Sharing ideas and all things ICT… I am a Y2 teacher, AHT, ICT subject leader and mum

Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

Loving Pinterest!

Keep seeing lots of lovely ideas on the web, or images that you want to reference later, but forget where you saw it?  Well if you are not already hooked on Pinterest – you soon will be!  It’s a very clever little content  sharing service that allows members to ‘pin’ images, videos and other objects to their own pinboards. You can name your boards (a sort of mini filing system really) and you can also share your great ‘pins’ via the usual social networking features in Twitter and Facebook.  You can create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies or you can. browse other pinboards for images, ‘re-pin’ images to your own pinboards.  I love the simplicity of it and find it an invaluable resource of just about anything and everything.  Click the ‘My Pinterest’ button on the top right of my blog to see my boards or click

Inspire Create Teach with iPads!

Over the past few years I have been a great advocate of class based action research projects.  They allow me to focus on a particular aspect of eduation whereby I am given time to apply and reflect on my own teaching practice with the aim to improve it.  At the end of March, I submitted a bid for £5000 that would pay for 15 iPads.  My proposal was based on our needs at our school.  The expected outcomes of buying and using the iPads in the classrom would be:

  • Transform teaching and learning by changing the current classroom culture and embedding creative use of ICT
  • Make the classroom teaching and learning more interactive and creative in facilitating learning
  • Facilitate more personalised learning that is strongly linked to learners needs
  • Raise expectations and reduce the gap for lower performers
  • Raise standards in reading and writing for all
  • Close the digital divide and improve standards for all children
  • Motivate and engage reluctant readers and writers
  • Provide a platform for developing speaking and listening skills which in turn impact positively on reading and writing skills
  • Utilising emerging technologies in the classroom and exploring potential impact in supporting learning
  • Develop and embed effective inclusion strategies for children with SEND
  • Initiate an ICT cluster group to share good outcomes and practice
  • Develop role of Digital Leaders
  • Organise a Teachmeet/Kidsmeet

My baseline assessment is  to target a  cohort (unsure which year group at this point as not sure where I’ll be in September) in order to track, monitor and assess achievement and impact throughout the project.  Writing and reading levels will be used as a baseline and ambitious targets set with a specific focus on targeting those children who are underachieving.  Alongside this we would interview children on their attitudes to learning and engagement in this as well as parental observations on this.  This would then be re-assessed at the end of the project.  Interim data and performance indicators will be used to monitor the impact of ICT on learners.

Initial implementation of the iPads would be to provide a contextual hub for learning from which the children would utilise technology to develop language skills by accessing modelled apps, games and research.  Reluctant writers and readers would be engaged and motivated by seeing, hearing and exploring good language with a view to communicate learning by sharing and having an audience.  This could be achieved by provision and access to iPads and the wealth of opportunities they offer.  The focus will be on talk for reading and writing and there are a number of apps and functions on the ipads which will support and enhance this.

By developing the use of ICT in one year group we will be able to use action research to target successful strategies to support learning in reading and writing through the development of language skills.  This can then be disseminated to other classes and enhance the work of the school in raising standards.

Having a bank of iPads offers flexibility of learning as they could be rotated class to class or timetabled for use in class or in small groups across the school.  The iPads will give us provision and access to all children across the school through a range of exciting opportunities.  Other pockets of underachievement could then also be addressed using this medium.

As an aside, we have a number of children with SEND and believe Ipads will provide an additional focus for continued inclusion and enhanced learning.  IPads would be instrumental in providing visual learning, helping with therapy and turn taking.  These devices would also help non-verbal children communicate more effectively.  These children are less likely in some instances to have access to ICT at home so we will be able to reduce the gap for them in their successful use of digital resources as part of learning.

I’m always looking for ways to improve learning and maintain motivation and engagement for the children I teach.  This project is an exciting one which I cannot wait to get underway.  I hope to post my progress throughout this project and share my findings.

Reciprocal reading

(Image from

As part of a recent Lesson Study project in my school, I was introduced to a new way of facilitating Guided Reading sessions.  As part of the study I was observed and it was commented upon the amount of input I was giving – asking the correct AF questions, ensuring all had a voice, selecting parts of text to discuss etc.  The suggestion of doing Reciprocal Reading was given, I pride myself in keeping informed of current research etc etc but had to admit that I had never come across this term or system before.  Reciprocal reading  was developed in the mid-1980s by reading researchers Ann Brown and Ann-Marie Palincsar. Also called reciprocal teaching, it is a set of four strategies taught to struggling readers, primarily to develop their comprehension monitoring abilities. In pairs or small groups, participants sharing a common text take turns assuming the roles of teacher and student. After instruction from the teacher, children then engage in the following sequence:

1.  Boss (or role of teacher) – who reads determines whether they all read together, listen to the boss read or read silently.  It is the boss’ role to keep the other participants involved.

2. Questioning –  a child writes down questions arising form the test that they would answered as they read.  (I gave the Questionner a whilteboard and pen for ease).

3.  Summarizing – at any point (determined by the Boss), the Summarizer is called upon to summarize the text so far ( a very difficult skill for some).

4. Clarifying – as the text is being read the Clarifier writes down and looks up unusual or difficult words in a dictionary.  They also clarify any difficulties in understanding of the text

5. Predicting – the Predictor, stopping at various points in the text will be asked by the Boss to predict an outcome given the information so far.

Each role has a prompt card to help with phrasing questions and key words to use.  Roles are interchangeable within the group to enable all the children to experience all the roles over a  number of weeks.

My role was to guide in the initial stages and then after that, I was able to sit back and actually assess using APP criteria as they progressed during the session.  At first (especially with the higher ability groups) everyone was very eager to do their ‘role’ but after a few sessions, calm ensued and it is now a very productive way to organise a guided reading session.  Does it improve skills in reading?  Perhaps too early to say just yet, but early signs are that the children are really engaged in reading and their roles so it is a good start!

There are some resources on the internet, see links below for options to use in the classroom:

Curiosity Kits for reluctant readers

Several years ago, I came across some brilliant research by Maureen Lewis and Ros Fisher on how to engage reluctant readers, in particular boys in Years 3 and 4, where typically their interest waned.  Being motivated by its content, I decided to make up some of my own Curiosity Kits.  The premise of these kits are story bags (I used nylon drawstring PE bags) which have a non-fiction book of a particular interest to boys e.g. knights, dragons, football, dinosaurs etc.  Accompanying the non – fiction book would be an artefact related to the topic,  a laminated word search which again contained words pertinent to the book.  A magazine was also included, which while aimed at adults would encourage an adult male in the family to share the kit.  I included a book review with question, comment and rating boxes added.  Now this involved quite a financial commitment from me, but I was quite canny with how I gathered the resources.  My first job were the books and as most schools seem to have a ‘Book Man/Company’ that surreptitiously leave a collection of books in the staffroom each term, this was easy to acquire for a reasonable cost.  I seem to remember I got 10 DK non-fiction books for £10 – a great start which then dictated what topics would be used.  Small toys etc were found via eBay and such like.  Laminated word searches were easy to make using an online word search maker but the magazines were a stumbling block.  They were as expensive at about £3-5 each so I began ringing around publishers and explained what I was doing and they (well, most) were only too happy to provide a few copies for my kits.  Some were even kind enough to provide 6 or more backdated copies which was brilliant!!

I knew, ideally, that I wanted a class set but that would be too expensive so I settled on 15 which actually turned out really well because only half the class at any one time has them to take home for a week, which then builds up expectation and excitement for those having to wait.  Although the topics are ‘boy’ friendly, this by no means excludes the girls, who were only too pleased to loan them for a week as well.

The feedback I got from parents was fantastic, they actually enjoyed sharing the kit with their child and the opportunity to do something different.  I included a little box on the book review for the parents (if they wanted) to complete regarding their thoughts and I’m glad I did as the response was superb and reiterated by original reasons for setting them up in the first place.

If you are reading this and think, I’d like to do the same but don’t know where to start, get in touch and I can pass on the lending cards, clipart for the kits, checking out list, book review forms, the research word searches and any advice you think you may need, then just tweet me @nickynewbury and I’ll do my very best to help.

Oh, and how did the boys do?  Well, let’s just say that there were no reluctant readers after using these!!!  Think that is testament enough?

Count On maths resources

I’ve mentioned this site before some time ago but it is worth revisiting. Count On has puzzles, games, resources and much more. It has new games and links added.

Primary School Teaching

A new  site was tweeted to me, called Primary School Teaching! Resources for ALL key stages especially Foundation Stage!!! Songs, lessons,teaching resources, self registration pictures, IWB activities plus much much more…

Way of the world?

A short video posted on YouTUbe by Macmillans Children’s Publishing Group showing how the world (for some) may seem…