Tag Archives: literacy

Weeknotes 2013 – Week 7

Here’s what’s been going on this week.


  • My Ukulele arrived. Whoop. Sounds great even with someone as ham-fisted as me playing it! I also attended the next Uke course. It was a bit meh as we didn’t cover anything new, just recapped the previous songs and chords we have done. Also, I get that not providing a tea or coffee saves cash in the short-term, but would the cost of providing a biscuit and a drink be repaid in the work and attitudes of the people taking part in a course? I’d be interested to see if there’s any research into it.
  • I had my half-term holiday, or a day off as it has reverted to. No-one has explained why the week has become one day again and why six weeks has become seven in the summer, but I’m sure there’s a well reasoned argument behind it. However, what seems to have been well researched and documented is the effects of summer holiday learning loss which suggests that “Two-thirds of the academic achievement gap in reading and language found among high school students has been explained through the learning loss that occurs during the summer months of the primary school years.” and “In general, low-income students lose around 3 months of grade-level equivalency during the summer months. Middle income students lose about 1 month of grade-level equivalency over the summer. Thus, the achievement gap widens, due to out-of-school influences and lack of summer learning opportunities” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_learning_loss
  • On our training day our maths guru Alison Earnshaw shared some more of her excellent work on calculation with us. Again, thought provoking ideas about how children learn (and are taught) number.
  • I developed my use of evernote to assess/evidence a piece of reading from a child. Simple to do, I photographed the page and the child recorded themselves reading it. The next step is to work with the child and discuss the reading and begin to create targets for reading development.
  • Digital leaders have been busy planning an in school minecraft club. It is hugely popular with loads of our children. What impressed me about our Digital leaders was their thoughts on how to make the club more than a ‘free play’ minecraft experience. Hopefully they will blog about it on our DL page.
  • Dannielle has published her nursery resources wiki. I am really pleased with the effort she has put into this in her own time and I hope it proves useful for our nursery staff.
  • I have begun working on the Learning Creative Learning MOOC and as part of this I’ve been looking again at Scratch and how it can be used as a creative tool. Clearly it can, but along with that I feel that some of it’s rigour (i.e. you have to be precise in your scripts, careful where you save it etc…) add to its value as a tool for use in the classroom.
  • As part of the LCL MOOC I also created a google+ group. This was so easy to set up, manage and use. The more I use Google+ the more I like it. It’s been a slow burner but it’s beginning to prove really useful for work ideas, storing photos from my phone with the instant upload feature, and even using Hangouts with my Mum!!
  • Finally, and sadly I completed season 2 of Borgen. Great series, great characters and storylines. Bring on series 3.


I love the idea of children blogging (and our digital leaders are proving they do too!). The thought of children writing and sharing their work with each other is a major positive of the ‘internet age’ I feel. The fact that children can have an immediate audience for their writing and can interact with each other’s writing is so far removed from life when I was in school (which was not quite in the Dark Ages).

One of the features of blogging I’m trying to develop with my class is the quality of their comments. Commenting on a blog post was on of the tasks our digital leaders had to do as part of their interview process. The comments they wrote (using paper 1.0 and pencil 2.0) were great, but too often comments are not written on the blog.

I have created a website www.commentsbykids.com and a twitter account @commentbykids to promote high quality commenting by children and share these comments around the world.

I aim to use it to inspire my children onwards to the great comments I know they are capable of.

It would be great if you or your digital leaders found the time to add some of the awesome comments from your class blog.


I got some exciting news last night, as @deputymitchell began putting the quads together for next year’s first term of quadblogging. I found out which schools we will be blogging with next year.

If you do not know what quadblogging is, have a look at this page which explains it.

The class I shared last year quadblogged for a term and loved it. It had a great impact on many of the children in the class and also had other children from around the school wanting to join in.

Like many schools which are encouraging children to blog, we at Uphall, wanted our children to blog to develop their literacy skills further. How does blogging do this?

Well, it provides an audience for children’s writing. We found that this lead to children writing more high quality pieces of writing (wanting to get positive feedback) for their audience. It also lead to children writing their own pieces of writing at home which we published on our creative space. Many of the children who did these pieces of writing at home were children who did not always find writing the easiest thing, and were sometimes the children who did not enjoy what we might consider ‘normal’ homework.

Blogging also provides reasons for reading and following up reading with quality commenting and questioning. The class loved reading what they had written and through quadblogging love reading what their new found friends around the world were learning about in class. The children’s commenting skills developed rapidly from ‘This is good’ standard, to highlighting what they liked in a piece of writing and asking pertinent questions for the author to answer and develop in their piece of writing. They soon realised that the higher the standard of their comments or questions, the more likely they were to get an answer which interested them. This developed their inferential comprehension considerably.

As well as the literacy skills of the children developing, their thinking skills developed, as they began using some of the higher order skills of Bloom’s Taxonomy – analysing, evaluating their own and others blog posts and then creating their own posts .

The children’s own aspirations were raised as they saw the standard of work their peers were producing around the world were creating and how their own work was enjoyed by people around the world also.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, the children were incredibly motivated by the blogging and quadblogging experience. They were all keen to write and keen to read what had been written, leave increasingly more sophisticated comments. There was a buzz around the classroom and a collective ‘yes’ if we found time to quadblog in class time! It was a great experience for the teachers and children involved and it had a great impact on children’s literacy skills who took part.

Have a look again at the page and if you haven’t signed up yet, do so before it’s too late for this quad.

Finally, a huge thanks to David Mitchell for thinking up and organising such a great project!

Primary Games Arena.

The Primary Games Arena is a site which contains lots of games aimed at children in the primary age range. There are games for a wide range of subject areas aimed at learners right across the primary years. The games are available on android mobile format, ps3 and wii (which my class feel adds to the ‘cool’ factor).

Have a look at the site and see what you think.

The link is http://primarygamesarena.com/#