Blackout poetry

To coincide with National Poetry Day, we celebtrated at school with Poetry Week, where our English lessons all centred around poems. We in Year 5 had already done a week of poetry (it’s what I started the year with), so when it came round the celebrating Poetry Week, the kids were enthused to say the least! They have boundless energy about everything, with poetry being no exception. We have tried to incorporate poetry into EVERYTHING… I am often asked “Miss, can I write a poem?” and I always encourage this… write creatively my friends!

One thing I’d seen flying around the internet in particular was blackout poems. I was a bit tentative to start and thought long and hard about how we could POSSIBLY make it happen. After mulling it over since the beginning of the year, (I had wanted to do it during out first week) I bit the bullet and started to plan a one off lesson as part of our school Poetry Week.

To the kids, I posed the question

“What do you think blackout poetry is?”

and we got some brilliant answers:

  • It’s a poem that describes the night
  • It’s a poem about the war
  • A poem that’s only made up of black and white pictures
  • A poem written on black page and the writing is made of only white words

Then, I showed them some examples that I found on Google:

Their reactions were amazing. They were astounded by these, with one boy saying “Miss, they’re not even poems“. We talked about what the poems might be about just on first glance and talked about how we knew that.

Then I explained to them their task: they were given a page of our class novel Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Milwood Hargrave and they had to create their own piece of blackout poetry based on the page they were given. They had to think about the words they chose and the illustrations which they paired with the words. Some of the children struggled at first, but once they’d had some time to reflect and look at the models again, they had a very good go.

In a one hour lesson, we didn’t all finish. Some of the children were so enthused and loving it so much they even wanted to stay in at lunchtime to finish! I’ve made time next week for them to finish, as I think the finished products will just look incredible.

Here is an example of 4 of the finished ones. I can’t wait to see them all when they’re finished!

Once they’re all finished, I’m going to make them into a book!

My Year 5 class LOVED this and the finished products look amazing. This is definitely going to be a lesson that stays in my arsenal for my future poetry lessons!

Did you enjoy that tale from my classroom?
Do you want to see what else we get up to in Year 5?
Have you any requests for things to see?

Let me know your thoughts on the poems so far, my kids would love feedback!

S x

More #AskMissElliott

Hello! Back to some school talk! 

I took a few weeks off doing #AskMissElliott to give the kids a chance to come up with some new questions but after requests to bring it back I knew it was time! If you’re curious what #AskMissElliott is, it’s a chance for the kids in my class to ask me a question about me! They are allowed to ask me anything they want: I’m very lucky that I have a bunch of kids who I’ve built a lovely relationship with and as it stands I’ve not had any stupid questions – they’ve all been quite normal! (if you’re interested in seeing my previous #AskMissElliott posts – Ask Miss Elliott#AskMissElliott 2#AskMissElliott 3)

So here we go with some of the questions this time round!

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What is the most annoying song for you?

So many. But Pen Pineapple Apple Pen is HIGHLY irritating. 

 

What is your favourite language?IMG_4538

These kids love asking me questions about languages! I think my favourite language to listen to is Spanish, but my favourite languages to speak are probably French or German – they’re both very different! (I can’t speak Spanish, so if anyone wants to teach me… I’m willing!)

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Do you like university?

I kind of touched on this in Student-ing but on the whole I did enjoy the process. It was exhausting but educational. I learnt a lot about myself through the process. I would definitely recommend it to people, it takes a lot of commitment and drive.
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What is your favourite month? (Mine is Winter)

(I think this child meant “season”) Definitely summer. Give me sunshine, warmth and beer gardens over cold, snow and hot chocolate any day!

 

IMG_4542Did you have any jobs before you were a teacher? If so what were they?

Retail and bar work! I worked in a shoe shop for a lot of my working career. I was just an evening and weekend girl initially, but then I worked my way to supervisor/cover manager. I also worked in St James’ Park for a season, on match days, in one of the bars. 

So those were some of the questions this time round! The kids are definitely getting braver with their questions and I am loving the fact they requested to have this back! It’s a lovely rapport builder with the kids – we know so much about them that sharing some little answers with them is great for our classroom atmosphere! I would totally recommend people try it, even if just once!

Have you tried this in your classroom?
Have you tried something similar?
Would you try this?

I’d love to know what other little things you do with your class! Let me know in the comments or on twitter (@eenalol) I am always open to a chat, or a question!

S x

Use your senses?!

Last week (Wonderful writing?) I talked about using Once Upon A Picture to inspire my Year 4s to write detailed setting descriptions and I was SO proud of them. This week I decided to try and add more depth to their descriptions by getting them to think about using their settings to deepen their descriptions, once again using Once Upon A Picture as stimulus. 

glenn-kim-red-riding-hood(Credit: Once Upon A Picture)

First we used this picture and on the carpet we talked about what we could see, hear, touch and how we would feel (emotionally) being part of this picture or looking at it. The children all came up with sentences that they wrote on their whiteboards and we shared a few for each of the different senses. They came up with some absolutely incredible sentences on their whiteboards and I left some up as models. 

Then I sent them back to their desks and displayed the following pictures on the whiteboard:

SnowSkadi 249

tyler-carter-lost-world

goro-fujita-spirits

burda-retro-city

Snowskadi city in cave

The children had to choose one of the pictures to write a setting description of using their senses to help them write the sentences. I asked them to think about hearing, sight, touch and emotions. Their setting descriptions came out brilliant. I am so proud of these kids. They’re just working their socks off at the minute and they seem to be really enjoying doing this setting work. I just hope it has an impact on their story writing and they remember to put some of this excellent work in to their stories!

Here are some of their responses:

IMG_4311“If you felt the soft walls you would think it was like a feather”
“It was a relaxing feeling nobody will disturb you”
“When you looked at the shimmering water you could see the perfect reflection of you”

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“I can feel the solid concrete under my feel as I walk slowly”
“I can feel the wind gently blow against my face”

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“I can feel the cold water shivering down my spine”
“As I run my fingers down the river, I feel ice cold water”
“I can see the lime green moss at the top of the bridge”

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“Suddenly the three pirates stopped like it was time for the world to end”
“In the blink of an eye, the pirates saw an old rusty smelly boat that crashed into the face of death”

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“The white clouds look like fluffy cushions floating in the burning hot sun”
“There are bells ringing like it’s Christmas again”

To say I’m a proud teacher is a total understatement. This is just a snippet of the incredible work they did. I would be here forever if I shared them all. I can’t stress Once Upon A Picture hard enough if you want some beautiful visual stimulus for your kids’ writing!

Have you ever used Once Upon A Picture?
What other visual stimulus can you recommend to me?
Which sentence is your favourite?

I’d love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@eenalol)

S x

I Wish My Teacher Knew…

As you know from my #AskMissElliott posts (#AskMissElliott 3#AskMissElliott 2Ask Miss Elliott) I have been sharing things with my Year 4 class as they’ve had the chance to ask me questions which I answer. This week I saw on Twitter the idea of ‘I wish my teacher knew…’ and I thought it would be an interesting thing to do with my class. (I’m so sorry I can’t find the original tweet to share or give credit, if anyone finds it then I will give rightful credit) The kids came in on Friday morning and I asked them to finish the sentence telling me something about themselves that I may not know. I told them I wasn’t going to share them if they didn’t want me to (most of them didn’t). A few of them surprised me with their fact. There weren’t any serious revelations but there were some lovely ones and some I never would’ve guessed so I thought I’d share!

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“I wish my teacher knew… that when I grow up I want to be an electric engineer”
(This is one of my girls and I will be promoting this SO HARD. Yes to girls in STEM!)

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“I wish my teacher knew… I wish she could speak Spanish”
(Me too kid, me too!)

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“I wish my teacher knew… that I want to be a footballer and an author when I grow up.”
(Yes kid, you reach that high. I will be here when you are living your dream!)

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“I wish my teacher knew that I love literacy/I wish my teacher knew I love art”
A few of the children shared things like this and I thought it was lovely that they wanted to share positive opinions about school. Fostering a positive attitude to school is so important… we need to maintain this in our kids! 

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“I wish my teacher knew that she is the best teacher ever”
(Now, I got lovely messages like this from 3 different children so naturally it made me smile so hard. My kids bring me such joy that hearing positive things back always makes my heart so happy)

It’s so important to give kids a voice in the classroom. Make them feel important. Let them share things about themselves. They may not share much the first time but give them time and they’ll tell you something. Listen to them. 

S x

Ask Miss Elliott

I really enjoy taking you guys inside my classroom and sharing my ideas in the classroom. I love it even more when I’m taken into someone else’s classroom and I see their ideas that I know that I need to magpie and try myself! Enter Mr N. He wrote a blog post titled #AskMrN in which he got his class to ask him questions to answer! I thought this was a wonderful idea, so I asked if I could magpie it and try it with my Year 4s! So here goes…

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On Friday morning, the children came into this in the classroom. (We usually have a picture from Once Upon a Picture or Twinkl Imagine for which they have a discussion and they write their thoughts down on a post it note!) They were a bit confused at first but I explained that they could ask me anything (within reason, nothing silly otherwise it won’t be answered) and that throughout the day they would be answered! Here are some of the questions they asked: 

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Do you like sports?

Yes! I am a massive fan of tennis and football. I like rugby too. Roger Federer is my absolute tennis idol. I think he’s incredible. Obviously, being from Newcastle, I’m a huge Newcastle fan (win or lose, I am black and white all over).

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What was your favourite subject at school?

When I was in school I always loved English and German. I was much better at German than French (which is surprising because I teach French now!) I loved studying and analysing stories (although I’m glad I just get to read books now!)

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What subject were you worst at? What subject were you really bad at? (I had this in a few different forms!)

PE. I have never been the fittest or most sporty person. I LIKED PE but I was NEVER good at it. My PE teachers weren’t particularly supportive either though. Except when it came to rounders… man could I hit and throw!

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How many brothers and sisters do you have? Do you have brothers or sisters?

I have 1 brother. He lives in Sweden! He’s 4 years older than me and one of my best friends. We were really close growing up. He always has wise words for me. I love him and I miss him every day. But we speak quite often! He is really happy in Sweden so that’s what matters!

So that’s the first installment of #AskMissElliott! I have another one coming next week! I hope you guys enjoyed reading this and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask me on twitter (@eenalol) or leave me a comment! My kids loved doing this and they asked if we could do it again. Thanks again to Mr N (@TeachMrN on twitter and TeachMrN blog!)

S x

 

Classroom Christmas!

Yes. Working in a school.
At Christmas. With 30 children.
I know.
Imagine.
IT’S AMAZING.

I love a Christmas craft! This post will take you through 2 of my favourites, 2 very simple but 2 effective and quick crafts! All you need is paper, hands and scissors! 

This is my Christmas tree in Year 4. It’s made from different shades of green card and paper and then they’re just stapled onto the wall. It’s not perfect, and it’s not decorated… but I love it! The kids had a lot of fun today drawing around their hands and cutting them out… but I had some BIZARRE shapes for hands!! Get them to draw around their hands, cut them out et voila! You have a tree! Then add a star and a pot (if you so wish!). All the children have designed a bauble too, but I need to laminate those before they go on the tree, they didn’t look great not laminated… hello weekend job!

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In a very similar vein… I present to you an advent wreath!! Exactly the same concept. Draw around your hands, cut them out! You need a piece of card ideally to staple to first layer of hands on, which you then stick the rest of the layers on to, but paper would also do! As I work in a Catholic primary school every week we have an Advent service, so after the advent service I add the newly-lit candle to the wreath. Again, a very simple but effective craft opportunity! The children can also make their own versions if you have enough time/resources! (I still need to add a piece of ribbon to this though! It doesn’t feel quite complete!) 

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Do you have favourite quick and easy Christmas crafts in your classroom? 

S x

Book inspired lessons

I am going to start a ‘BOOK INSPIRED LESSONS’ blog post series. It will only be as and when for the minute, then once there’s a few ideas in the blog I might make it a real thing!

For a long time I’ve wanted to learn how to sign, properly. But it’s just not something I’ve ever got round to unfortunately. It’s always been there, bubbling in the back of my mind! As soon as I read ‘A Quiet Kind of Thunder’, I knew I wanted to do something BSL inspired, but I wasn’t quite sure what. Rhys being deaf just spurred something on in me!

I pondered over it for a day or two and had a browse on Twinkl and saw that they have some INCREDIBLE resources all about BSL. I knew instantly that I wanted to use the resources in my Year 4 classroom! I found this video and knew that I had to use it! It’s a very simple video showing how to sign the letters of the alphabet, which will enable the children to “fingerspell” (spell with their fingers) their names!

We watched the video twice, with the children copying the lady on the video. Then the children went back to their desks with this sheet and they had 5 minutes to practise fingerspelling their name with the partner. The children absolutely LOVED it.

It only took 10-15 minutes and now all the children have some awareness of BSL and hopefully can spell their name using this incredible language! I hope to teach them a christmas song in BSL too… Twinkl is wonderful and has all kinds of Christmas BSL resources available! Check them out!

Have you ever tried BSL in your classroom? How did it work? I want to show my children that all forms of communication are important and create a classroom filled with children who are aware of the diverse nature of this world!

S x

Freeday: Y6 Science

Year 6 this year have brought on new challenges (I knew my last class very well!) so I have had to keep things fresh. Last year the children loved looking at the adaptations of the animals we have in the world today, whereas I know this new class can cope with something which is more of a challenge… 

We have been looking at the wonderful (ha) new addition to the curriculum which is Evolution and Inheritance (thanks to Twinkl FYI for the amazing Plan It resources for this topic, I would’ve struggled without your gentle guidance!). We’ve looked at adaptation using the lesson I did last year, which they absolutely loved, so I thought for the final lesson for this topic I would get them to design their own creatures and to describe the adaptations the animal has which make it suitable for whatever habitat it lives in. 

The worksheet is herey6-science.

Let me know if you download it! Tell me in the comments or via twitter @eenalol

S x

(Credit to: https://www.tes.com/lessons/search/science for the picture!)

Talk4Writing

Last year we started to introduce Talk4Writing into the classes… and I have to say on the whole I love it! Initially it was brought in as part of one of our deputy’s leadership projects to help improve boys attainment, but it helps everyone! I’m going to be very specific in this blog post about how I used it in a recent 2 day cover period in Year 2, but there will be a future post about Talk4Writing in the not so distant future!

A quick insight into Talk4Writing… “Talk for Writing enables children to imitate the key language they need for a particular topic orally before they try reading and analysing it. Through fun activities that help them rehearse the tune of the language they need, followed by shared writing to show them how to craft their writing, children are helped to write in the same style. Schools that have adopted the approach have not only increased their children’s progress but have found that children and teachers alike love it. It not only works throughout primary schools from the early years to Year 6 but also in secondary schools where it is key to making literacy across the curriculum really work” (taken from the Talk4Writing website.)

Last week the Year 2 class teacher was poorly so I was asked to cover Tuesday all day and Wednesday morning (not Weds afternoon as during this time I am in Year 4 covering PPA). The Year 2 class had been looking at instruction writing for the past week or so… so I knew where they were up to in that and where to take it. 

On Tuesday we decided together that we could write instructions describing how they come in at the end of break time. We discussed the steps a few times, I wrote them on the board in order, then I asked the children to draw a “story map” of their instructions in order, so they could see it visually.  Once they had all finished I had written the bossy verbs on separate pieces of paper and “accidentally” muddled them up… so they had to help me to put them back in order.

When Wednesday came around I was told that there were going to be writing observations and that yes, even though I was covering, I would be observed… just to check what I was up to. (I hate being observed, I’ll have to get used to it I know, but I hate it. It’s a lot of pressure and I was dreading it!) We started the lesson by going over the features of instruction writing (title, a ‘you will need’ section with bullet points, a ‘what to do’ section with numbers), with me writing the different sections on big pieces of paper and putting them on the window. In entered the head and the writing coordinator (EEK) while we were trying to come up with ideas for a title for the instructions. (There was only 1 title it could’ve had, but the ideas the children came up with that we wrong we discussed together and with their talk partners why they wouldn’t work). Then we moved on to thinking of things for the ‘you will need’ section and me making them stress to me that I need BULLET POINTS (they loved shouting this at me) in this section. Again they came up with the ideas with their talk partners. Once we’d written the list (a coat, an adult, a whistle, somewhere to line up), I explained that they were going to use their story map to write the instructions on their piece of paper – to which they all shouted “MISS WE NEED TO REMEMBER NUMBERS!” YES, well said in this observation! I had 3 different models, 3 different scaffolds for the different abilities. Then I sent the children off to their seats to say, write and check their sentences with their partner. The observers stayed for a few minutes while the children started their writing and then informed me that they’d be back at the end “to see the finished product” (TALK ABOUT PRESSURE). The rest of the lesson went over a blur. 

I got some absolutely incredible feedback from the observers about my lesson. The children were totally engaged, there were high expectations of all children, I had differentiated well, Talk4Writing strategies were well used, good use of the space and adults, excellent routines put in place, children knew what was expected of them. I was so very chuffed… 

When I marked the work it seemed 28/30 had met the LG. 

I’m not too shoddy at this teaching thing it seems. Maybe.

I know not all observations will go this well, but I think it’s important to celebrate your successes!

S x

Free-day: Maths challenge!

During a Maths learning walk last year I was in the Year 5 classroom and we were thinking about algebraic problems involving shapes, patterns and missing lengths.

I produced the sheet attached which has 2 differentiated versions of the problems.

We had spent the previous week looking at a few different variations on the same problems so this week (luckily for my observation) was one in which was just a bit of input from me but then a lot of problem solving skills from the children. They were able to use their whiteboards for any help needed but I encouraged the children to draw and write all of their thoughts in their maths books for assessment purposes. The children were all well engaged and loved the challenge posed at the end.

This would work well in Year 5 and Year 6. We were following Maths Makes Sense at the time and we found that some of the expectations were too high, so possibly even higher up would be good.

Let me know if my maths-learning-walk worksheet is any good to you! Comment below or let me know on twitter @eenalol

S xx