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.
Called to Serve in 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.
The children also took part in a group discussion about values. They had to try and sort them into order of priority. This was quite a task and it was interesting to listen to the children’s reasons. What was even more rewarding to see and hear was how the children respected each other’s opinions and negotiated their way through the task. In the end, the children decided that all the values are important so arranged them in a shape to reflect that.
Year 6 have also been learning about parables and particularly what they reveal about the Kingdom of God. We have looked at the Parable of the Mustard Seed, the Parable of the Yeast, the Parable of the Adulterous Woman and the Parable of the Lost Son. With lots of talk partner time and private time to reflect, the children have really developed a good understanding of what these parables tell us about God’s kingdom. Importantly, we then thought about how this should impact on our own actions so that we truly put our faith into action on a daily basis. Each child had some good ideas about how this should look for them.
The children have made posters to show their understanding that the Kingdom of God is for everyone. Their posters had to include this key message, a link to at least one parable that supports this idea, and a link to the sacraments as a way of accepting the invitation to God’s kingdom. The children love tasks like this as a way of showing what they have learnt and take a lot of pride in the work.
We have also been considering the advantages and possible challenges that Christians face being part of God’s Kingdom. The children worked in groups and each contributed to the lists that were made and later discussed.
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.
Year 6 have also been learning about metaphors and precise noun phrases to add vivid detail to their writing. The Highwayman has many metaphors in it which really help us to set the scene in our minds and we want to use this as inspiration for when we write so that our audience has a similar experience. We have add these ideas to our palette which helps us as a visual when we are writing to make sure we use a wide range of tricks to add detail to our work. We also have a worthy word wall which we add to as we go along. These are new words which we learn as we read and we could steal to use in our own writing at a later date.
Year 6 enjoyed using hot seating as a way of delving deep into relationships and themes of the Highwayman Book. First of all they thought about questions which they could ask the three main characters. We talked about the difference between open and closed questions and the word ‘delve’ and tried to ensure that our questions delved deep so that the characters opened up their thoughts, feelings and motives. Random selection was used to select the characters in the hot seat and the other children asked their questions. It was trickier than it sounds but lots of fun 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.
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 do lots of vocabulary work in guided reading to develop our understanding of words. In recent non-fiction texts that we have been reading, the children have collected subject specific vocabulary and then used colour coding (traffic light system) to show if they have heard the word and confident with the meaning, heard the word but not sure about the meaning, or they have never heard the word before. At this point, dictionaries are used to clarify meaning and build confidence with the words. Each child is at a different stage in this journey but it’s a really useful way to build vocabulary understanding.
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. Words like delve, stealthily, stead and unrequited have been added so far which are words directly as a result of our discussions around the Highwayman text.
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!
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!
We have also been learning how to round numbers including decimal numbers. This can be tricky but challenge is good and we take time to work on corrections too. We learn from being challenged and mistakes are part of learning.
Year 6 enjoyed a Burn2Learn session today which we call BOGOF Balls; in this game you find a multiplication fact and then use this to find other related facts including large multiples of 100 and 1000 and division facts. If you know one fact, you know so many more and this active game is a great way to practise this skill. When we came back into the classroom, we looked at how to use inverse to check our answers. We’ll keep practising this to keep it bubbling away as what looks like tricky calculations, can actually be done mentally if you remember your BOGOFs. Year 6 have enjoyed other lessons like this outdoors.
Year 6 have been working on understanding part-whole models and bar models as a different way to interpret number. We have also been working on improving our confidence with maths vocabulary of sum and difference. These are actually really easy with a quick reminder and some practise.
Year 6 complete lots of arithmetic quick practise to keep their skills fresh and improve their speed. These may only be 5 or 10 minute fast sessions but they really do help! The children are very motivated by the quick results they achieve through a little and often approach. Keep up the good work Year 6!
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 diet which we aim to be able to answer at the end of the unit of work.
Year 6 have also been learning about different food groups and why the body needs foods from each group. This was a good chance to address some misconceptions about food groups which the children had already picked up from places like the news. They looked at different food labels to see which foods contained the most fat, carbohydrates, proteins, etc. and then had to use their maths skills to order them in the top five. This was quite tricky and involved lots of maths skills involving decimal numbers, comparing and ordering. As they worked through these tasks, they were able to start to answer some of the questions they originally asked like, ‘Can fat be good for us?’, ‘What is a balanced diet?’ and ‘What are the different food groups?’.
Moving on with our science learning, Year 6 were really interested when they learnt all about how muscles work in the human body. They learnt about the different types of muscles: cardiac, smooth and skeletal muscles. They did some different exercises to focus on which muscles were being used. They learnt about how muscles contract and relax, and learnt to name many of the main muscles in the body. They then had to look at different types of exercise and decide which muscles were being worked harder during the exercise. After that, they chose their own muscle group and pretended to be personal trainers; they recommended advice to clients who wanted to exercise these muscles.
Year 6 have also been investigating the impact of exercise on the heart and how the circulatory system works. They really enjoyed trying to locate their pulses and recording data using this. They counted their pulse for 10 seconds and multiplied it by 6 to calculate 1 minute. They repeated this for minimum of 3 times and then worked out average pulse rates. After this, the children enjoyed planning and conducting an experiment to look at the impact of exercise. The children then worked really hard to write up their investigations using lots of scientific words (predictions, conclusions, results, variables, etc) and methods (including recording data and interpreting). What a lot of learning has been taking place!
Year 6 have been 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 moved onto experimenting with their sketching skills to add dynamic action to their art work. They drew simple, yet effective stick men thinking about the emotions and actions they wanted to portray. Extra lines were added to emphasise the movement.
Sometimes the movements would look slow and laboured and other movements looked energetic or rapid. The children then started to add bulk to their stick men to give a more human shape. This wasn’t always successful and we ended up with some really muscly figures, but practice makes perfect and we know that our first attempts will always need developing more. It was fun experimenting!
Geography: Survive and Explore
Before we start learning about rivers, it is important they we understand the water cycle so we revisited this through a guided reading task. The children started by looking for subject specific vocabulary first. This included lots of scientific words and we then looked up the meaning of the words to improve our understanding of the vocabulary. We then completed the guided reading which gave us lots of detail and real life examples that we experience in our own homes where we can see the water cycle in action.
The children then made posters of the water cycle and used these outdoors to make a diagram of the water cycle using natural materials. They absolutely loved this task which will hopefully support deep learning as they had to explain their natural diagrams in detail when questioned. Every group was able to talk about what each part represented and fed in the subject specific language into their explanations. This was excellent to see and they loved outdoor learning too!
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 a Burn2Learn session 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 Burn2Learm 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.
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 for so long. 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.