Thursday, 22 December 2011

New Technology in EYFS...the Computerlator!

A girl in my Nursery class came up to me last week and complained that no-one would let her on a computer...

"Don't worry, you can go on the computer later." I said, and she ran off happily...curious...normally get a response along the lines of "but they've been on it for ages, it's my turn now."

Anyway, she came back a few minutes later and patted my arm whilst I was talking to another child...

Me : "Woof woof"

Girl : "Why are you barking at me?"

Me : "You were patting me, I thought you wanted to play dogs."

Girl : "Mr Shrek, you are a silly dumbass!"

Me : "Did you watch a DVD last night?"

Girl : "Yeah, it was about dumb and dumber people."

Me : "Ok, well we don't use that word dumbass in school please, it's a bit rude. What can I help you with?"

Girl : "I can't find the computerlator, where is it?"

Scratched my head for a few seconds before I recalled why she had come to me in the first place, and the penny dropped! You can imagine her disappointment when all I could produce was an old calculator from my drawer.

I put in a request for some iPads to replace the desktops I have in Nursery a while ago. Seems the obvious way forward as I can't imagine desktops will exist in the same way as they do now when the children get to KS2.

Although the children love using them, PC's are pretty difficult to navigate when you're 3 (I wish there was a child friendly icon based version of google.... an idea for any serious techies / programmers reading this!). I built an html menu to help them access their favourite sites (Cbeebies, Poisson Rouge and scans of some of the texts we've been using etc), but I still feel I'm failing to release their potential. If you're in any doubt, have a look out for young children sitting in their pushchairs happily navigating their parents' mobile phones, or even their own iPod touches etc.

Has anyone successfully implemented iPads into EYFS?

Have you found any way of networking them? I realise there's no point in networking them in the traditional sense, but I'd like to be able to share the pictures or videos they take on the class whiteboard etc?

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

What does the revised EYFS Framework mean for Nursery?

The government has just published the results of it's consultation on the revised EYFS Framework...

http://www.education.gov.uk/consultations/index.cfm?action=conResults&consultationId=1747&external=no&menu=3

Generally slimming down the framework seems like a great idea, and I like the simple assessment framework it introduces at the ages of 3 and 4 for Nursery.

Does this mean the end of Development Matters?...the above report says they will consider creating a slimmed down version to go with the new EYFS framework. What happens if they don't produce it though?...do we still try and use Development Matters as it stands for planning and interim assessment, or are we effectively set free within the boundaries of the new expectations at age 4?

I've only just got my head round Development Matters (still struggling with how it interacts with the EYFS scale point assessment), and feel that it's brilliant for identifying children's learning steps (with the exception of ICT where it's stuck in the dark ages, and maths where I feel the learning steps aren't that well identified), but that it's a total nightmare for progress tracking and assessment! With over 300 learning steps to assess against (and plan for) I worked out that I need to write an observation every 40 seconds throughout the day for my class! Not achievable.

For those of you in KS1 or 2, it's like doing APP on every child in your class across 7 subjects...oh, and by the way you actually have 2 classes, 1 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon. That means you have about 50 children in total and only 3 hours a day to teach/monitor/assess them. In fairness the marking and planning workload is somewhat lower though!

What do those of you currently working in Nurseries think?...will our paperwork reduce massively? Will we find ourselves working in post-it note free zones?...

(For the uninitiated, we tend to write our child observations on post-it notes).



Sunday, 18 December 2011

Rising self awareness and esteem...

A child in my class refers to himself as a bear.  He was still in nappies when he joined the class in September, and would come in most mornings and say...

"Morning, I'm a little bear", whilst pointing to himself with no small amount of pride.

A few weeks later he came in with a beaming smile, waving vigorously and said...

"Morning, I'm a big bear now. I'm like you, we're both big bears! I got no nappies now."
A touching moment, and a clear leap in self-esteem.  I paused to reflect on this as evidence of me providing a positive role model for a developing young man.

One morning during the last week of term...

Child : "Morning"

Me : "Morning, how are you big bear? We're the same aren't we!"

Child : "No"....pauses for thought and then points to the top of my head..."you've got no hair!"

Thanks mate!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The lesser spotted male teacher....are gender results afffected?

From the Annual digest of statistics for 2009-10, published by the GTCE...

Percentage of teachers by Gender in UK State Schools















Male teachers get rarer as pupil age decreases, and the numbers fall to 3% in Nursery. As an interesting comparison, 10% of the British Army is female.

DfE statistics for the end of EYFS (1 year after Nursery) show that girls outperformed boys by 18% in 2009-10
DfE stats for English & Maths at the end of KS2 (Primary) in the same year show girls outperforming boys by 5%.
GCSE results for the same year show girls outperforming boys by 7%.

Is it coincidence that the gender performance gap is so massive in Nursery/EYFS, where the chance of having a male teacher is almost negligible? There's plenty of academic research suggesting teacher gender has no impact, but I haven't managed to find any based on the actual performance of children who have been taught by men versus women.

Realising the major gender performance issue in Nursery/EYFS the DfE published the following in 2007 (do a Google search if you think this is a wind-up!)...

Good Practice Guidelines: Supporting boys’ achievements
A few tips…

An interest in wheeled toys:

• set up a garage, vehicle testing centre, pizza delivery, or motor cycle couriers
• make signs and street names, parking tickets and number plates
• number the tricycles
• provide car manuals and sales brochures, books about transport, maps and atlases
• use real spanners and screw drivers to dismantle an old bike or other mechanisms
• investigate gears, including those in clocks and hand whisks
• introduce maps and mapping
 

An interest in building:
• provide clipboards, pens and rulers
• use hard hats and overalls
• obtain architects plans and diagrams
• display photos, posters and books about buildings, structures and tunnels
• look for shapes and patterns in buildings and other structures
• use some real bricks and cement
• set up a shop selling builders materials
• read stories such as ‘The three little pigs’ and explore building with different materials
 

An interest in Spiderman:
• have a collection of super hero toys
• have comics and annuals in the book corner
• look at real spider webs and provide further information, such as non-fiction books
• provide a range of mark-making and craft resources so that children can create representations of Spiderman and webs if they wish.



Let's suppose for a minute that all but 48 of the UK Nursery teachers are male and that boys outperform girls by 20%. How do you think women would respond to the following government 'tips' for Nursery teachers?...

An interest in fashion:
• set up a hair salon or nail bar
• provide hair curlers and hair brushes etc
• display posters of different hair style
• use some real hair and nail
s

An interest in Wonderwoman:
• have a collection of Wonderwoman toys
• have Wonderwoman comics and annuals in the book corner
• look at real women and provide further information.
• provide pencils and materials so they can draw or make their own Wonderwoman

Perhaps a little patronising and sterotypical!!? ....(mental note to self: must look out for a Wonderwoman outfit for the roleplay area!)

Personally I think we need something much closer to a 50/50 split of male/female teachers across all education age groups in order to better reflect society in general.  However, having just enjoyed my school's Xmas night out (60 women and 5 men), I'm prepared to wait for things to change!

The Edgazette

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

One third of children don't own any books!

The National Literacy Trust recently published results following a survey of 18,000 school children. The survey was carried out in September with school-aged children from 111 schools across the UK. It suggested that a third (33.2%) did not have books of their own. That translates to 3.8m children UK-wide.

When I did home visits for my Nursery class in September I was fairly shocked to find that only 3 out of 30 children had any books at home. I received mostly blank looks when I asked parents what their child's favourite book was!

However I have since discovered that the children aren't lagging behind in their early reading skills. They seem to be picking up their initial word recognition from TV, computer/console games and the Internet. Their IT skills are generally 2 years ahead of expectation and they are using this channel very effectively to start reading. Maybe this is more effective than books? It certainly seems to be just as, if not more, engaging.

I was equally surprised to find that a few children can write their names on a computer but can barely hold a pencil! I think times are moving on, and that children will always have a huge thirst for learning. With the current rate of technological progress in the world, the vehicle for learning to read is unlikely to be the same as the generation that came before....I wonder how many children received a Kindle e-book reader for Christmas this year!?

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Meet my class!

Well at least meet their self-made avatars, or 'Teletubbies' as they have become affectionately known as.

The children made these over two weeks as part of our 'Ourselves' topic.

The faces are self-portraits using paint and collage materials on a paper plate.



The hearts contain some writing, drawing and general 'mark making' in the theme of 'My special people/things'.

The rectangles contain their first attempts at writing their own names.

I was able to gather a massive amount of observational evidence from this project, ranging from the use of mark making tools through to having a sense of personal identity.

The project effectively gave me a baseline assessment in CLL (Communication, Language & Literacy).

As we approach the end of the Autumn term the Teletubbies will be taken down and used to form the front cover of the children's 'Special Work' books.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Practising for the Christmas Show

Practising songs for our Christmas show today. Some children wanted to share their own songs afterwards, so I let them stand up in front of the class and sing (great source of evidence for confidence etc)...

Girl A sings 'Twinkle Twinkle....' extremely cute.

Boy B sings 'Away in a Manger....' even more cute.

Boy C sings a few lines from Lego House by Ed Sheeran....what a dude!

Boy D stands up and says his Dad taught him this one....'Alice, Alice, who the f**k is Alice'

Probably won't risk giving him a solo spot in the Christmas show!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Farting's not funny when you're 3!

Played a circle time game today that involved bending over and touching toes...as we all bent down, a Russian child let one go! My TA (teaching assistant) and I collapsed with laughter whilst the class stared at us in bemusement. Eventually the child said something in Russian and very excitedly added to the laughter...

An English child said "Is that Russian for fart?"...

TA says "let's not use that word, it's a little bit rude."

Another child says "fart", and chuckles...

"fart"..."fart pants"..."farty fart fart"...fart, fart, farty, fart"...whole class joins in saying 'fart' and has a good laugh...

Tears rolling down my face...unable to speak...

Farting doesn't seem to be funny when you're 3, but saying rude words clearly is!

Monday, 28 November 2011

How did it all start?

Ten weeks into my new job as a nursery teacher I find myself driven to start a blog...not something I ever expected to do! I knew I was venturing into unusual territory, but was still genuinely shocked to discover that I was 1 of only 48 men teaching in state nurseries. An experience worth sharing I hope you'll find...

Towards the end of last term my headteacher asked if I'd be willing to run the new nursery unit at our primary school.  I couldn't resist the challenge, said yes, and ten weeks ago started a new school year faced with fifty 3 year olds!  Having spent two years teaching year 3, and then a year as a maths specialist in year 2, nursery was a big jump into the unknown.  Colleagues reactions were mostly along the lines of "are you mad!?", with the odd jibe about how my sexuality might have changed...teaching certainly isn't seen as a particularly manly career by the general public, so to have my manliness brought in to question from within the profession puts me towards the bottom of the 'most manly man' list! Takes a real man to do this sort of job don't you think!?....I do cringe at the thought of meeting up with my ex-army mates and being asked "what are you doing now then?" though.

Day one is often viewed as 'sink or swim' with a new class, and I opened the classroom door with a healthy dose of nervousness...

26 children...

near on 50 parents (ok so far)...

pushchairs! (about every other child was strapped in to one)...

and dummies! (about every other child in a pushchair had one)...

ok, so this was going to be very very different...
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