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Mixed Reception / Year One Class Help!


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Help!

I have been teaching a mixed age reception / year one class now since NQT 3 years ago. I have tried hundreds of ways to make this work, I still can't....The children are all happy, the parents are happy, the Head is happy. I am not....:( and cannot keep the pace going much longer, but as I have not taught a straight year one class I really have no comparison. Better the devil you know? I used to think the children got so much out of a mixed age class but I wonder if I have been fooling myself...the reality it that there is not as much time and input given to YR, in my opinion, to reach Y1 because I do not have enough time. The Y1 are constantly trying to work / listen whilst the YR play and are pretty loud (heavy balance of boys)...and now I am looking at where they all are in their writing and it scares me that it is not as good as it could have been.... I can't run it as a year one class and I can't run it as a reception class. I do the MOS altogether and the literacy story / things that will appeal to both year groups together but it is impossible to marry the 2 year groups. Help needed please. I have listened and taken advice in the past but it always seems to amount to the fact that there is just too much to do in a working week. I need short cuts or something? Yes I listen to the children read (and apparently thats a waste of teachers time ) but I feel this is essential...the TA does too, parent helpers do turn up occasionally. Guided reading only gets doen when I have time... Oh this is too depressing for words!!!! I try to make it fun and thats why the children are all happy at school, but I am not sure that the writing and reading is where it should be....

Any ideas other than leaving? !!! Thank you!

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Guest LornaW

Poor you! The problem with lots of people giving you lots of advice is we all have our own stance and my advice to you is that is what you need to do now is decide on how you can really 'manage' this. Have you read Moving on to Key Stage One by Julie Fisher?

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moving-Key-Stage-Julie-Fisher/dp/0335238475

 

She really does make lots of sense. I would run the class with the philosophy of EYFS so all children get CI time and all children get AI time and it is during this time that you can differentiate for your Y1s. In CI time you can resource the environment so the Y1's are more challenged and indeed give them challenges to complete. Read Julie's book and it will all make sense and if possible try and get on a course or as Susan has suggested talk to your advisors.

 

Good luck and with everyone else happy you are doing a great job but you cannot continue to burn the candle at both ends.

 

Lorna

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Hi I can't help really as I have a straight reception class but I have taught a mixed class in the past (Y1/2) so I do feel your pain. I would be using my TA to do the input for one of the year groups while I did the other and then swap the next day to make sure that all children have equal from each adult. I would then have either me or the TA supporting and extending play and observing while the other was working with focused groups. I do guided reading each day for 20 mins (with all 30 children involved in a rotation of reading/writing activities over the week) and believe firmly that if you do guided reading properly with a focus for each session with each group that it is as valuable if not more so than reading with a child individually and you are with 6 children at a time rather than 1. I abandon guided reading every 1/2 term for a week and hear each child on their own to assess their home reader level. I have parent/granparent readers in so the children are read individually with them 2X per week. If I had to read individually with children as well then I would simply never be able to do my narrative obs or actually engage in play with the children.

 

It is in our nature as teachers to constantly question what we do and never feel happy with how things are so try not to beat yourself up-if the children,parents and the head is happy, then you must be doing something right!

Is there a school locally with the same intake that you could contact and visit and see how they do things? I have regular cluster meetings with local schools and it really helps me to talk things through with them when I see them.

Deb

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Hi

Thank you all for your kind responses.

I have had advisory teachers and they all seem to have very different views, and although very eyfs based, I am not sure that the Y1 levels would ever be reached doing it that way? ! The mixed classes in my area do tend to still follow the QCA units for Y1 and thats fine, but not exactly me and too formal.

 

I recently heard of a mixed YR/1 class that had outstanding in ofsted, but ran it as Rec class, that sounds a bit like how Lorna and Deb run / ran their mixed class (????did you???)...that sounds more do-able, but is the input too much for the YR before they go to the CI activities?

Thanks :) Feeling it may be OK with help!!! Thanks goodness for this forum!!!! I would be really interested to see weekly plan of a mixed YR / 1 from someone...that looks easier than mine!!!

Thanks

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Hi I can't help really as I have a straight reception class but I have taught a mixed class in the past (Y1/2) so I do feel your pain. I would be using my TA to do the input for one of the year groups while I did the other and then swap the next day to make sure that all children have equal from each adult. I would then have either me or the TA supporting and extending play and observing while the other was working with focused groups. I do guided reading each day for 20 mins (with all 30 children involved in a rotation of reading/writing activities over the week) and believe firmly that if you do guided reading properly with a focus for each session with each group that it is as valuable if not more so than reading with a child individually and you are with 6 children at a time rather than 1. I abandon guided reading every 1/2 term for a week and hear each child on their own to assess their home reader level. I have parent/granparent readers in so the children are read individually with them 2X per week. If I had to read individually with children as well then I would simply never be able to do my narrative obs or actually engage in play with the children. It is in our nature as teachers to constantly question what we do and never feel happy with how things are so try not to beat yourself up-if the children,parents and the head is happy, then you must be doing something right! Is there a school locally with the same intake that you could contact and visit and see how they do things? I have regular cluster meetings with local schools and it really helps me to talk things through with them when I see them. Deb

Hi How exactly do you run your guided reading sessions? YR as well as Y1? Thanks :)

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I've been thinking all day about replying to this. I teach a YR/1 mix and like you never feel I have got it 'right' so wasn't sure I'd have anything useful to contribute. With that in mind please feel free to ignore any/all of what I'm writing!

 

Firstly, if children, parents and head are all happy I'd work on being happy with yourself too - although I know that's easier said than done!

 

These are just a few things about what I do. I currently have a class of 25 - 16 Y1 and 9 YR. I have a TA every morning and 3 afternoons. There is quite a lot of SEN support in my class too so she is frequently out of the classroom doing 1:1 or small group work.

 

My whole class do go to assembly and we do morning playtime with the other infant class but we don't do a formal afternoon playtime.

 

In the mornings the whole class is together for an input for maths and English. I did try giving the reception children CI time at the same time but found it to be unworkable - even when quiet the level of noise they made meant it was very hard for me and the Y1s to concentrate on what we were doing. During the maths starter I split it so my TA focuses on one group and I focus on the other so we can differentiate better. Once the input is done YR go to 'choose'. They have 2 maths focus activities and 2 English each week and the 5th morning is handwriting in some form or other.

 

In the afternoons the whole class is together for PE twice a week and music. They are also together for one short input per afternoon - I don't have a fixed timetable - we might do history one afternoon, science another, ICT another and that subject lasts for the whole afternoon. I often have a second input later on which just the Y1s join in for. Y1s then have an independent task and YR have CI time sometimes with an adult focus activity.

 

In terms of curriculum coverage I have a topic title for the first 4 weeks of each term, the last 2 weeks are a child-interest based topic (or Easter or Christmas) which I decide on with the children's help nearer the term. The official topics ensure I cover the National Curriculum, the child-interest ones help to keep it all more EYFS friendly! I have continuous provision set up sometimes with enhancements or challenges based on the main topic or children's interests.

 

As for readers, each child is heard read twice a week once by me, once by another adult (usually but not necessarily the TA). One of these sessions is guided reading. I hear readers at lunchtime and this is when the Y1s have their guided reading slots, for reception guided reading is introduced when I feel they're ready for it during the year. This session is part of one of their adult focus activities for English during the morning and their lunchtime reading sessions are both individual.

 

We also do the daily phonics session.

 

It is manic, I am often completely exhausted by the end of the day and the thing I find hardest is me getting decent time to observe/interact with reception and, as I said, it never feels quite right to me but at the moment it is working (in a manner of speaking!)

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<ul>

<li>

<div>Dear Helen</div>

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<li>

<div><font face="Arial" size="2">I hope you get this! THANK YOU so much for your reply, I would like to chat more if you get the time. It was lovely hearing your input.  :)</font></div>

</li>

</ul>

 

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Hi How exactly do you run your guided reading sessions? YR as well as Y1? Thanks :)

 

Hi I have 5 guided reading groups grouped by phonic/reading ability. I have 5 activities on the go and they rotate over the week. I have the guided reading group, My TA has the children to her for tricky word/phonics practice, I then have 3 groups who are busy independently. The 3 independent activities vary but at the moment I have one group in the reading area quiet reading or storytelling (we do talk for writing big style so I have story maps and storytelling props in there and the children love going in there) I have 1 group in the writing area who are independently writing a sentence/caption/story depending on ability which I have modelled/explained at the beginning of the week and the last group are doing a phonics game suited to their ability. My children are all reception and there are 30 of them and we have built up to them doing these things independently. I'm sure many people would say I'm doing this in a very Y1 way but it works for me and it means that over the course of the week I get a piece of independent writing from each child and they have all visited the reading corner which they may not have chosen to do in CI time. Guided reading usually lasts for 20-25 mins.

Deb

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I have the exact same problem with YrR/1, lots of different people telling me how to run and organise it! It is very confusing and draining. It also makes me question everything I do, it is right or not?

 

I have just been to observe a teacher who just achieved 'good' from ofsted. They have Literacy and Maths starters together, which are just differentiated. The Y1's then have one independent group, and one adult led, and YR have one adult guided group and they rest are completing CI play. The teacher during the lesson, does move around, making sure she has tried to see what everyone is learning that lesson, assessing to see how she can develop their learning further. In the afternoons, they complete other subjects together but in a similar way to the morning sessions.

 

Will let you know how it goes!

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Thanks for your support. I am going to watch a straight year one class that has just had outstanding result in ofsted, but it runs as a reception style class. Thought that may give a few more clues as to how to cover the Y1 curriculum through more play and make the reception part of the planning a little easier rather than plan twice over.... If anyone interested in what I find out I am happy to share information with you......

 

Does anyone have ideas about setting the reception daily / weekly challenges to do independently please? I try to give them a challenge that needs to be done by the end of the day, they choose when they do it. So far it has been more of a challenge for me although they are slowly beginning to remind each other that they will have 2 to do the next day if they don't do it! Thinking of challenges is difficult as they need to... 1. Able to be carried out completely independently without then having to even differentiate the challenges, 2. If the evidence for doing the challenge is not related to easy recordings (e.g picture, shopping list etc etc) it is hard to keep up with whether they have really done it or just added their name to whiteboard and then run off to do something else (as they have been seen doing!) and 3. It can easily end up with the TA being sucked in to the challenge by either needing to photograph the evidence (building the tallest lego tower / making a dance etc) or sorting out children's differences of opinion instead of carrying out her group work!!!

 

Is anyone prepared for me to run past them the very basic way that I run my day please? Just to offer support when needed?

Thanks :) Lovely Easter Hols!!!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Really great to read how different people are managing to do this. i can't really help with the mixed age problem as I just have year 2. I have just posted in the year 2 section about how I organise my day but I just wanted to add that I am managing curriculum coverage for year 2 working on a more EYFS style (it is still more structured than when I did reception). I have challenges which I introduce throughout the week at the end of carpet sessions, its probbaly easier for me as year 2 are older and therefore able to work more independently. I have a chart which has the challenges written at the top and children's names down the side and they tick off as they have done them. The challenges are also colour coded so those who struggle to read can tick off the colour challenge if easier. I link the challenges to the learning we are doing in the adult led activities and my top ability children are seen as the experts in certain areas which children can seek support from, its amazing watching a child explain a maths activity to another child as they seem to be able to communicate in a way that an adult can't and they learn how to communcate their learning too which is great! It is difficult sometimes thinking of challenges but the more I do it the easier it comes.

 

It did take the whole first half term to really embed this way of working, but getting the children to understand that they need to do the challenges to be a good learner does eventually sink in. I do have to remind children all the time and on a friday, I go through the chart and ask children which challenge they still need to do and pair children up to support each other. Children know they can choose their own learning when they have completed their activities and they always can't wait to choose the computers, junk modelling, role-play area etc so it inspires most of them to get them done! They also get a little certificate if they complete their challenges.

 

I do find it hard to support the children in their child initiated and challenge time and definitely find it difficult to gather evidence of this learning but I know they are learning as their progress has been good but continuously seeking ways of improving this.

 

I can only sympathise with you having two year groups as I find the differentiation big enough with one class. But definiely believe that going with a eyfs approach is the best way. I also read Julie Fishers book and its amazing!

Good luck!

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Hi Thanks for your reply. It was really interesting to read how you run your y2 class....I would love to find out more. Do you have such a thing as a 'typical week' plan or timetable that you could let me look at please? That would be great.......

Thanks again!

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Yes I have a timetable but its been ages since I've been on here and its all different and I can't work out how to attach the document?! Any advise on how I do this? If not I'll PM you x

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Thanks for the timetable, really good to see how you run your week.

 

Maybe I can ask about the following from somebody please?!

 

I have 22 children in total, 8x year 1 the rest YR. I have 2 groups of 4 Y1 and 2 groups of 7 YR.

After the usual carpet gatherings during the morning for the mental oral starter / literacy input/ phonics (split into year groups) etc I tend to find I am with y1 most of the time. I usually spend a bit more time with YR in the afternoons.

I am thinking that if I spend time with one Y1 group in maths and the other Y1 group in lit, then swap following day, then swap again on the third day, on the fourth day I can do extended learning with YR, and on the 5th day I can do the same whilst the TA helps Y1 finish whatever they were doing.

I think that sounds like a compromise of my time and a good balance? What do you think please?

Also, my TA will work with each of the groups during the first and second day, once in lit based session and once in maths based session, then the third session she will set the lit challenge of the week, and I will set the number challenge when I work with them on the 5th day (challenges to be completed by end of the day)....clear as mud?

Ideas / comments appreciated as to if this could be easier or better organised?

Thanks :)

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Guest eagleeye

Hi Becky2, I started teaching a mixed REC and Year 1 class last September and find it really hard. I feel that I am not doing Rec right or YEar 1 right! And next September I am getting the YEar 2s in the afternoon. I feel that my TA always has the Reception children and I always have the YEar 1s. If you find a good way of organising your class, let me know!

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Hi Eagleeye!

Welcome to the world of chaos!ha!

I have spoken to some straight year one teachers who suggest that it is not always possible to spend your time with all the children anyway so grouping them is the best option. I have just visited a year one teacher who splits class into groups and when the chn are not with her or TA in a focussed group they are on child init activities....works for her....I realise that she has not got to worry about observing and photographing / gather evidence for the ones thta are not in a focussed group. I am trying to strike a balance....I work with one group of Y1 lit and then the other in maths and then swap the next day....the Y1 group that is not with adult is doing similar activity but working independently.....meanwhile TA does similar thing with YR and then on thurs / fri we can swap so I work with YR and she works with Y1.....by then they tend to be finishing off things so most of the 'teaching input' has been delivered by then.... afternoons we do topic discussion together and Yr go to CI activities whilst Y1 work with me, then Y1 get CI time and I manage to cathc up a bit with YR. ...clear as mud? I think that every single day is different and with the best will in the world this happens! Hope this is of SOME use!!!! :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Its a bit of a relief to find this post!

I am teaching a split YR and Yr1 and finding it really challenging! The minute I juggle things because one year group needs more focus then I take my eye off the other!I will keep checking back on this topic!

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HI

Think I have an answer to this! Spoke to the head EY person in moderation....said to treat class as a straight year group, i.e split class into 5 groups. Every day have 1 group for lit and next group for num, the TA has another group, then by the end of the week you and the TA have worked with everyone in a really focussed group (whereas I try to do this every day and never quite get there!!!).... I am about to try it!!!!! I have however decided to have 4 groups...I know they are larger but it allows an extra day(fri) to plan to work with those that were away or missed the session due to all the other things that happen that week (sports day/dentist/music lesson/etc etc etc etc etc!!!!!!)

Keep in touch please Fairyjojo!!! :0 :)

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