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Blog Teaching & Learning Blog

The Evolution of Learning

When we think of evolution we often think first of Charles Darwin and his work around the process by which different organisms are believed to have developed from earlier forms during the history of the earth. It’s interesting through to consider the fact that evolution means the “gradual development of something.” I have been lucky enough over the past few weeks to work with a range of different practitioners, who have got me thinking about how learning has changed and is changing.

This year I have been working with Bury NQT’s (Newly Qualified Teachers) to develop their knowledge and understanding about what good teaching is. This involves planning and delivering training sessions where we unpick the theory behind teaching and look at what good practice is. While I was with Bury NQT’s on Thursday, we had the opportunity to go on a learning walk around St John with St Marks Primary School and observe a range of lessons. Visiting another school is always a privilege because it is an opportunity to see how learning and learners are being developed. It was wonderful to see how the children were at the centre of the learning experience and it confirmed for me the importance of listening to learners and developing approaches in school to make learning accessible to all. Through my discussions with other teachers, I always find that I learn something new or think about something in a different way, which is why collaboration between schools is so important.

All of us are learners and learn best from each other. As a school we have been developing this idea through our collaborations with other schools. You will have probably read recently through our blogs, about the variety of different visitors we have had to school and how these visitors help us to develop our thinking further. Linked with this are our visits to other schools, where we get opportunities to see other practitioners, reflect on different learning environments, look at children’s books and participate in learning in different classrooms. These types of experiences are the ways in which we evolve at Unsworth and how we advance our own understanding of learning.

Today I spent a morning at Yesoiday Hatorah School in Prestwich, which is a school I have been working with over the past 18 months. Within the school I have been sharing the work Unsworth have done on assessment and helping the school to develop its own approach through discussing the National picture. It was great to see the work the school has done so far following on from my earlier visits. It further strengthened my belief in the importance of school to school support, where practitioners have professional dialogue about their schools and where they need to go next. My session today provided staff at the school with an opportunity to look through a range of children’s work from Unsworth and a chance for me to discuss what learning is like for our children. I was delighted to hear how impressed the school was with the quality of our children’s work and how inspired the staff felt to develop further the learning experience for children within their own setting.  For me, the school I visited has started to evolve and it is lovely to think that through the evolution of learning at Unsworth, learning in other places is evolving to.

Classrooms, schools and indeed the whole landscape of education, are places that are constantly faced with a need to develop and move on. For myself and Mrs Reynolds, the progression of Unsworth and development of opportunities for learners to thrive further is always a high priority. It is an exciting prospect to be part of the evolution of learning and to value the merits of embracing change. We must see change as something positive, because change brings about reflection, it brings a sense of developing something further and it means that for our children, we are always looking at how learning can shape their futures.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”

Nelson Mandela

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Featured Latest News Music Teacher's Blog

The Merits of Music

It always gives me a great buzz when I arrive at Unsworth on Tuesdays to see children walking to school carrying guitars, ukuleles, violins and Brass instruments. I often think Tuesdays at Unsworth should be renamed ‘Tuneful Tuesdays.’ We really are very proud of the amount of music we manage to pack into the timetable each week, and the benefits music has across the curriculum.  I am usually greeted on a Tuesday by pupils who ask, ‘Miss, is it ocarinas today or ‘Is it Big Sing?  Music is so important to the children and on the odd occasion Big Sing doesn’t happen, they quite rightly express their disappointment, and demand an explanation as to why it hasn’t happened!

Our Music Collaborative has now been in operation for over ten years, and it is evident how music has developed across 5 schools building confidence amongst pupils as well as musical skills.

Our visiting music teachers thoroughly enjoy working at our school, particularly Mr Dixon who even visits us from a different authority. When asked about his visit to Unsworth Mr Dixon said he ‘thoroughly enjoys coming to work with such talented and committed pupils in Year 5, and the musical skills they develop lower down the school certainly benefit them when they start to learn a musical instrument.’

Today we have recorded many extracts of the children’s musical talents and hope you can take a moment to listen to and maybe even comment on some of our performances on Twitter. Tomorrow is National Sing Up Day, and we constantly remind pupils that we have been awarded the ‘Gold’ Sing Up award for the quality of our singing!

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Blog Featured Latest News Teaching & Learning Blog

What is success?

As a school we are always thinking about success and what that looks like for our children, staff, parents and governors. Throughout our daily practice we talk to children about being successful learners and developing their personal best across the curriculum and it is always so interesting to gather different individuals thoughts on what  “success” is. We often think of success as something we see as an end product or achievement of a specific goal, which are clearly markers of success, but what interests me is the daily successes that happen in each and ever classroom, in the playground, down the corridors and in the hall throughout each and everyday.

For me success is about the development of learning, however small or large. Its about the engagement in dialogue between children and adults about what it is to be not just a great learner, but a great facilitator of learning. Education is an ever changing world and rightly so, when we think of the fact that our youngest children will probably have jobs or careers in things that haven’t been invented yet. Success comes from feeling safe, comfortable, valued and believed in. Through developing a curriculum that engages our children, sparks their imaginations and creates memorable experiences, our children are provided with an environment in which they can thrive as learners.

This week we have had a large number of different visitors to our school, who have helped us to think about a range of different successes. Two Head teacher’s from different schools in Bury spent a great deal of time visiting classrooms, talking to children, looking at books, looking at displays and walking around our school. They spent time talking with staff and governors  to really unpick what we have developed and to give us their views on our school. They saw success everywhere they went in how our whole community demonstrated through their actions, words and attitudes our school vision of “Together We Build Understanding”

A range of teachers from across both primary and secondary schools in Bury, who have been working with myself and another Deputy Head teacher from Tottington Primary on “The Outstanding Teacher Programme” had their final session as a group and considered what it takes to be a really successful classroom practitioner. We invited some of our children along to give their opinions about what a great teacher is and it was a privilege to sit and listen to pupils from year 4 talk with such confidence about what they look for from the adults that work alongside them.

In my blog last week I talked about “Listening to Learners” and it is so important that we all see ourselves as learners. There is always something new to be learnt and the groups of teachers I have been working with demonstrated how through listening to others and making small changes to the way we do things, success is guaranteed.

Success is so much more than a simple outcome. It’s the feeling of pride and sense of achievement that comes from how we develop our thinking. This week, we have had some fantastic feedback about our school. As a school, we enjoy opportunities to open ourselves up and share where we are up to. There are always things to develop and areas we need to focus on, but for me success is recognising the fact that each and everyday the community at Unsworth shares the same belief in being committed to doing the best for our children. This is reflected in the words that visitors say about how they feel when they visit Unsworth and talk to our children.

“Wow Unsworth Primary. Your school makes visitors feel really welcome! Your focus on bringing out the best in every pupil and your honesty is refreshing. Big THANKS to Asghar for his explanation of the writing route map. Truly inspirational”

“Thank you for helping us fill in the characteristics of being a good teacher. After you left, it gave us so much to talk about. You are so polite and confident; a credit to your school! 2 house points”

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Blog Featured Latest News Teaching & Learning Blog Year 2 Blog

Listening to Learners

The primary classroom is a busy place and there is often so much to do that it can be easy to often spend little time taking a step back to appreciate how much learning has happened in such a small space of time. This week I decided to put in some time within class to reflect on what has been achieved so far in year 2. Children are the greatest critics of their own work and indeed their own learning, so my thinking on Monday and Wednesday was to provide children with time to look at their books with a critical eye and consider how their learning is progressing across all aspects of the curriculum.

Year 2 and I talk all the time about their books being like windows to their learning and year 2 will rightly say that out of a window we like a nice view! With this is mind the children took time on Monday and Wednesday to look through their “windows”. As the room filled with the sounds of turning pages, another sound started to silently sweep across the room. On every table I started to hear conversations about presentation, about writing stamina, comparisons of earlier pages to later pages. Children began to compare their books to their peers and as these exchanges took place, the children praised each other for how much their work was changing.

As I listened to all these different conversations, I noticed that as children looked at some pages, their facial expressions appeared disappointed or nervous and I asked children what the reasons were. I was so impressed that children answered by picking out the areas that they needed to develop and also it was lovely to hear them say things like “Well I don’t think I tried my best on this piece of work, but if you look here you can see I have started to…” The children enjoyed spending time carrying out their own work scrutiny and they were able to pick out for themselves different areas that they need to focus on. For me, it was their celebrations of how far they have come that was such a powerful outcome of their time with their “learning windows”

Listening to the learners in the classroom is so important and taking time to hear about how they feel about different activities, tasks and experiences, allows me as the teacher an opportunity to design learning that moves children onto their next steps. In maths this week I have been giving the children opportunities to choose their own level of challenge. This means that learners can decide where they feel they need to  start a task, so some children may feel that they want to do some simpler practice questions before they move onto a puzzle or problem that needs more unpicking. Other children may feel confident with an aspect of maths, so go straight for the problem or puzzle.

It was really good to see that children picked the right level of challenge for them and on talking to the children, it was clear that they felt in control of their own learning and felt that they had ownership. One child said that he liked choosing the level of challenge because he could work at his own pace and on receiving feedback, quickly move on or do some more practice. For me, listening to learners and talking about the process of learning is the key to unlocking learning potential. By always actively listening to what the children around me say, I have learnt that everyday brings new insights to different ways to change and shape the learning journey of children at Unsworth.

On Tuesday I travelled to Sheffield with Mrs Reynolds to listen to Dame Alison Peacock (Head teacher of The Wroxham School) talk about her school and its approach to enriching children’s learning journeys to ensure they meet their full potential. Listening to the stories about different learners from the school made me reflect on different learners I have encountered over the years and how their needs have helped shape Unsworth as a school. Dame Alison talked about the fact that  it is so important for children to have the opportunity to work towards being whatever they want to be. In assembly this week the children talked about the value of “freedom” and for me children need the freedom in the classroom to access irresistible learning that makes them listen to learn from the experiences they have, whilst the adults around listen to them as learners and design learning that makes their aspirations a possibility.

It is a powerful thought to think that through actively listening to sometimes the smallest of comments or taking on board the expression on someone’s face, changes can be made to a task, challenge or situation that really can make a difference. One boy this week in year 2 demonstrated this when he said during our discussion about our learning windows:

“Mr Rhodes, I think its really good when one of the other children on my table talks to me about my window, because sometimes they understand how hard I have been trying and it makes me feel good about myself.”

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Blog Year 6 Blog

Working Together

Within class there has been lots of team work, over the past week in different lessons and in different ways.  The children have worked together to become experts on different biomes in Canada.  They have also worked on partner balances in PE – some of which were a little tricky.  Also they have  carried out group investigations in science where they were ‘predators’ and had to ‘hunt prey’.   In Literacy, children have also worked with partners to identify and discuss different suspense techniques, which writers use to keep the reader on the edge of their seats.  Sharing learning often makes it more fun and encourages the children to engage much more.

Last week the class had a visit from the Fire Service as part of their staying safe in Winter campaign.  Ask your child to tell you about some of the ideas that were shared.

 

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Latest News Year 3 Blog

Our Ghanaian visitor

Last week we were extremely lucky when we heard Miss McGrath’s friend from Ghana was visiting Unsworth Primary! Raymond came into visit Year 3 to answer our questions based on our current Geography based enquiry; ‘What is life like to grow up in Ghana?’ The children enjoyed hearing about Raymond’s life in the capital city of Accra. He shared facts about some of the different cities and countries he has previously visited in Africa and we enjoyed hearing about his job and family.

The children shared some of their own work based on the continent Africa and were able to discuss different facts they had learnt. Raymond played a guessing game with the children and even rewarded them with traditional African necklaces. What a super way to spend the afternoon!

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Y3, what did you ask Raymond? What was his answer?

 

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Blog Latest News Reception Class Blog

A wonderful Welcome Assembly!

I  was so proud of the children today-what a fabulous ‘Welcome assembly’.  It was so lovely to see so many of you! The children enjoyed receiving their card from their buddy and showing it to everyone.

What a lovely way to start the day!

Thank you

Miss Ashton

 

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Featured Latest News Year 2 Blog

Australia comes to Unsworth!

Over the past few weeks the children in year 2 have been starting to learn about what Australia is like and have used maps and atlases to locate where it is in the world. The children had lots of questions about what life might be like and as a class we were really lucky that we had two visitors who came in to talk to us. One of them was born in Australia and has lived there all his life, the other visitor has been working and living over there.  All of the children were really excited and it was a great opportunity for them to create their own questions to ask, some of which you can read below:

  • What is the money called?
  • Do you look after kangaroos for pets?
  • Does it ever snow?
  • What food do people eat?
  • What is the weather like?
  • Have you ever eaten kangaroo, emu or ostrich?
  • What is Australia’s favourite sport?
  • What are the houses like?

Our visitors shared some of their photographs and gave the children a real sense about what life is like The children also entertained our visitors with a performance of their three Australian themed songs and they were really impressed at how the children had learnt lots of tricky Australian words! Next, the children are going to use the information they found out in their information texts. Below are some pictures of our afternoon visit.

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