Autumn Term 1
Year 6 have settled really quickly in to Year 6. Their behaviour is excellent, the children are very motivated and we are getting lots of learning done! The class love the secret student idea where if they have followed the classroom rules all day, the secret student is revealed and they get to collect 2 secret student badges to add to our display. Once the class have collected 40, they will have some well-earned golden time. We also have Pokemon rewards which are characters given to children for growth mindset demonstrated like perseverance, resilience, seeking help at the right time whilst still being an independent learner. These are going down a treat!
School councillors will soon be elected and we have several children thinking about what skills they have which would make them an effective councillor. The candidates will have to bravely came to the front of the class to make their speeches and then their peers will cast their votes in the ballot boxes; this is an exciting process which also helps with their understanding of democracy which we have been learning about this week too.
The children in Year 6 plan and lead class collective worship. The children enjoy dressing the worship table themselves and explaining their choice of artefact for the table. For example, one child chose a green cloth to reflect that it’s ordinary time in the liturgical calendar; one child chose a mirrored ornament which reminds us that we are made in the image of God and that our actions should mirror those of Jesus. One child chose a plant to reflect that we grow when we are close to God. One child chose a crucifix to remind us that we are so special that Jesus died for us. We also include time for some quiet meditation. We have lovely calming music on in the background and focus on our breathing to try to clear our minds and be still so that we could focus on feeling God’s presence and be ready to hear God’s word in the reading that follows.
Each week, we have a different statement of the week and worship is centred around the statement. For example, the focus this week is about saying how we feel. The children placed beads on plates to reflect how they feel. We had time to pray to God to give thanks for the things that have made us feel good, and we prayed for anyone who was feeling sad in the world too.
The Kingdom of God
In RE we have been thinking about what a kingdom is. The children enjoyed drawing what comes into their mind when they think of a kingdom and then described their kingdom in detail. The children then started to think about what the kingdom of God is like and asked lots of questions which are very appropriate for their age. Hopefully, as we work our way through the term, the children will be able to answer many of their own questions themselves as we learn more about the God’s kingdom.
In English we are using the classic narrative poem by Alfred Noyes, The Highwayman, as inspiration to write. The children are already engrossed in the story and enjoyed exploring my box of tricks which was full of Highwayman goodies. In the box was a French cocked hat, a bunch of lace, a red ribbon, a rapier, a pistol, a black cape, a mask and lots of books about Highwaymen. Some of the children dressed up in the clothes to give us a good idea of what the Highwayman looked like. We also put a red love knot in one of the girl’s hair to give us an idea about what the character Bess might like look.
Before reading the poem, we created a glossary of words using the dictionaries and iPad to look up words which were new to our vocabulary. These included, rapier, breeches, doe, moor, musket galleon, and many more. The children had a treasure hunt around the school to find the words first of all which they enjoyed. It was a great way to get active and have fun while learning.
All the keywords for the English topic are displayed on our working wall with a visual to support understanding. We expect these to be spelt correctly now too as the words are all here as a way of self-checking.
Y6 also enjoyed hot-seating to ask questions to characters. The idea was that they would delve deep with open questions which demanded that the characters give detail. They wrote their questions first and practised punctuating them. Then children stepped into the shoes of the characters and answers the questions.
Year 6 have moved onto writing character descriptions using ambitious vocabulary from the text which they previous learnt when they made a glossary. The designed ‘Wanted’ posters to help King George capture the deadly Highwayman.
They wrote a plan to get their ideas organised before writing, and then wrote their descriptions. After that, it was time to self-assess and edit/improve using RAMPS (remove, add, move, punctuation, spellings/substitutions). I was really pleased to see their writing targets being used too.
The Book Tucker Trial
Year 6 have enjoyed selecting a book of their choice from a lovely new selection we have on our book shelve, and are now making their way through the Book Tucker Trial. They can read their school reading books as well as long as they read! The children are encouraged to read a wide range of genres and work by different authors to expose them to different writing styles. After every 5 books, they have to write a book review of their favourite one and recommend it to a friend. Who will be first to reach Rats Den?
In class we also have a wide range of non-fiction books linked to our topics so that the children can read about lots of real life subjects rather than just sticking to fiction. At the moment we have non-fiction books about the water cycle, rivers and coasts, human biology and inspirational people in sport.
We also have a selection of fiction books carefully linked to the topic of rivers and journeys. Mrs Ward has read these and recommended these to the children, and there is a lovely range of challenge in the books too – if you fancy a shorter book with some pictures but a superb story line, then you could read Michael Morporgo’s This Morning I Met a Whale: this book is really powerful and stirs up great emotion when you read about the relationship between the boy and the whale. If you fancy something with animals in, then you could read River Singers by Tom Moorhouse. If you fancy something with humans as the main characters, you could choose Journey to the River Sea which has a strong river theme of adventure. There are plenty so give them a try.
Year 6 have been working on improving their skimming and scanning skills when reading texts. It’s important to be able to find information at speed without reading the whole text so we practise this skill. Once the children find the key words, they then read the sentence before and after the word to get a feel for the meaning.
We also have a Worthy Word Wall on our English wall which we add to when we learn new vocabulary directly from fiction from our shared reading.
We also work on vocabulary in all the other subjects too as understanding words builds our ability to understanding texts whether that is when reading stories or non-fiction. If you look in our topic and science books, you’ll find a lot of what we call subject specific words which we collect as we are reading and learning in these subjects too. When we learn a new word, Mrs Ward puts it on the board and we do spelling aerobics to help us learn to spell it in an interactive and fun way!
Here is an example of our vocabulary wall so far in geography:
It’s only week one and Year 6 have already proved themselves to be willing and capable of being challenged in maths. They have completed some really tricky problem solving to show their understanding of place value, comparing and ordering numbers up to 10,000,000 so far. Their self assessments at the end of lessons is showing a really good attitude to challenge and learning – having a growth mind-set and seeing challenge as a good thing will really help the children to progress with their maths. It needs to feel challenging!
Year 6 have been looking at how ideas about diet were investigated in the past. They learnt about James Lind and the work he did to try to find out why sailors suffered from scurvy. The class have also been asking questions of their own about bodies which we aim to be able to answer at the end of the unit of work.
Year 6 have been learning the skill of using lines and experimenting with different lines and tools to make lines. This sounds really simple but it was quite interesting to see the children enjoying sketching in their art books and starting to think about how these lines could be used to add a feeling of movement to a picture which they will be starting to work on shortly.
Year 6 have been really enjoying French lessons, many of which so far have taken place outside. Our aim was to be able to count to 100 confidently in 1s and multiples of 10 and it’s been going really well. We have worked really hard to pronounce the words accurately and this takes a lot of thinking about as some of the sounds are not naturally in our own language but we listen first and then practise.
As well as count to one hundred, we have also been working on recognising written numbers to one hundred and being able to recall at speed numbers in a random order too. To help with this, the children have completed a number of written activities as well as oral including word searches, matching games and crossword puzzles.
Geography: Survive and Explore
To kick start the topic, Year 6 were asked to reflect back on prior learning in other classes and think about what they had previously learnt which would support them with learning more about this topic in Y6. For an extra challenge, they were asked to consider if what they remember was a skill or knowledge. It was an interesting response: they were a little hesitate to start with but soon started to recall things from prior learning. As one child remembered one thing, another child in the group remembered something else and the atmosphere in the class started to buzz and they happily talked about prior learning with excitement. Making these links was a great confidence boost for the children as some had been worried that they had forgotten everything over the summer holidays. Some of their memories of prior learning actually went back as far as Year 2 which was incredible!
We also discussed whether what they remembered was a skill or knowledge. We will be looking to build on the skills they already have this half term.
Look at what we captured together as a class which we think is going to help us to continue learning about rivers in Y6.
In class, we also have lots of topic books to enjoy reading to give us depth to our learning. We have time to read around the subjects and we can take these books home too to further explore. This is a popular activity with the class as they can freely choose which book to choose and having time to explore non-fiction is great fun too.
Year 6 enjoyed some physically active outdoor learning using picture clues to locate areas around school where they would find a key word linked to our topic. Just for fun, some of the clues were red herrings so the children had to search really carefully around school and outside in the playground and woodland, eliminating the red herrings as they went. All the words were topic vocabulary about the different features of a river.
After the outdoor learning session, the children came back into class and researched the different parts of a river using the iPads. They made a glossary of all the different subject specific words and looked at images on iPads to reinforce the new meanings. These words are now displayed on the topic working wall and the children regularly reference these to support their spellings and understanding.
The children will shortly be locating rivers around the United Kingdom and beyond, but we needed to revisit the difference between Britain, the United Kingdom and the British Isles. To do this, the children had two different representations of these to analyse and use to answer some statements made the teachers in KS2 who claim to know alot about this subject! The children had to spot the mistakes, give advice as to why the teachers were wrong and explain where they had gone wrong. Of course, not all the teachers were wrong but the children enjoyed spotting our mistakes.
For another challenge, they then had to explain which visual representation they found the most useful and explain why using their developing guided reading skills of PEEing. They had a word back to push their skills of comparing and contrasting.
We have daily check ins to give the children the opportunity to develop their emotional literacy. The first session we had included emoji visuals to help to understand the difference between some emotions. For example, the children thought that the adults in class would all feel excited and chose emojis to match this emotion. They were right that we all felt excited but all the staff in the classroom talking about also having what we might call butterfly feelings in our tummies too. We talked about openly about why we can experience a mixture of emotions and the children then selected different emojis to reflect this. Then it was chance for them to have a go and choose some emojis which reflected their first day feelings after being away from school during the summer holidays. As you can imagine, we have a mixture of emotions and any children who wanted a 1:1 session after that were able to discretely request one. There were lots of smiles on faces throughout the day and as they left school for the first day, but we will keep checking in daily to support their emotional well-being.
We have also tried ‘tweeting’ today as a way to share how we are feeling. The class really enjoyed this as a different way to talk about how they are feeling. They posted their tweets on our ‘page’.
Another way for the children to share with an adult how they are feeling is through the use of our Worry Monster. The children can write their worry on a piece of paper and the worry monster keeps it safe so that they can feel the burden has been removed. If individuals want to talk about their worries, they simple add their names to the paper and an adult will discretely find time to chat with them. It’s up to the children which way they choose.
Rules and Target Setting
Year 6 had a PSHE lesson where they worked as a class to decide what the classroom rules should be for the year to ensure that we are happy, safe, valued and learning! We discussed what mutual respect is and how we need to be tolerant of different viewpoints so that we can build positive relationships. In our discussions, the importance of forgiveness came up as mistakes will be made over the year and forgiveness is essential for our relationships to be restored. We discussed how important the rule of law is so that we all learn in a fair classroom and how each member of the class plays their part in that. By the end of the lesson, Y6 had agreed the classroom rules and we have kept them as simple and positive as possible so that we know exactly what is expected.
The children have also set themselves a personal development target for the autumn term. This target is totally personal to them and decided by them. We have made a display in class using the metaphor of ‘Pulling Your Socks Up’ which the children understand to mean work a little bit harder on something, and that is exactly what they intend to do. I will be encouraging and supporting them to achieve their targets over the term.