S2 & S5: Saints

Our theme and focus as a whole school this week was Saints. Throughout the week, the children had learnt about why saints are important, how they became saints and we began to think about what we could do on a daily basis to be more like the saints. When I have worked with these children before on a writing activity, I remember it being extremely challenging to engage them and to encourage them to write anything, so I was slightly nervous about taking this group as I was conscious about them making progress and achieving. (TS2 – encourage pupils to take a responsible and conscientious attitude to their own work and study) Initially, I had to encourage the children to complete the task as they had the ‘I can’t do’ attitude, I knew at this point I needed to approach the activity in a way that would motivate these children to give the writing activity a go and help them to realise they can do it! (TS5 – know when and how to differentiate appropriately, using approaches which enable pupils to be taught effectively). I decided to use a whiteboard and get the children to think of a sentence that reflects what we could do to be more like a saint. I sat with the children and we formed a sentence together. Once we had done this, I then said to them we need to start thinking about how we might write this down. At the beginning of the writing, we sounded out one word at a time. I then asked the children to write down those sounds.

For some of the children that were struggling, I helped them by writing on their writing frames or on the whiteboards. The children appeared to react well to this and their progression increased with their writing which was amazing! Throughout this session, many children impressed me…one child in particular really overwhelmed me…he was constantly answering questions and giving ideas to the other children of how we could more like the saints. This made me feel so happy as a trainee, by me having a positive attitude towards the children and constantly encouraging them, they had belief in themselves and reciprocated my positive attitude. (TS2 – be aware of pupils’ capabilities and their prior knowledge, and plan teaching to build on these).

Although it took my group longer to finish their writing, they didn’t give up. One child who is still learning to form letters, traced over my writing and we sounded out the letter together. This is progress for this child too, he usually would want to finish quickly so that he could go and play. Another child who frequently says ‘I can’t do it’ asked for help throughout this session, which again is amazing for this little boy who is EAL, usually he will sit and sulk if he can’t do it. (TS5 – have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs; those of high ability; those with English as an additional language; those with disabilities; and be able to use and evaluate distinctive teaching approaches to engage and support them). This pleased me massively, it was evident that he trusted me and felt comfortable to ask for help to progress his learning forward.

This also shows that I had used an approach to engage this child, encouraging him to give his writing a go. I was amazed by each child’s resilience and how well they all coped, baring in mind they all required a lot of one-to-one support to complete the writing task. (TS2 – demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how pupils learn and how this impacts on teaching) I adapted my teaching to suit this particular group of children and I adapted my teaching practice to enable progress. (TS5 – know when and how to differentiate appropriately, using approaches which enable pupils to be taught effectively). I am so pleased at their letter formation progress, to think back a few weeks, many of these children could not write their names, form recognisable letters, in fact, they wouldn’t even attempt it.

I feel so excited for each of them and I cannot wait to see how much more progress they are going to make before Christmas! It really is the best job in the world. These are such magical moments and I can’t wait to see so many more of these! I came away from this activity feeling so content and proud of them all. This writing activity was a platform for many differing successes, those successes were not just letter formation, but also communication and language, confidence and self-awareness and listening and attention. So many important skills enhanced by completing this writing activity.

I feel that completing this activity has given me more confidence when working with children with EAL. I also feel I have more knowledge of how best to support children with EAL and how to approach writing activities to gain the greatest progress. (TS2 – be accountable for pupils’ attainment, progress and outcomes). For future lessons, I would consider ways of encouraging them to be slightly more independent and reassure them that they are capable of having a go. I feel this would allow me to focus on the children who have no letter formation at all. In addition to this, I would give each child a whiteboard and pen to support their writing; this would allow the support for each child to be more individualized. I found this experience extremely important for my own progression as a trainee teacher…I feel more confident in helping children with EAL and I am learning how I can support them to help with their confidence and at getting them to have a go. This is something I will build upon in upcoming activities with these children in particular.

 Focused next steps:

  • Encourage the children to have more independence.
  • Continue with phonics to gain more sound/letter correspondence – including fun games to encourage full involvement.