I thought it might be quite nice to do a round of my week and the lessons I have taught, as it’s the first week back after the Easter holidays. It’s a great way for me to share how I like to introduce a new topic and provide an immersive experience with the children before we get stuck into our new text.
So, this half term we will be reading Beowulf by Michael Morpurgo and our history topic is the Anglo Saxons. Every other subject is linked to our english and history sessions (where possible) to ensure that students really make cross curricular links and to give all activities meaning and context; leading to full engagement!
With this in mind, I like to start off a new topic with two or three completely themed days that are ‘hands on’ and practical. In this case, we started Monday by going on a treasure hunt outside, to piece together a timeline of British history so that we could pinpoint the Anglo Saxon period. We then split the year group into two ‘camps’- the Vikings and the Anglo Saxons. Each team mapped out their settlement using cardboard on the floor of their classroom; deciding what they would need to survive, what materials they had available to make buildings etc and where best to place them (thinking about water sources, protection in the event of an invasion and distance from other buildings). I really loved this activity because the children had fantastic discussions, with very little input from myself and it helped them to realise the struggles that were faced without modern technology, food sources etc. Dressed in costumes they had created during the holidays, they really got into character!
Spending a full session on this meant the pupils really cared about the settlements they had made and it was at this point that I gave out scenario cards to the teams. Each one talked the camps through an event, which they needed to act out, with each event leading eventually to an invasion of the Anglo Saxon camp by the Vikings. The only way to keep the village they had spent so long building, was to agree to pay Dane-Geld. Immediately, the pupils empathised with a situation that happened thousands of years ago and many of them felt quite cross! If you would like to do this activity with your own class, the scenario cards are available in my TES shop – insightsinlearning.
On Tuesday, we took the year group to Tatton Park, where we spent the day tracking deer, learning to be Viking warriors and weaving bracelets; all in buildings and barns as the Saxon would have done. The students loved it and learnt so much information to bring back to school and use when they come to read the text next week. I really recommend Tatton Park if you are in the North West as they cover all periods in history and provide a really immersive, fun experience!
Wednesday was an exciting day for the staff in year 5 because we are now a team of three teachers across two classes, which was difficult to get our heads around (logistically) at first, but is brilliant for our children. We are able to deliver a much more personalised curriculum, with pupils being grouped not by ability, but by needs and gaps in their learning. Wednesday was the first day we worked with our new groups and having the opportunity to work with children from the opposite class is refreshing for both the adults and students. We are writing a recount of our trip in english sessions- not an original idea by any means, but so useful to cover the grammar objectives we need and the children always love the chance to write about their own experiences. We try to work very collaboratively when writing, as we discovered the students produce writing of a much higher standard, so after teaching the grammar skills, the pupils have the chance to rehearse paragraphs in groups and with me; sharing their ideas and helping each other to improve and up-level. These then become our wallpaper for a couple of days, as the children write independently, using what they have learnt from myself and each other.
Maths has flown by this week as we only actually had time to teach two sessions- so basic skills have been recapped and reasoning problems have been solved in abundance! Our aim was really to get pupils thinking mathematically again after a two week break and we’ll really get the ball rolling with this subject next week. Any other spare moment has been used to record all of the information we have learnt so far about the Saxons in our theme books and my class have loved sharing their new knowledge through computing, DT and art sessions. Their next task will be to create an Anglo Saxon shield and create a book for future classes using word processing tools.
For myself, the week has flown by and I feel like it has gone pretty well. I had to report to our governors about my role as a middle leader in the school, a task I felt really nervous about. The meeting was productive and I made sure I was prepared and ready to answer any questions they had – something I will share with you in my next post. My PPA time has now moved to a Friday afternoon, which I loved because it meant that I could really focus on next week and get organised before the weekend. And as a result, I have no prep that urgently needs doing before Monday- hurray!
So, all in all, a very successful week and despite some issues with behaviour (different expectations at home for two weeks will lead to that as I am sure you will know!) it was great to see my class again. I’m planning to enjoy my weekend as much as I can but I have to admit, I’m looking forward to next week!
Thank you so much for reading and as always, I love to read your comments- so please leave one! Also feel free to leave any links to posts of your own to add to my bedtime reading list!
Until next time,