In our second week of whole school assemblies, we have been getting to grips to what happens to your brain when you learn new things.
In assembly we watched two videos from the Brainology pages before two willing volunteers took part in a memory game. With a little bit of brain training and a super duper brain hat, they were able to improve their scores in remembering a list of random items from 3 or 4 out of 10 to 10 out of 10! Quite impressive.
Back in classrooms the children have been making brain hats and neurons and reflecting upon the neural pathways that they have cultivated so far in their lives. They have also spent time discussing how to build and strengthen neural pathways to embed their learning.
Across school this week the children have been discussing what makes a great learner.
We are constantly referring to the learning behaviours that we are looking for inside our classrooms. Our reward systems and the way in which we feedback to children are based on these learning habits.
Take a look at the ideas from children in Year 1, 2 and Year 3.
Have you ever been ice skating? It can be scary, intimidating and make you fearful. It can also be exciting and exhilarating and above all fun! Amazing things can happen when you let go of the the side of the ice rink or penguin you have been using for support and take your first wobbly steps onto the ice. Very soon you learn how to hold and balance your weight and move yourself forward. Before long, your confidence is growing and you are skating independently.
Learning can be a lot like this. It takes courage and determination to get out of your comfort zone and into your stretch or learning zone. As learners we need to be courageous and willing to get into our stretch zones. As teachers, we need to ensure that we are planning tasks that take the children into their stretch zones while making sure that they feel safe and do not end up in their panic zones!
In our assembly this week we talked all about our stretch or learning zones. We played a game where the teachers were asked to put themselves on the ‘Matrix of Confidence’ for a whole range of different tasks. It is always interesting how different things take people into their stretch zone. While presenting an episode of Blue Peter would be a stretch for most people, Mrs Whitaker was truly in her comfort zone with the thought of this experience. The children loved watching their teachers thinking about different tasks and how they can take you out of your comfort zone.
After this we listened to a story called the Snorgh and the Sailor. In the story, a grumpy Snorgh who spends his whole life at home in his comfort zone has a chance meeting with an excitable sailor. As a result of the meeting, the Snorgh ends up really getting out of his comfort zone and taking an incredible adventure.
Across school the children have been reflecting on their learning and talking about when they have been in their stretch zones and how it has made them feel.
Several classes have already put together stretch zone presentations and displays to remind the children that learning new things is a stretch and a challenge.
Here is what Year 1 are going to be using to track how their learning makes them feel on ‘Stretch Zone Street.’
This video from Y6 charts their journey into their stretch zone this week.
During the Autumn term, we shall be exploring what it means to approach your learning with a Growth Mindset.
Each week, related to our Christian theme of perseverance, we shall be doing a whole school assembly linked to each of the statements on the leaves above. Keep an eye on the Growth Mindset blog for pictures and images from the assemblies and across the school as this important work filters into the children’s classrooms.
A popular theory suggests that practising any skill for 10,000 hours is enough to make you an expert. While researchers argue over the exact number of hours, it is true that purposeful practice helps you improve your skills at anything you have a go at.
Today, we met Ash Randall, a football freestyler who has spent many hours practising and developing his skills. He told us how he practised for an average of five hours a day for ten years in order to become one of the world’s most accomplished football freestyler.
In morning assembly, he put on a fabulous freestyle demonstration of tricks and flicks. Then, over the course of the day, each class took part in an all action football freestyle workshop in the hall. In this session, Ash introduced them to a range of tricks and gave them tips on how to practice and improve.
Take a look at the photographs of the whole school getting to grips with freetsyle football tricks.
If you want to learn more, click here to see a playlist of skills tutorials that builds on what Ash showed the children in the workshop.
What skill or activity do you want to master? Leave a comment with your stories of how you have had to practice and persevere to improve your ability in your chosen skill.
A SAT does not reflect who you are, what you are worth or even how much you have learned. It provides a snapshot of what you are capable of understanding on a particular given day. It gives you a standardised score and is one way of indicating where you are in your learning compared to age related expectations.
But this is not all it provides. It also presents you with opportunities: opportunities to challenge yourself, work intensely and independently for an extended period of time, puzzle things out for yourself, struggle, make mistakes, succeed, reflect on things you know how to do, identify things that you do not know how to do YET, celebrate your successes and mull over your failures to name but a few.
Taking tests is part of school life. Y6 provides the first real testing opportunity for many of you with the SAT tests in May. These tests are the first in a raft of many tests that you will take as you go through your school lives. So, how should you approach them?
Here’s a list of comments made by Y6 children about sitting tests:
Do not be scared or afraid of the test.
Read each question carefully
Think carefully and puzzle things out
Use trial and improvement if it is appropriate
Work quickly and carefully
Ask to have a question read to you if you don’t understand it
Pace yourself through the test – take notice of how much time you have
If you are stuck on a question or it takes a long time, move on and come back to it
Have confidence in yourself as a learner and do the best you can
A test, while focussing your attention upon a particular area such as maths, is about much more than just that. Whether you are happy with your final score or not, remember to think about the learning that came out of simply taking the test itself. One day, you’ll take a driving test, go for a job interview, do a GCSE, A- level or degree exam, take a ballet or music exam, complete a swimming assessment, go for a sports trial, be observed by OFSTED…the list is endless.
Your SATS are a great place to begin developing a healthy growth mindset towards tests and being tested. Try and use it as a learning opportunity.
Having a ‘Growth Mindset’ means that you believe you can make progress and improve your skills and capabilities at anything you turn your mind to.
Over the past 4 weeks, the children in Y6 have been preparing for the Y6 Spelling Bee finals. To do this they have been learning spellings from Y5/6 word list. HOWEVER, the tests have had a subtle difference.
In week 1, the children did a blind test, spelling 20 words chosen at random from the word list. Having recorded their scores, they went away and worked on the same 20 spellings in preparation for the follow up test a week later. After the follow up test, the children could look at their progress score. This score provides a clear indicator to each child – the more work you put into your spellings, the better your score.
This serves as in important motivating factor and a focus for improvement. It also gives children the opportunity to set their own targets and reflect upon their own performance. These are important skills for all independent learners. In our improvement score discussions, it is no coincidence that children who claim to have put a lot of effort into working on their spellings had the greater progress scores. Similarly, those who had lower progress scores said that they did less practice.
In our twilight staff meeting this week, we spent time exploring what it means to teach and learn with a ‘Growth Mindset’. We used our brain hats to capture the important messages from the session that we want to work on and develop with the children.
During the session, we looked at the attached Powerpoint presentation and explored the growth mindset blog. We took Angela Duckworth’s Grit Test. We discussed a range of things including how we can use praise and mistakes to encourage a growth mindset inside the classroom and across school.
If you are curious and would like to know more about what a ‘Growth Mindset’ is click on this link to visit the Theory Pages for Parents and Teachers.
This blog will host information and celebrate work that we have been doing in school to promote teaching and learning with a growth mindset.
This poster is a great place to start – it outlines key principles that we are hoping to develop in our classrooms to teach our children to become resilient, enthusiastic and successful lifelong learners.
Click on this link to read more details about the contents of the poster.