Thursday, 20 July 2017

Heading into Term 3

I have settled into a planning habit of simply mind mapping my term goals for learning.  I use the simplemind app for this, loved it so much I purchased the full version.  I love planning this way and it forms the bones of my term beautifully, it also fits with the way I think.

A PDF of this can be found here, that may be able to be enlarged more easily.  

From this I obviously set some more specific intentions in my weekly Number Agent Planning and a weekly plan.  These again are pretty basic and I don't like to go over the top and overthink as often the sessions go where the children take them.  My main overarching aim with Number Agents is number sense.  I believe that this needs to be developed deeply and in rich ways and simple is best :)

What I love about play-based is that children are being monitored on an individual level, so although they work within the whole class group we have many opportunities to interact with them individually and in small groups.  The scrapbook system is working really well recording all our basic assessments in there along with any notes and where they are each up to with their goals or learning foundations we have put in place (pictured above.)  I also love the way that children have time to just settle into school, no pressure.  We don't do anything now until we feel they are ready for it.

My weekly plan is just very very basic:

I do reflect on where we actually go and this is often built into what the following weeks planning looks like.  
Number Agent Planning is also basic, week one can be found here.

I also want to start a Mantle this term.  We will stay in our Number Agent company so we do not have to build a new team.  I have not run a Mantle (other than agency) in my fully play-based class before, so it will be really interesting.  I am hoping that there will be lots of playful spinoffs and will find my moments to leap in and out :)  My planning is just bones, but this is what it looks like a the moment.

Here and Here  this is likely to change and morph as we move through it and it is guided by the children.

We have ten more children starting this term, that will give us 40, so we will be going back over concepts developed in Term 1 and 2, such as growth mindset, bucket filling, understanding emotions and our daily six.  Any repetition will benefit all of them and I am a big believer in layering knowledge and understanding.
We are lucky enough to be developing another area of play for our children which now includes a mud kitchen, I am looking forward to seeing where that takes us.

This is the first year we have stayed together as a group.  We usually form a second class in Term 3 or 4 and this is something parents are used to so it is important we can show them why this is the best thing for children.  We are lucky to have a third person join us this term, so that will make it more appealing I am sure.

The way play-based has enhanced our class I see no reason to split into two smaller groups.  The older children have a huge amount to offer our new entrants, and vice versa.  Some of our children have been with us for over a year and I find this so rewarding!

Parent information about play-based is something we continue to work on and will again have our information evening in September, this is a great opportunity to sell what we are doing and explain why we are doing it.

Something not unique to our school I am sure, is the fact that many of our parents place a huge value on quick academic progress, wanting their children to be 'above' or 'well above.'  This is one of the horrible effects of National Standards.  We are working to find a balance, allowing parents ways they can help at home....but trying to help them see what help is useful to their children and what is not.  Homework is now called home support and is not given at all until the child has settled.  We have made some simple goals for our children to work on in number that parents can help with if they want and literacy goals, but try to make it clear that we prefer them to play and to only help if the child  requests it (which many do.)  This is a work in progress :)  We are working on our literacy goals though, which have always been based on alphabet, words and spelling.  We also use these in class to support children, so have come up with a list we are working on at the moment.  It is here.  We have also shared our foundations sheet with parents to assist them to see what is important and how laying strong foundations through play is absolute key.

I'm sure you will all agree it can be a balancing act, but we are endeavouring to create a system that works for us, the parents, but most importantly the children.

I do not propose to be an expert on any of this, I am muddling my way through like everyone else.  I have not attended a course and would not ever hold up what I am doing as the 'right' way.  However I share with the thought that my learning and direction may be of use to some.

My intention this term is simple,  I want to ensure that joy is at the centre of everything that we do.  I think if we can nail this, we can't go wrong.

Have a great Term Three everyone!

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