The Creative Teacher Project

An NQT Bringing Creativity to the Classroom


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The Creative Teacher Book Club :: Tudors :: Under the Rose by Alan Childs

My cUnder the Rose - The Creative Teacher Projectlass has studied the Tudors for terms 5 and 6 this year, and the text we have used is Under the Rose: A Tudor Spy Story by Alan Childs. This is a descriptive account of the adventures of Crispin, a young baker’s apprentice who gets swept up in an Elizabethan murder plot.

First things first, this is a book from what I believe to be quite a small publishing house. Alan Childs appears to have written a few novels, linking to the old curriculum, as well as many non-fiction historical texts. It’s a little bit old-school, in terms of the setting out of the book, but is accompanied by some excellent illustrations.

The illustrations proved rich fodder for GPAS work, giving my students opportunities to create expanded noun phrases to describe what they saw.

As it is a spy story, the plot is filled with suspense, which I also found useful in developing the class’s prediction skills – they were desperate to know what happened next and had so many ideas!

I found that it was also incredibly useful for vocabulary work. There are many Tudor terms used in the book, and we had a couple of great sessions finding out what they meant, for example a scrivener, doublet and livery. This allowed us to come up with a working wall filled with words to include in our writing, and the class had a sense of ownership, as they’d discovered the meaning themselves, and had immediately seen in used in the context of the story.

My Google detective work has suggested that there may be a teacher’s pack to accompany this book, which I would love to find, however it appears to have been published in the 90s, so my searching so far has proved fruitless. If anyone out there can point me in the direction of it – I would be heartily grateful!

 


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The Creative Teacher Book Club :: Ancient Romans :: Tiger, Tiger by Lynne Reid Banks

Tiger Tiger - Creative Teacher Project

Today’s post comes to you from my sickbed – it seems my body doesn’t even have the decency to wait until I am on holiday before getting ill, and I have a suspected case of tonsillitis. Must be all that talking I do!

We have a creative curriculum at my school, meaning that we use our topic of study across as much of the curriculum as we can. It can, however, be tricky to find a suitable book – one that is both challenging for good readers but accessible for those who are still developing. They also need to be well written, ideally with some of the SPAG/GPAS features that we are learning.

I have actually found it quite difficult to find suitable texts, and so I thought I would create a little blog series addressing this, and recommending texts I have used and found helpful in the past.

A common Year 4 topic is the Romans, and I absolutely loved the text we studied this year-  Tiger, Tiger by Lynne Reid Banks. This book is set in Ancient Rome, and although as a class we were looking at the Romans from a British History standpoint, the text was still suitable, as it often referred to Roman ways of life, for example slavery.

Taken from the blurb:

Two tiger cubs are snatched from their native jungle and shipped to Rome. On arrival at this strange land crowded with noisy “two-legs” they are cruelly separated. One cub becomes the princess’s pampered and adored house pet. The other, fiercer, cub is trained to become the star performer in Caesar’s bloodthirsty circus.

Reid Banks, perhaps more famously known for her work The Indian in the Cupboard, has paced the story well, keeping the language interesting and very descriptive.

I used this as inspiration for some non-fiction writing, in fact, and we spent part of a term looking at non-chronological reports. We all studied tigers, and gathered facts about their appearance, habitat, diet and other interesting facts. My class were really engaged, and some even borrowed the book to reread at home! The mark of a winner, no?

I think this book could also be a good basis for some descriptive writing, the settings are well described, and there are some interesting viewpoints. Princess Aurelia, the Caesar’s daughter, is horrified by the thought of the ‘circus’ at the Colosseum, and so some fruitful diary entries could easily be extracted from the text. I would also suggest some balanced arguments, from perhaps the point of view of the slaves and their masters.

As the front quote by Michael Morpugo states: “Tiger, Tiger burns brightly to the very last page, and long afterwards too”.

 

**Please note this is not a paid or sponsored post in anyway, nor are there any affiliate links. I just like the book!


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Te@cher Toolkit, by Ross Morrison McGill: First Thoughts

Teacher Toolkit - The Creative Teacher Project

Image credit to teacheretoolkit.me

I’ve worked out that at about week 3 of each term this year, I tend to have a little ‘I can’t do this, I’ve made a terrible decision’ freakout. I’m told it’s quite common. By week 4, I’m slowly recovering, and by week 5 I am feeling pretty amazing about this job of mine once again. With this being a 6 week term, the freakout forecast predicts a possible meltdown in week 2…..not good!

One of the things that gets me feeling good again in week 4, is going on a little Amazon binge (although I do try not to shop on Amazon for various reasons). I tend to find some good resources, and occasionally a little teacher help book. It was a few weeks ago now that I realised one of the teachers I follow on Twitter had written the above book.

I’m not going to lie – this baby was in my shopping basket the moment I read the strapline “Helping you survive your first five years”. This looks like the book I never knew I always needed.

Written by Ross Morrison McGill (the most followed teacher on Twitter), it seems to be a collection of general advice, mixed in with practical tips and suggestions of things that have worked for him. I find that I really enjoy his writing style, and his voice comes through strongly.

I’ve already got some ideas brewing about what strategies I might implement this term, and I’m sure they will become even clearer by the time I finish reading the whole book. I plan to report back once it’s finished, but so far – so good!

~

On another note – thanks for the great year guys, hope you see 2016 in with style!

Here’s to bigger and better teaching and learning in the New Year.


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New Job Nerves

New Job Nerves The Creative Teacher Project

It’s the tail end of the Easter break, and I have just over a week before I start to teach (for REAL) at my new school.

To be completely honest, the last month or so has been a total roller coaster of emotions, ranging from dancing-down-the-street-with-a-huge-smile happy, to 3am-wake-up-I-don’t-think-I-can-do-this. Right now I feel like I’ve settled into a relatively calm excited-but-a-little-nervous. I can work with that.

I’ve found myself in a reflective mood, and I’ve got to thinking about my time in secondary school. Some of my new students will be gearing up for their exams not long after I start, and I can so clearly remember the emotions of that time. They’re pretty much exactly how I’m feeling now. Change is scary.

New challenges are on the horizon, and if I take a deep breath, relax, and use the time I have to get so organised that I barely recognise myself, then I’ll be fine.On the off chance that any of you out there are about to take exams, I gently recommend you do the same.

Remember – one day, when you’re older and greyer, you’ll look back at this time and think “Hey I’ve done this before, I can do it again”. So let’s do it, bigger and better than ever.

Wish me luck!


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5 Things University Doesn’t Tell You About Your Final Prac

5 things

Hey guys. So I missed my weekly round-up for weeks 3 & 4 of my prac, and so instead of delving deep into the past I thought I would do a list instead of some of the things I have learnt so far. These would have been great to know a few months ago!

1) You need to cancel your life

Teaching is really tiring. Like, the most tiring thing you’ve ever done (assuming you have no kids). You’re constantly answering questions, reminding students not to call out, putting on your best ‘teacher voice’ for your mentor teacher and planning a week’s worth of lessons for students you hardly know. On top of that, you have more work to do when you get home. Cut yourself some slack, and clear your diary for the next seven weeks. Your friends will totally understand, and that way you can avoid being a total flake when you wake up realising there is no way in God’s green earth you can face getting out of bed today. You can thank me later.

2) You will feel like a total fraud – and that’s ok

Believe it or not, you’re kind of supposed to feel like a fish out of water. Practicum isn’t just about impressing your supervisor and getting a great mark, let alone practicing teaching. It’s a sink or swim test. You’re in totally new circumstances, with kids who aren’t really even your students, with other staff members who can be either totally lovely or kind of cold, and you have to somehow work out how to do this. It’s ok to cry after your IT induction, I promise. If teaching is for you, you’ll get into the classroom and it will feel like home. All the other stuff, the planning and the remembering of a million names, will come.

3) Students misbehave for real teachers too

Being employed in a school does not necessarily mean students cease to muck around (I mean this with a lot of love, of course!). Classroom management strategies are amazing, but at the same time, feel free to chuck them out the window if thinking about constantly incorporating them is causing you heaps of stress. What you need to focus on here is surviving. These kids don’t know you, and they may have had a prac teacher earlier in the year too. They’re tired and they don’t always want to invest in someone who won’t be there next year. Don’t take it personally, but do try and get through each lesson calmly. You will come good eventually!

4) Teaching is just like every other job

Staff politics? Check. Difficult personalities? Check. Kooky and wonderful colleagues? Check. Unreasonable expectations? Check. Loads of boring paperwork? Check. Teachers are not magical fairy beings, they’re real people (believe it or not) and the same issues come up in a school staffroom that come up in every staffroom in every industry in every country. Be prepared for it to feel surprisingly familiar…

5) Teaching is unlike any other job

See what I did there? Yep, teaching is ‘hella awesome’ (to use the technical term) and it is different to almost any other industry I have had the pleasure to work in. University doesn’t prepare you for that. It sure as hell doesn’t prepare you for standing in the wings on Variety Night, watching your gorgeous year 7 girls absolutely smash their Grease Tribute Act. No one tells you to prepare for your heart to swell with pride for girls you hardly know, and for you to feel that same rush of adrenaline for their performance, that you once felt for your own. Being a part of children’s lives is a huge privilege, one that I have been reminded of each time a student has said ‘Hi Ms Froudist’ as I’ve walked by. It’s pretty darn great.

I’d love to hear about your prac experience, whether you’re a seasoned teacher or a newbie like me! Did you enjoy yourself? Was teaching in the real world totally different to your practicum? Let me know in the comments if you can.


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Practicum: Week One

Slightly fatigued after my first week!

 

It’s Friday afternoon, my mentor teacher has gone for the week and I’m sitting at what is my desk for the period and looking out over an expansive oval outside my window. It’s been a pretty great week.

I was apprehensive about starting practicum as I didn’t feel as prepared as I would have liked. Luckily day 1 was a staff PD day, which was a great introduction to the school without the pressure of being chucked straight into classes. I’ve been allocated 5 classes to teach and participate in: 1 year 7 class (age 12), 2 year 8 classes (13 years) and 2 year 10 classes (15). They are all rehearsing for an upcoming variety night showcase, and so I wont get to get my teeth fully into teaching them for another two/three weeks.

So far I have enjoyed:

Being welcomed to the school by the Principal on Day 1. Being introduced to staff members and having other staff introduce themselves to me out of the blue. It might sound like a tiny thing, but as a prac student, I am definitely on the back foot and it’s the sum total of these tiny acts that make me feel included and welcome at the school.

I’ve definitely enjoyed being around the students. This is a girl’s school, something I’ve never experienced before, and to be honest I was worried that they might be a little aloof. I couldn’t have been more wrong. These kids are not only totally delightful, but passionate about drama and so want to be there! It feels like such a treat.

This week has challenged me because:

I feel like a bit of a fraud, and it seems like all of my drama knowledge has evaporated out of the window, and I don’t know what to teach. As I sat in our IT induction I had to remind myself that everyone feels out of their depth, and that everyone feels like they don’t know what they’re doing (at least) half the time. Deep breaths, Sam. It will come. I just have to stay calm and be ready to do some research. No biggie.

I have also struggled with a bit of shyness this first week, although again, I think that’s pretty normal. Just have to pluck up my courage and talk. I learned a great strategy from my mother’s partner, who said that people really actually want to talk about themselves, so if I ask a lot of questions, then it wont be long before people open up and chat my ear off! it seems to be working….mwah hah hah…

Something I’ve found interesting:

Early in the week I found myself circulating around groups in class because I felt as though I had to, but then about Thursday morning I realised that I wasn’t taking the opportunity that was right in front of me! When I’m observing a class, I don’t need to be the one that is making sure they’re getting on with their work, I should take the opportunity to learn more about the student! I should ask what work they like doing, what work they absolutely hate, and what they like about their teacher’s strategies. Use it as a time for market research! It’s a great opportunity to workshop ideas as well, and see if I can’t come up with a few week’s worth of lessons that they will find engaging.

 

All in all, it’s been possibly the best week I could have hoped for. I’m sure there will be difficult days ahead, and that not all lessons will go to plan, but hey, that’s life. I’m just relieved that it has gone so well so far.  I’ll keep in touch!