One of the best things about being an NQT and not a PGCE student anymore is being able to experiment with pedagogy (not that you can’t experiment in your PGCE year, it is just slightly more nerve wracking when there is someone watching you, and you’re not entirely sure that what you are about to do will go to plan). Often being experimental means that you need some new and exciting bits and bobs to start to create more interesting and inspiring lessons. Now that I have set my expectations regarding behaviour with my pupils, I feel confident to start experimenting with pedagogy. Some of these ideas I have used before and others I have seen or heard about other teachers using them. I will let you know how I get on.
So, this is what I am buying and how I am planning to use it:
I have bought a load of pre cut paper about two inches wide and have several uses for it. Firstly I am planning on making a paper chain to hang from the ceiling. On each segment of the paper chain I will be writing key words or other pieces of information. If you make a particularly big paper chain, you could use it to write sentence starters or even questions and extension tasks. I will also be using the paper for writing extension tasks or help tips and putting inside a large jar for pupils to help themselves to when they need them. I have seen this done in a glass fish bowl, which looks particularly nice, however as I don’t have my own classroom, I don’t really fancy the idea of carrying around a glass fish bowl so I feel a plastic jar with a lid would work better for me. Another way to use these would be to put them inside balloons, as a motivation for pupils to finish the task they have been set, so that they are able to burst the balloon to access the extension task.
Bunting has similar uses to the paper chain, however lends itself better to larger amounts of writing on each flag, for example questions or extension tasks. You can buy PVC or plastic bunting from Amazon, on which you can write with dry erase marker and then personalise for each class. You could also stick images onto each flag if you wanted to be more decorative than for using as part of the lesson. The colours make it easy to differentiate tasks and or could be used to separate tasks or information for different key stages.
A beach ball, or many small beach balls, is a great way to make questioning much more interesting. You could either write questions onto the ball with a marker, stick them on with sellotape or ask pupils to each some up with a question and stick them on so that they are contributing to their own assessment. Use the colours to differentiate and throw the ball from one pupil to the next, with each picking a question to answer before passing it on.
Ball pit balls. These are really cheap from Amazon, or children’s toys stores. I am going to be using them for a variety of questioning, formative assessment and extension and challenge tasks. I will be writing on the balls with a permanent marker (although I am also hoping that I can use non permanent marker so that they be more personalised to the lesson and then reused). For example, I could write ‘summarise’ and the pupils will be expected to summarise the lesson content in one sentence or a phrase.
Clothes pegs are another item that can be found almost anywhere, but have many uses in the classroom. The way that I am planning to use them is to peg up pieces of work or tasks for pupils to complete. However they can also be used as part of an activity, for example a carousel activity in which pupils are moving to different stations in the room. Also I have seen pegs used to create timelines or to order statements, which helps students to get moving around the classroom and discussing whatever it is that they are ordering. I am also planning on sticking some magnetic tape onto the back of a few of the pegs, so that I am able to peg things to the white board, perhaps help sheets or work that we will discuss together as a class.
Dice are a really useful for quick formative assessment. If you create a list of numbered tasks, pupils can work together in pairs or small groups to test each, completing tasks or answering questions based on the number that they roll. This is also an easy way to include simple numeracy into all lessons.
To add to my previous mention, many whiteboards are magnetic, and therefore having magnets in the classroom is very useful. They are easier to use and simpler to store than blu tac, as you can just leave them stuck to the whiteboard when not in use. I particularly find that after group work, or when pupils have prepared presentations, being able to quickly and easily attach their work to the board so that everyone in the class can see it is very helpful. I also have some large coloured magnetic sheets, in red, orange and green (from Amazon), that can be stuck to the whiteboard and written on with a dry erase pen. I have used these for showing progress over a lesson, or for pupils to complete a red/amber/green task on a post it note and then stick onto the corresponding sheet, so that I am quickly able to assess the pupils understanding of the lesson content.
Coloured paper or card is something that I use every day in my lessons at some point. Whether it is for differentiated worksheets, for different groups or in my formative assessment, I am always using different coloured paper. Most schools provide coloured paper, and I find it useful to keep a couple sheets of a few colours with me as pupils often ask for a piece of coloured paper when they are completing a task. Red, orange and green paper are the most useful in assessing pupils and differentiating worksheets, but also pastel colours are very important when printing worksheets for pupils with additional needs. I have a stack of A6 pieces of red, orange and green card that I have cut down from A4 on a guillotine for quick and easy plenary activities (pupils complete the task on the matching piece of card so that I can quickly visually assess the class; see below)