Friday, 30 June 2017

Of course, the big and most tragic news this week is that Years 3 and 4 have lost their swimming lesson privileges. Despite the work that has been done to encourage good and productive behaviour, there are still too many children in both years who seem to think of outings as an excuse to play around and be disruptive and rude. Most of them could not even line up in a straight line. There were a very small number of well-behaved, attentive children, but too few to warrant another trip on a coach to a public facility. There was only one lesson remaining anyway, but it was a fun lesson that would have involved a lot of play and floats, so it is a shame that those years have not been able to prove themselves.

On a more positive note regarding behaviour, I think that many of the children are beginning to mature and improve. In class, many of them are learning to ignore distractions and take greater pride in their work. I hope this positive step continues next year with their new teacher.

But there are still three weeks left as Class 4, and we still have plenty of work to do.

This week the children really got into the idea of telling and solving riddles. We worked this week on creating effective riddles around animals, figuring out which aspects of a given animal were easier to guess and which were harder. We then worked on putting the harder clues first and the easier ones at the end. And then we figured out how to talk about body parts without actually naming them. So "eyes" might be described as "orbs" or "emerald pools." The children were encouraged to use similes (the lion is like a big brown toilet brush) and metaphors (the cheetah is a streak of fire across the savannah). Next week we will finish up the unit on riddles and hopefully every child will have a few riddles of their own to show off to friends and family.

We've done problem solving in class all week, and flexing our mental muscles that work systematically. We've had a few different maths challenges with more than one right answer, and the challenge has been to fight most or all of them. Most of the children have risen to the challenge and figured out how to work it out.

With all of the music assemblies and Sports Day (where I got to see and talk to many of you), we didn't manage to spend enough time on science, history or RE this week, so we will make up for that next week.

As mentioned in the last blog, we have finished with new spelling words and we will now be testing the children on their long-term memory and usage of the words they have already had. As this is a test of spelling retention, it is not something that needs to be studied. The children will have tests on those words over the next few weeks, but they are nothing to worry about as they are being given so that we can see how much emphasis will need to be spent on those words in the coming school year.

Finally, I have spent the last few weekends writing up the end-of-year reports on each child. They are currently being reviewed and commented upon by the Head Teacher, and will be ready to go out to you soon.

Have a good weekend.

Friday, 23 June 2017

I was impressed by the children in many ways this week. First of all, they did brilliantly well making bar charts and coming up with good questions for each other based on them. Today they did a wonderful problem solving lesson that will prepare them for algebra. Second of all, they have really taken to our new English Topic on riddles. We read the famous scene from The Hobbit where Bilbo and Gollum have a riddle contest, and the children did very well guessing the answers to the riddles before the characters did. It also gave me a chance to practise my Gollum impression. Since Monday I've had several children come up to me with riddles they've looked up or riddles they've made up. Some of them are very clever.

We spent some time discussing Boudicca's rebellion and her sad fate in History this week, and looking at how she has been portrayed in art over the centuries. The children then had a go at what she looks like themselves. Many of them even drew her on a noble steed.

We tried to beat the heat as we learned a few times this week, going outside to search for micro-habitats on the school grounds. Today we spent a much cooler afternoon catching mini-beasts to draw pictures of.

We have been listening to Hindu stories in RE, and learning about all of the gods of Hinduism. We are exploring the moral tales of different religions, and the many ways that they are similar in their lessons or messages.

As I can't remember whether or not I have already mentioned this, I will share it now (again?). We have one week of regular spellings left, which will be next week. After that, we will be doing review tests on the words they've learned throughout the school year to see how well they have retained their information. As far as I'm aware, the other homework will continue until the end of term, but I will confirm that when I can.

So, this week's words serve the function of having the children practise many often-missed words as well as their apostrophes. Here is the list:

can’t (cannot)
shouldn’t (should not)
they’d (they would)
she’s (she is)
you’ve (you have)
girl’s (belonging to a girl)
children’s (belonging to children)
Thomas’s (belonging to Thomas)
friends’(belonging to more than one friend)
women’s (belonging to more than one woman)

Each word demonstrates a different use of the apostrophe, so the most effective way to practise is by putting them into sentences. We will be doing that in class, of course, but if you want to practise early, that would be a helpful way to do help them learn.

Have a good weekend.

Friday, 16 June 2017

This week we finished up our English topic on non-chronological reports. I was generally happy with the hard work they did. The spent a great deal of time looking up information on different animals and reporting on their diet, description, habitats and other interesting information. In addition to honing their note-taking skills, they did a lot of self-editing, filling in gaps in their knowledge, and then wrote a final draft in extended writing yesterday. I am looking forward to reading their reports in greater detail over the weekend.

We've started our topic on Habitats and Food Chains in science, and spent some time in the sun this week looking for mini-beasts on the school grounds. Each child was able to find several micro-environments (cracks in the walls, spaces between flag stones, branches of trees, etc.) and even found some of the animals living there. The topic will require more work out in the English sunshine so let's hope the weather continues to cooperate.

In History, we've been investigating Boudicca's Rebellion, a moment in history made all the more interesting because Boudicca sacked the Roman city of Verulamium (St Albans) and was ultimately defeated just north of here on Watling Street. The children have been weighing the good and bad aspects of Roman rule and today they wrote a rallying cry to the Iceni warriors before going into battle with the legionaries.

In RE we are looking now at Hinduism and some of the stories and teachings from some of their holy texts. Wednesday we looked at Ganesha, the Elephant-Headed god of luck and protection, and explored a bit what it meant to be lucky.

We are about to go into a lot of data handling in maths, which will involve lots of charts and graphs. This is an interesting part of the maths curriculum because some children who are very quick and accurate at arithmetic can become confused by graphs and charts, and some children who are less adept with arithmetic suddenly find they can read charts confidently.

Next week will be a normal week, with no school events or other interferences to the schedule, other than a brief music assembly on Thursday morning. There will be homework and spelling words as usual. I am happy to see the list of children forgetting or neglecting their homework is decreasing over time. Most children are taking it seriously and doing well at it.

Here are next week's spelling words:






We are looking at the prefixes sub- and auto- and the suffix -ly.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Welcome back for the home stretch of the academic year. We have only six short weeks to finish everything up, and then our children will be moving on to Year 5!

First, let me apologise for the lack of newsletter over the week-long holiday. I had a blog written and there was a problem sending it right after I finished, and then it was forgotten in the hustle and bustle of the week and I never tried to upload it again. By now it's completely irrelevant, of course.

Hopefully everyone went home with positive things to say about the field trip on Wednesday. We had a fortuitous reprieve in the otherwise rainy weather for the week. It was cool, sunny and moisture-free. And what else can one hope for on such a day?

We toured the museum from 10 to 11, and the children all had facts to find in each section. Especially interesting was the part where they could build their own Roman arch and the area with a tile that had a little dog print impressed into the clay.

We then spent another hour with a knowledgeable lady who gave us real Roman artefacts to look at and touch, and we spent the time going from station to station and trying to guess which artefacts matched up with modern household implements. Four of our children got to dress up in Roman and Celtic costumes as well.

The children then had about an hour to eat, another hour to play, use the toilet, and gather together, and then we went on a special tour of the Roman theatre and archaeological finds surrounding it. We were split into two groups for that and every child was given a role to play in the historical drama. Then it was time to head home. I think we tired a few of the children out. It was great to see actual Roman objects up close and see and hear about the history of our own backyard by knowledgeable staff.

I would like to send a special thanks out to my parent volunteers for helping to keep everyone safe and happy. Also, look for a special report from Jamal and Matty in the Newsletter as well as a blog on the school website.

We've just started our new Science topic on habitats, and will be exploring plant and animal homes, food sources and predators. We'll be looking at sacred stories of Hinduism in RE. In English, we've been practising taking notes from reliable sources and writing reports. We wrote rough drafts this week and will write the final drafts on Thursday. Then we'll switch to a unit on free verse poetry. And of course we are continuing to do the Romans in history. In Maths we'll be moving into a block of statistics and interpreting different types of charts.

Here are next week's spelling words. We are looking at the prefix inter- and the suffix -ation.










There will be homework as usual so don't let your child convince you that Mr Thompson didn't hand any out.
Have a good weekend!