In its simplest form teaching is about enabling someone to know something or do something that they didn’t know or couldn’t do previously. Ask any one of our teaching team and they’ll tell you that the most rewarding aspect of their role comes in those moments when a pupil demonstrates that learning for the first time or achieves a particular milestone or masters a new skill. It’s these small steps in progress that over time, lead to big changes. But learning and growth can be tough, it pushes us out of our comfort zone and challenges us with something new. Much like climbing a mountain, each step is a challenge as you work steadily towards the goal of reaching the top. It’s really important then, to take time with pupils to help them appreciate how far they’ve come, to turn around and look back down the mountain at how high they’ve climbed, to capture and celebrate their small steps in progress and the learning that has taken place.
With this in mind I’d like to share with you two special examples that capture and celebrate these moments of progress. The first of these comes from Miss Joy’s Year 7 class who have been studying the poem, The Magic Box, in their English lessons. Using a Talk for Writing approach, the class have used a story map to learn the poem. For those of you who may not know, a story map is a series of pictures or signs to help remember key parts of a story. The pupils had decided on the pictures to go on the map and created their own signs to use. On one of my (socially distanced) tours of the school, I was lucky enough to receive a live performance by the whole class who beautifully recited the whole poem. You can enjoy this special moment for yourself in the video below.
Just to demonstrate how effective the method is, the class had learnt the poem right before half term and in the first English lesson back in school, the whole class could remember the words and actions using the story map. The class have now progressed on to exploring adding and changing adjectives in the poem and used the story map as a model to write their own ‘Magic Box’ poems this week.
The second example comes from the journey of one of our Year 8 pupils, Zainab. When Zainab joined us in Year 7 she rarely talked in school. A couple of weeks ago, I greeted Zainab in the dinner hall during lunch time, expecting the usual quiet smile in return. It was a pleasant shock when instead she greeted me back with “Hello Mr Lyons”! Indeed she went on to laugh and joke with me about speaking to me for the first time. When I caught up with the team from her form group, I was even more pleased to hear this new use of spoken language wasn’t confined to the dinner hall as her Form Tutor Mrs Fitzsimons explains:
“Since coming back to school in September, everything has been very different and many pupils initially found the arrangements quite hard. Staying in the same classroom, not meeting with friends in the playground and seeing the same staff all the time has definitely taken some getting used to!
However, for some pupils this routine has been really beneficial and Zainab has completely blossomed. She has always been shy and not really talked very much but suddenly, it is as though a switch has been turned on and she talks continuously, without being prompted and really loudly. She is reading from displays as well as the television screen and is amazing us with her understanding and sense of humour. She shares activities from home and what she is doing over the weekend, as well as engaging others in conversation and always with her big beautiful smile.
We are certain that this change is because she feels comfortable and safe in school, she loves playing games, particularly Junior Monopoly, and has enjoyed listening to the book ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ by Roald Dahl, answering questions with delight. Sometimes we have to remember that ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ which is certainly true for Zainab. Wonderful!”
I hope you have seen our new ‘Sign of the Week’ videos which we have been sharing on our Facebook page and you can also find all the signs on our website here. Our classes are enjoying learning the new signs each week – here are 9LMN with ‘Thanksgiving Day’..
Which leaves me this week to introduce Mrs Cockcroft to share with you more moments of learning and achievement from her amazing Year 7 form group.
7AHH have been very busy not only this week, but since the start of the school year in September. We would like to share with you some of our highlights from the past three months.
We are a class who love getting up to the elbows in paint, glue, clay and any other art materials we can get our hands on! We have explored so many different art materials this term but our favourite creations have been our model village, our watercolour sunsets and our pastel interpretations of The Northern Lights. As you can see from the photos we love getting stuck in and we aren’t afraid of getting dirty in the name of our art!
Another thing we like to do is spend time outdoors. We love being outside, no matter what the weather throws at us and as well as enjoying our Daily Mile walk, we also love taking advantage of having the sensory garden right outside our classroom. We are now super bug hunters and know where all the best places are if we want to see some wildlife. We are all keen gardeners too and can often be found out in the sensory garden tidying up the leaves, pulling out the weeds and sweeping the patio. We even had a mini bonfire to celebrate Bonfire night!
Because we are an animal loving class, we have used our Science lessons to focus on the animal kingdom. We have looked at a variety of animals and their habitats, categorised animals into species groups, looked at what different animals hunt and eat and compared how animals are the same and how they are different. We have explored where in the world different animals can be found and which animals hibernate and why. Our favourite part of learning about animals was when we searched for bugs and animal prints in the sensory garden and school grounds. We found so many different creatures and we surprised Mr Hollinworth and Mrs Cockcroft by being brave enough to hold some of them!
It may seem like its been all fun and games in our class, but in between we do lots of hard work. In PE we have focused on field events such as shot putt, javelin and discus and learned about why exercise is important for healthy minds and bodies. We have explored place value and Roman numerals in Maths. In English we have practised our reading and spelling skills and also explored poetry and have written poems of our own. For our class topic we chose to research different kinds of homes and find ways in which they were the same and different and why different homes are made out of different materials. In Geography we started by exploring our town and then our city and then moved out to look at our country, Great Britain and then the wider world. In History we have had fun learning about The Great Fire of London and the way the fire was started and stopped from spreading. We found it interesting learning about how different life was in those days and we linked in with our class topic and looked at what homes and buildings were made from then and now.
We have really enjoyed our first term at New Bridge School. We are all looking forward to having a rest over the Christmas break but we are excited to see what the Spring and Summer terms will be like. We are hoping to finally get to meet some more of the New Bridge staff and pupils that are currently in different bubbles to us and hopefully make even more friends!
Until next week, take care, stay safe.
Click here for this week’s news from Graham
You can find Dawn’s blog for the Learning Centre here
For news on our Key Stage 5 pathway groups at New Bridge College please click here
You can find Gavin’s previous blog posts here