Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Maths Question of the Decade

In about October time, someone twigged on that the decade was coming to an end. All we've heard since is 'decade', 'decade', decade'...

As it's my daughter's birthday, my mind shifted to a possible maths problem... (in a similar fashion to the Birthday Riddle): 

So, I'm 36 and I'm entering my 5th decade. 36 and 50 (ie 5 decades) are a fair distance apart. The children currently in Years Four, Three, Two... are only just entering their second decade.
So, here's the question:

How long would someone have to be alive to enter their second decade at the earliest opportunity?

How long would someone have to be alive to enter their second decade at the latest opportunity?

How long would someone have to be alive to enter their fifth decade at the earliest opportunity?

How long would someone have to be alive to enter their fifth decade at the latest opportunity?

How long would someone have to be alive to enter their tenth decade at the earliest opportunity?

How long would someone have to be alive to enter their tenth decade at the latest opportunity?

Or, any other similar questions that may come to mind...

What's the longest a decade can be? What's the shortest a decade can be? (NB: Leap Years ;-))

Friday, 29 November 2019

English Figurative Language Crossed the Road

Recently, I came across this wonderful article pictured below:

Unfortunately, I've lost the source (if found, this will be updated).

We shared it with our Year Six children...

We shared it as part of our current poetry work. We asked the children to write sentences in the style of 'Why did the chicken cross the road?", but replace the chicken with a poetic device and then make the rest of the sentence an example of that figurative language. Here's some of what they came up with...

The children found this an engaging and productive activity.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

The Sunscreen Song - Thought for the Week

As a 16 year old, I heard the "The Sunscreen Song" on the radio. It struck me as being slightly odd, different and a bit amusing. A week later, my mother purchased a copy on CD. Me mam, buying a song in the charts. I know! 
Since, 20 years have passed. It's popped up now and again on the radio and I've also stuck it on myself. As I've aged, the song has meant more and more to me. It is a beautiful series of words and sentences. And, why my mother purchased a copy now makes more sense! 

Here's what I'm up to with it:

In my classroom, I have created a 'This Week's Thought' display and I have split the song into some of it's lines of 'advice'. Each week, I put up a different quote from the song. 

I have not told my class where they are coming from, nor have I pointed out the display. I'm going to keep putting them up and then, towards the end of the year, review what's been up there, play them the song and get them to read the lyrics. We can then discuss.

Also, we will try to write some lines of our own in a similar style.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Cutting, Sticking and Straight Lines

At the start of the year, we like to get some basics sorted. 

To get those cutting, sticking and using a ruler skills up to speed, we use the following two tasks:

Cutting and sticking

We found a Mincraft sword for the children to cut out and stick together. The more accurately they cut and stick, the better the outcome. The source of this resource can be found here

Drawing straight lines

For the ruler skills, we discovered 'What to draw and how to draw it', Lutz (c1913). We used the book to create a resource for class. The outcomes were great, and a skill practised.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Taskmaster - What did you see?

In the most recent series of Taskmaster, the following task was given to the contestants.

They were shown a display of items for a short period of time (they were allowed to walk past it once):

Then, and only then, they were asked to recreate what they had seen using the resources in front of them. These images show what they came up with.

So, in class, set up a scene. Allow the children to walk past it. Ask them to draw what they had seen. Get them to do it with resources. Get them to describe it to someone else for them to draw.

The main thing is, with this task, the pupils walk past the scene without knowing what's coming next in the task.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Short Stories with Oliver Jeffers

On a recent visit to the local library, I picked up 'An Alphabet of Stories' by Oliver Jeffers. I picked it up because I'm a bit of a fan of Jeffers' work and had not see this book before. As can be seen in some of our previous posts, I quite like a short story too!

In this book, Jeffers creates a short story linked to each letter of the alphabet. Some stories even cross-reference each other.

The stories are fantastic: build up, dilemma and conclusion all in a few sentences. Like the 'A' example above, all the stories begin on one page and have the punchline or resolution on the next page.

In my current Year Six class, we have 28 pupils. With 26 letters of the alphabet, I decided we'd all write a story (with some letters being repeated if no one was absent). Two pupils were absent. Result! 

Below in my attempt for 'P':

Give it a go. Let us know how you get on...

Friday, 14 June 2019

Desk Calendar Problem

So, I saw this on a colleague's desk. It got me thinking: "These are six-sided cubes. So, how can twelve digits split as a six and a six represent all thirty-one days of a month?"

It's a problem that makes use of trial and error, make a model and test and thinking logically. I made a sheet to introduce the problem:

The sheet, with differentiated support and my answer can be found here.

I wonder how many combinations of answer there are...

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Beach Ball Throw - Taskmaster

For the past four years, we've used the 'Backwards Video Task' as a team building task at the start of each year. It gets children working together and produces some imaginative and impressive outcomes

In the most recent series of Taskmaster, the contestants were given another video task I can see working well in the classroom. The contestants were given a beach ball and asked to film themselves in one location throwing the ball out of shot and then later film them self catching the ball in a new location. The winner of the task was the person who 'threw' the ball over the largest total distance. In school, I'd be looking for the group to ensure consistency by linking the throws and filming to make each throw and catch look authentic. 

Going to give it a go in September. We'll see what the children come up with! There's a planning sheet here that may be useful.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Disney in French

I have two toddler daughters. In recent years, I've become very familiar with the plots, characters and songs of 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Frozen' in particular. One day last week, one daughter wanted to dance to 'Build a Snowman'. So, I searched for it on my phone. For some reason, the French version came up. It struck me that this could be another way to access a language in a classroom. A hook, a stater, game or just for a bit of fun...

La Reine des Neiges - Je voudrais un bonhomme de neige

Friday, 15 March 2019

Bonza Vocabulary

A few weeks ago, I came across an app. Bonza is its name. Cheers Alex for the Tweet about it. So, it's a word game. The parts of the puzzle need to be put back together to form a crossword. Before the puzzle comes up, there is a hint as to what the puzzle's topic may be.

Gave the game a go. Enjoyed it. Thought about uses in school. After investigating the app a little, found it is rated 12+ due to some of the vocabulary and subject content within the app. However, here are some ideas for using Bonza and/or Bonza-style puzzles in class...

1. Create a puzzle and then project to a screen from your own device. Complete the puzzle together. We've blogged about this approach in the past.

2. Create a puzzle and print it out to be cut and stuck, or the answers written out.

3. Create a puzzle and the. Recreate it in Word, PowerPoint or similar.

What could the puzzles be about? A spelling rule, verb tenses, topic-based vocabulary, revision and, well anything that involves words really.

Another tool to add a bit of variety to a classroom and learning. Age rating of the app just a tad irritating. NB, puzzles can only be completed in the app and not through a browser either...

Here's one I made to go with our Year Five's rivers topic (also pictured above).

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Revision Badges

We spotted a Tweet...
It got us thinking. As we're both now teaching in Year Six (together - I know!), could we do something similar for our learners?

So, we set to work. We looked at some Question Level Analysis, asked pupils, teachers and TAs and then created a bank of items the current Year Six could do with some reminders of.

A bit of work in PowerPoint, adding the information to circular templates, before printing and putting them through the badge maker, and we'd got some badges!

We've created 40 of them. The idea being that we dip into the pot of badges each day between now and the second week in May and wear the badges for the pupils to see.

We've been wearing them for four days so far. The pupils ask adults what their badge says and ask questions about them. We currently have no proof if they are working. But, the signs look promising and they can't have a negative impact! 

Our badge machine is a 55mm badge maker and therefore our templates are for 55mm badges. If you think we've missed a fact or facts, please let us know. And, of course, please help yourself to a copy of our templates.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Place Value and Receipts

As it's the Half Term break, my family and I took in a spot of lunch out earlier today. We were in a well known pub chain that have an app that allows orders to be made from the table...

A receipt we received, contained various numbers. All the numbers need to be read in Key Stage Two. Grab a load of receipts. Can the children in Year Four/Five read all the numbers on them?

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Vocabulary of Testing

Here's an idea from a colleague...

We do tests (not the official ones) to find out what children do/don't know, to give them practice of what a test is like and to teach test technique.

Good practice is to review the test with the pupils. What did they get right? What did they get wrong? Why?

Something we've recently learned is to ask the children for 'the words they did not understand'. Then, spend some time defining these words and then display them for all to see. Can't do the test if you don't understand the vocabulary...