Saturday, 28 May 2016

A simple idea to improve children’s written work

Broom looks like gorse to those just beginning to recognise bush flowers.

A simple idea to improve children’s written work
Deborah Sutton. Headteacher, Bassett Green Primary School

Our ‘Work Proud’ guidelines are giving students confidence in their handwriting.
Putting pen to paper should be a natural instinct for children by the time they reach Key Stage 3:
the gateway into articulating their thoughts, expressing complex ideas and answering questions
with confidence and fluency.

After four years working at a large secondary school in a pretty tough area, I'd seen four cohorts
of fresh-faced Year 7 children arrive and settle into life in secondary education.
It always surprised me that they seemed relatively lacking in confidence, particularly when it came to written work. A simple spelling mistake could cause a total meltdown out of the blue,
and torn out pages or screwed up worksheets were far too common for my liking.
This year, in my new role as headteacher of one of the largest feeder primaries, the penny dropped.
They had never been allowed to use a pen before.
Despite an elaborate system of handwriting schemes of work, certificates and pen licenses,
not one child in my current Year 6 was writing with a pen at any point.  
Handwriting, and indeed basic letter formation,
had lost its way after the early years foundation stage, and simply not been a priority. 
It was no wonder that no child ever achieved the complex criteria for a pen licence.
"We held a whole school INSET on handwriting,
and launched a school-wide handwriting font which is displayed in all classrooms."
Without basic training in letter formation and cursive script, our children are being limited
to printing for the rest of their writing careers.  If we don’t help them to develop the basic skills
 to write down their thoughts quickly and easily, we are limiting their communication for all time.
Imagine how difficult it must be to be thinking constantly about what the next letter looks like, 
rather than focusing on the content of the writing, or the great ideas that you want to express.
Having discovered this fundamental writers’ block, at our school we have produced
 ‘Work Proud’ guidelines to upgrade the quality of the children’s written work.
Drawn up by year teams, these aim to ensure high quality presentation across the year group.
Each reflects the stage of development and age-related expectations for those children. 

The guidelines include simple rules: in maths we write one digit in each square in our book;
if we make a mistake we put a single line through it and write the word again;
we always underline titles and then miss a line.
We held a whole school INSET on handwriting, and launched a school-wide handwriting font which is displayed in all classrooms. All staff are trying hard to model this font to children, either in their own handwriting, or by using the electronic versions that can transform a word document in one click!
None of this is radical or earth shattering; indeed, many schools will have had this in place for years.
There’s still some work to do in managing mistakes and building fluency, but we have taken steps
to give our children confidence in their writing, preparing the ground for them to be expressive, articulate writers for the rest of their lives. 

http://www.future-leaders.org.uk/insights-blog/simple-idea-improve-childrens-written-work/?gclid=Cj0KEQjw9tW5BRDk29KDnqWu4fMBEiQAKj7sp2L3ZkrFS5OlsCt0g7gIFZLAG2boDFQ201x2ZnmLQg4aAokB8P8HAQ

You can TCR software and engineering manuals for spontaneously recall – or pass that exam.
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www.happyartaccidents.blogspot.com       just for fun.

To quote the Dr Seuss himself, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn; the more places you'll go.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Could have, would have, should have - modals of lost opportunity

Margarites or dog daisies in a wild meadow.


You had your chance... but you lost it. Now you have the chance to learn how to talk about lost opportunity in English! Master the usage of the modals could, should, and would. Learn how native speakers use these three modals to talk about what they could have, would have, or should have done -- but didn't! Then take the quiz at http://www.engvid.com/could-would-sho... .

You can TCR music, poetry or self development material for internal knowing.
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www.happyartaccidents.blogspot.com        just for fun.

To quote the Dr Seuss himself, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn; the more places you'll go.”

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Learning vocabulary with cards

The sun playing on the surface of the river in Skipton wood - UK.

Learning vocabulary with cards

An excellent* way to learn new words is to make vocabulary cards.
The diagrams below show an example using the word cat
Here's how you do it:
Write the word you want to learn on the front of the card (e.g. size A7 or A8).
On the back of the card, write either the translation of the word in your language,
or a definition of the word, or a gap sentence. If you write 2 or all 3 of these you will learn the word more quickly, and give yourself extra English practice. You could of course copy the definition
and example sentence from the web page, but writing your own is the better choice.
(If you write down a verb, it's best to put its infinitive form.
So for example it's better to write "to purchase" than "purchased" or "to strike" than "struck".)
Now imagine you have a stack of 20 words that you want to learn. To do this, you can test yourself
in many different ways. For example, you can look at the word and try to remember the translation 
or definition; you can look at the gap sentence and try to think of the word that fits in it;
you can look at the word in your language and see if you know the English.
If you get the answer right, write a tick in the left corner on side one of the card, put the card
at the back of your "To learn" stack, and take the next card. If you get it wrong, write a cross and put the card ten places from the front of your stack. When you have three ticks in a row on your card, you know the word and can put the card into a second stack, called the "Done" stack.
You should try and look at about 10-20 words each week in your "To learn stack";
and every few months you can look at some of the cards in your "Done" stack,
just to make sure you haven't forgotten them. If you have, then you can return the card 
to the "To learn" stack and start the process again!

* Paul Nation, one of the most renowned researchers in the field of vocabulary learning, states:
"There is a very large number of studies showing the effectiveness of such learning
(i.e. using vocabulary cards) in terms of the amount and speed of learning."
http://esl.fis.edu/learners/advice/voccards.htm

You can TCR specialist and language dictionaries that are spontaneously accessed.
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www.happyartaccidents.blogspot.com       just for fun.

To quote the Dr Seuss himself, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn; the more places you'll go.”   

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Open up your classrooms: we need a new approach to lesson observations

Photograph: Alamy
Open up your classrooms: we need a new approach to lesson observations
If I can achieve an outstanding after five hours of prep,
but usually I plan lessons in 20 minutes, am I outstanding?

Observations would be worthwhile when the observer appeared, unannounced
and watched the lesson, says assistant headteacher Pete Smith.

There's a story going around that the Queen thinks hospitals smell of fresh paint because
every time she visits one all the corridors are touched up before she arrives. 
There's an obvious flaw in this anecdote; namely, I'm not sure in 62 years her Majesty has ever expressed an opinion about anything, so how anyone knows what she thinks is beyond me.

But there is also something there about false impressions.
Lesson observations in schools are creating a new-paint kind of smell. I listened a couple of weeks ago to a former colleague who told me they'd spend hours planning a lesson for an observation
by their boss. Resources had been perfected, an incredibly detailed lesson plan written
and an overly-complicated PowerPoint produced. Why? The opinion of their boss matters,
as it should, and they were aiming for an outstanding judgement.
There's nothing wrong with this, it's highly commendable. I want all our teachers to aspire
to delivering outstanding lessons. I'd certainly like to think that if we get the dreaded call that
our staff would show the same dedication as this excellent teacher. But isn't this twisted logic?
The teacher here is using up the one resource we don't have a lot of as teachers – time. Not all lessons can be planned and prepped to this level of detail, so the question that needs to be asked is: is the system of judgment on teachers counter productive? If you know with a week's notice
that you're going to be observed teaching year 8, then most people are going to make sure that lesson is as stellar as possible. But what about the other lessons that week?
If I can achieve an outstanding after five hours of prep, but usually I plan lessons in 20 minutes,
is it fair to class me as an outstanding teacher?
We judge like this in schools because this is how schools are judged. Or it's how we think
they're judged. Ofsted gives (an increasingly short amount of) notice, teachers cram in hours
of planning and produce lessons that in all likelihood don't resemble their normal teaching style.
The inspectors are hopefully impressed. It used to work. But as judgements are increasingly
based on outcomes and inspectors are becoming more savvy at asking kids whether
this is the normal way of learning, actually these hours are somewhat wasted. They're not falling
for the new paint smell, and nor should they. So we need to move away from this.

The wise heads reading this will be tutting at my naivety and saying "we know, but that's not how we form opinions of teachers". Those people will argue that good school leaders base their decisions and opinions on dropping into lessons, picking up books to see if they're marked and talking with students. And they're quite right. So why do we continue with this outdated system of pre-planned lesson observations? Arguably the only way to make them worthwhile would be if the observer appeared, unannounced and watched the lesson.
That would give a fair view of teaching standards and for effective judgements to be made.
Culturally, though, schools aren't there yet. There is a distrust of the observer, and a closed mindset among teachers. We're all guilty of it. If we're going to get better at what we do,
constructive feedback and an open mindset is needed. Easy words to write, but the easiest starting point is watching others and allowing others to watch you in a real, non-staged environment.
Now ask yourself whether you'd be up for that. I'll be leaving my door open.

Pete Smith is assistant headteacher at East Bergholt High School.
http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2013/jul/24/lesson-observations-new-approach-teaching-classroom

You can TCR software and engineering manuals for spontaneously recall – or pass that exam.
I can Turbo Charge Read a novel 6-7 times faster and remember what I’ve read.
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www.ourinnerminds.blogspot.com               which takes advantage of the experience and expertise of others.
www.happyartaccidents.blogspot.com        just for fun.

To quote the Dr Seuss himself, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn; the more places you'll go.

Monday, 16 May 2016

The 4 English Sentence Types – simple, compound, complex, compound-complex

 
Bees collecting nectar and pollen from a thistle.



Did you know there are only four sentence types in English?

To improve your writing and reading skills in English, I'll teach you all about simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences in this grammar video. You'll learn how to identify
the independent and dependent clauses. Don't worry; it's easier than it sounds!

By learning to identify and use these sentence structures, you'll make your writing more interesting and dynamic. I'll also share many example sentences in the lesson, so you can practice with my help. http://www.engvid.com/the-4-english-s...

TRANSCRIPT
Hi. Welcome back to www.engvid.com. I'm Adam. Today's lesson is a writing lesson,
but it's also a spoken English lesson. It's about anything to do with English, because we're going to
be looking at sentence types. Now, of course, when you speak, you're using all kinds of sentence types. But, especially in writing, it's important to know the different types of sentences,
because, especially if you're going to be writing tests, they want to see sentence variety.

And even if you're not writing tests, anything you write, if you're using only one type of sentence, your writing becomes very bland, very boring, very hard to follow, because it's a little bit monotone. So what you need to do is you need to vary...

You need a variety of sentence structures in your writing to give it a little bit more life. Okay?
Luckily, you only need to know four sentence types. We have simple sentences,
compound sentences, complex sentences, and compound-complex. Now, this is not exactly easy,
but it's not exactly hard, either. If you figure out what you need to have in each one,
in each sentence type, just make sure it's there. Okay? Let's start.

A simple sentence has one independent clause. A little bit of review: What is an independent clause? An independent clause has a subject and a verb, and can complete an idea. It can stand by itself, because the idea in that clause is complete. I don't need to add anything else to it. Okay.

A compound sentence has two or more independent clauses, joined by a conjunction.
A compound conjunction: "and", "but", "or", "so", "for" (not very common), etc.

So, we join two independent clauses with a compound conjunction. You can have more, but again, you have to be a little bit careful. Once you get to three, start to look for a way to finish
your sentence, because if you get to the fourth, you already have a crazy sentence
that has the... Runs the risk of being a run-on sentence. Eventually, you're going to make a mistake, you're going to miss something, and the whole sentence falls apart.
I don't recommend three, but you can put three.

Then we have a complex sentence. A complex sentence has one independent clause,
plus one or more dependent clause. A dependent clause is a clause that has a subject and a verb,
but cannot stand by itself. It is not a complete idea. It has some sort of relationship to
the independent clause. We have three types of dependent clauses.
We have noun clauses, we have adjective clauses, and we have adverb clauses. Okay?

That's a whole separate lesson. You can look at that later. But you have to have one of these,
plus one of these, and you have a complex sentence.

Next we have a compound-complex sentence. Here you have two or more independent clauses, again, joined by a conjunction, and one or more dependent clause. Okay?

So you have basically all the elements in this sentence.
Then, once you have all this stuff, you can add as many complements, or basically extras,
as you want. So, let's look at an example. We're going to start with the simple sentence:
"Layla studied biology." Very simple. I have a subject, I have a verb, I have an object. Okay?
This is a simple sentence. It's an independent clause; it can stand by itself as a complete idea.
Now, I can add anything I want to this that is not another clause of any type, and it'll still be a simple sentence. So I can say: "My friend Layla studied biology in university." I'll just say "uni" for short.
I have more information, but do I have a different type of sentence? No. It's still a simple sentence.
Now, let's look at this sentence. First, let me read it to you: "Even with the weather being that nasty, the couple and their families decided to go ahead with the wedding as planned."
Now you're thinking: "Wow, that's got to be a complex sentence", right? "It's so long.
There's so much information in it." But, if we look at it carefully, it is still a simple sentence. Why? Because we only have one independent clause. Where is it? Well, find the subject and verb combination first. So, what is the subject in this sentence? I'll give you a few seconds, figure it out. Hit the pause key, look at it.

Okay, we're back. Here is the subject: "the couple and their families".
Now, don't get confused with this "and".

You can TCR music, poetry or self development material for internal knowing.
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To quote the Dr Seuss himself, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn; the more places you'll go.”

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Why '100% Attendance Awards' at School Don't Work

For storing your daily pint bottle of milk.


Why '100% Attendance Awards' at School Don't Work

100% Attendance Awards are growing in popularity with most UK primary and secondary schools now using them to encourage better attendance and less truanting by pupils.
Some schools are spending upwards of 25K a year on rewards such as IPods, bicycles and Kindles, and are convinced that the spike in attendance that they invariably produce, are worth the cost.
The schemes are not without their critics though, the most vociferous of whom often voice
their concerns on parenting sites like Netmums and Mumsnet; one parent complained
that these schemes are 'basically rewarding immune systems' whilst another pointed out
that 'it's wrong to reward something no one can control - i.e. being ill'.
The real problem with 100% Attendance Schemes, however, is that they don't work.
I am a firm believer in encouraging school attendance and discouraging truancy.
In fact, I am running a project called Your Future, Your Life, (funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation) at the University of Central Lancashire which is an anti-truancy project.
The project is a two year initiative consisting of a year's pilot in the North West of England,
before being rolled out nationally in 2014.
Your Future, Your Life, is, however, an attendance project with a difference.
There are no 'rewards' given to kids for attending school. The project aims to move away from
the culture of trying to motivate kids to attend school by offering them external incentives
like cinema tickets, trips to themes parks and IPods, and instead looks at the young person
in a holistic way so as to build up their internal motivation to attend more and aim higher.
We want them to want to attend school because of the perceived benefits of what happens there, not in order to get a certificate, badge or pizza.

100% Attendance Schemes don't work. Not only do they penalise and stigmatise good kids
who have the misfortune to be ill or have a medical condition,
psychological 'over justification theory' suggests that if we give kids too many external rewards
for attending school, they learn that school attendance only has value for these rewards. Psychologists have long known this; the first studies to demonstrate the 'over justification' effect were conducted over 40 years ago in 1971. Edward Deci, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Rochester University in the US, asked students to solve puzzles for money or for no money.
After the payment stopped, the researchers noted if the students continued to work on the puzzles. Those that had received money (an extrinsic motivation for solving the puzzles) did in fact
become less inclined to work on the puzzles once they were no longer paid to do so.
The students who had not been paid (and thus only had intrinsic motivation) continued
to show an interest in the puzzles.
Deci suggested that in a situation where an individual is to receive a reward for an activity,
then the individual would attribute his or her behaviour to the reward instead of the activity itself. Deci's theory, published in the esteemed Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
led to the hypothesis that once an activity is associated with the external reward,
a person will be less inclined to participate in the activity in the future without a reward present.
Attendance schemes then might get kids to attend more whilst the schemes are in place (although even that is debatable; the really hard core truants tend not to respond to these schemes),
but they don't produce long-term change and nor do they get them to 'attend' whilst they
are attending. When the prizes stop, attendance rates tend to slip again; a study in 2008 conducted by Maurice Galton and John MacBeath, from Cambridge University, found "little sign" reward systems led to improvements in pupil behaviour whilst Emma Dunmore,

head of psychology at Harrogate Grammar School, North Yorkshire, conducted a study in 2009
into the effectiveness of reward schemes and found that they produce little long-term benefit. Indeed, despite the commonplace use of such reward schemes nowadays, truancy rates in the UK remain at an all-time high; they have failed to fall in secondary schools whilst rates of truancy
in primary schools were up 0.6% in 2012.
It's time then, to ditch these external reward schemes that deliver short-term benefits
but offer little long-term value. Let's stop punishing kids for being ill
and instead look at ways to increase engagement and intrinsic motivation for all school children.
We need to get kids to attend more in order to aim higher – s
o that they can eventually buy their own Ipods.
Sandi Mann

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/sandi-mann/why-100-attendance-awards_b_3414693.html

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To quote the Dr Seuss himself, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn; the more places you'll go.”

Saturday, 7 May 2016

When we are stressed, the lower part of the brain takes over.


When we are stressed, the lower part of the brain takes over. 

I'm freaking out. My boss is bellowing, my kids are klamoring, I'm stuck in a maze, and I can't find my chocolate chips. I think I'm losing my mind. What's a poor rat like me to do?
Dear Stressed:
You're not alone. I get this kind of letter every week. Whether it's final exams, impatient pups or writing applications for research grants, many of us feel stressed these days. I suggest you take time off work, visit a rodent retreat, and check your protein kinase C levels.
- Amy Arnsten


 
Department of Neurobiology Yale Medical School
Blaming the messenger
Everybody laughs about stress, but stress can change your brain. In a psychology lab, it's easy to show that stress interferes with your working memory, making you temporarily dumb. But stress can also trigger serious mental illnesses like bipolar disorder (manic depression) and schizophrenia.
Stress affects the prefrontal cortex, the executive section of the brain that regulates thought, behavior and emotion. But how? Perhaps through a messenger compound called protein kinase C (PKC).
When Amy Arnsten of Yale Medical School and her colleagues increased PKC levels in rats and monkeys, the animals got stupid. Before the test, they had an easy time finding a chocolate chip they had seen before. But after getting a chemical that increased their PKC levels, they had trouble finding this critical food.

Then, when the researchers blocked PKC, the rats could again find the chips.

In a second experiment, the researchers created the same picture by administering a chemical that simulates stress. As before, the decline was reversed by a PKC-blocking chemical.
Major maladies
If you konstantly kvetch about stress, you might greet these results as interesting, but not terribly significant. But stress and PKC also factor into the most severe mental disabilities among young adults:


Photo: OSHA
Bipolar disorder causes profound mood swings in 1 percent of adult Americans.
Schizophrenia causes hallucinations, delusions, disordered thinking, bizarre speech or behavior, and social withdrawal in 1.1 percent of American adults.
Curiously, both these brain diseases, according to Arnsten, "involve profound dysfunction of the prefrontal cortex, the most highly evolved part of the brain, which lets us concentrate, organize, plan for the future." The prefrontal cortex is the home of working memory, a short-term storage that helps you recall where you left your keys.
But there's more: The prefrontal cortex also "inhibits inappropriate thoughts and lets you act appropriately socially," Arnsten adds. So a problem with the prefrontal cortex can prevent you from finding chocolate chips in a lab -- or impair impulse control, distraction, insight and judgment.
The present study grew from the observations of scientists like Husseini Manji of the National Institute of Mental Health, who found excess PKC in brains of people with bipolar disorder. But there are other reasons to wonder about the role of PKC in brain diseases. For example, some drugs for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia "reduce PKC very markedly" in rodent brains, Arnsten says, even though they "are very disparate molecules... and seemingly have nothing in common."

Photo: Insurance Commission of Western Australia
Messing with the messenger
If stress raises PKC levels, and PKC changes how the prefrontal cortex works, Arnsten says PKC could explain the role of stress in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. "Often the first psychotic break happens when a teenager goes to college or to the military for the first time. Stress is often what puts them over the edge."
The research is starting to flesh out a more complete understanding of two grave brain diseases, she adds. "Genetic changes in the regulation of protein kinase C may cause some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. In other words, we are coming to a rational understanding of irrational behavior."
Having identified how the messenger molecule PKC affects the prefrontal cortex, Arnsten hopes that blocking PKC might help bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Marinus Pharmaceuticals, of New Haven Conn., and the Stanley Medical Research Institute are now funding some of her research to see if PKC inhibitors can be used safely in humans. "We hope this might be a new direction for treating bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, because it would be acting inside the cell, and it might act more quickly," Arnsten says. "We hope that if it's more selective, there will be fewer side effects." 

David Tenenbaum







Bibliography
Protein Kinase C Overactivity Impairs Prefrontal Cortical Regulation of Working Memory, S.G Birnbaum et al, Science, 29 October, 2004.
http://www.whyfiles.org/shorties/163stress_memory/index.html

You can TCR software and engineering manuals for spontaneously recall – or pass that exam.
I can Turbo Charge Read a novel 6-7 times faster and remember what I’ve read.
I can TCR an instructional/academic book around 20 times faster and remember what I’ve read.
Introduction to Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
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How to choose a book. A Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
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www.happyartaccidents.blogspot.com       just for fun.

To quote the Dr Seuss himself, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn; the more places you'll go.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

English Grammar - How to learn tenses - ALL tenses!!

Waiting.


Effective and quickest way to learn English and all other studies

You can TCR music, poetry or self development material for internal knowing.
I can Turbo Charge Read a novel 6-7 times faster and remember what I’ve read.
I can TCR an instructional/academic book around 20 times faster and remember what I’ve read.
Introduction to Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
A practical overview of Turbo Charged Reading YouTube  
How to choose a book. A Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
Emotions when Turbo Charged Reading YouTube

Advanced Reading Skills Perhaps you’d like to join my FaceBook group ?

Perhaps you’d like to check out my sister blogs:
www.innermindworking.blogspot.com         gives many ways for you to work with the stresses of life
www.ourinnerminds.blogspot.com               which takes advantage of the experience and expertise of others.
www.happyartaccidents.blogspot.com        just for fun.

To quote the Dr Seuss himself, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn; the more places you'll go.”