Tag-Archive for ◊ classroom displays ◊

The Half-Way Point
Thursday, February 20th, 2014 | Author:

This half-term has been a bit different to usual. Yes there are days out and yes, the nieces have come to visit, but I have also been into school, not for planning, but for completely redesigning my classroom. This post will also be an update on the classroom tour post I shared in September.

I have a massive classroom. It echoes, it’s just huge. The plan was to redecorate and build a small office/workroom space at the back for interventions, so I held off making changes for the first term but as this work isn’t going to happen now, I could get in and change things. Also, I wanted to reflect on what has worked and what needs to be improved.

Literacy – As blogged about here, we focus on a different sentence every week. In practice this actually becomes a “sentence of the literacy unit” but that doesn’t sound as cool. So what I have done is to make a board showcasing different sentences. Some are examples of complex sentences, e.g. embedded clauses and some are taken from Alan Peat’s book. The idea is to have examples to share with the children but also to have space for children to share their own too. Example sentences will also be in their toolkits on their tables so that they can see them while they are working.

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Maths – Before, I had a working wall and a whiteboard for Maths. The whiteboard didn’t really work and soon became used for other things as I needed somewhere to write notices for the children and also put up learning objectives, the date and other similar information. I love the A4 whiteboards that we have. These are not the chunky ones for using on the carpet, these are flimsy ones that snap very easily (one broke yesterday when I dropped it onto the carpet!) but they are perfect for blu-tacking to the wall and writing on. For my Maths board, these will have questions based around the maths we are doing. I try to differentiate them but the more-able will always try and answer every question anyway. there is also space available for me to stick up paper to show methods or ideas as we go along. The main thing for me is to make their toolkits on their table better so that once we have taught something in Literacy, Maths or Spellings, it comes down from the wall and into their toolkit to be replaced by new learning on the wall.

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The Science wall has more whiteboards stuck to it with questions about our topic. I could print the questions and stick them on but these whiteboards are fab for quickly changing ideas. I have also left space for children to stick post-its with their own questions too.

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A big change in my room is that my dry-wipe whiteboard has been moved. There are various reasons it hasn’t been moved until now, but having it at the front of the room will help. The behaviour chart is also now at the front, next to me while I teach. One issue that I had is that when the children move up or down the chart, I had to break from the teaching and request that the child moved their name. This meant that the flow stopped and sometimes there could be problems if a child didn’t want to move their name…so by having it at the front, I can move names without discussion if needs be and continue with the lesson.

Another change is that I now have a board for “Building Learning Power” which is something we are trying to start in school.  It is about picking up the learning behaviours and making children aware of what they need to do to be better learners. My wife suggested making it Lego-themed and singing “Everything is awesome, everything is cool when you’re part of a team” to show how working together can achieved great results. I have a few children who want to improve, but want it on their terms. They want to work on their own and don’t want others to help. I want to break this down and make them want to learn and succeed together. So learning behaviour is going to be a big push this term.

One idea that I found in the book Inspirational Teachers, Inspirational Learners is the idea of having marbles in a jar not to represent “good” behaviour but to represent learning behaviour instead. So “Well done Timmy, you have shown great resilience today” which then leads to a marble (or for me, ping-pong ball) going into the jar. The whole class will need to work together to focus on the behaviours we are trying to learn about. I want to make this very explicit to them so that we can discuss what is meant by resilience or perseverance. It’ll be interesting as some of the children find persevering very difficult indeed at the moment!

It’s odd to think that half of the year has gone already and I’m still figuring out what to do. I am doing OK so far but I want to get better and I hope that the re-arranged classroom will give y children the chance to succeed even more than they have done so far.

 

A Tour of my Classroom
Wednesday, September 04th, 2013 | Author:

This post has come about because I was commenting on a blog post from Teacher’s Pet about buying equipment from Ikea and I posted a photograph of my reading area. Someone asked a question about it, then soon after there were more questions asking where I had got certain resources or why I had this up, so I thought that a tour of my classroom might be useful. Also, it’s good to reflect on why I have certain things in my room and what the benefit will be. I know that some people will see this as pointless because research suggests that classroom displays have minimal impact on learning and I know that others will think that many of the things I have are obvious. But a few people asked me to share what was on my walls, so here goes:

 

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Our topic this half-term is A Bird’s Eye View and although these pictures aren’t the top-down view normally associated with a bird’s eye view, they are still taken from high up. From the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth in fact. These are photos with questions asking the children to think about the land use. For example, which are the oldest or newest buildings in the pictures? Are all of the boats used for the same purpose? What evidence can they see of tourism?

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Every class at Riders sponsors a child from Tanzania. This is led by @clairemarie00, so please direct questions to her! But we will be writing letters to Nuru and hopefully receiving some too.

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My Science topic is States of Matter and the wall has a variety of vocabulary related to solids, liquids and gases. As the topic progresses and we carry out investigations, we will remove some of these and replace them with photos of the children working and carrying out investigations. I want to get the children to ask their own questions and this will be happening in the first lesson.

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One thing in our school is that planning should be readily available to a visitor such as the Head Teacher and actually, it is also useful for the team of LSAs to be able to grab it if they need it. So I have zippy wallets on the wall with planning in them.

 

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For spellings, we will be splitting into ability groups and in my group, the sounds or spelling rule we are looking at will be in the centre of the stars and then example words will be written around it. In the pockets (from Ikea) are different cards with ways to learn spellings e.g. write them in bubble writing or write a mnemonic to help learn the word. Here is a document with some of the ideas on it: Spellings 

 

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I have two areas to my maths wall and one is a whiteboard. This will allow me to draw methods quite easily to demonstrate to the children. The bottom area of this board contains a range of maths challenges in plastic wallets. These are ideal for the children when they come in before school or during the register. They can grab a challenge and have a go. Some of these have been taken from, or adapted from, the 7Puzzle blog.

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The other aspect of my Maths display is the “traditional” display with the 100 square (when it arrives), the number line, and the vocabulary for the four operations. I also have whiteboards blu-tacked to the wall to enable me to scribble ideas on if we need to.

 

 

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This is a Teacher Toolkit, taken from an idea from @MrsPTeach’s blog post. Jo has written a great guide of how to make one and although I can’t claim the credit as my wife made mine, I still think it’s a fab idea. I now have somewhere to put little things that I often lost in drawers such as staples, my whistle or hair bands for the child who forgets theirs when it’s PE!

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Another idea borrowed from Jo’s blog is these trays from Viking. They are coloured to enable me to quickly see at the end of a lesson which children have achieved the objective. I won’t use them in every lesson, but it’s always useful to see where the children think they are and how they perceive their learning to be going.

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There are a couple of challenge areas around the room and another morning activity is Boggle. Each week I will pick a range of letters and the children can have a go at finding words that use those letters. There is a sheet of paper to record their words. As we move through the year, I’d like to get them finding multiple words on their own sheet of paper or in their morning books, but we’ll start slow. I will also find an image from Twitter every week to get the children thinking. It might be to write a story about the picture, it might just be to write a caption, we will see how it goes. The third challenge is Today’s Number. Each day I will choose a number and they then have to follow the prompts below e.g. multiply it by ten, write the next three even numbers and so on.

 

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I have about 6 wallets like this around my room. Some contain laminated stars, some have post-its and some have speech bubble notes (again from Ikea). These will be used to add pupils’ ideas to displays. When they have a great word or a question, an answer or any suggestion, it can be added by them, quickly.

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The Literacy display isn’t quite finished yet, but the whiteboards will come in handy for the objectives. This is similar to the All/Most/Some or Must/Should/Could type displays but I think that Good/Great/Amazing is more positive. Each one will have mini-targets on for the children to aim for. For example if we were writing a story, I might say that a Good story will have an interesting opening sentence, a Great story will contain adverbs and an Amazing one will also contain complex sentences. I found that in my last class, the children wanted to make their writing as brilliant as possible and they loved suggesting difficult things to add to their writing.

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At St John’s, we focussed on questioning and it is something I think that I do very well. On my wall I have a range of questions to act as prompts when the children are working with each other. The idea being that one of them is the question master and they might start playing devil’s advocate and probing the decisions the group has been making.

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When we are working in a group, I like to use toolkits. These are packs of resources to help the children achieve their objectives. In the Maths drawer, there will be 0-9 dice and number cards to help children generate numbers when trying new methods or skills, 100 squares and multiplication squares to help reinforce counting and times tables and any other equipment that they might need. In the Literacy drawers there will be examples of different punctuation, connectives and sentence openers to hopefully improve their writing. These will be on the wall too, but having a physical card in their hand, might help a few children.

 

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This is my Reading corner. It’s quite a novelty as I have tended to have small classrooms before and I’ve never had a room big enough for a whole corner! Each month I will choose a different author to focus on. On the board we have a few questions about the author and his books e.g. How would you get your own back on George’s grandma? In the pockets on the wall I will have books by the chosen author.

 

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The last display is a blogging display. I have a class computer and the blog is a completely new idea to the school. We will be launching it this week and I wanted a display to show where our quad classes were and to also give ideas for what to blog about. I have adapted Simon McCloughlin’s Twitter prompts as we won’t be tweeting for a while yet.

There are a few things to note, the class is huge so there are lots of displays, and also, there isn’t anything from the children on display yet as we have only just started back. Very few of the displays are static and I believe that it is important to change them regularly and to consult the children too. However, with that many boards, I couldn’t wait until September to get them all put up!  I wanted the children to have lots to look at, to inspire and to make them think and I will adapt and change the displays as the year progresses. As I am no longer focusing on ICT, I will hopefully be blogging more about my general class and my teaching so will share how they change throughout the year.

For a great series of blog posts looking at the use of classroom displays, visit Simon McLoughlin’s blog.