Archive for November 5th, 2007
Back down the stunning scenery of the valleys, this time to Aberkenfig, on the outskirts of Bridgend town, and more explorations of “virtual valleys” at Tondu Primary. Tondu is another delightful small school, with children and staff who are up for a challenge and have a superb sense of humour.
As I have discovered recently, when I come across perceptive and expressive staff (and children!) I get to “find out” so much about what I do. Today, some colleagues offered remarkably insightful glimpses into why children respond so openly and positively to lessons. I find it does help to have somebody explain!!
I did two lessons and cherished the laughter and creativity we had in both sessions. Again, there were more than a few children who surprised themselves and, hopefully moved to perceiving themselves as writers, and excellent writers too.
The school is fortunate enough to have two support staff who have great artistic talents, so the walls of the classrooms, library and, even, toilet areas apparently, are adorned with superb mini-murals.
My second fascinating book discovery of the day was The Little Book of Thunks by Ian Gilbert.
A Thunk is a beguiling question about everyday things that stops you in your tracks but helps you start to look at the world in a whole new light.
The Thunks in this book cover a broad range of topics including truth, justice, reality, beliefs, the natural world, the human condition, art, beauty, existence, difference between right and wrong, good and bad, life and death, war, religion, love, friendship and a whole lot more.
Some examples are:
· If I borrow a million dollars am I a millionaire?
· Could a fly cause a plane to crash?
· Are you man-made or natural?
· Do dogs believe in God?
· When you comb your hair is it art?
. If it is zero degrees today, and tomorrow it will be twice as cold, how cold is it?
The book contains a comprehensive introduction by Ian who guides you through the origins and uses of Thunks and how best to use them.
Not only are they a fun way to develop thinking skills but they also hit all the right buttons to encourage children to:
· generate imaginative ideas to stimulate thinking
· look at and think about things differently and from other points of view
· ask: why, how, what if or unusual questions.
This small book is a great resource for teachers to use in the classroom, and since there are no right or wrong answers to these questions, it makes for a lively discussion every time you Thunk.
We had a staff meeting after school to, again, develop the ideas of the day even further. I would like to thank head, Sue Pilcher, and her colleagues for another great session.
Inspiring?! No, learning. That’s what I do with my days. Thank you.
First session of 10 days in Bridgend. Bridgend is somewhere I have been fortunate to spend a lot of time. Les Phillips and his team have been getting me in regularly so that I will have visited almost all of the schools in the authority by the end of the year. I have presented at a few conferences … and they still want me back. I must be doing something RIGHT!
This morning, I visited Blaengarw Primary, a school set at the top of one of the valleys, in a setting that reminded me of The Sound of Music as, apparently it does some of the staff as they arrive for work every day!
The school had the feel of The Tardis – apparently tiny on the outside, yet surprisingly spacious when you enter.
I had great fun with a class of children exploring an area that they had visited before. This time we stretched their descriptive vocabulary so far that some of them surprised themselves as well as their teachers. They wrote well and spoke expressively of their thoughts.
My first book discovery of the day was Who’s afraid of the Bwgan Wood by Anne Lewis. It was a winner of the Welsh Books Council Tir na n-Og Award
‘All day long people hurry to and fro across the waste ground on the fringes of the Bwgan-wood. Nobody sees the eyes peeping out at them from the tangles of the trees. Nobody notices the way the leaves sometimes shake and shiver when there isn’t any wind. Nobody has the faintest idea that they are being watched. And nobody hears the laughter.’
It had obviously caught the children’s imagination and is proving to be a great book to read aloud to a class, full of magic, intrigue and fantastical characters.
I enjoyed a good session with the teaching staff, discussing how the many ideas we had covered could be developed even further.
Thank you to Margaret Lugg and her colleagues for a really fun morning in a lovely setting. It almost had me singing the The Hills are Alive! – almost!