It’s just a matter of choice by @anderton_miss

Our school has class targets for each week: a “learning attitude to achieve“, if you will. Ours this week was ‘to make a sensible choice of who to sit by in lessons’. Yes, I know you’re thinking ‘what is she doing letting them choose?’

This is a re-blog post originally posted by Hollie Anderton and published with kind permission.

The original post can be found here.

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With my new experimental classroom taking control, one of the main aspects is ‘choice’. Independent and reasoned choice. I wanted the children to think:

1) Am I going to work to the best of my ability sitting here next to my best mate?

2) Is it likely that I will finish my work?

3) Am I going to be able to see what is happening whilst sitting behind this table on the floor?

Surprisingly, these thoughts did not enter the heads of my wonderful 10/11-year-olds immediately. But it was coming.

The week began as usual, introducing a new topic in Mathematics: Long Multiplication with decimals. It seems as though as soon as they see that little dot they panic. The children in my class are loving using the Collab Corner with its hands-on approach. However, I noticed this week that it is frequented often by two girls who have low confidence in Maths. Their ability is fair but they both close up instantly with the appearance of numbers. These two were the main reason for my class target this week.

In Staff Meeting on Monday, we were moderating Maths and Science. I took along what I believed to be Levels 4 and 5. They were judged to be so but my approach to moderating Science tasks was called into question by myself. Our Science Coordinator is based in Lower KS2 and this can then mean that Upper KS2 is left a little out of it, through no fault of the person in charge. I have never assessed Science for Y6 before so I do need some assistance, a place where I know that I can improve. I asked for some guidance and took the feedback on board.

Tuesday proved a challenge. The children seem to have Monday blues on a Tuesday. Their work is sloppier and their focus is at its lowest for the week. I decided that measures needed to be taken in order for work to be completed without me wasting painstaking hours for a piece of narrative to be written. I hate to do this but I decided to demand that children use their own time to finish a piece of writing that I had given them three hours in class to complete. Needless to say, it was done in 3 break times. I used the guidance I had received on Science to take experiments apart and focus on one session. So this week, we mastered the method.

As the week progressed, I could see the two girls still working in the CQ, not working. More like dragging each other down with their inane need not to get something wrong. Clearly, if we don’t do any of the work then we can’t get anything wrong seemed to be their collective mindset. On Thursday evening, I attended (not sure if you can attend) a webinar held by Cassie Tabrizi on Open Ended Maths Tasks. Whilst not everything worked because it was based on the US Curriculum, I did take one valuable idea. Exit Tickets. The idea that every time you finish teaching a module, you give the children an Exit Ticket which proves their ability to ‘exit’ the learning for now.

Back to this week’s Target. My two troubled girls began to cotton on. They noticed everyone else achieving the target and I could see that they were realising what they had to do. The panic set in. But then, one made a move. It was as if I was watching a bird leaving its nest for the first time. Tentative and afraid, but still determined.

They worked on their own. They realised. And it worked. They weren’t suddenly Maths geniuses but they did both do much better on their Exit Tickets than they would have working together. That came from one day of teaching using the Open Ended tasks and the Exit Ticket. Their target was achieved.

For the first time this year, I struggled to choose my Star of the Week. They were all amazing. They all made sensible choices. They’re maturing before my eyes and it’s amazing to see.

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