Back to school!

So here we are, back to January, back to work and back to the usual week review! I am going to try a new format for the next few weeks to see how I prefer it! Let me know if you have anything to add/want to ask because I’m happy to asnwer questions and add things! 

We broke up super late in December (22nd) so we got an extra few days off and didn’t go back til the 9th. It was lovely to be in bed while lots of people were still going to work, but  come Monday I think my body was DEFINITELY in shock! Hey ho! I’ve spent this week being EXHAUSTED – it’ll just take a while for my body to get back into the swing of things!

Along with a new format for my week in review there will be a new fortnightly “What We’re Reading” post, centred around Year 4’s reading habits, what they’re reading and their opinions of their books! The first one is coming up this coming Monday, so keep an eye out for that! 

But on with my week in review…

What I taught:

  • Year 1 intervention: we did some guided reading centred around winter for one session and in the other we looked at the ‘a-e’ sound. I think split digraphs are really tough for kids to get their heads around but playing lots of games, reading lots of examples of words and having some fun definitely makes it easier!
  • Year 2 phonics group: we were looking at using inference skills to answer questions about the text we were reading and talking about the difference between fiction and non-fiction texts (just to refresh their memories).
  • Year 2 writing group: we have spent this week using Little Red Riding Hood as our basis for writing a retell of the story and writing some incredible character descriptions – to get those all important adjectives in!
  • Year 2 maths: looking at adding and subtracting 9,10 and 11. Recapping what we learned before Christmas was a challenge for some of them but they did well remembering most of it!
  • Year 3 French: we spent one last lesson using French words for body parts to label pictures of themselves for a display which I can’t wait to show you all in a few blog posts time!
  • Year 5 French: before Christmas they were really struggling with numbers to 20 in French (forgetfulness!) but I had spent a fair few lessons on that so I extended it to 100 and I was so surprised that they had a grasp of all their numbers.
  • Year 6: we started our History topic of WW2. Children were being historians to try to guess what items were and what they were used for during the war.

I teach in Year 4 for 1.5 days so I always have a lot to say about them!

  • English/SPAG: we looked at using a range of punctuation in their writing and recalling what all of the uses for these different punctuation marks are. Did a bit of dictation too, to check their spellings!
  • Science: we started looking at solids, liquids and gases and used some of the incredible Twinkl resources (here and here) to help us! We even got the chance to go into the hall to pretend to be particles and make ourselves into the different layouts! The kids loved that.
  • Maths: We’ve been looking at number sequences and adding and subtracting multiples of 10 and 100, crossing boundaries. It’s been a bit tricky but the kids kept going!
  • We made resolutions too and I’m going to make a new window display next week which I am excited for the kids to see! I’ll show you all too!

What I learned

It’s not always my fault if something doesn’t go right. I can teach something in 100 different ways and it’s not my fault if the children don’t get it. Leave it be for a while and come back to it when both me and the kids aren’t getting frustrated. 

Highlight of the week

This conversation:
Y2 child: Miss, why do you have to go to university?
Me: Well, because I need to learn how to be a better teacher.
Y2 child: Well miss I think you’re already a brilliant teacher.

I almost cried!

Something to work on

Try not to beat myself up too much if something doesn’t go quite to plan, it’ll all work out fine in the end. 

It’s been a mad, manic week with one of my best friends being poorly but we pooled together and made it work! 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls: heart breaking, emotional and incredible.

During #SundayYAthon I read this amazing book and I couldn’t let it go without giving it its own blog post. It is SUCH an incredible story. And now that it’s a film, I may have to go see the film!
img_3549

I’m sure people have been telling me to read this for a while. I’ve seen it floating around on Twitter and my Amazon list for a while, but I always brushed it off. I always figured I wouldn’t love it but then one of my twitter pals convinced me that it was totally worth it. However it came with a whole load of warnings. BEWARE/YOU WILL NEED TISSUES/I’M HERE IF YOU NEED ME/WE NEED TO TALK WHEN YOU FINISH CRYING. Oh lord, I was scared. Scared. I cry at books ALL THE TIME, but when it’s a book that everyone else cries at, I always worry. The last book that made me cry so much I couldn’t think properly was Me Before You and I was not ready for another one of those books. I still can’t think about Me Before You now without getting a bit teary.

img_3550

“Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth”

Woah. I know. How scary. The truth is a pretty terrifying thing to ask of anyone, but to ask it of a child who’s mam isn’t very well… well that’s something else entirely

Now I must say there’s an illustrated version and I didn’t get that version but I wish I had! Everyone has been raving about how much it adds to the story! Although I liked imagining what the characters looked like myself. Especially the tree. He terrified me to be honest. And I’m an adult. This book deals with some very mature themes: illness, grief, struggling with school, nightmares but they are dealt with in such an amazing manner that you don’t feel like you’re being babied but also that you’re not thrust into the jaws of these, lets be honest, not very nice thingsness-and-spoon

 

I loved the story. The one thing we go to books for, their story… the thing they have to tell us. It was just glorious. Conor was looking for something and he found it but not in the way he thought he would. He discovers that sometimes the truth is the hardest thing to deal with, but that honesty is the best policy

This book made me cry. I won’t lie. I cried so hard. But I loved it. His relationship with his mother juxtaposed with the relationship he has with his father and his grandmother and then this complicated friendship he has with the tree, just so beautifully written. So honestly portrayed. 

Another book that I would totally recommend. The first chapter alone is worth its weight in gold. I will be using that chapter and the description in some way in the classroom, however my littles are too little to read the book. 

S x

(p.s. how adorable is my ‘Auntie Spot’ spoon bookmark from the twiglets?!)

Handbag post

A woman’s handbag is a mystery to most men! I thought I would share what was inside mine,  so please keep reading if you’re interested… if not I won’t be insulted! This is not a book/school post! But there’s more to me than books and work! 

img_3526

Since I was changing my bag… my gorgeous blue spotty Cath Kidston bag had died so I needed to sort everything out and put it into my gorgeous new Accessorize bag that SantaMam brought me for Christmas!

Left: keys (obviously), purse (trusty old Cath Kiston from the sale last year!), Parma Violets (yummmmm, gotta have a sweet fix), phone (duh…), deodorant, hand sanitiser and spray (you’ve gotta smell nice and be clean thanks!) 

Right: pens (highlighters and red pens… what do you expect? I’m a teacher!), kindle (purple spotty thing… I always have my kindle AS WELL AS a real life pages book), loose change (which should be in my purse with its friends!), lip balms (how many does one woman need?!), hand lotion (which smells amazing!), nail file (for all those times my nails snap… grrr), spotty glasses case (housing my prescription sunglasses… ooooh! I know! How fancy!)

img_3531

Chewing gum (obviously), mints (gotta have a fail safe incase you run out of chewing gum!), Waterstones gift card (got it for Christmas, haven’t spent it yet!), make up bag (housing make up, period things and painkillers!).

Not pictured: a book (always in my handbag but I had just finished one so I was in between books), a notebook (which I received for Christmas to carry about for blog ideas) and a diary (for blog scheduling and life stuffs).

So there we have it… a glimpse into my handbag! 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Katherine Webber

Wing Jones: warm, determined and incredibly written.

Book 1 of 52 this year and I got to make this wonderful debut my first and man did I make a good choice! 

img_3540

I’d heard SO MANY good things on Twitter about this book and had seen it everywhere! All my wonderful friends had ARCs or already had their hands on it and I was SO SAD that I didn’t have a copy yet. I sneakily asked Waterstones Newcastle on twitter if they had any copies and by magic they did, so I reserved a copy. They were bloody marvellous and reserved me a copy even though I’m not sure you’re meant to reserve copies over twitter? Who knows. Thank you so much Newcastle Waterstones, you guys are awesome.

SO to the actual book… 

This isn’t a story I’ve come across before. I’m a spoiler free blog (mostly) so I’m not going to spoil it for you, but it’s original and it’s wonderfully woven. Katherine Webber writes in such a beautifully exquisite way. There SO MUCH description and the descriptive writing is SO BEAUTIFUL, but it’s not in your face or over the top – it’s so spot on. I got a chapter in and knew right there that this was going to be a book that I would devour. As you go through the story there’s no gaps, there’s no holes… it works SO WELL. I loved it. So much.

c1kx6e-weaaskcn

You’ll also fall for the characters so much. They’re absolutely gorgeous. Wing is a wonderful young woman with a mission, she just wants to do whats best for her family. Her wonderful, complicated family. Her brother does something bad and her inner turmoil is described so eloquently. You can tell the pain is real. It’s not forced or faked. You can hear someone who’s been in that situation talking. There’s Aaron, her brother’s best friend, who I totally fell for. He’s lovely. There’s her wonderfully dysfunctional grandmothers, who I want. Both of them. They’re glorious and hilarious. 

I cried, I felt the pain. I worried. I wanted to flick forward to know that everything was going to be OK. I needed to know more. I wanted to see how it ended, to check that everyone was going to be OK. To check that these people who I’d completely and utterly fought for and stood beside were OK in the end. To watch Wing achieve her goal and get the thing she wanted. You’ll fall for them instantly and then have your world tumbled upside down, but the book slowly but surely build you back up. (Plus Wing has a lioness and a dragon. I mean who doesn’t want a lioness and a dragon?)

img_3543

For those suckers for a love story like me… yep there’s some of that too!
For those who love a good family in a story… yep, she’s got one of those!
For the people just looking for a devastatingly beautifully written story… yep, you found it!
For those wanting to find a YA story to get lost in… yep totally this one!
For those looking for an author to keep an eye on for the future… yep, this one!

I absolutely loved this. So much I devoured it in a day. Go read it! 

S x

2017 work wishes

I posted earlier this week about my 2017 plans (not resolutions, cause that’s a stupid word and they’re always broken) and mentioned that there would be a work specific one. Work and uni take a lot of my time so I think it’s good to give them their own time and place!

I will try to be more organised.
Now for those of you who know me you’re probably thinking ‘WHATTTT? YOU’RE SUPER ORGANISED’. Well yes, in some ways I am super organised but in other ways I am not. I work very well on the last minute kind of things but I’d like to know that especially for my dissertation that I will have it all in hand. I’m going to be doing my teacher training from September so I’m going to have to be organised. 

I will try to say no.
Again if you work with me you’ll know I’m RUBBISH at saying no. I will do whatever for whoever. I’m just that kind of gal. I work hard and if you ask me to do it and I feel it’s in my job description then I’ll do it. That’s just how I work. Sometimes however it does mean that my actual priorities get put aside and then those things end up eating at my ‘me time’. So saying no and prioritising are things I’m going to try to do this year.

I will try to concentrate on what’s important and what’s positive.
I so often get stuck in the negative. I’m quite a negative, introverted person outside of my Miss Elliott day to day job title. I am defined by my job quite often. It gives me purpose and meaning, so when something doesn’t quite go right I worry and stress out, instead of realising that it’s fine. It will be fine. I need to remember to take the positives out of situations.

I will read with the kids.
When they’re having silent reading time, especially in my Y4 classroom, I will make an effort to read along with them. I will make sure I always have a book that I can read in school so that we share silent reading time. Now I realise there’s going to be times when I have other things to do but I want to make a concerted effort to read in the classroom with the kids. It’ll help them see that I see reading as important. I love reading, they know this but to show them will just give it more depth.

Do you have any work plans? Anything you’d like to try this year? Let me know in the comments or on twitter, I’m always open to suggestions! 

S x

December books

As December occurred and is now over I thought I would look back at some of the books I read, bought for myself and gifted. December is a funny month for me. There are still books I want to buy but I know that Santa is coming so I have to stop myself! 

img_3532

These are all of the books that I acquired in December (I decided to not show the picture books!). It is quite an impressive pile, even by my standards! What can I say?! I love all of the books!

img_3535

These 4 beauties I was gifted by Secret Santa people and my wonderful friend Aimee – my copy of Winter Magic is signed and it is SO WONDERFUL. I think I might be greedy and read it all to myself before I share it with the kids at school! I was very lucky to be included in the Maximum Pop Secret Santa and the SundayYA Secret Santa too and my secret Santas were so spot on with their book presents! I can’t wait to read them all!

img_3537

These 4 gorgeous books are ones which I read for #SundayYAthon (which happened between Christmas and New Year) for which there is a blog post for AND separate book reviews for them are coming… because I have ALL OF THE WORDS to say about them! 

Books are absolutely my favourite gift to receive and my favourite to give too! I gave away so many beautiful books this year, for my Christmas presents AND in my mystery box for work! I hope all of the recipients enjoyed their books as much as I enjoyed giving them!

Did you guys get many books for Christmas this year? My 2017 reading list certainly keeps on getting longer! This bodes well for my reading challenge of 2017!

S x

2017 reading challenges

So I’m now invested in the British Book Challenge for 2017! Woohoo. I have to make sure that I’m keeping track of my books much better! Eeeeek. That’s pretty scary.

In 2015 I was really good at tracking my books on Goodreads but this year I’ve been really shocking so I have NO idea how many books I’ve read. Probably not as many as I would like to have! I remember in 2015 when the kids found out that I had read more than 52 books, they were absolutely astounded. I mean, I can read a book in a week… so that is my pledge for 2017…

I will read at least 52 books. 

You guys are more than welcome to keep me accountable. I will post a blog post for each and every single one if I can. I will blog weekly. I have made that pledge. I won’t stop blogging. I have a big year coming. But I need to keep reading. It is good for my brain. Part of my dissertation is about me modelling “good reading” and what impact it has on the children so this is brilliant. A very good tie in! 

There’s a bunch of teachers in a group on Goodreads too, also pledging to read 52 books in 2017… follow the #52books2017 if you’re interested in their progress.

That is my pledge to books in 2017. 

Are you making a 2017 book pledge? 

S x

#SundayYAthon

Once again I put myself through the torture misery delight of #SundayYAthon. Rachel made these categories for those of us who wanted to use, but they weren’t compulsory!

It took me a while to get my reading pile sorted. I just wasn’t sure what I was going to read or what I would be in the mood to read. I decided on the pile below…

img_3537

Carrie Hope Fletcher – Winters’ Snow
I’ll Be Home For Christmas – various authors
Patrick Ness – A Monster Calls
Holly Bourne – …And A Happy New Year?

I had heard SUCH good things about all of the books, I knew that I needed to have them all! I managed to get And A Happy New Year when I went to YAShot in October and held out on reading it until an opportune moment – what more of an opportune moment did I need? I got my hands on I’ll Be Home For Christmas after all of the #SundayYA folk were raving about it and the Patrick Ness book I was warned about. I am so glad I got the warning. 

The pile was a wonderful pile to read! Lots of happy, lots of tears but lots of amazing amazing stories. That’s why we read, for the stories. There are review blog posts coming for all of the books in the next few weeks but let me tell you they are ALL AMAZING and I would recommend each and every one to you. If you’re looking for a great book, choose one and enjoy! I even managed to fulfil all of Rachel’s categories!

  • A Christmas novel? And A Happy New Year
  • A novella? Winters’ Snow
  • A short story collection? I’ll Be Home For Christmas
  • A new book? ALL OF THEM, technically.
  • A book from your TBR? And A Happy New Year

So there we go! If you’re a reader and love a challenge #SundayYAthons run every now and again and we love having new people on board! Come along and say hi, say Steph send you! 

What have you all been reading for #SundayYAthon? Or just in general? Let me know in the comments or on twitter!

S x

Hello 2017!

HAPPY NEW YEAR WONDERFUL READERS OF MY BLOG.
Image result for 2017 in fireworks

I was asleep (probably) when Big Ben struck 12. I’m not a massive fan of New Year, I just don’t GET it. Like wooooo it’s a new year, I have to write ’17 instead of ’16 at the end of my date. I know some people love it but not me. It’s not for me. As Holly Bourne put it in her newest book “It’s not about new beginnings, or the best nights of your life, or your great lost love hunting you down at the countdown to tell you he made a horrible mistake letting you go!” (thanks films for convincing me that that’s what New Year was about!)

But anyway, I’m not a huge fan of resolutions anyway… they’re destined to be broken ha! This year I’m going to make “plans” (is that a good word for them? WHO KNOWS!) Things I hope for myself for 2017 – I’m going to make a work specific one next week, so I’ll try and avoid work themed plans in this post – don’t worry I’m not going to rabbit on for ages!

I will be healthy. 
Not skinny, not thinner. Diet culture and skinny culture bother me so so so much. I don’t want my twiglets growing up in a world that tells them they have to look and weigh a certain amount to get the man, or the job or whatever. It’s toxic and damaging. I’m not blind to the fact that I need to lose weight but I want to lose weight in my own time, by my own healthy ways. I don’t want to spend my life talking about losing weight, the latest diet/fad or not eating what I want because it’s “not good for me”. Let me make those decisions thanks, I’m an adult. I just want to be healthy. I’ll choose how that works in my life thanks. Stop telling me to eat kale and I need to be a certain size. 

I will be fitter.
Again, this whole “go to the gym/exercise all the time” thing is not for me. A few years ago I was a good gym goer and then life just got on top of me. Life does that. I want to find an exercise class I like. I want to go for more walks. I want to enjoy whatever it is that will make me fitter. STOP telling me I need to run. I HATE running.

I will see my family and friends often.
I have the most amazing family and friends around me and sometimes life stops me from seeing them. I want to make sure that I get to see my favourite people in the world often. They keep my happy sensors going. Seeing the twiglets, or my best friends, or that friend I’ve been meaning to meet up with for months. That’s what I want to do. Life’s stressful and tough, and I need PEOPLE around me to keep me ticking over.

I will keep blogging.
Blogging is one of my favourite things I discovered in 2016. I didn’t know that I would quite enjoy it as much as I do. I want to keep going. I would love to reach more people. But blogging isn’t my job – blogging is my hobby. I would love to get more involved in events and groups in 2017. I want to keep #SundayYA in my life. Those girls are some of my favourites. I want to get to some bookish events this year too. I think YALC will be on the cards. That terrifies me, but thrills me. I pledge to post at least 3/4 times a week. I hope you keep reading.

I will read.
I love reading. I can’t imagine NOT reading. I will keep reading. And doing bookish things. And buying books (oops!) I will keep doing it because I love it. 

I’m going to try and do all these things because they are the things that make me happy. Essentially that’s what matters. I’m quite a serious person, I take life quite seriously. I need to try and take life with a pinch of salt in 2017 and remember that it’s ok to fall down as long as you pick yourself up again. 

S x