I was very impressed by the welcome I received, even the slice of cake and the cup of tea went down well! A colleague of mine says that you can always tell the culture of a school by how you are received on arrival. Indeed, the culture of this school is one of sharing, caring and helping.
My role for the day was to read my book with the children in both the reception and nursery classes. It was great to be able to scaffold the children’s learning using the book and have lots of fun as well, for example, problem solving and developing new concepts.
I finished the book by setting the children a writing challenge linked to the story: to write a note to Gran-Gran with their ideas for treats that she might bring to them. One child, we’ll call him Pablo, who uses English as a second language volunteered excitedly, “I’ll write for you, Mrs Henry!” I told him that I’d be reading Jo-Jo and Gran-Gran with their friends in the other classes and would come back in the afternoon to see his writing.
Lunch was very enjoyable. It was respectful to children needs, a real social affair and with an awesome salad bar. Oh, and the children had none of those awful ‘prison-style’ trays, instead they had suitable plates and cutlery.
I returned to the class in the afternoon and looked for Pablo. He was outside in their makeshift den with a few of his friends. He greeted me with delight and ran back inside the classroom. “Come with me, Mrs Henry, I’ll show you my writing!”
A very proud Pablo showed me what he’d written and we had a brief discussion about it.
This example reminds me of a reflective DVD from Early Education, by Marion Dowling, on Sustained Shared Thinking. It depicts a reception class, with the children creating a bridge based on the book Three Billy Goats Gruff. At the end of the clip, the children go on to write, “No trolls allowed.” They were able to write this as, using a holistic approach, they were able to feel the words when using their imagination outside to create and build. Indeed, as educators, to support children with their writing we have to stimulate their critical thinking through concepts that make sense to them. This will enable children to have the ‘Aha!’ moments and write away!
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