Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Freebie: Division with Remainders Board Game

Hello there,

Just a quick freebie for you. It's a board game to practice dividing with remainders that I used with my 8-9 year olds. I've included four differentiated sheets. I also differentiated by giving groups either one or two dice and by giving the students the option to solve the problems mentally or to write them down. 

The game is very simple to play. The students roll a die. They then divide the number they are on by the number on the die. Next, they move forward the number of the remainder. So if I am on 41 and I roll a 5. I would get an answer of 8r1 so I move forward one place. If there is no remainder, they don't move for that turn.

Click on this link or the photo to download these sheets for free from my TPT store.


Monday, 22 July 2019

Student-Created Displays in Our PYP Classroom

I admit it. I really have to consciously work on this. I love to create an inviting classroom but I definitely need to be reflective about how much input the students have in the set-up of the classroom and of creating displays. I just wanted to share some ways in which my students designed how they were going to share their learning this year. 

I was very lucky last year to have a very small class of just 13 students. This made group decision-making a little easier and students were often able to work on the same giant sheet of paper at the same time. In our school we have our displays on backed and bordered boards. I prepared big sheets of paper about the size of the display board for the students to design. 

For this one, the students just went at it and drew their cave painting where they liked. They also wrote what it meant on flaps of paper so that other students could check if the message was communicated correctly.

This next one was for personal inquiries (some students chose to work independently, some collaboratively). They spoke together before even starting their research and decided roughly where their section of the display would be. They voted on how the header would look, where it would be positioned and who would write/draw it. Then, as they researched, they wrote directly onto the giant sheet. 

And finally, I had used this blank map as a pre-unit assessment tool to find out what students knew about the economic activities of different regions of Italy. (If you need to make a giant display, check out the wall art generator, Rasterbator and get your mind out of the gutter!) I then gave them free reign to use it how they pleased to document what they had learned. They chose to paint it and then you can see some students have added on information about landforms, "the industrial triangle," capitals of the regions, etc. When focusing on map skills, the students then asked if they could create a key for this map too (it's the white sheet at the top right). I was more than delighted!

P.S. If you want to see what we did for the summative assessment for this unit of inquiry, check out my post about that!

Next year, I'm going to continue to focus on this and give the students a lot more freedom to design their learning space.

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.)

I have just created a Rugby World Cup Fixtures Wall Calendar and added it to my TPT store. It costs just $1! Enjoy!

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.)

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.)

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!):

Number lines (age-specific)

Early primary 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!