Think with your feet – considering maths ideas through Oracy.

Think with your feet is another Oracy activity that enables children to discuss their mathematical ideas. This is more of a whole class discussion which leads the children to consider and perhaps change what they originally thought.

The idea of this is to have a discussion in small groups about a topic. You could use the concept cartoon to begin a discussion. Once you have given enough time to discuss the idea you come back together as a class.

The next step is to divide the classroom up into sections. Each section would be for a different opinion. You could ask for some opinions and ideas first to enable you to create the sections. The children then have to decide for themselves which idea or opinion they agree with. Tell them to think with their feet and they move to the relevant part of the room.

Think with your feet enables children to think for themselves and then re-evaluate their thinking and change their minds.

The teacher then asks a couple of children from each section to explain why they have chosen this idea. On hearing the ideas shared the children are then given the opportunity to change their ideas or opinions. If they do this they are allowed to move again to the relevant section that shares their ideas. Repeat once more asking for ideas. This time you can ask the children who changed their ideas or opinions.

It can be quite revealing and interesting as to what they have discovered and you may learn quite a lot about what the children have picked up from one another and their discussions.

Failure – mistakes are good! Fail – first attempt in learning!

We all fear failure. It is something we are all afraid of. Take each letter of the word FAIL. First Attempt In Learning. I think we should all view failure as a stepping stone to achieving. My boys are learning that failure is a good thing! Read on to find out why failure – mistakes are good.

It is a proven fact that your brain grows bigger when you get things wrong. New pathways are made inside your brain each time you make a mistake! We place such high value on achievements and getting things right. In actual fact if we get everything right the first time then we do not actually learn a great deal. In order to learn we need to make mistakes – these then give us something to work with and something to improve on.

For example if I am working on addition in Maths I may always get the answers right. Now the child who muddles subtraction and addition will actually learn that these two are commutative and do indeed complement one another. In mistaking addition for subtraction and using the wrong calculation I can learn additional facts that will help me to progress further.

I always tell the children I work with and teach that I want them to make mistakes. I want them to fail… sometimes. Failure – mistakes are good. They ensure we learn but they need to be set up in the right way. That’s right! I’m suggesting we set our children up to fail… sometimes BUT it needs to be done in the right way to ensure they learn and grow from the experience and is not damaging to the self-esteem or confidence.

Amazing right?

Share this with your children – failure makes us grow!

Here’s a great poster from big life journal!

School isolation and restraint- are the effects damaging?

The use of restraint in schools has been questioned recently along with the use of school isolation. Why? Ministers say the effects of this can be damaging.

A teacher’s job?

As a teacher my job is to teach a class and ensure they make progress. But how do you do that with children continually disrupting learning?

It’s not easy particularly when children cannot cope with the situation they are in. I have in the past been kicked, hit, sworn at, spat on by children who couldn’t cope in the environment. We might question whether the classroom is the best place for these children. Sometimes large groups are intimidating to children and this can lead to feelings of high anxiety and outbursts that can be quite scary.

The effects of school isolation

If a child has been misunderstood and does not have the language to explain themselves properly, a school that then puts that child into school isolation is pushing the child further away. This creates more anxiety and feelings of isolation for the child. Rather than being supportive and working through the issue together, the child ends up feeling further removed. I’m not sure how this achieves anything good for anybody least of all the child who should be at the heart of everything.

So what happens as a result of these behaviours? That depends on the school. Some schools do not know how to deal with behaviours such as these and therefore do not cope well. They do not have the strategies in place to offer the right support. A child lashes out for a reason – usually because they don’t have the language to express themselves.

So is restraint or school isolation the right reaction to an action that may have been out of fear or emotion not understood?

I think it depends on the circumstances. Restraint used correctly to prevent a child from hurting themselves – yes.
I’m not sure what seclusion achieves… does it solve the problem? It gives everyone else space but doesn’t really solve anything. Could it do more damage than good? Quite possibly!

So should it be used? What do you think? Comment below!

BBC News – School seclusion ‘could have damaging effects’

Odd one out – using Oracy activities to support Maths.

Using Oracy enhances learning particularly when children are using discussion to discover a concept for themselves. Using the odd one out activity allows you to check understanding and develop ideas.

This activity can be used as a warm up or in fact in any part of the session. When I plan the odd one out activity I tend to throw in a red herring or have a few ideas going on to give the children the opportunity to discuss their ideas in more than one way.

Using the odd one out activity

Take a look at this odd one out activity. This is for a Year 2 class.

This odd one out activity allows for a discussion about odd and even numbers and one and two digit numbers.

In this particular activity the aim was to encourage the children to talk about why a number could be the odd one out and why. We were thinking about classifying the numbers in different ways. The discussion led children to consider and talk about one and two digit numbers, odds and evens as well as numbers that are divisible by 2.

Valuing different ideas

The beauty of the odd one out activity is there may well be more than one correct answer. This allows your children to think for themselves and be confident that even if they have a different idea it does not mean they are wrong. The talk in this activity encourages children to value one another’s ideas.

All too often children are afraid of getting the answer wrong. They have a belief that is encouraged by our teaching that Maths is all about right and wrong answers. In fact what we want the children to achieve is a mathematical discussion about their ideas as that is where the learning is. Different ideas means we consider other possibilities.

Home education? Japanese children refuse to go to school…

More and more children in Japan are ‘leaving’ the formal school system as they say it makes them miserable. It appears many children experience bullying and do not engage with such a formal education. Is home education the way forward?

As a result of this children are taking an alternative type of schooling ‘futoko’ which means non-attendance. They pretty much do as they like and don’t gain any qualifications. This will have serious knock on effects in the future.

While our school system is anything but perfect for many it works. For those that struggle in the school system there is the option to home educate. Many parents are opting for home education. For many this is because the school system does not offer what they need. Many special needs are not being addressed properly in schools and this is causing a high level of anxiety in children. We are now in a system where data and results are more highly valued than the well-being of our children. A child will not learn if their emotional needs are not put first. If their heads are full of anxiety and depressive thoughts there is not the capacity to take in more. Many teachers now have a full time teaching job and are also juggling the effects of this system too and playing social worker come counsellor.

Why is it that we continue to push our children into systems that we have had for centuries. Our world is changing so quickly – is education keeping up?

BBC News – Why so many Japanese children refuse to go to school

Concept cartoons – how does Oracy support Maths?

We have covered many topics within Oracy and how we can teach skills of speaking and listening to our children. Let’s take one of the Oracy activities – concept cartoons – and see how this can support your teaching of maths.

Using concept cartoons to start a lesson

I tend to use the concept cartoons at the start of a maths lesson. This really unpicks the misconceptions that have come about as a result of previous lessons in a unit of work.

For example, when teaching addition children sometimes make the place value error of reversing the digits. Using concept cartoons enables the children to figure out what went wrong for themselves.

Oracy can really support Maths – encourage children to use a concept cartoon and sentence stems to discuss the misconception.

This is far more powerful than the teacher standing at the front of the class and telling the children where they went wrong. Encouraging discussion about misconceptions means that children will discover what went wrong for themselves. They will unpick their own learning which means their brains make new connections and pathways to connect the learning.

What about the end of a lesson?

You may well decide to use a concept cartoon to further develop a concept you have been teaching in the lesson to end your lesson.

Using concept cartoons at the end of your lesson can really cement the understanding for many children.

Using concept cartoons at the end of your lesson can for some children make all the difference. If you know there is likely to be a misconception that will crop up you can give the children some time to explore the idea in talk partners or trios. The beauty of this is the children have already had the lesson to try out the concept. This discussion then ties up their experience and may well be the difference between leaving the lesson almost there and fully there!

Private tuition paid for by schools helps pupils pass exams

So a school in London is paying for some of its pupils to have private tuition to help with their exams. Some children are left feeling like they are failing. This is due to an education system that is not able to offer what all children need. Many children do not get the attention that they need to support their learning as class sizes are often too large.

This is leading to many parents choosing to employ a private tutor for their children to ensure they make the expected progress. What about those parents that cannot afford private tuition? A school in London has chosen to spend some of its pupil premium money on private tuition for a select few of its pupils. This is to ensure they do not miss out on the same opportunities that their more affluent pupils get.

At Teach My Child we tailor sessions to meet your child’s needs. Small groups work best as they give a good amount of time with the teacher. They also allow the pupils to discuss and learn together. Small groups offer the care, attention and individuality that cannot be given in a class of 30. If your son or daughter is struggling with maths please get in touch. We currently have a few spaces left for our sessions starting in January 2020.

Let me help you help your child with affordable small group tuition – comment below if you’d like help.😊

BBC News – School pays for private tuition to help with exams


This type of talk is presentational rather than exploratory and with that comes a range of different skills.

There are a range of things to consider when deciding whether to have a debate in class. Firstly, there needs to be a variety of viewpoints or sides of an argument to be debated. Then you need to consider if the children have enough knowledge to enable them to debate a subject. The third thing is that debate brings about a level of competition – some children will love the competition and others will not. Weigh it up and give it a go!

There are a number of different ways to set up a debate and it would be wise to investigate these before you begin. Many debates are set up so there are 2 opposing teams of four speakers. The rest of the class would act as the audience. There is also a chairperson whose role would be to introduce each speaker and organize the floor debate. A time keeper would also be a good role to ensure people stick to time.

Why not show a video clip of a debate before you start so the children have a clear idea of what this should look like.

New Year, New You?

Many of us decide to make changes as the new year approaches. We may have habits we’d like to change or we might strive to achieve something over the coming year. Whatever it is why not include your child in this process and encourage them to strive for something this coming year?

Here is an image from Pinterest that could work really well. The idea is you talk with your children about things you might like to have a go at this year or things you might like to stop for example – eating less chocolate or maybe there is a new skill you would like to learn. Discuss what you would each like to do as a family and record these. Pack them away in a safe place and then next year review your New Year’s Resolutions together. It will be fun to see what you wrote down and whether you achieved what you set out to do!

Making stew?

Well I expect we have all eaten a little too much and you might now be wondering what to do with all that excess turkey??

You could make a turkey stew with the help of your little ones. Carefully guiding them they can learn how to chop vegetables, create a stock and then add the ingredients to make a delicious and healthy turkey stew.

Click here for Jamie Oliver’s left-over turkey stew recipe!