Tenby Junior School, Pembrokeshire

| October 9, 2009 | 5 Comments 

Tenby 001We are back in Pembrokeshire and what a special day we had at Tenby Junior Community School .  A big thank you to Jan Llewelyn, the head teacher, for arranging an extremely very organised event.  The INSET included six schools:  Coedffranc Primary School, Neath & Port Talbot (NPT), Creunant Primary School, NPT, Baglan Primary School, NPT St Mark’s VA Community School, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire Tenby Junior Community School , Pembs and Cadle Primary School, Swansea.

This group are networking as part of a Professional Learning Community (PLC); this is linked to the School Effectiveness Framework (SEF)  which is running as a pilot project. The outcomes of this project will impact on the self evaluation toolkit which is being devised to support the new Inspection Framework  for  Estyn. The reason we were invited was following discussions to find a common area of development; most schools had been targeting Literacy in some way and particularly boys under achievement. Tom Cox had recently been to one of our training days and was so enthused by the whole experience that it was felt  that the whole staff should benefit, especially to see the impact it was having in the classroom with some boys in a lower group.  In total we were joined by 70 teaching and support staff altogether, 4 Improvement Facilitators linked to the SEF pilot and 1 School Improvement Adviser – Total 75. We were also joined by delightful Yr2 pupils from Saundersfoot  Primary Community School and an equally delightful group of  KS2 pupils from Tenby Juniors.

Tom Cox

Tom Cox, a teacher at Tenby Junior Community School, kindly noted his observation:

As this was the second occasion I have seen Tim work with pupils, I knew that he would have the total engagement of the children not only with the visual virtual world of Myst, but also through his child centred approach. This time I was very keen to look past the label of “The Myst man” who just use a computer game and see how a range of Tim’s techniques develop the child’s use of imaginative vocabulary.

As the world of Myst was first unveiled, I noticed a constant stream of questions, “what is this sea or sky?” Do you think it’s hot or cold? Children were given opportunity to discuss and share with partners. Not a pen in sight…or even a white board…shock horror!

Time was given for a brief exploration and then Tim asked the pupils if they wanted to go closer to the structure in front of them. He then used a lovely technique of holding the children back, before moving towards the object. Tim discussed and demonstrated the word “cautiously” It was done ever so gently and then reinforced with a hand gesture and posh voice. This method was used throughout the activity to reinforce sentence structures.

The technique of holding the children back was also used at the beginning of the writing task; this was like revving a racing car at the start line, because once they were released into writing the pupils couldn’t wait to get their ideas down.

I particularly enjoyed the way Tim interchanged between the virtual world of Myst and a children book “The owl babies”. Only a small part of the book was shared but again wonderful story sentences were modelled. As a classroom practitioner who does already use Myst, I have always used it as a standalone element of a lesson where it was the total focus, now the floodgates have opened and I’m thinking of children’s classics that I could share at various stages of my Myst lessons.

The argument was an activity that was fun, but overtly taught very young pupils the structure of a good argument, vocalising their own opinions first, commenting on the other person’s view, then returning to their own personal view.

As Tim was sliding back down escalator plant, I took some time to reflect on what had just taken place throughout the activity.

1) Exciting visual stimulus.
2) Creative writing.
3) Paired discussion.
4) Vocabulary extension.
5) Sharing model sentences.
6) Reading/sharing a section of a children book.
7) Non threatening engagement with pupils.
8) Clear strategies to put children at ease.
9) Auditory stimulus.
10) Active learning with gestures to aid memory.
11) Happy and creative children moving forward in their learning.

On reflection, I’ll take these attributes in any creative literacy lesson!

As the second session began with key stage 2 pupils, I was struck straight away that Tim would not just accept the first creative offering from a child; he would engage the pupil to extend their idea with a gesture, facial expression, question or even a cup! Watching closely I also realised that as one child gives an idea, extends it and is praised, Tim then gives more ideas back. This approach promotes a lovely environment of interaction where pupils realise that they are not going to get things wrong and wanted to offer ideas.

Then it happened…Tim introduced Similes and Metaphors…together…in about 4 mins! Do I? No, I would focus a week on similes, wringing ever last drop of fun from the tool, then only move on to metaphors, once happy with full understanding of 94.7% of the class! There it is in a nutshell…EXPECTATIONS. Did the children respond? YES…did all the children succeed in using both in their writing? NO, but they had been given the opportunity. At least the teacher wasn’t the limiting factor.

“Sitting here I look out across a shimmering hall of ideas and creativity” 10 mins have now past since I last wrote in this live blog…the reason…children are being brave and sharing their writing with each other…you can hear a pin drop…teachers are thinking…I want some of this in my class!

Again, throughout this whole activity, the use of modelling and repletion of the sentence structures is constant. The lovely creative language becomes the norm, “Standing here…” “Turning slowly…”

Paragraphs are taught simply by moving the view of the screen! It’s that simple!

Right that’s it…going to stop writing now as the interview and translator activity is just more interesting!


Category: 1) Events and Training days

Comments (5)

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  1. Shaun Davey says:

    I spoke to Tim after today’s brilliant event and he asked me to post this information.

    If you enjoyed today with Tim’s exploration of imaginative worlds through computer games then you may wish to add to your own adult enjoyment by reading Dune by Frank Herbert, which creates an imaginative world which leaps off the page. It is regarded by critics as one of the best science fiction novels. It creates an unique and fantastic world right down to the level of eco-sustainability.

  2. Dave Golding says:

    Just wanted to say that i found todays session with Tim and Sarah today very informative and useful, thank you ! Also a massive thank you to Tenby Junior School for hosting the event and making me and my colleagues from St Marks feel most welcome


  3. What an inspiring INSET…teachers and support staff still listening avidly at three o’clock on a Friday afternoon! Can’t wait to see the impact in the classrooms on Monday and share the ‘blog-page’ with those willing pupils who came to school on a day off. Thank you Tim and Sarah for one of the best training days of my career… Brill.

  4. Claire Gamlin says:

    Thank you very much for an inspirational training session. It was great to have speaking and listening and drama high on the agenda as a prerequisite to writing. We all thoroughly enjoyed. The session reaffirmed for us that we are on the right track with many of our teaching strategies, whilst giving us new ideas to experiment with. We hope that we are able to share the good practice with our neighbouring schools.

  5. Julia Wood says:

    Wow! I was truly inspired by the whole day. The groups of children taught by Tim loved the experience and I hope I can inspire like he did. I certainly hope to try out in the near future the lesson styles I observed. Just watching and listening sparked creative thoughts and ideas that certainly produced the wow factor in the children’s written work. Thanks to you both for one of the best INSET days I’ve ever attended

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