Thursday, 18 July 2019

Key Concepts Review: PYP Classroom

Oh key concepts! They can be a little tricky for our PYP students to understand. I made a conscious effort this year to focus more on helping my students to understand the key concepts. I could really see a difference. Here are some things that we did.

The key concepts are on our burning questions/wonder wall. As students added their questions, they put them beside the relevant key concept. If they were unsure (which they often were), we would have a class discussion to figure out with which concept it best fit.

To explore them even further, I took inspiration from this amazing blog post by ProDivas. This activity could be done at any point in the year with any unit of inquiry. Here's what we did.


Firstly, we had already done a lot of research into the circulatory system. As a whole-class activity, we brainstormed what we have learned about the circulatory system relating to each key concept. Here's what they came up with! (That student's mother in the reflection box is a doctor who came to school to speak to them about the circulatory and respiratory systems.)



I then split the students into small groups and gave them an A3 sheet and a copy of some their questions from the burning questions wall. They cut out each question and decided as a group which key concept it fit under. We had a group chat to discuss how we categorised each question.



Finally I divided the students into interest groups. Each student had previously chosen another system about which they would like to inquire further. I shared a  template with them on Google Slides. You'll see the three concepts we were focusing on in that unit of inquiry have stars beside them. 



All students used their iPads to collaboratively update their slide with questions relating to each key concept. This was really useful for guiding their inquiry. If you'd like to use these templates (for free), pop on over to Google Drive and make a copy to edit and use in your own classroom.


Monday, 15 July 2019

Rugby World Cup 2019 Teaching Resources

Well hello there!

I can't believe it's almost Rugby World Cup time again! Where did those 4 years go? I'm very excited about the Rugby World Cup which is starting on 20th September and running until the final match on 2nd November. It also coincides nicely with the start of the school year. So what better way to get into the spirit of things than with a few lessons tied into the theme of the Rugby World Cup? 



Due to its popularity in previous years, I have updated this resource pack with lots of things to decorate your classroom (in particular, the RWC bunting would be a great first day back to school activity and would brighten up your classroom and start to fill up your walls from day 1!) and some different resources and ideas for various subject levels. I've also got a page in there with links to other good resources I have found.

The maths activities included in the pack are quite challenging so I would say that this pack is most suited to upper primary/elementary school.

The pack includes:

  • A heading and posters displaying the 4 pools
  • Flashcards with each of the participating countries' names and flags
  • Bunting with black and white versions of the participating countries' flags for the children to decorate - a very easy display to create and it would make your classroom/corridors very festive!
  • An 8-page research project template - This could be used in class or as a homework task. The idea is that the children choose (independently or randomly select from a hat!) one of the participating countries to study in depth.
  • Two maths loop games (one is based on the 5 times tables, the other is quite challenging!)
  • A rugby-based maths target game (this one's a good challenge!)
  • A table quiz about the RWC (with answers!) and an answer sheet for the children
  • Language, drama, PE, music, art and history lesson ideas.
  • Useful links to other resources that might be helpful

The pack is just $3 (that's less than €3!). If you wish to purchase it, pop over to my TPT store by clicking here.



Here's an example of a Rugby World Cup classroom display created by the wonderful Ms. Forde of Ms. Forde's Classroom during the 2015 RWC using the 2015 version of the pack. 




For Irish teachers, a version as Gaeilge is available in my TPT store for the same price. This could be very useful for teachers in gaelscoileanna or if you choose to do "caitheamh aimsire" as your téama in September or October.
(To clarify, I've only translated the materials that the children will use and the questions for the tráth na gceist. The teaching ideas and instructions are still written in English.)



Friday, 12 July 2019

Sharing Our Summative Assessments with the School Community


Hi all,


In a PYP school, we are encouraged to involve the community in our learning. I wanted to share how we included our school community while doing the summative assessment task for our How We Organise Ourselves unit this past year with grade 4 (8-9 year olds). We were very much inspired by our incredible grade 1 teacher. For their How We Express Ourselves unit, they had an art exhibition in our school gym and invited members of the school community to come and see it. Those grade 1 students were absolute super stars!

Our central idea was "Economic activities and the natural environment are interconnected." The task was to create a tourist information stand about a region in Italy, showing the interconnectedness between the activities of the region and the natural environment. Students collaborated in pairs for this task. 

We had been learning how to do persuasive writing so students made brochures, encouraging people to visit this region. We also integrated mathematics by having the students research the weather in the region and make a double bar graph based on the average temperature or rainfall. For homework, the previous week, students interviewed people from different regions of Italy. They shared their findings with the relevant group. They then created posters and digital presentations to explain how the economic activities affect the environment and vice/versa. 

We invited their parents and other students to come to our "Bella Italia Tourist Expo." Each pair set up their tourist information stand while parents, teachers and students browsed around. Both my teaching partner and I had a very feel-good morning that day. The students were fantastic communicators and really got to show off how knowledgeable they were about their region of Italy. This project took over a week but the students were engaged all the way through. We felt that, knowing they would be sharing their research findings with the school community, they were a lot more engaged than if the summative assessment task was less visible.

Here are some pictures to give you an idea of how it looked!













Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Dip Starter Pack 2019-2020

As highly requested following feedback on my "Dip Tips" blog post, I created this Dip Starter Pack to save probationary teachers lots of time, effort and money. I've just updated it for the 2019-2020 school year. I couldn't help myself when making it and went a bit overboard in buying shabby chic and bullet journal style clip art! You'll see that theme running through the pack! :)

Here's what's in the 170 page pack: 
(the preview picture below doesn't show everything! Scroll down to read the full contents.)


PLANNING RESOURCES:
  • Example short-term (weekly) plans
  • Example long-term (termly) plans
  • Example cuntais míosúla
  • 9 cover sheets for your planning and assessment folders
  • Weekly planning checklists (3 sheets, one per term)
  • Editable checklists and information sheets (e.g. homework record, information for substitute teachers, birthday record, etc.)
  • Teacher calendar sheets (August 2019 - July 2020)
  • Editable international Events Calendar 2019-2020
  • A PDF copy of my "Dip Tips" blog post



ASSESSMENT RESOURCES:
  • Superhero-themed behaviour management tools including an editable token chart, token sheets, an editable behaviour record cover, goal-setting/reflection sheets, a behaviour frequency record with an example and instructions)
  • Two Stars and a Wish self-assessment sheets
  • Self-assessment display based on Marzano's Levels of Understanding
  • Self-assessment sheet based on Marzano's Levels of Understanding



DISPLAY RESOURCES:
  • Laethanta na Seachtaine display
  • Dathanna display
  • Prionta sa Timpeallacht (28 flashcards, 4 posters)
  • Na h-Ábhair Scoile circular display
  • Visual timetable pack (with editable cards)
  • WALT and WILF signs (for sharing objectives and assessment criteria)


Many of these resources are available individually (paid/free) in my TPT store. The total of the paid resources is $18.50. This bundle allows you to save $6.50 as it's priced at $12 (that's roughly €10.60). The example weeklies, termlies and cuntais míosúla are not sold separately. Those are a bonus just for this bundle! So, in summary, for just over a tenner (not a massive investment!) you'll get 170 pages of example plans, planning and assessment templates and classroom displays. 

Here's a closer look at just some of the things that are inside. Click on the images if you'd like to purchase these separately! Many are suitable for non-dip-doing teachers too!


These calendar sheets (not just for dip teachers!):



These bullet-journal inspired, washi-tape filled checklists to help you keep track of your planning (and fulfill your pretty stationery needs!): 
The dates in the preview are from a previous year but the actual file is updated for the 2019-2020 school year

These editable sheets for your teacher folder including a birthday tracker, editable information sheets for substitute teachers, lots of editable checklists that you could use for homework, phonics, spelling test records, recording specific objectives. (Again, not just for the dip!):


   

These pretty dip folder cover sheets (9 of them in total!). I also have editable versions in different styles for anybody not doing the dip:


These superhero-themed behaviour management tools for tackling individual children's behaviour. This pack includes a fully editable behaviour chart with editable tokens, a behaviour frequency record with an example and instructions and a cover sheet and goal-setting/reflection sheet to make a behaviour record book (FYI, my dip inspector loved seeing that record book!):


This prionta sa timpeallacht pack that contains 28 flashcards and 4 posters:


These visual timetable cards (includes editable cards):

 These circular chalkboard-style subject posters as Gaeilge:

This self-assessment chart based on Marzano's Levels of Understanding (with corresponding self-assessment sheets): Here's how it looked in my classroom last year!
         

Dip Tips (Updated July 2019)

(Updated: July 2019)

Hello there,

If you happen to be in a position to do your probationary year in Ireland or if you are just qualified, this may be of interest to you!

I am by no means an expert but this is some information and advice to give you the gist of how it runs going by my experience of doing the dip seven years ago.

Happy reading!

Where do I begin?
Once you are qualified and eligible to do the dip, you need to go to the Limerick Education Centre website. In the "probationary teachers" section, you will find information about the Droichead and traditional processes for getting "dipped" there or on the Teaching Council website. This document gives a handy overview of both.

What do they expect from me?
Have a look at the Appendix 3 (page 26) of the "Post Qualification Professional Practice Procedures and Criteria 2018/2019" document from the Teaching Council website. This gives an overview of the criteria you are expected to meet in the following areas:
  • Planning, preparation and recording of progress
  • Classroom management and organisation
  • Quality of teaching across curriculum areas
  • Quality of pupils’ learning in curriculum areas
Have you read it? See! That's not so scary now after all! Remember, the dip is not teaching practice. You cannot possibly maintain all-singing, all-dancing TP-style lessons on a long-term basis. TP was a 100m sprint, the dip is a marathon. Take it handy! (I really wish I could go back in time and give myself that advice!) Obviously you will need to do what is required to ensure that the children are learning in a positive environment and that you are covering the national curriculum but make sure you pace yourself.

The National Induction Programme for Teachers (NIPT)
As part of the traditional probationary process, you will be expected to complete the NIPT. This programme offers workshops with topics that are important for an NQT. They also give you an opportunity to meet others who are going through the probationary process. This is a plus for NQTs who are the only probationary teachers in their school.  Have a look at their website for lots of useful information and resources such as the planning toolkit, guidelines, planning templates for long-term plans, short-term plans, SEN planning, cuntais míosúla


What's next?
Now that you've applied to complete your probation, what can you do to prepare?

Get your planning in order: 
This is how I organised my paperwork. I had two folders divided into sections as follows:

(Again, remember to get guidelines and planning templates from teacherinduction.ie)

FOLDER 1: PLANNING FOLDER (with 5 sections)
1. Timetables (general class timetable, support teachers' timetables)
2. Current short-term (weekly) plans [Each weekend I would move these into section 3 and replace them with the new weekly plans]
3. Short-term plans (Weekly plans from past weeks, sub-divided by subject)
4. Long-term plans (termly plans)
5. Cuntais Míosúla (this is a monthly summary of what you have covered. You are legally required to do this. You should print one copy for this folder and send another to be filed in your school.)

FOLDER 2: ASSESSMENT FOLDER (2 sections)
1. General Class Records (e.g. MICRA/SIGMA results from the past year, any whole-group assessments, spelling test results, reading assessments and groups, etc.)
2. Pupil Profiles (sub-divided by child): IEPs, class tests, reading records, behaviour observation forms, carefully selected work samples, etc.

You can get some pretty editable or pre-made dip cover sheets in my TPT store for under a euro each!

When planning, make use of the fantastic online planning tool. It's much easier to copy and paste objectives from here than from the curriculum PDFs. If the INTO hasn't already sent you their 2019-2020 wall planner, you can download it for free from here.

Prepare your classroom:
A print-rich, inspiring classroom helps to create a positive learning environment. Refer to your classroom posters constantly. If you cannot do this, perhaps they are not as valuable as you may have thought! It's very likely that your inspector will ask the children about displays and posters. Make sure to display the children's work. A really useful way to display work is a wall like this - then you just peg up the work rather than fiddling with mountains of Blu-Tack! Obviously you will change displays according to topics on hand but here are some staples that could be of use all year around (click on each for an example to inspire you!):

General:
Number lines (age-specific)

Early primary specific:

Senior-specific:
Foghraíocht (pronunciation)

My favourite sources for display materials are:
Seomra Ranga (for resources as Gaeilge)
Sparklebox (especially for headings)


Have your children on board:
Get classroom management under control. It's very hard to teach anything if you cannot control the behaviour within the room. Try to strive for a balance where the children enjoy coming to school and are happy to share their ideas but that they treat you and their classmates respectfully. There are so many positive ways to go about this.

I used a token economy system during my dip year where they children got "Pirate Euro" notes for behaving well or really making an effort on a task. Together, we created a "rewards menu" and decided on appropriate prices. You can read about it here.

Currently I am using a clip chart system. You place all pegs on the middle section of the clip chart each morning and move them up or down according to their choices. Make your own, browse the net or have a look at the ones I have for sale here (in English and in Irish - people seem to have gone a bit crazy about the Star Wars ones this summer!).

Take up an after-school activity:
Do something that is not dip-related to avoid becoming a teaching-robot. Play sports, take up a new hobby or go for coffee/lunch dates (preferably with someone who does not want to listen to you ranting on about the dip!). Remember to keep a healthy work-life balance. Replacing an hour of tweaking resources (that were probably fine an hour ago) with an hour in the gym, an episode on Netflix or a long bath will probably be of more benefit to you and your students. An energetic teacher with good planning and preparation is far more productive and happy than a zombie teacher with PERFECT resources. Now, if only I could turn back time and listen to my own advice a bit sooner!

Keep yourself in the know:

Regularly check sites such as the INTO, Teaching Council, NIPT as well as less formal sites like the Education Posts forum (great for finding answers to specific dip-related questions and crowd-sourcing ideas for themes, methodologies, etc.) and following teaching blogs. There are some fantastic Irish teaching pages you should add to your Facebook feed such as Anseo.netSeomra RangaRéalta RangaMúinteoir ValerieMs. Forde's ClassroomPrimary ArtArt with Ms. LahartIrish Primary Teacher, Infant Teaching IdeasClaire's Primary School ArtIrish Primary PE association and the INTO LGBT Teachers' Group. (Sorry if I've forgotten anyone!)   


I hope this has been of use to you. I welcome all feedback via comments below.








Also, if you've made it this far, I've created a 170-page Dip Starter Pack with planning and display resources and pretty stationery to help keep you organised. Click here to find out more!


Thursday, 21 February 2019

International Mindedness - Greetings in Different Languages Poster

Greetings all!

We were brainstorming ways to promote international-mindedness in our school. Following my colleagues' suggestions, we started taking our class register in a new language (chosen by the students, naturally) each week. They're really enjoying this and particularly enjoy researching countries where the language is spoken. They're often surprised by what they find!

To document this learning, I created this poster. I've printed it A3 and stuck it to the whiteboard so we can easily refer to it. If you'd like a copy, pop over here to get it for a mere 75c.



Monday, 3 September 2018

Grade 4 PYP Classroom Reveal September 2018

It's finally classroom reveal time again. I was very excited to get cracking on getting my room ready. This year I will teach grade 4. Having been a grade 3 teacher for the last few years and moving to a new classroom, I was very motivated at the thought of creating a fresh space for my students and me. As I will have some of the same students as last year, I wanted to create a learning environment that looked a little different and more mature. As you'll see, I've kept some things that have worked well in the past and I have added in some new systems. Read below for more details!

I'll begin with my favourite. This is the popcorn display just outside the classroom door. On the first day of school, the students are going to write their goals for the year on popcorn-shaped paper. We're then going to analyse them - noting which attributes of the Learner Profile, transdisciplinary skills or PYP attitudes are connected to their goals.

And let's take a look inside the classroom. Here are some views of the whole room. Scroll down to read about specific sections of the room.
 You'll notice there is just a "Learner Profile" title on the door. The children will make the Learner Profile posters in the first week of school. To do so, I'm going to share a Google Slides presentation and they will all be collaborators, adding text, pictures, drawings, photos, etc. as they see fit. This will be used as an interactive display. I will cut out pictures of each student. When they feel that they/their peer has shown an attribute very well, they move the picture to the related attribute. We will regularly discuss who we have moved and what they have done. The skills posters are my own. On the narrow board, we have our class jobs. Each child's name is on a crayon template on a peg. 




As with other years, I will continue to use this polkadot behaviour management clip chart that I got for free from Under The Alphabet Tree (on the tall bulletin board). It has worked very well for me in the past. The purple and orange object hanging on the left of the photograph is my PYP Attitudes certificate, handmade by one of the children in my class last year (and again this year!).



I've displayed the PYP attitudes posters on the cupboard doors, along with our school's mission statement. If you look closely you can see that my "superglue" basket is still going strong! The "Vowels glue words together" poster and "Super Adjectives" word mat are from SparkleboxThese two boards at the back of the room will remain blank until for now. Then they will be filled with student work related to the first unit of inquiry. 

This year I decided to ditch the words "Wonder Wall" and have a "Burning Questions" area instead. I've also put the 8 PYP key concepts around it so that the children's questions can be sorted as they place them on the wall.

Next to the burning questions, we have a reflection area / "Wow work" wall. If you've seen my other classroom reveals, you'll see that I've used homemade Lego superheroes to hold up the essential agreements in the past. As I'm still not ready to part with them, I decided to use Hulk to hold up this title. How cool is the Hulkbusters font? I then hot-glued some Hulk fists to pegs so the kiddies can pin up their favourite work. They can then take the attitudes / Learner Profile attributes or skills from the plastic envelopes and pin on the ones they feel they developed while doing their chosen piece. I made the skills posters. I couldn't resist making the "Reflective" lettering actually reflective. Have a look at my blog post to see how I did it!




Behind you can see this lovely inquiry cycle graphic that I got from Mr. PYP. Then there is this Action board. I downloaded the action cycle posters from The Classroom Contessa. Underneath is a fantastic "What kind of action do I want to take?" poster from Jessica O'Hanley.


Above this is the main unit of inquiry board. I created this display pack last year and love it. I have all of the transdisciplinary themes, Learner Profile attributes, attitudes and key concepts printed and laminated so I can just switch them every time we start a new unit. 



At the front of the room, I made a more grown-up looking calendar in a grey and mint theme. I made a sheet for our birthdays using the same colour scheme. I'm very excited about the "Student of the Week" section. This year, I'll choose a student on Monday to be our Student of the Week. The other students will be encouraged to note instances where they demonstrate attributes of the Learner Profile. They can add this to the sheet. The sheet will be given to the student at the end of the week. As you can see, this sheet is put on with little pegs so it's easy to change weekly. Also on this display you'll see some reflection posters based on Marzano's Levels of Understanding. I just changed this one what I had previously to match the colour scheme and fit better.
I also put together those clock labels to help with reading digital and analogue time. I made them using these gorgeous free glitter digital papers from Jena Hudson at Sew Much Music.

On the other side is my personal teacher board. There I have these 3D cacti that I made over the summer. Read about how I made them in this blog post. You can also see my name card which I made with this Southpark Avatar Creator. I'm still in love with my Van Gogh "Starry Night" laptop case. It makes it so much easier to find my computer if we move around in staff meetings / collaborative planning sessions. 

In the green cup, you'll find these Ladybug & Chat Noir flipsticks. I use these to choose students at random. You simply flip them over and then you can easily see who you have not yet chosen. 

Like last year, I've displayed the PYP key concepts around the board. I got these fantastic keys for free from Ms. Murdoch. I have also attached my remote controls to the side of the board using adhesive velcro squares. 

I'm reusing the giant symbols and header of "Magic Maths Words" display. The students will add useful words to it as the year goes on to help with problem-solving e.g. multiplication words could be "multiply," "groups of," "by," "double," "times," etc. I got the title banner from Sparklebox, the symbols from Fun for Learning and the adhesive googly eyes from Flying Tiger.

If you've got this far, thank you for taking the time to have a look around our room!