One of my Christmas jobs is to plan the curriculum for the rest of Year 4. We did look at this in May when draft documents were out and we pencilled in an overview for the year but quite quickly we realised that we needed to change it. This happened for many reasons including:
- The final curriculum was released and changed our plans
- We wanted to make something coherent and exciting, our initial plans were done in a couple of hours and didn’t fit together as much as I would’ve liked
- I now know the children. I didn’t then. I was new in September and hadn’t worked with the children so didn’t know what would or wouldn’t work for them.
I know that this year, as the National Curriculum documents were disapplied, we can do whatever we like (pretty much) but I want to think longer term so that I have some things in place for next year if needs be. Not to 100% re-use but to adapt and change as needed.
There has been a lot of talk about Gove, his constant teacher-bashing and the new curriculum, among many other things, but y’know what, being a teacher is an amazing job so I’m going to just get on with it. I read this post from Pete Yeomans and I know that some people disagree with his tweets and think of him as argumentative at times, but read that post. He talks a lot of sense. As a profession we have just been given a hell of a lot of freedom. Let’s make the most of it and create something amazing for our children and our schools.
Take the new curriculum. For Science it lists five areas that Year 4 must cover. The electricity area is so small and simple it can be done in 20 minutes (allowing 10 minutes for finding some batteries that work of course). It involves making a circuit with buzzers, bulbs, switches and batteries/cells, play with it a bit e.g. what happens with more batteries? Or with more bulbs? Then draw a diagram of it. Simple. So this gives you loads of time to expand on it and develop it. The problem with the circuits made in many schools is that they don’t really do anything. What about this though. We could get some proper equipment with batteries, LEDs etc and make a torch that the children can take home. That’d be better wouldn’t it? We could even write instructions for how it works.
It’s the same for many other areas of the curriculum. Yes there are things we don’t agree with in there, but I think this is because we have no idea what happened in Baghdad or Benin in 900AD so we don’t know how to teach it yet (I’m sure someone is making/has made documents to help). Having a slim curriculum is fantastic, it gives you the chance to open your mind to a whole host of possibilities. I asked the children what topics they would like to learn about and they stuck to fairly standard things such as Egypt, Romans, Vikings but also wanted to know about their body, weather, aliens and my favourite, London. This could be a great topic looking at the capital throughout the ages, stopping off at the plague and the Great Fire along the way and, of course, a school trip. Many just want to go on the underground as they’ve never done it before. Think of the writing opportunities from that first-time experience though!
So my New Year resolution is not to moan about the curriculum, even the Computing bit, I’m going to make sure that the stuff we teach the children is going to be fantastic. It will encompass ideas from the children and from teachers, it will include chances to be entrepreneurial and it will involve parents as much as possible. And my children will make a lot of progress along the way too.
Anyway, now to plan a topic suggested by my class about the human body and the digestive system. I think it’s just because the children wanted to say poo without me moaning at them…