Today we were in Year 1, with a teacher who was an NQT last year. It’s always inspiring to meet people that have recently completed the challenges I have in front of me…it is possible! She answered any questions we had and explained how she teaches phonics, when they do their sessions and what phonics schemes she uses. After a very daunting phonics lecture last week it was so reassuring to hear that we won’t ever need to tell the children what a triphthong is (don’t ask).
She has one pupil in her class who is Romanian, and doesn’t yet speak any english. I immediately felt for this little girl who looked completely lost, despite the efforts of her pupils and teachers. The teacher was given no extra support for her, so was making do as best as she could. To make matters worse, where she is from she wouldn’t have started school until she was 7. Because of this the little girl was not only unable to speak the English, but was also not able to do things that we may expect a children of 5 to do. I’ve been asking myself what I would do if this were my class? Quite frankly, I have no idea, and that terrifies me. I need to have something in place in case I every have an EAL pupil in my class. I felt awful not being able to communicate with her, and I hope it isn’t long before she feels at home here.
Today was jam packed with intervention after intervention. We got to see lots of small phonics lessons and I’m starting to understand the pace now. The lessons are short and the pace is quick with lost lots of small activities packed in. We’ve also learnt a little bit more about the phases today. We have already covered this in seminars, but seeing it all in schools makes it much more relevant to us.
I think I need to start collecting phonics resources and games to build up my own phonics bible, complete with information about the phases. All the teachers and TAs I’ve seen so far have been prepared and inventive with their resources.
Also today I’ve found out that I’ll be doing my first main placement at this school with year 5! I am thrilled. I feel extremely lucky to have already visited the school and started to learnt the layout and meet the staff, this should make for a much easier first day with my main placement rolls around.
Today was much the same as yesterday, but that’s not a bad thing. I’m still enjoying seeing the small sessions and noting the format and structure. The big revelation today was that we will be teaching our own phonics session tomorrow or Friday. I had seen this on our timetable, but had assumed that at this stage in our training we’d be given the planning…nope! We will be revisiting the learning from the sessions on Monday, Tuesday and today, so we’ll be consolidating work done phonemes/graphemes J V and W. Thankfully we do have something to go on. I’m not sure I could cope with planning and delivering something from scratch at this stage.
20 minutes is suddenly seeming like a very long time! Quite frankly I’m terrified, but I’m quite pleased that I’m being forced to dive head first into teaching early on. The sooner the better. I’ve got a long way to go this year, so I’ve got no time to hang around.
Wish me luck!
Today I found out that I will be doing my teaching tomorrow (one more day to prepare hooray!) Therefor the person I am on placement with had her turn to teach today. It is always fantastic seeing other people teach, and proves a great time to magpie ideas and reflect. It does make me more nervous about my session though. Seeing a different approach to something can make you question yourself, but I know that I just need to give my plan a go and see what happens.
We also got to have a rummage around in the phonics resources today. Wow! Box after box of different ideas to adapt and use in our practice. Here are a few things we liked:
One thing that has become clear is that some of the simplest resources are the most useful (i.e. dice, or foam letters). It’s all about the creativity of the teacher!
We finished today by asking the English Subject Lead at the school a few questions. She raised a very interesting point about how spelling is taught in schools today. She has found that a large portion of children she is teaching struggle with spelling due to the local accent, and poor vocabulary. Children are simply having to spell words that they haven’t used before, or cannot sound out due to their pronunciation. This issue has definitely made me question whether rote learning is best when it comes to spelling, or is does this fail to provide children with the tools to tackle unfamiliar words in the future?
The children were all incredibly hyped up today as it is the last day of half term, and was non uniform day. What a good day to teach my first phonics lesson. All day I was very nervous but clung to the knowledge that even if this lesson failed completely, at least it would be a good learning experience!
I decided to keep the session simple and model what I had seen teachers do, rather then bring in too many creative ideas. I wanted to get the teaching part of it right, and make sure I was hitting the learning objective, rather then worry about making my session exciting and engaging…hopefully my delivery would achieve engagement (that was the plan anyway).
So I started my asking the children to help me remember what phonemes they had been looking at this week. We practiced the pronunciation with the children copying me, and then practiced our air writing. We wrote on the ceiling, floor, on our hands and on our partners shoulder. This was something I had seen done in another school and was keen to try it out myself. The children seemed very engaged by it, and especially liked the frantic rubbing out of the imaginary letters before the head teacher came (something else I had seen done). However I don’t think I’ve got enough experience yet to know if air writing actually benefits children’s handwriting.
I then followed this by a game of trash and treasure words, telling the children I was going to try and catch them out. I segmented the word and had the children blend it, before asking them to tell me whether it was an alien/trash word and there for needed to be placed in our bin, or a treasure word. The children were very good at this, and in hindsight I think I could have challenged the class more. However, it’s difficult to do this without the prior knowledge of the class, or much experience.
Finally I had the children write their own sentence on their whiteboards, using the treasure words we had found. I modelled a sentence on the board, purposefully making a mistake (no capital letter) allowing the children to pull me up on it. This was something I watched the class teacher do throughout the week and it seemed like a fantastic idea of encouraging children to question what they see, and to understand that our writing is always a work in progress that we can check and improve. I was hoping my sentence writing with them was going to be my way of challenging my higher attainers, however I think I could have done this better by setting some of them the challenge of using a connective/time connective.
Overall I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself. It wasn’t ground breaking but I planned it, stood up and delivered it and managed to get what I had wanted from the class. I think for a first attempt that is something to be proud of 🙂