Wednesday, 31 October 2012


The best thing about teaching younger students is that any type of reward is a big deal for them. At my school we employ housepoints. These magical stickers are gold and the students treat them like currency. They are especially awesome for Year 3s because it is their first experience getting rewarded in this manner.
The lowdown on HPs (housepoints):
  • Students can get housepoints for demonstrating correct behaviour.
  • Housepoints are also given for work they do, for me it is for students that can manage to make their work legible and demonstrate an ability to apply the learning objective.
  • The gold mine of housepoints is for their reading diaries. All students are required to read 15 mins/day at least 5x a week, I give HPs for at least 5 parent signatures and more for extra reading.
The last reason has been a godsend because my class has become a classroom of readers. All my parents have commented on how eager their students are to read and how much their reading fluency has improved in 7 weeks. Win, win, win!
All staff give out HPs and students receive them from anyone throughout the day.

Attempted close up of housepoints

The reason for the housepoints (this next bit is soooo English) is for the coveted house cup.
When students arrive at school they are put in 1 of 4 houses. At our school houses are named after royal homes.
green = Buckingham
yellow = Sandringham
red = Windsor
blue = Balmoral

Housepoint charts in my class. Each house gets their own sheet and my class total is added to the other classes for each house. New sheets are put up weekly.
FYI - I'm in Sandringham. Back to my original point. So each student gets a house and their housepoints go towards their house totals. So every week some older kids go to every classroom and count the housepoints for each house. They are totalled for the school and each week the housepoint winners get the house cup (a big gold trophy). At the end of the year we have House matches and all the children compete with their houses to earn points in different sports. The sport totals are added onto the housepoint totals to make a house winner at the end of the year.
I'm pleased to say Sandringham has won the house of the year for the last 3 years and this is put onto a massive plaque.
Another long-winded blog post. I've been excited to share this because it is the one reward system that has made a huge impact at our school. What types of ideas do you have for rewards? Does your school have a rewards system?

Sunday, 7 October 2012


Wow! The last month has flown by. Year 3 has been tremendously time consuming and within three days of being in school I realised how behind I already was! I've been slowly chipping away at marking and getting the classroom routine set up. Last week was great as it was the first time my students were really able to get through the day without me constantly nagging asking them to do things. To be fair, their schedule would be daunting for any new child at a school.
Here are some of the things new students have to learn (quickly):
  • Our schedule is different everyday!
  • Students have to move between all 3 year 3 teachers throughout the day!
  • Our students have a rotating three week schedule on Monday and Tuesday afternoons because each class is getting the chance to learn African drumming (once every 3 weeks).
  • Students have also got different specialist teachers for other lessons, whose ideas of behaving my differ from mine.
One side note: there is a little boy in one of the other classes and without fail, once a day someone from his class comes into my room looking for him, as he seems to keep being in the wrong place. Bless!

Okay back to my original idea for this post. Organization, something I am not that great at (although I can fake it well). I'm always being handed pieces of paper that are important, but not necessarily at that moment. In my pigeon hole I am always finding previously mentioned papers. Days, weeks, months later when I need the papers I can never seem to find them.
I've kind of adapted an idea from my lovely friend Kaytie from Earlier this summer she organised all her lessons and resources into different notebooks. I snapped up this idea for all my files. (Such a duh! moment.)
In this handy notebook are all the documents I would need handy throughout the year. It starts with our class timetable and rotation schedule and finishes off with my admin stuff, like teacher number and observations. In between are school policies, level descriptors, care plans, etc. It sits next to my desk and has been SO helpful already. Why has it taken me 3 years to figure this out?!

Since I am teaching in England I will take a moment to explain some of our educational lingo.
SEN: Special Education Needs - Students are placed on a SEN register if they recieve some type of additional help, ie Interventions
Care Plans: are for students that have some medical need. These plans detail how to deal with the student in case of an emergency and also details their needs. It can range from food allergies, seizures, wearing splints, etc.
Level: In the UK students are not given letter grades but 'levels'. Within each level are sub-levels (think rubric system). This gives a better indicator of where a student is working. For instance a Year 3 that is working at a level 3 is a high-achieving student, whereas a Year 6 working at a level 3 would be considered working below their age group.

One other mention will be marking...the bane of any teachers life! I'm really making an effort to assess during and after lessons. For maths and english I have a notebook I carry around with me when students are working. If there is something I note during a lesson I quickly jot down the problem (or need for extension). One other thing that has helped me greatly is using traffic signal cards.
I am now able to walk round the room when students are working independently and target those who aren't confident with their work. I have also been able to spontaneously pull out small groups and work
together on new concepts. These students are also recorded in my small notebook.
When I go to mark students work:
  • they are simply given a 'V' which means I have verbally helped them with the concept.
  • Other students will get a a simple WT (working towards if they still have not quite got the new concept), check (understanding the concept, but not secure), or a double check (secure with concept).
  • A small group of students will get written feedback and possibly some problems to help them secure their knowledge or extend their knowledge.
I am trying to rotate round who gets the written feedback so all students work will be fully looked at and analysed at some point. One last note, I use the check, double check in my little notebook as well, when students are showing they are secure with ideas they were previously not able to do, this way I can move them on.
Phew....another long rambling blog post.