For me this photo exemplifies awe and wonder! This was just one moment in an afternoon when Rosie (then 8 months old) discovered daisies. She spent in excess of half an hour concentrating on one daisy, turning it over, turning it round and examining it closely.
My question is this; if this level of concentration and fascination is so natural in a child of this age why do we hear so many teachers bewailing the fact that they cannot get the children in their class to concentrate? My suggestion is that somewhere along the way we lose the awe and wonder of learning. Probably around the moment a child is asked to sit down and write about a teacher chosen topic or given a mass produced worksheet on which to fill in the answers.
For too many children school becomes a place to be endured, a school day is a period of time to get through in the best way they can and they don’t see school as having any relevance to them or their life. I am fascinated by ways in which I can make learning fun for every child in my school and luckily I am surrounded by an eager and creative staff who are keen to explore new ways of working. Over the last year we have been looking at the motivation and interest generated through true child-initiated learning in our Early Years environment and experimenting with ways of applying this throughout our school.
In the last two days I have been inspired by a wonderful book ‘Creating Tomorrow’s Schools Today’ by Richard Gerver. Richard talks about making his school have the same appeal as a trip to Disney World for each child. I love the question he asked his staff, ‘Why is school not as exciting as Disney World? (So beware any of my staff reading this piece, I will be asking this on our September training day!) Richard goes on to ask “Why is it that on a cold February morning, if my child wakes up with a sore throat, they will cough, splutter and act as if they need to be read the last rites, instead of wanting to go to school, yet if they woke up on that same February morning with the same sore throat in Disney World, Cinderella’s mice turned horses couldn’t keep them away from a day at the Magic Kingdom? Why should school not feel more like that?”
I want the Disney World effect in my school! I want every child to wake up every morning and think ‘I can’t wait to get to school today’ and when they get to school I want school to be a place where rich, vivid and exciting opportunities are waiting for them; a place of true awe and wonder.
Watch this space for how I plan to develop this further in my school!
Thank you everyone for their interest and support on the opening day of ‘Love of Learning’.
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Love of Learning
D.T. or Literacy?
As you know I have just completed my NQT induction year. I was recently flicking through my evidence file when I came across some photos that I thought I would share.
First let me set the scene. It’s second term of my NQT year. I’m tired, stressed and up to my eye balls in assessments and the numerous other facets that make up our job as teachers, when observation time comes around again. The year group: Year One. The lesson: literacy. The topic: houses and homes. My children need to work on their descriptive writing, so what can I do to encompass all of these?
My frazzled brain’s first thought: “I know! We can design a dream house, draw it, label it and write about it.” Sorted, right? Wrong! Whilst that probably would have been a perfectly okay lesson for the few children who enjoy drawing and writing, how was it going to engage the children who don’t enjoy sitting down and writing or hate drawing or just generally have no interest in the topic?
So I opened up my trusty Pie Corbett ‘Talk for writing’ book for some inspiration and re-read the ‘warming up the word’ section for possibly the hundredth time since starting my teacher training. And then it came to me. Why DRAW the houses, when we could BUILD them?
So here’s how the lesson went. We started by looking at some amazing houses from around the world: fairy tale castles, desert island paradise, jungle tree houses, bat man’s house…the list went on. In the background I played the song ‘Little Boxes on the Hillside.’ After thought-showering the describing words we had thought of so far as a class, off the children went. The challenge: make your dream house. I laid out the classroom with natural resources, junk modelling, gardening resources, paper, pens, post-its; the works. They could choose how to present their dream house either through drawing, collage, junk modelling, small world… the choice was theirs. The floor was covered with ground sheets for those that wanted to work on a larger scale. The only condition: their model had to include labels and adjectives ready for their ‘Big Write’ the following day. What followed was a morning of creativity, discovery, collaborative working, problem solving, language and vocabulary development and all-round enjoyment (from children and staff!)
The photos below show just some of the work that was produced that morning. The writing that followed the next day was descriptive, creative, and a true reflection of what those children could do when given the chance to engage with something and the time to ‘warm up the word’ properly.
So in answer to the title question: ‘D.T. or literacy?’ I say, “Why choose?!”
Hello one and all!
Welcome to our brand new site ‘Love of Learning’.
Love of Learning is a space for practitioners to share ideas and learn from each other so that we can all provide the ‘awe and wonder’ in learning that we believe is the right of every child.
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Welcome to ‘Love of Learning’!
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