Routledge

Student Resources

Section 3

Additional questions and tasks for students are available here for further study.

Unit 3.1: Approaching Long- and Medium-term Planning

Question

Those of you who are interested in teaching very young children will find it useful to examine examples of the planning done for children of this age. The planning tools for a class of three- to four-year-olds at a nursery school can be downloaded from http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/84471. Compare this planning format with any you have been shown during your college training. What advantages/disadvantages do you think this approach has?

Task 1

Because the curriculum of primary schools is currently an area of huge debate, planning to teach it is subject to many caveats. Yet the issues involved in this debate are not new and can be traced back through a range of government reports. You will find it useful to look back on some of the most influential of these reports to get a sense of how the debate has developed.

Have a look first at the Plowden Report (http://www.educationengland.org.uk/documents/plowden/index.html), published in 1967.

An earlier document worth examining is the 1931 Hadow Report (http://www.educationengland.org.uk/documents/hadow1931/index.html).

Finally, the 1978 HMI report on primary education presages many of the issues that have been debated more recently (http://www.educationengland.org.uk/documents/hmi-primary/index.html).

Task 2

The educational system in Scotland has always been differently governed and handled from that in England. For those of you who are not intending to teach in Scottish schools, the planning guidance given by Learning and Teaching Scotland will, nevertheless, provide an interesting contrast to the situation in England (www.ltscotland.org.uk/5to14/resources/planning/primary.asp). Those of you who teach, or are planning to teach, in Scotland will probably need no introduction to this site.

Task 3

Lots of examples of planning for literacy work can be found at the Primary Resources site at www.primaryresources.co.uk/english/englishE1b.htm. Choose one of the plans given here and work with a colleague to develop this further by adding activities/resources, etc.

Unit 3.2: Approaching Short-term Planning

Question 1

Read Colin Everest's article on differentiation in The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2003/feb/18/furthereducation.uk4). Everest adopts a very sceptical approach to differentiation. How far do you agree with his arguments?

As a counter to this piece, take a look at the material on differentiation at the Greenfield school website (www.greenfield.durham.sch.uk/differentiation.htm).

Question 2

An interesting presentation about ways of using teaching assistants, or additional adults, in your classroom can be found at http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/84826. How many of the strategies listed here have you seen used or used yourself? Try to broaden your experience in this area during your next school placement.

Task 1

Teachers ask questions all the time. But you will need to give some thought as to the nature of the questions you ask. An extremely useful set of resources that will enable you to improve your questioning skills can be found at http://teachertools.londongt.org/?page=classroomQuestioningSkills. Try to use Bloom's taxonomy to plan the questions you might ask in a particular unit of work.

Task 2

You will find a useful set of self-evaluation documents on the Bath and NE Somerset site (www.bathnes.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/A8BF6912-6065-46FA-BA8E-A173DA80E3A2/0/LessonEvaluation.pdf). Try using some of these documents to evaluate your own lessons and share the outcomes with your colleagues and/or tutors.

Unit 3.3: Organising Your Classroom for Learning

Question

Think of ways you have organised classroom activities. Do you recognise the relation between the complexity of the organisation and the level of children's engagement in the activity? In which other ways do you think different forms of organisation can benefit or even limit children's learning in one area?

Task

The classroom research described below is fairly straightforward. The findings were gained by interviewing the children soon after the lessons. Can you plan a short piece of classroom-based research, perhaps focusing on the experiences of a small group of four to six pupils, exploring their experiences of different classroom organisation? The answers you get will vary, depending on the age of the children, their ability, the subject area and many other factors, so don't expect a replication of the findings above. Why do you think there is such a variation?

Description of Practice
How do children respond to different lessons?

A few years ago I conducted a study into how the tasks in which children engage influences the approach that they adopt to learning in those tasks. Specifically, I asked whether a primary pupil's learning about a particular theme or concept in history differs substantively if it occurs within the context of, say, a drama lesson than if it occurs within a literacy lesson.

What did I do?

During a half-term period, Year 6 children from four primary schools followed the same scheme of work for history, looking at the Saxons as an example of Invaders and Settlers. In this scheme, four lessons were identified for child post-task interviews:

  • a literacy lesson based on a text on social and domestic arrangements in Saxon settlements, which also described the use of archaeological evidence;
  • a history lesson in which the children used a selection of texts, provided by their teacher, to gather information about particular aspects of social life in Saxon times and the evidence for this, and used this information to create their own account;
  • a drama lesson in which children developed ideas with their teacher while enacting roles set in a Saxon village;
  • a historical enquiry in which the children handled genuine Saxon artefacts, and worked with an archaeologist to identify their function and properties.
What did I find out?

Mostly the children adopted either or both of two approaches: at times they focused on trying to understand historical and other ideas in their lessons, and at other times they focused on the organisational aspects of their work and on meeting its requirements. All children adopted both thoughtful and engaged approaches and superficial approaches, but the approach adopted together with the focus of their activity depended to some extent on the nature of the lesson they were involved in.

In a literacy lesson based on a historical text, the majority of children focused on a thoughtful and engaged approach to the literacy aspects of learning, describing concerns with areas such as the author's intentions and the layout and style of the text. They also readily identified new words, considering both their meaning and spelling. When describing the purpose of the work, they suggested that it was to develop their reading and listening skills. However, a quarter of the children focused only on meeting the assessment requirements of lessons and coping with the organisational aspects of the work — remembering what to do next and trying to finish in time for the end of the lesson. And only one child in ten focused on understanding the historical ideas presented in lessons. Thus, we might suggest that presenting history as literacy encourages children to focus on their learning of literacy and not on historical skills and ideas.

The complexity of the text-based research task seems to have had a dramatic effect on children's adopted approaches to learning in that lesson. Almost all of the children's comments in relation to this lesson were superficial, focusing on how they did the task, with little understanding of the reasons for their activity. The drama lesson was far more successful in enabling children to focus on their learning and understanding of history. Children described how this experience helped them to make links in their learning, between areas of study within the unit on Saxons, across different units of history and with their present-day experiences. However, the task type most successful at promoting thoughtful and engaged approaches to historical ideas was historical enquiry using original artefacts, with three-quarters of children focusing on understanding ideas relating to the lives of Saxons and the nature and use of historical evidence.

What does this mean?

Certainly, this study supports a balanced approach to teaching humanities subjects. While subjects benefit from being addressed as separate areas, much can also be gained by looking at conceptual areas through, for example, drama and literature: a combination of separate and combined approaches would seem to be most effective in encouraging deeper learning.

Unit 3.4: Managing Classroom Behavior

Question 1

Observe class teachers in your placement school over several lessons, paying particular attention to and recording the verbal and non-verbal behaviours they use at critical points to manage behaviour (e.g. getting pupils into the classroom, starting the lesson, getting attention, transition from group work to whole-class teaching, dealing with off-task and other disruptive behaviour, ending the lesson, getting pupils out of the classroom).

  • What similarities do you observe between the teachers?
  • What differences do you observe between the teachers?
  • Which might you adopt for your own practice?
Question 2

Many government guidelines stress the importance of positive relationships in the effective management of pupil behaviour.

  • How would you define positive relationships in behavioural terms?
  • What three features do pupils consistently report as indicators of effective teachers?
  • What research evidence do you have to support your answers?
Question 3

It is fairly common practice in most primary schools to sit pupils on the carpet (as opposed to being at their desks) for certain activities.

  • Why do you think this is common practice?
  • What are the intended learning outcomes?
  • If you are unsure, ask teachers who use this practice.
  • Ask pupils what they think of sitting on the carpet and where they think would be the best place to sit for different activities.
  • Did pupils and staff share the same beliefs?
  • If not, what do you consider are the implications for managing behaviour?
Question 4

Is it ever legal to use force to control or restrain pupils? If it is:

  • Under what circumstances might this be done?
  • Who has legal authority to restrain or physically control pupils?

Where might you look for answers to these questions?

Task

Understanding behavioural, emotional and social difficulties — this activity has three parts.

Part 1

Download and complete the Perceptions of BESD pro forma. You can do this before you go on your school placement.

Perceptions of BESD

Read the following lists of contrasting words and indicate the degree to which one word in each pair best represents what you know of pupils with behavioural difficulties by circling a number between 1 and 5. For example, if for descriptor 2 — intelligent-unintelligent — you feel pupils with BESD are generally very intelligent, circle 1; if you think they are quite intelligent, circle 2; and so on. Do not spend a lot of time thinking about your answers — indicate your first thoughts.

Part 2

While in school select a pupil (or more than one if possible) who is considered to have behavioural difficulties. Observe his or her behaviour objectively using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Details of the measure and its various guises are available free at http://www.sdqinfo.org/. Different versions (short and long) are available to cover ages 3 to 16 years.

Part 3

When you have completed both of the above, complete your summary. Then answer the following questions.

Summary

  1. List all the words that you circled at either 1 or 5 — these are the primary characteristics.
  2. List all the words that you circled at 2 or 4 — these are the secondary characteristics.

Now list your results from the SDQ using the scoring system advised by Goodman on the SDQ website (www.sdqinfo.com/ScoreSheets/e1.pdf).

Questions

  • Are you surprised by the result of the BESD pro forma?
  • How might holding these beliefs about behaviour difficulties affect your expectations and behaviour towards pupils with BESD?
  • Now compare these results with those of your observations on the SDQ. To what extent do your observations support your implicit model of a pupil with behavioural difficulties?
  • Does this surprise you? Would you be happy to base future assessments based on your implicit model or gut feelings?

Note

The perceptions exercise is intended to explore your implicit beliefs about pupils — something built up over time that influences our expectations of pupils and behaviour towards them. In contrast, the questionnaire is likely to provide a more objective measure since you are recording behaviour — both positive and negative. While teachers are required to form accurate expectations of pupils in order to provide them with appropriate levels of work, negatively loaded expectations tend to influence our thinking and behaviour so that we look for the negative behaviour we expected, which confirms our initial expectations. It is very important when working with challenging pupils to base your judgements on objective information in order to devise effective interventions.

Unit 3.6: Organising and Managing Learning Outside the Classroom

Question 1

How would you persuade a reluctant colleague to agree to take their children out of the classroom for lessons?

Question 2

Would you use different justifications to encourage them to take children into the school grounds, take them into the local area and to visit a site that requires the use of transport?

Question 3

Drawing on material provided on the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom website (www.lotc.org.uk), particularly the various sections of the Out and About Guidance, which do you consider to be the most helpful resources that are indicated and why?

Question 4

For one subject in the primary curriculum or in relation to making connections between two or three subjects in a cross-disciplinary context, how would you organise the approach to teaching and learning for the children and the topic? What is your justification for doing so?

Question 5

Why are organisation and management so central to the successful provision of out-of-classroom learning for children?

Task

Examining the potential of an off-school site for out-of-classroom learning

Either select and visit a site to which you would consider taking a class of primary children, or via the internet find a possible site to visit with a class. Such a site might be a museum, a religious building, a botanical site, a field centre, a shopping mall or any other location where it is possible to take children.

  • Give your reasons for selecting this site, and explain how it would be useful for a particular single subject or cross-disciplinary project.
  • Explore the site, whether for real or virtually. Identify what the site offers for the project.
  • Note the guidance that is available for teachers, including risk assessment information, the resources for children to use, and whether education staff are available to work with children.
  • Identify the benefits and limitations of using this site.
  • Plan and justify your approach to teaching and learning and your selection of a sequence of activities to undertake with children at this site. Include in your plan not only the teaching and learning activities, but also other essential needs, such as transport, lunch, toilet needs, recreation time and a shop visit, as appropriate.
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