Archive for January 14th, 2016

Parklands Primary, Leeds ~ Day 2

| January 14, 2016 | 2 Comments 

Parklands Primary

A second day at Parklands Primary in Leeds joined by staff from Grimes Dyke Primary, Manston Primary and Manston St James Primary Academy.

Well done to all of the children and staff for taking off with words, in magical and mysterious ways. A wonderous morning with courageous 60+ Year 3 and Year 4 pupils, their teachers, teaching asistants, and visiting colleagues.


… followed by a lively, talented Year 1 class …

Thoughts from Tom Cunliffe, Year 4 Teacher:

The VillageThe children are flowing in with a hubbub of anticipation as they gaze upon the screen. Already you can see them looking deeper into the mountainous realm wondering where it is, asking questions to each other.

We’re welcoming Tim Rylands and Sarah back to day 2 at Parklands Primary School, Leeds. Whilst this will be a mesmerising session for the children, it is the teachers that are sat with notebooks and ‘writing sticks’, in eager anticipation of new teaching techniques and resources to inspire over the coming year.

Mr WalkerTim has just introduced ‘Mr Walker’, his back up walking stick (sadly number one has started a new journey with a thief). In the space of 3 minutes, Tim has got the children thinking about the holes in Mr Walker. Children are conferring; “Mr Walker has holes so he can breathe” one child says, “A fox with long, sharp teeth bit right through it” says another. Personification at its best.

By giving permission for children to ‘go for it’ and rewarding answers with ‘a ripple’, every child in the room now wants to give their answers and there is an ocean of hands up in the air – 80 different reasons why Mr Walker has holes in him. This is testament to the power of allowing ‘silly answers’ and welcoming them the same as any other. Children are engaged, encouraged and excited.

The children had almost forgotten about the mystical land dancing away on the screen behind. Often there is a fear in the teaching profession about technology distracting children – stopping them from thinking independently and discussing ideas. Yet that idea has been thrown out of the window here. What is clear, is that with the right guidance, it can only enhance the fantastic imagination that children already have. We sometimes forget that children WANT to speak and they WANT to be involved in the now. They are proud of their ideas. There is a child next to me, laughing because he can’t get his idea in for the amount of children sharing their ideas. He’s even standing now. Too late, but point proven.

WritingWithout ‘permission’, children are scribbling ideas into their books. This is exactly what we want children to be doing; Writing because they can, rather because they have to. And now…competition time – When we hear Tim say a ‘simile’ we have to go really high and screechy! Re-enforcing children’s understanding through games is a fantastic way of embedding knowledge. It’s now the children’s turn and in the space of 1 minute we have 80 similes soaring around the room like… (pop your similes in the ‘Add your Thoughts’ at the top of this blog!).

Writing time, and the scratching of ideas is magnificent. Children believe they are immersed in the setting – not because they can see it, but because they have talked about it and have shared ideas with explanation rather than just a ‘title of their idea’. Byron is going to share his description (with a name like that he best be good). ‘Smoke as hot as lava. I can hear a rattling of leaves and see a building, black as people’s hair. Nailed it. Well done Lord Byron.

We’ve talked about paragraphs, personification, similes, metaphors and now we’re using rhetorical questions, but the children don’t even know they are using them! Far too often we introduce a literary skill by introducing it by name, e.g. ‘This is a rhetorical question, does this sentence need an answer?’ rather than discovering it through talk. This way, children take ownership of it and are much more proud to use in their writing. One thing to stress is that these are not all new singing and dancing teaching techniques. Rather, Tim is reminding us of the importance of questioning and not stopping when we get to a ‘good’ answer.

PaperAs teachers, ideas are thrown at us from all directions and as we pick something up, inevitably other ideas will go from our minds. I remember my teacher training, leaving with so many fantastic ideas and enthused to use them in the classroom. Yet the reality of day to day teaching is that things are left on the side. Tim has reminded me of the wealth of resources, skills and ideas out there. His techniques are nothing new; they are solid and herald good practice. Yet the resources enhancing these techniques are constantly evolving. We must not rely on electronic resources alone, yet we must not dismiss them as ‘things for home time’. A whole world can be unlocked to journey through, and you’ll be amazed at where the children take you!

By Tom Cunliffe, Year 4 Teacher.

A massive THANK YOU to Tom for his reflections, and again to Head Teacher Chris Dyson for having the passion and vision to invite us to his school for these two days.