Yesterday, the children in the DSP made presentations in the Cottesbrooke Lecture Theatre at Northampton University.
What made these presentations special, was that all of these children are younger than 10 years old. What made them even more special, is that they all have statements of Special Educational Needs for Moderate Learning Difficulties and Speech and Language.
Inspired by watching TED talks and visiting lectures the children identified areas of particular interest and then spent hours immersing themselves in their chosen topics; researching in school and making visits to local venues. Some of the visits and processes have been captured on the DSP Blog at http://dsp.simondesenlisblogs.org/. You can read about Joseph’s trip to the Derngate where he ‘met’ Norman Wisdom and see pictures of the children visiting the lecture theatre to prepare for the big day!
Offering children authentic choice about their learning, coupled with real challenge raised expectations and the results have been powerful. One teacher commented after the event that the pupils ‘shouldn’t have been able to do what they have just done!’
The project has reminded us how powerful learning can be when you use children’s starting points to build the curriculum. By doing this, we’ve seen significant improvements in attendance, engagement and levels of speaking and listening. Raising the bar in expectation of the levels of speech and language has taken children out of their comfort zones and has helped them to build resilience and coping strategies around what can be a very nerve-wracking experience for adults – let alone children.
Here is the story of their project, told by BBC Northampton!
There have been many achievements that I’ve been really proud of the children this Year at Simon de Senlis… but I have to say that this is up there!
This particular cloakroom has been notoriously messy so far this year but I noticed Mr Wainwright and some willing volunteers making a real effort last week to get it ship shape. In my desperation to turn their aspirations into reality, I made a rash promise that I would take Year 3 and 4 out for a joint extra playtime if their cloakroom was ‘perfect’ when I dropped in throughout the week.
It’s a feat that many staff thought was never possible. Parents have been in disbelief that some of the children have been actually enjoying ‘keeping a room tidy’. Now let’s keep it up!
Last week, on one of my trips through Year 6, I met some girls who had just finished a Maths test and were talking about Algebra. ‘What’s the point of Algebra Mr Rees?’, they said. ‘When in our lives will we need to use it?’.
It’s a fair enough question and one, I’m sure, that teachers and parents have heard many times over the years. Rather than get drawn in to an argument I felt I was always likely to lose, I asked Tayla to see if she could find out the answer to her question and to write a blog post about it. A few days later and following a bit of research, I saw her sharing her findings with Miss Coade.
So here’s a post by my first ‘Guest Blogger’ on why we need to learn algebra!
Why do we have algebra?
We have algebra because its the gateway to higher level maths such as calculus and many others. Since most science lessons revolve around biology,chemistry,physics and also many other topics, they all depend on algebra.Learning algebra is essential for anyone wanting to study any of the topics and also getting a job as one.
Algebra improves abstract reasoning,abstract reasoning in general helps build around many life skills for instance choosing a career,running a business and managing a family also require maths skills.This is why we learn and also need algebra.
As you know, last week we were inspected by OSFTED. This was a full inspection under section 5 of the education act and main aspects of the school’s work were scrutinised over two days by three inspectors.
The full report will be published in the next fortnight and until then, I am unable to share any specific outcomes. I can say however, how proud I was of the children during this time. They were a credit to the school and all the inspectors commented positively on their behaviour and attitudes to learning. There were many positive things to share from the inspection which I will do in due course, along with the areas we need to work on to improve in the months and years ahead.
In assembly this morning, I asked the children to tell me about their ‘coolest’ learning moments from last week. Year 6 put me straight: “‘Cool’ isn’t cool any more Mr Rees. You need to ask us what our ‘epic’ learning moments were from last week…”
So, with this minor setback behind me, I asked them for their ‘epic’ learning moments and I’m glad I did!
I heard about tarantulas and snakes in school, someone who had nailed grid multiplication down in an hour, an exited Year 6 who told me about her key skills homework and lots more. Thomas told me how he had new targets set for him and that he was working on three digit numbers now in Year 2!
Here’s something that I thought was epic from the BETT show last week, which I shared with the children in assembly this morning. Why not tell me something from your week that was epic by commenting on this post?
While you’re at home today, make a snowman (or think about a snowman) and write 5 words to describe it. Then put those words into sentences using the connectives we are learning- and, so, but, because. If you really want to improve your writing, use an interesting opener to make your sentence more exciting.
You can bring these to school tomorrow or post them as a comment on this blog.
We’re sorry that we can’t be at school today but hope that you have fun in the snow.
Here are some things for you to do at home today (as well as building great Snowmen!).
Numeracy: Use nos 1 , 2, 4 and 8. How many different numbers can you make? You have to use all the numbers but only once for each answer. You can add, subtract, times, divide or try several of these.
Literacy: We will be reading and working with ‘Ice Palace’ by Robert Swindells this week. We will be describing settings and characters using adjectives, similes and powerful verbs. So…look out of your window (or venture into your garden) and find 10 powerful adjectives to describe the scene. Remember to ‘zoom in’ and look at tiny details! Can you create some similes such as ‘As cold as a polar bears toes’? For a real literacy workout, walk around your garden and try to come up with some powerful verbs to replace ‘walking’ in the snow.
You can post any answers or comments to us in the comments section below!
But that doesn’t mean that learning stands still! I’m hoping that children who are able to access our blog site will be able to keep in touch and tell us what they are up to and how they are spending their day.
Some of the teachers have already sent me messages to put up in the morning for their classes so watch this space!
You can start off by commenting on this blog post by telling me what you are looking forward to doing on your Snow Day and what you’ve enjoyed doing over the weekend. Tomorrow, I hope to find a way for you to send me your pictures so we can post these.