Friday, 23 June 2017

I was impressed by the children in many ways this week. First of all, they did brilliantly well making bar charts and coming up with good questions for each other based on them. Today they did a wonderful problem solving lesson that will prepare them for algebra. Second of all, they have really taken to our new English Topic on riddles. We read the famous scene from The Hobbit where Bilbo and Gollum have a riddle contest, and the children did very well guessing the answers to the riddles before the characters did. It also gave me a chance to practise my Gollum impression. Since Monday I've had several children come up to me with riddles they've looked up or riddles they've made up. Some of them are very clever.

We spent some time discussing Boudicca's rebellion and her sad fate in History this week, and looking at how she has been portrayed in art over the centuries. The children then had a go at what she looks like themselves. Many of them even drew her on a noble steed.

We tried to beat the heat as we learned a few times this week, going outside to search for micro-habitats on the school grounds. Today we spent a much cooler afternoon catching mini-beasts to draw pictures of.

We have been listening to Hindu stories in RE, and learning about all of the gods of Hinduism. We are exploring the moral tales of different religions, and the many ways that they are similar in their lessons or messages.

As I can't remember whether or not I have already mentioned this, I will share it now (again?). We have one week of regular spellings left, which will be next week. After that, we will be doing review tests on the words they've learned throughout the school year to see how well they have retained their information. As far as I'm aware, the other homework will continue until the end of term, but I will confirm that when I can.

So, this week's words serve the function of having the children practise many often-missed words as well as their apostrophes. Here is the list:

can’t (cannot)
shouldn’t (should not)
they’d (they would)
she’s (she is)
you’ve (you have)
girl’s (belonging to a girl)
children’s (belonging to children)
Thomas’s (belonging to Thomas)
friends’(belonging to more than one friend)
women’s (belonging to more than one woman)

Each word demonstrates a different use of the apostrophe, so the most effective way to practise is by putting them into sentences. We will be doing that in class, of course, but if you want to practise early, that would be a helpful way to do help them learn.

Have a good weekend.

Friday, 16 June 2017

This week we finished up our English topic on non-chronological reports. I was generally happy with the hard work they did. The spent a great deal of time looking up information on different animals and reporting on their diet, description, habitats and other interesting information. In addition to honing their note-taking skills, they did a lot of self-editing, filling in gaps in their knowledge, and then wrote a final draft in extended writing yesterday. I am looking forward to reading their reports in greater detail over the weekend.

We've started our topic on Habitats and Food Chains in science, and spent some time in the sun this week looking for mini-beasts on the school grounds. Each child was able to find several micro-environments (cracks in the walls, spaces between flag stones, branches of trees, etc.) and even found some of the animals living there. The topic will require more work out in the English sunshine so let's hope the weather continues to cooperate.

In History, we've been investigating Boudicca's Rebellion, a moment in history made all the more interesting because Boudicca sacked the Roman city of Verulamium (St Albans) and was ultimately defeated just north of here on Watling Street. The children have been weighing the good and bad aspects of Roman rule and today they wrote a rallying cry to the Iceni warriors before going into battle with the legionaries.

In RE we are looking now at Hinduism and some of the stories and teachings from some of their holy texts. Wednesday we looked at Ganesha, the Elephant-Headed god of luck and protection, and explored a bit what it meant to be lucky.

We are about to go into a lot of data handling in maths, which will involve lots of charts and graphs. This is an interesting part of the maths curriculum because some children who are very quick and accurate at arithmetic can become confused by graphs and charts, and some children who are less adept with arithmetic suddenly find they can read charts confidently.

Next week will be a normal week, with no school events or other interferences to the schedule, other than a brief music assembly on Thursday morning. There will be homework and spelling words as usual. I am happy to see the list of children forgetting or neglecting their homework is decreasing over time. Most children are taking it seriously and doing well at it.

Here are next week's spelling words:






We are looking at the prefixes sub- and auto- and the suffix -ly.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Welcome back for the home stretch of the academic year. We have only six short weeks to finish everything up, and then our children will be moving on to Year 5!

First, let me apologise for the lack of newsletter over the week-long holiday. I had a blog written and there was a problem sending it right after I finished, and then it was forgotten in the hustle and bustle of the week and I never tried to upload it again. By now it's completely irrelevant, of course.

Hopefully everyone went home with positive things to say about the field trip on Wednesday. We had a fortuitous reprieve in the otherwise rainy weather for the week. It was cool, sunny and moisture-free. And what else can one hope for on such a day?

We toured the museum from 10 to 11, and the children all had facts to find in each section. Especially interesting was the part where they could build their own Roman arch and the area with a tile that had a little dog print impressed into the clay.

We then spent another hour with a knowledgeable lady who gave us real Roman artefacts to look at and touch, and we spent the time going from station to station and trying to guess which artefacts matched up with modern household implements. Four of our children got to dress up in Roman and Celtic costumes as well.

The children then had about an hour to eat, another hour to play, use the toilet, and gather together, and then we went on a special tour of the Roman theatre and archaeological finds surrounding it. We were split into two groups for that and every child was given a role to play in the historical drama. Then it was time to head home. I think we tired a few of the children out. It was great to see actual Roman objects up close and see and hear about the history of our own backyard by knowledgeable staff.

I would like to send a special thanks out to my parent volunteers for helping to keep everyone safe and happy. Also, look for a special report from Jamal and Matty in the Newsletter as well as a blog on the school website.

We've just started our new Science topic on habitats, and will be exploring plant and animal homes, food sources and predators. We'll be looking at sacred stories of Hinduism in RE. In English, we've been practising taking notes from reliable sources and writing reports. We wrote rough drafts this week and will write the final drafts on Thursday. Then we'll switch to a unit on free verse poetry. And of course we are continuing to do the Romans in history. In Maths we'll be moving into a block of statistics and interpreting different types of charts.

Here are next week's spelling words. We are looking at the prefix inter- and the suffix -ation.










There will be homework as usual so don't let your child convince you that Mr Thompson didn't hand any out.
Have a good weekend!

Friday, 19 May 2017

Before I get into anything else, the Year 4 field trip has managed to sneak up on me somehow. I still need five parent helpers who would be available from about 9 am to around 3:30pm on Wednesday, 7th of June. Please check your diaries and if you are able to go, please let me know ASAP. Thank you.

With one more week left in this half-term, we are finishing up several topics. We are nearing the conclusion of our science topic on electricity, and will move after the half term onto animals and habitats. In RE we are about to finish up Sacred Books and Texts and will move on to Sacred stories and ideas.

We're having a really good time writing non-chronological reports about the school. Everyone knows something about it, so there isn't much to look up. We've also had some guest speakers in to explain some of the specialties of the school, including Mrs Teakle, Mr Sherwood and Mrs Brewis to explain various clubs and safety procedures.

The children are doing so well that I am going to arrange to have them type their reports up on a computer and add some digital images that a few of them will take. I think they will make great pieces of work for them to show off and to illustrate to them how far they've come as writers.

On to homework: this class has, for whatever reason, always got more children on the list for Homework Club--the Thursday-at-lunch-time club supervised by the head teacher, than any other class. In many cases this is because the children have just not bothered to do the work at home. Others have done the work but left it at home. It may seem harsh that we treat those children as if they haven't done the work at all, but we are trying to prepare them for secondary school and the hard deadlines of day-to-day life. If you would like to gently remind the children to check their bags on Thursday mornings for an orange book, I'm sure it would help shorten that weekly list.

Here are the spelling words for the coming week:

As you can see, we are finishing up our list of frequently-missed words and moving back into prefixes and suffixes, this week's being 'anti-', which is Greek for 'against' or 'opposed to.'
Have a good weekend.

Friday, 12 May 2017

This week we finished our unit on traditional tales in English, which culminated in writing a vivid description of a Roman god. The children came up with some wonderful similes, including "Mars was as muscular as three Renaldos and a Messi." As a non-football fan, I'll have to take that one on faith as being true.

We have two weeks left in our science topic on electricity and circuits. We will begin to explore what a circuit is and how and why electricity works the way it does. We'll be introducing everyone to electrons and other parts of the atom.

We've begun looking at why Rome decided to invade Britain, and how many times it took to finally succeed. In the next week we'll look at the invasion under Emperor Claudius and what that meant for British people.

We've been looking at sacred books in RE, and we've finished the bible and have moved on to the Guru Granth Sahib of the Sikh faith. We'll look at Hindu books just before the half term.

Here are the spelling words for next week:











Have a good weekend!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Week three of the summer term. They seem to be going so fast! We're now halfway through our science topic on electricity. The children have just finished looking up safety rules for using electricity and making up colourful posters for handling electrical items, some of which have been displayed on the Science wall. Coming up next week we'll be working with batteries, light bulbs and various wires to complete a circuit and explore more of how electricity works and what it even is.

In history we've started looking at the conflict between the Celts and the Romans, and at why the Romans were able to take over so much of the known world at the time. Part of that involved having the children make their own Celtic shield. Next we'll be looking at Roman soldiers and what made it so difficult for them to be defeated.

In RE we've looked at the sacred text of the Christians and will soon be looking at the Guru Granth Sahib of the Sikhs. In a couple of weeks we'll look at Hindu sacred texts as well.

We will be finishing up our topic on traditional tales in English next week. We spent time looking at several myths, legends and just-so stories and have now had a try at rewriting the Romulus and Remus story and at writing our own just-so story. Next week we'll finish up by looking at some of the famous heroes of mythology and creating a story around the hero.

Next week is SATs week, of course, which will affect the Year 4 class in the following ways: The Hall will be out of commission for much of the week, and that will limit access to things like the toilet. I will be warning everyone Monday morning about the limited access to the facilities, but you might want to remind your children at home that they will need to be extra vigilant about using the toilet during their breaks, even if it isn't urgent yet.

On to homework: Our second week seems to have gone well, even with the shift in days. It is a shame to see so many of the class in the Homework Club at lunchtime, and I hope that the new routine at home will set in and we will have far fewer unfinished pages.

Here are next week's spelling words:









Have a great weekend.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Our first full week back (and now we have another short one coming up--not that I'm complaining) and we've had our first try at the new homework scheme. As a recap of last week, there will now be a maths and English activity in the homework every Monday along with the weekly spelling words. The children will have three nights to work on those activities. I will also give them time during the average day to practise their spellings. On Thursday morning, first thing, I will collect all homework books and if someone does not have one or has not completed everything, I will record that data and they will attend the "Homework Club" in Year 3 with the head teacher during lunch. Please understand that a large aspect of the point of homework is to get the children used to hard deadlines and being responsible for their work, so if they have done the work at home but forgotten to bring it in, we will still have them attend Homework Club. Hopefully it will get them to start remembering their work. We are just over two years away from Secondary School, after all.

I have also learned a bit from the first go at homework and will try to make sure that the instructions for each part of it are clear in terms of expectations and accurate. One of the maths activities turned out to have a mistake in it that I didn't notice until I made up the answer sheets. So if I can have the answer sheets made up before I hand out the homework, I can clarify/correct any misconceptions early. At least, that's the theory. We'll see what happens in practise.

As next week is short, homework will go out on Tuesday and we'll have it due on Friday, so Homework Club will be Friday lunchtime. That way there will still be the same three nights to work on everything.

Since we're on the subject, here are next week's spelling words, still from the list of top misspelled words:










I think that's about it for major news. I laid out the structure of the half-term last week, so please see that if there are any questions. Also please remember to have PE kits and swimsuits on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Several children have been forgetting them quite regularly and this is not acceptable. They are missing out on an important aspect of their education, and potentially getting their uniforms soiled.
Thank you for your understanding through the first week of the homework. Hopefully we have most of the kinks ironed out now, but there's always something new to gum up the works, isn't there?
Have a happy and healthy holiday weekend!