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Learning Updates

Spring 3

Our learning focus this half term is ‘Explaining’.

Explaining

  • your thoughts and feelings,
  • your reasoning about why you chose to do something in a certain way,
  • how you decide to do something,
  • what you have learnt

will help you to embed the process, sort out if you still think that way, understand your actions and help you to think beyond the task and start to develop a deep level of reasoning and understanding. Verbalising your thoughts makes them clearer, more organised and pays attention to detail. Try  explaining the reasoning behind how you decide what to have for tea, the logical steps you need to take to make a pancake or how to do a maths calculation takes the automatic and subconscious into the conscious. The use of language to explain is a powerful tool that supports and embeds learning allowing misconceptions to be exposed and thoughts to be clarified.

              By asking how……. did you do that?…. come to that decision?…… work out a problem?

children will then have to explain their thinking at a greater depth. Explaining is a powerful tool for learning and children who can explain clearly what they have done can then use their learning to work at a greater depth and apply their understanding to other situations or problems.

 

Spring 2

Learning Buddies

‘Learning Buddies’ provide opportunities for our children to work with each other to strengthen their learning. The children often use their talk partners to explain their ideas, reason and put forwards opinions and points of view to strengthen their learning by working collaboratively. The children spend very short periods of time developing skills and knowledge with their partners. Two or three minutes explaining what they have learnt to someone else can reinforce ideas and skills and these opportunities are built into most lessons.

 

Spring 1

Our learning focus for this half term is ‘Curiosity’.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” — Albert Einstein

Being curious makes learning more effective and enjoyable. Curious children not only ask questions, but also actively seek out the answers. Without curiosity many of our great inventors and scientists, musicians and artists would not have made, in some cases, life-changing discoveries. Sir Isaac Newton would have never formulated the laws of physics, Alexander Fleming probably wouldn’t have discovered penicillin, and Marie Curie’s pioneering research on radioactivity may not exist.

We are focusing this term on encouraging our children to be curious. Research has even shown that curiosity is just as important as intelligence in determining how well students do in school. Our brains like curiosity.

Curiosity

  • Helps our memory – we are more likely to remember what we’ve learned when the subject matter intrigues us.
  • Prepares us to learn – curiosity puts the brain in a state that allows it to learn and retain any kind of information, like a vortex that sucks in what you are motivated to learn, and also everything around it.
  • Makes learning more rewarding – once curiosity had been sparked, there was not only increased activity in the hippocampus, which is the region of the brain involved in the creation of memories, but also in the brain circuit that is related to reward and pleasure. This circuit is the same one that lights up when we get something we really like, such as chocolate or ice cream and it relies on dopamine, a “feel-good” chemical. So, if a child is curious about something they’re naturally motivated to learn and they’ll be better prepared to learn things that they would normally consider boring or difficult and it is more pleasurable.

The importance of fostering inquisitive minds is paramount. It’s the question that stimulates curiosity so being told the answer quells curiosity before it can even get going.

Please help……..

Children are naturally curious when they are young, exploring their world with their senses and new experiences. As language begins to take over, curiosity can begin to fade for some children. Please encourage your child to develop and retain their natural curiosity.

  • Model questioning yourself to encourage your child…. I wonder how…. what….. why…. who…. where……when ??????? That’s strange …how did that happen…..Why did that happen ???????
  • Plan in daily questions to find answers to
  • Plan in discovery time using tablets and Ipads – safely
  • Ask your children to share what they find out and bring their discoveries to school

……………..your child to be an active learner

 

Autumn 2

Maths and a growth mindset

 Our main school focus this year is teaching and learning in maths. At the beginning of the term we had a week of inspirational maths and all the children have identified themselves as

‘Mathematicians on a Mission’.

Each class was involved in a week of inspirational maths from www.youcubed.org. Although this is an American site, it has some interesting articles on how our brains work, the potential for brain growth and how attitude can affect your performance. Embracing all these ideas in our classrooms, children enjoyed their week of inspirational maths. They have been encouraged to develop a positive attitude to making mistakes and to feel safe and comfortable in doing so knowing that it will lead change and growth.

Research has shown the incredible capacity of the brain to grow and change within a remarkably short period of time. Some of the amazing evidence of brain plasticity comes from studies of London Black Cab drivers. To become a black cab driver in London you need to study for between two and four years and at the end of that time take a test called The Knowledge. To pass The Knowledge you must memorize over 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks in Central London. Scientists found that after this complex spatial training the hippocampus of the taxi drivers had grown significantly. The hippocampus is a part of the brain that specializes in acquiring and using complex spatial information. When drivers retire, many years later, the hippocampus shrinks back down again. We therefore all have potential and our brains are not fixed in size or capacity.

Researchers have also found that when we make a mistake, synapses fire. A synapse is an electrical signal that moves between parts of the brain when learning occurs. The recent neurological research on the brain and mistakes is hugely important teachers and parents, as it tells us that making a mistake is a very good thing. Mistakes are not only opportunities for learning, as students consider the mistakes, but also times when our brains grow. Our mission is to encourage children to feel safe and confident that getting it wrong is the most important part of the learning process.

One Monday 3rd October we are having a ‘Mathematician on a Mission’ day. This will involve more inspirational maths and dressing up as a mathematical super learner – a very wide brief. Class teachers will discuss the endless possibilities with your children….be prepared!

 

Summer 4

Never forget

Have you ever tried to forget something that you have been told you can’t remember?

Find a tricky word or tables fact and ask your child to forget it immediately………………  e.g. 9×6 =54

Ask them if they have forgotten that 9×6 = 54

Ask them if they are sure that they can forget that 9×6 =54

REPEAT what they were supposed to forget – that 9×6 =54

Embed the fact by repeating that they will definitely forget that 9×6=54

Ask them two minutes later what it was they should have forgotten

Challenge them to forget in the next five minutes

Challenge them to forget by the end of today

Challenge them to forget by the next day.

Ask them what it was they were asked to forget.

Keep checking in what they should have forgotten  ………that 9×6=54

It works ……….. give it a go. Get your child to repeat the word or fact, challenge them to forget and watch them puzzle at your request, watch them smile and engage at your unusual challenge. Our brain’s work in mysterious ways!!

 

Summer 2

Our learning focus this half term is ‘future pacing’.

Our whole school ethos is one of encouraging success and building aspirations. All the staff have high expectations, believing that every child has as strength and the capability of rising to a challenge. We are constantly looking for the key to unlock potential and offer that little bit of well timed encouragement that will make the difference. We reinforce this by the language we use when we talk to the children and the shape of the conversations we have.

 

One of the ways we encourage children to take risks in their learning and tap in to their motivation is to frame the conversation. We refer to it as future pacing.

 

  • We hold a conversation that engages the child in the purpose and reason for what they are about to learn – a link to the future, a reason for doing, an understanding of the importance and  how it will help them. When I can tie my shoe laces I will be able to get out to play quicker…. Learning a skill without a reason is challenging as the energy of motivation is missing.
  • We encourage them to see/ hear themselves or think about how they will feel when they have achieved their goal. I will feel really proud of myself…….I can see myself smiling………
  • We then link back into another successful learning experience and use recall to remember how they became successful last time. Then we ask what they need to do to achieve…. Answers can vary… I need to take my time……… I need to just keep trying and then I’ll get it…… I need to practice…. I tried really hard and I succeeded. Even a very small success can act as a prompt for the next learning opportunity.
  • We then break the task down into bite size pieces….achievable steps. Trying to swallow a whole elephant is very difficult! By identify a very small part that can quickly be achieved, the effects of small success soon build. If you want to learn your 8 times table start with 2×8, 5×8 and 10×8 – then add one more to learn…rather than trying to do learn all the table facts at the same time
  • We then encourage and support the child by giving genuine praise for effort and motivation and making it very clear that if they still can’t do it they will be one step closer to being able to and it will happen soon. We acknowledge the effort and encourage the motivation to keep trying.
  • When the task is achieved we look back on the journey and talk about the skills used so that the children can identify what works for them and can put them in the learning tool box for next time. We talk about what it felt like to ‘get it’ and then this experience is used to support the next learning step.

Spring 4

Multiplication Tables

There is a new expectation from the DfE that by the end of Year 4 all children will know their tables from 1-12.

  • By the end of Year 2 children must know the2, 5 and 10 times tables
  • By the end of Year 3 children must know the 2,5,10 and 3,4 and 8 times tables
  • By the end of Year 4 children must know the 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11 and 12 times tables

With this increase in expectation please support your child with their home learning. Being able to recall multiplication tables accurately and quickly ensures that children are not hampered in learning and applying knowledge of calculation. This allows them more time to practice and investigate the new skills rather than get stuck working out the table’s fact to use. By completing more examples, methods ‘stick’ better. A child who can complete 8 different calculations quickly because they know their tables will be more likely to retain and understand the calculation process than a child who only manages 2 answers because they have spent their time working through the tables to get the answer to the fact to then apply to the calculation. A confident child will know their tables in any order of recall such as 4×7=  5×9=  2×8=

There are many ways to learn and different methods suit different children.

Some children learn by using

  • auditory methods, singing songs or learning rhymes. CD’s work well on car journeys and tablets/ Ipads
  • Competitive beat the clock / quiz type APPs
  • Visual recall with tables charts or hard to learn facts stuck to doors and other surfaces that can be clearly seen.
  • Some children learn by writing their tables repeatedly.

With that in mind we are sending home a set of multiplication table cards for you to test your child and help them to remember the more trickier facts. As every fact is commutative e.g. 4 x 6 = 24  and 6 x 4 = 24 there are not so many to learn.

Learning tables is not just about memorising facts, it is about understanding the concept of number. Below are the different ways that multiplication tables can be shown. Please use visual and practical applications for children in Year 1 and 2 where possible. It is important to know what 2×5 looks like as an array, on a number line and as eaqual groups. For older children the area and array models are similar in approach but give the children an understand of how to calculate area.

There are many websites and apps that support learning multiplication tables in a fun way, against the clock, beat your own score. In order to replicate our approach in school and maintain motivation we ask the children to challenge themselves to improve their own scores and times rather than entering into a ‘league table’ approach.

Included below are some other options with no recommendations.

http://connierivera.weebly.com/learn-your-multiplication-facts-in-ten-lessons.html

https://uk.ixl.com/math/year-2/multiplication-tables-up-to-10

http://www.multiplication.com/learn/learn-fact/2/x/3

https://www.mathsisfun.com/tables.html

http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/times_table_flashcards_4xtable.pdf

Spring 3

Our learning focus this half term is ‘Courage’.

Learning takes courage because it involves trial and error and failure. At this school we view failure as important. It is part of the learning process. We talk to the children about courage in a variety of contexts

  • When you can’t quite get something new – ‘not yet but soon’
  • FAIL = First Attempt in Learning
  • Praising effort for having a go
  • Practicing as part of the learning process
  • Trial and error
  • Standing up for what you believe is right
  • Admitting mistakes
  • Stretching out of your comfort zone

For those perfectionists amongst us the opportunity to fail in a secure and supportive environment is an important experience which can build personal resilience and determination. With adults and friends who are there to support and encourage, children can take risks without fear of negative response.

Please let us know when your child shows courage in a learning context or other context so we can share their achievements.

Spring 1

Our learning focus this half term is ‘Personal Organisation’.

Working together to improve your child’s personal organisation strategies and skills will have obvious benefits at home and will save time and effort in school that will impact on attitudes to learning. Positive approaches create positive learning environments. Children who are organised are generally more focused and aware of themselves and others. They are calmer and more relaxed because they have some control over the situations they find themselves in and are not dependent on adults, peers or siblings. As a result self esteem and self awareness can improve. We all have strengths and to provide the best learning opportunities it is important that we work on the areas that are not our strengths to provide balance. To be secondary school ready or even in the future work ready even though this may seem very distant in terms of time or relevance requires the key skill of personal organisation. To some it comes naturally from good modeling or preferred learning styles, for others it needs to be developed and nurtured.

Please can you continue to help to raise your child’s awareness by

  • having conversations with your children about being organised – make it obvious and part of everyday conversation
  • set small challenges and achievable goals each week for the weeks in January
  • praising the effort they make when attempting and succeeding
  • discussing the reasons and benefits to learning developing this behaviour and the future benefits
  • encouraging your child to develop their organisational skills by offering reassurance and positive support

Please can you record examples of personal organisation in your child’s reading record book or send in a note or email to your child’s class teacher so that they can be shared. Thank you for your help.

 Spring 2

A bit extra…

In the space of a week, have your children improved their skills of personal organisation? I hope so, but I expect it might take a little longer for changes in patterns of behaviour to embed deeply enough to make a difference. Please keep this important skill in the attention of your children. Please continue to have conversations about how you use personal organisation and model it clearly by talking through the way you do things – from getting ready to go out, to the reasons why books, CDs, paperwork, clothes are stored in the way they are, or the quickest way to get dressed. The possibilities are endless. Children with good personal organisation skills focus on their learning much more quickly and are ready to work in a calmer and more relaxed way. Because they know where their possessions and equipment can be found, they worry less about where things are and not being able to find them, the reactions of adults around them, and have the time to settle into their learning in a positive frame of mind. All the staff  are raising awareness on a daily basis. Unfortunately, and perversely, the number of unclaimed lunch boxes seems to be growing! However, December’s focus on perseverance will at least get some real application!

I hope that you have also noticed a difference in your child’s approach to reading at home. Thank you for your support. Working together can only be of benefit especially if you have a reluctant participant. We have a very high expectation for all children to be responsible learners, to apply themselves with positive effort and, linking with the previous paragraph, to persevere when they get stuck. Thank you for signing the Reading Record books. We are still waiting for the new books to arrive from the printers.