Length, mass and capacity

Weeks 7, 8 & 9

This was a very long task that extended into three weeks, completing one to one testing and observation with 50+ children to see how much they had learnt during their lessons that covered Measurements.

The areas of measurement being checked were: – whether they could find from items, which was the heavier and how they did it; tell which was the longest of three items (the same type); be able to tell from three objects, which held the most and how they worked it out; give their understanding on what units of measurement are and then tell which unit of measurements are used to determine the capacity, weight and length of three items I told them.


I found during some questions, that I had to re-word them so that the children understood what I was asking. For example: I said “lighter” and they took that to mean ‘lighter in colour’ as opposed to ‘lighter in weight’ and some didn’t understand it at all! I also had to be explicit in my questions so that nothing was left open for interpretation, which often was. The year groups ability like usual was broad with some estimating weight with their hands while others used the size and thickness of the item which wasn’t always correct. Not many remembered or were able to read the unit markings and therefore used the size, height and thickness of the materials to estimate their capacity.

Most were not able to use the measure on the ruler correctly, a few actually drew a line wherever their pencil landed on the paper as opposed to starting from a specific mark on the ruler.

It was interesting to see how each child reacted to explanations and reasons behind what they were being taught; a few would nod and say they understood but you could see by their blank expressions and hesitation that really they didn’t. As I said in an earlier post, there is only so much I know and able to tell a child; I’m not in a position to teach them, I do not have the knowledge and won’t push the boundaries. I made my observations and wrote their answers as applicable for their teachers to look into.

While this task became tedious towards the end (for the amount of time it took), it was needed and gave further insight to me, into how different they all are, how you have to adapt your teaching skills to accommodate each child. Its hard! The question is: do you learn those different skills in teacher training or does that come from experience? I’d be concerned if it’s from experience alone – until you have that experience, how do you not fail a child who needs to learn in a different way?!?

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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in School, Year 2


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Week 6

As usual, I went into school after lunch, signed in as a volunteer helper at the office and made my way to Mrs A’s classroom. It’s at this point I always feel like I’m in the way, not so much interupting but they’re busy and have to stop for me.

I waited for the children to finish their phonics and words which they practice before splitting up into their groups for Science, Art and ICT. Mrs A grabbed a piece of plain paper and a tub of printed number squares, then called a child over to show what I was do with them during that week. The child was asked to take six numbers from the tub and put them into sequence, to tell us what sequence it was in, if they could change the sequence and then place them into groups of odd and even. I had to mark on the paper if they could or couldn’t sequence and group; I wasn’t asked to do anything else, maybe this was a test to see if I’d use my initiative on making notes but I could not see how I could mark them as a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without giving some observation notes on what they did, their reaction to the questions and how they placed the numbers down.

Of course I thought about whether I was doing too much, was I giving too much information for a simple test, was I taking too long, was I doing it right? 😳 I wasn’t told I was doing it wrong at any point which I’m sure they would have raised with me after the first day if I had!?

I took the paper, tub and a pen to a quieter place then went to find my first child from the class lists. Over the course of four days I worked with 50+ children, watching and listening, making notes on whether they could sequence, if they even understood what sequencing meant, whether they could change the order and tell me what order it was and if they could group into odds and even, explaining why and how they had grouped them.

There were a few children with Special Needs (Autism, Dyspraxia, Developmental Delay, ADHD, Anxiety issues and even Gifted) and during this 5 minute session it was easier to see from their reactions and way in which they interacted compared to the previous occasions when they had only read to me. Overall, it was wonderful to see how all the children’s little hands moved, how they interpret certain words and how broad their abilities are as a class/year group.

There were a few children with difficulties placing the numbers in order, confusing some yet recognising their mistake when asked a certain question such as ‘is x bigger than y?’. However, there was one child with a significant number problem and he read numbers backwards, got them jumbled and had little confidence, not wanting to discuss ‘how’ to do something.


Where possible I explained details to the children, such as using counters to visually see how an odd number doesn’t share and that they were to look at the units and not the tens. It isn’t my job to teach them and I won’t go past the boundaries, so when I met the problems faced with this child I knew it was out of my area of knowledge, I didn’t push further but wrote my observations and raised my concerns with his teacher.

I’m enjoying my time at school, quietly waiting for the time I can go in and help; I even remember a few names – five to be exact but its a start πŸ™‚

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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in School, Year 2


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I’ll give you three building blocks – now build a house

A set of blocks

A set of blocks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What was your first thought when you read that? 

Don’t think about it too long, I want your first answer, your first impression, what you thought when you read that you had to build a house with only 3 blocks? 


Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Reception - YR, School, Year 1, Year 2


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Reading and sounds

Week 4/5

I went into school three times during these two weeks and we concentrated on reading. I’m reading and trying to understand: Phonemes, Graphemes and Phonics so that I know what the children are learning and being tested on. I don’t want to be a helper that goes into class, gets directed by the teacher on what to do but doesn’t understand what it is or why I’m doing it. Unfortunately there isn’t always time to get all this information at the start so I’m trying to pick it up as I go along ensuring I read up on things I’m not sure on.

The children completed various reading tests: sentence reading that increased in difficulty as they progressed down the sheet. They were only allowed a certain number of mistakes before I had to stop them on a sentence which determined their current reading age. As with all classes there was a range of abilities and while some struggled with the first few lines, some managed to finish the page without any problems.

I think I’ve been lucky with my children, both are high achievers in their reading ability, something they inherited from their father who is a fast reader; I on the other hand am a slow reader. 😳

As usual I listened and watched closely to the children’s behaviours and facial expressions; I think you can learn a lot from watching children and they never fail to fascinate me.

One child used his finger to follow the line (in fact, only two children did that from the group), a few were fidgeting – one also had one hand in his pocket and a couple who were more relaxed were willing to talk, allowing me to interact more with them and ask questions. One child appeared very young for his age, noticeable by his speech while another boy was very good at reading and already on the ‘Gold’ level. I was told by another child that this boy liked Roald Dahl so I asked what his favourite book was and he said ‘Georges Marvellous Medicine’. πŸ™‚

Once the children completed their sentence reading I tested them on their sounds: ‘th, ch, qu, ar, er, ea, wh, ng, ol, sh, ing, ck’. Most of the children did very well with these and only about six had difficulty which was only with two or three sounds each, in particular: ar/er, ea, ol and wh.

To finish off their tests they completed 100 high-frequency words with every word they were unable to read, being written for further practice. Again, this was mixed ability so a few got two or three words wrong and others about ten to fifteen. There were a few who struggled a lot and one who I had to stop half way through because he was struggling so much, it would have knocked his confidence and self-esteem.

I’m finding it easier to relax with the children and I’m becoming less self-conscious about speaking to them while other teachers/adults are around me, although I’m yet to gain confidence in my ability and knowledge which I’m sure will come with time.

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Posted by on March 12, 2012 in School, Year 2


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Learning Key Stage 1

Week 3

It is half term week and whilst spending time with my children I realised that to assist in school, I should know a little about what they learn every day. Some people remember snippets of information from their school days, usually the basics, but for me, I hardly remember anything unless it’s of interest. Obviously this isn’t going to hold me in good stead if I want to progress into teaching and it definitely won’t help me if I want to help the children and teachers at our local school.

While I was at the local high street, I decided to pop into Waterstones to take a sneak peek in one of the Key Stage 1 books (yes, an extremely basic area that Infant children learn!) and I was wasn’t surprised to see the amount of information that I had forgotten because of my ignorance and lack of need for use 😯

I am a little embarrassed 😳 at my lack of general knowledge and understanding of the key points that lay down the foundations of our learning but I have been aware for many years that the subjects I love, I learn. I read and become obsessed with the details, yet for anything else, it goes in but it doesn’t seem to store anywhere. I think from knowing this, I have 100% confidence that I will re-learn all the information applicable for assisting young minds since I’m now on that path. This is my chosen career whether as a Main Stream Teacher, Special Needs Teacher or Educational Psychologist – I know what I want to learn and I will learn it.

So to start, I have bought myself the KS1 revision book for English and on order I have selected KS1 Mathematics and Science, KS2 Mathematics, Science and English, and KS3 English and Science. I will go back to basics and start again.

I’ve already started reading through the English KS1 book and it covers things such as: acrostic poem, adjectives, adverb, alliteration, apostrophe, contraction, homophones, metaphor, noun, plural, simile, syllables, tense and verb – these are all words that I don’t know with exception of those I know of by meaning but not by their name.

Is this due to my lack of intelligence? No, I think I am quite intelligent; maybe it’s partly due to the way I learn and the information I store, it wasn’t something I took on board at a young age due to my ability to drift off into my world, a dreamland – something I wasn’t aware I did until I was in my late teens by which time everything had passed me by and I’d had enough of education.

Is this due to my ignorance? definitely; as you get older you realise there is a lot of information you didn’t take onboard whilst still at school (at least there was for me) and most people pick things up as they go along in adult life – I didn’t.

I think its safe to say that I have determination to make this work πŸ™‚

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Posted by on February 19, 2012 in Home, School, Study, Year 1, Year 2


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Start at the beginning

Week 2

Since my last post I have been to school three times: my first visit I was extremely nervous and while I probably looked calm and talked normally (or maybe not?) my hands were a little shaky and my brain on over-drive including my mouth. We discussed in brief detail what I would do to start with and I was given a day the following week to go back in and start.

On that set day and time I went in with a little more ease, less nervousness and feeling a little more relaxed, similar to my first few days at work; full of enthusiasm and raring to accept what was going to be thrown at me. I already knew what I would be doing on that day so I signed in at reception and made my way to the class to show my presence to the teacher.
Now, do I call her ‘teacher’, ‘mentor‘ or ‘Mrs A’? I have a great teacher and mentor who I will be helping and who is and will be helping me, in fact I now have two. I think I will call her the ‘mentor’ and occasionally ‘Mrs A’ and the second teacher can be ‘Mrs B’ πŸ™‚
My mentor acknowledged me and finished what she was doing with the children before quickly running through what it was I would be doing. We found a spare room and I was going to listen to the children read from a sheet for one minute and mark their score based on whether words were read correctly or not. After each child I’d send them back to class and get another one from the list.

At lunch time I met with both my mentor and Mrs B and they ran through one of the many projects they have lined up for me. I was bursting on the inside, I was being given 1:1 or small group tasks and not jumping into a full class of 30+ children where I’d be lost and be completely reliant on being told what to do. I was also apprehensive but comfortable enough to share my thoughts that while I want to do these projects, I’m afraid of doing it wrong, making mistakes, looking a fool and letting them down. However, for the first time in ages I was excited about my job; the fact that its voluntary is neither here nor there πŸ™‚

After lunch I continued with the tests and this continued into the next day when I finished testing all the children from both classes. During my time I was able to relax, I had a routine on how I explained what we were about to do: they’d read, I’d make notes and then send them back to find the next child while I counted and finalised their details.

I made my observations, taking a mental note of a few children and their reaction and behaviour. I suppose this is something I’ve always done; observed people and how they interact in the world around them.
A few observations I made was with a couple of children who were younger looking than the rest and struggled, one boy was small but grown up and bold in his speech, another was very hasty to complete while an older child appeared to have a need to lean on the desk as opposed to standing up straight. I had a child with a social anxiety disorder, one who was forward in how she perceived herself and a couple who were very nervous and slightly distracted by their surrounding. I also had two that were little live wires and wanted to know the ins and outs of the test and others results as well as information about me.

Separate to the children, I briefly observed some acquaintances who also attend the school: one who looked inquisitive and slightly happy but also hesitant at my being there and the other had a smirk, almost like a rival in competition.

I’m not sure what to make of that but will continue to keep my eyes open. I’m not there to judge people but observe, help and learn so that I can build on my experience and knowledge that will help me progress into a career I think I will love πŸ˜€

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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in School, Year 2


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Its time for school

Week 1

My first entry. I’m using the early part of this week to set up my blog, get my resources ready and attend my first session in school helping on a little project completing one to one tests. I don’t want to tell you too much on what I’ll be doing the tests on or I’ll have little information to tell on my next post πŸ™‚

I go in one afternoon, the early part of this week where I will find out the full details of what this project involves although I have been given a small description. I’m sure depending on how much I use my initiative and how well I do, will depend on how often they want me to go in during the week from there on. Lets face it, not everyone is cut out to help in a school and if I’m one of them, we can laugh about it later!

This first session is a starter, a warm-up to get me introduced slowly to the children and more so for me to relax into a supporting role that I haven’t done since I was at school. My experience of working in a school before this was two sets of work experience (1 week in a Primary and 2 weeks in a Physical Education department at Senior school) and some extra curricular help with special needs swimming galas, organisation of own school gala and home work support groups. I was young, naΓ―ve, quiet, nervous…etc.. and the only difference now is that I’m mature and can switch on my working ‘mode’. Until my first visit I’ll continue being nervous and worried that I’ll fail at something I’ve longed to do and will look stupid in front of people I have the greatest respect and admiration for.

So, fingers crossed I will be okay and I’ll start to relax and will come back to you with a little less apprehension for the coming weeks.

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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in School


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