. Circling high above, the seagulls dived repeatedly at the perpetrator, their cries were heard far across the barren coastline. As he began to edge back along the ledge towards his camp, the rocks below him began to crumble and he felt his feet slipping... A solitary feather was the last thing he saw.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

100 words for grown ups

Squinting in the dazzling sunlight, Kit typed as if possessed, fingers blurring as the word count soared. Her secretly recorded messages would finally be shared; those who had wronged her would get what was coming to them. Front page headlines flashed through her mind and her fingers moved ever faster trying to keep pace. Pausing, she scanned through her work. This time people would take notice of her . As she prepared to hit the send button, the headlines flashed up. “Breaking news.” She watched helplessly as her untold story unravelled in front of her. Why does it always happen that someone else gets there first?

Having spent the past few weeks encouraging the children in my class to participate in the 100WC, I felt that I had to have a go at this one. 
It reminded me how difficult writing is when you're just given a prompt; and reinforces my views on the importance of such approaches as talk for writing ( Pie Corbett  @PieCorbett  is inspirational and the INSET day l attended last year was one of the best I have ever been to), hot seating, work partners, drama, telephone talk and role play as fabulous stimuli for writing.
How often do I write? Hardly ever... I read lots- love reading. Maybe I should write more, after all I am always telling my class to do exactly that. Thanks  for the prompt for grown ups; I will certainly keep trying. 

Monday, 11 July 2011

Another year...

Two more weeks with my class until they move onto their next class... Two more weeks of talking to parents that I have built up a partnership with before the summer break and return to new children.
It's a strange time of year; children feeling all sorts of feelings , teachers too. Why is that? We teach children to challenge themselves, meet new opportunities, look for the positive... But that sometimes falls on deaf ears.

I told my class that I had finished their reports and given them to the Head to read and comment on. Their faces fell, one or two put their heads in their hands. What was going on? I abandoned plans and went straight into a circle time to address this. My class looked at me in disbelief when I said that I had enjoyed writing their reports (bear with me) as it was a great opportunity to celebrate all the things they had done well over the year. Still one or two looking anxiously at me. "There wont be anything I havent already told you in them!" I continued. One of the boys piped up, "You're always telling us what we do well..."
 Another, "and we know what we need to get better at..." (Hurrah)
 "Exactly!" I replied, and went on to explain how the reports are for their parents to have an overview of the year. The discussion carried on with children talking about things they had achieved over the year and we made a start on the child report comment.

What this made me stop and think about was, with all the changes we have made in schools, all the technology, some things have not changed at all- there are still children (and parents?) who have a built in fear/dread of reports. Where does this come from? We try so hard to build a positive learning environment, celebrating achievements, having clear learning goals...So why do children still worry about taking the end of year report home? And how can I overcome this?

Well, next year I am going to talk to the children much earlier about reports and maybe ask them to write their own in the style of the school one. Our reports go home really late- last week- get them out earlier so we can talk about them in class (if they want to ? or just go for it?)

I felt that somehow I had missed a trick when I saw this response; not for the first time. Talking to colleagues it seems that many children respond similarly. I would love to know how others have dealt with this; are reports looked on in this way widely? And how can it be changed if that's the case.

I suppose it can be compared to a teacher having performance management. "Tell me what has gone really well this year." Much foot shuffling and fidgetting; we spend so much time looking at ways to improve that it seems self indulgent to talk about successes. Maybe this is the issue here, and something to look at how to change.

Target setting, assessments, top tips; all dwell on what needs to be done. I think I need to spend more time asking children to focus on the things that they can do really well. We have celebration assemblies, reflection time...but maybe celebration time is missing.  Something to think about over the summer and see where to go from now...

Next summer I don't want anyone in my class looking alarmed at the prospect of receiving their report . (And I WILL look my head right in the eye and say what I have done well too :) )