I read this book probably over ten years ago but this week it was brought back to the forefront of my mind as I painted over the lemon yellow colour that my husband had covered the far wall with the week before. If only he had avoided going over on to both of the other walls, I could have got away with only repainting that as I had a near perfect match but as it was a near perfect does not equate to perfect and so the long slog of painting began and has yet to be concluded. Further woes when (sticking to the script of Driving Over Lemons) other things began to go wrong in the house e.g. water heater tank sprang a leak, bookcase assembled and found to have paint (from a previous owner) all over part of it and now cooker door has fallen off.
There are further photos to be added to this post but unfortunately the i-pad has refrained from sending them across and I did not save to my laptop so will have to be posted at a later date.
Well, I was only going to pop in to school for a couple of hours yesterday but instead I spent the whole day and more there. The meetings with occupational therapists and social workers went well, but of course took longer than I’d planned, which meant that the training I needed to deliver and the phone calls I needed to make then had to be left to the afternoon. At the end of the school day, I spent time catching up with teachers and the head to impart info and finally, as I was there on a Thursday, seeing the children perform at dance club and saying hello to our visiting instructor before heading home. However, a very successful day with progress made on all fronts which sometimes I feel is hard to achieve in my new role as part-time inclusion manager and senco. This is a job that stretches forever and along with the specialist teaching and planning and researching and making resources that I do is really not part-time at all – it’s every waking moment – which is why I cut out the day to day teaching so I can manage a move across country and which is why I am so looking forward to this holiday so I can try to concentrate a bit more of my life on that job instead. I’ve already got another full day in school today so this week will have over run by more than a day and a half and of course I can’t really see me wanting to drop a day on my first week back after a holiday. This is what happens when your job revolves around children – they come first above and beyond all else – I just have to try to manage my part-time a little more successfully if this is to truly work.
Well, it’s happened – I have received my first feedback on one of the products I’ve sold and it’s good! My heartfelt thanks go out to my reviewer Amy who says she liked the colours and it was easy to use – which I am so pleased about. As let’s face it, when you’re up to your neck in children having a resource that you can’t make head nor tail of or just doesn’t work is simply a nightmare.
With half term coming up, I’m thinking ahead to what resources I may try to create whilst I’m not in school although I also think paintbrushes loom big as renovating rooms in house gets under way and walls need to be painted – Laura Ashley and Craig & Rose 1829 chalky emulsion paint
have already been bought in preparation with those vintage colours looking so beguiling.
I have just taken a look at how many downloads some of my new freebie products on TpT have taken this week (in the past couple of days since I posted them at the weekend) and have been amazed at my Valentine Love Bug Maths and Literacy packet with almost 600! Up until now, my most popular had only just reached the milestone 500 mark and that has been a couple of months. This leads me to wonder about the possible power of pinterest as I had posted a picture of this item there and giving credit where credit is due had been inspired to create the resource because of a craft activity pin I saw there. I of course have no way of knowing whether people saw the pin and found TpT or this is solely teachers looking for freebie valentine learning aids on the TpT site. Either way, I am feeling very pleased that so many are downloading my resource – it makes it all worth while – now I just need someone to leave a rating please!
When I taught my two children to read, it was with the Peter and Jane ladybird books the same as the ones I was taught to read with. I taught them with a mixture of “look and say” as well as using phonics to sound out some of the words and this seemed to work fine with them as it had with me. They began nursery with a smattering of reading skills and I had no worries. Then I came into contact with other mums and their worries about trying to teach their child to read in case this messed with how the teacher would teach them. I realised that no teacher would be able to give the one-to-one attention a parent could and continued to help my children to read in anyway that they seemed to hook on to.
Then I trained to become a teacher and was taught a whole plethora of reading skills to encourage children to engage with reading. But it was once I was actually in the classroom that I really began to realise that not all children seemed to catch reading. Some children couldn’t even recognise their letters let alone use this knowledge to sound out words. Some children weren’t able to recognise the same word when it appeared in the next sentence. I read a very interesting book Why Children Can’t Read: and what we can do about it” and although as an American idea couldn’t get the graphophonix resources over here at the time devised my own little totally decodable books and began teaching reading (20 mins a day) using this method, with my headmaster’s blessing, to a group of six children (4 EAL and a child with possible dyslexic tendencies and a child with terrible memory retention) . The children all made rapid progress except for the child with very poor memory retention. The year after, I was sent on ELS training (Early Literacy Support) which also used a strong phonic decodable premise to its teaching and this too worked well with Year One children. Then along came Clanarkshire and The Rose Report into phonics and everyone knew exactly how children could be taught reading and that was by a structured phonic approach and I was very happy to go along with this.
As well as using phonographix and ELS, I have also taught phonics using Jolly Phonics, RML (Ruth Miskin) and Letters and Sounds and still employ a mixture of resources from all.
However, I am still finding children that cannot seem to learn this way and I am responsible for planning lessons that mean that every day for half an hour these children struggle to learn the way their peers do. For some of these children a “look say” method appears to be the way they can learn certain words but they can’t learn all words like this. I have had some success introducing the “Taming Tricky Words” method which associates a little story and action for lots of common words. But I still find it so difficult to plan phonics tuition for others to follow and teach to children who seem to find it so difficult. They can recognise some of the phonic sounds but when it comes to using this knowledge to blend for reading they are stumped and let’s face it that’s what phonics is all about – enabling a child to read.
At the moment, I have gone back to making some resources based on onset and rime or word families in the hope this might help with the blending skills but I would be delighted to hear from anyone who has a successful method of teaching blending. I have tried the normal ones such as softly speaking the first sound, the children are quite adept at making the correct sound so no over running e.g. buh, cuh etc, running fingers below letter cards, they can hear the word when spoken in “Fred Talk” but they still appear defeated by the written word.
Today I have joined Pinterest – once again a site that has often inspired me but that I had until today shied away from contributing to. However, in my desire to embark on new chapters this year I have begun with a board devoted to this week’s hot topic Valentine’s Day! Being a teacher, this means anything that has a maths connection for my little learners and with the hope of improving their number recognition to above 10 and learning their number bonds/addends to ten too. Any creative suggestions for those children who struggle would be greatly appreciated and it doesn’t have to link to Valentine’ Day as we will be continuing this all this spring term.
I have created my own work units on the theme – check them out in my TpT store:
Do you remember the first time you opened the door of your new classroom either as a child or as the actual teacher? There was a moment when you just stood there knowing that the next movement you made would begin a whole new chapter of your life – well here I am opening the door of my blog – slightly nervous and in trepidation – knowing that this is a whole new unknown in my life and wondering where it will take me! So far this school year, I have embarked on becoming a contributing member of TpT – I love picking up ideas and resources from there but I also thought I might as well post some of the many hundreds we as creative teachers make for our classes and pupils each year. I think that’s one of the reasons I have enjoyed teaching so much over the past decade because nothing stays the same – there is always a need to create something new – and I for one do not like standing still! I’d love to know what you are all doing out there in your busy classrooms particularly with the ideas you are possibly trialling for those children who find it harder in the classroom than others. Over the years, I’ve read lots of wonderful blogs by teachers trying so hard to keep every plate up in the air and I’m hoping I can do this too combining it with a little craft culture, a measure of renovation and thrift shopping and maybe a dollop of dieting – let’s see how it goes!