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Confused.com in Reception


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Hi,

 

I have been teaching for donkey's years but currently am feeling so confused about what is the best way of working in Reception.

I use the environment as the third teacher, currently run focus activities that we call children to and have challenges around the room but also lots of opportunities to do child-led play inside and out.

 

Read lots of stuff on abc.does and trialled 'objective led planning'. Reading lots of stuff on 'Keeping Early Years Unique' Anna Ephgrave etc that suggests that even that way of working is too determined by the adults agenda and what they should be doing is choosing their own play within an amazing continuous provision.

BUT- I don't understand how you would get those children who are mainly playing and following their own ideas to write at length including tricky words and phase 5 phonic sounds in order to achieve an grading of 'exceeding' in Literacy.Especially the boys. Can anyone shine the light and show me the way....

 

Thank you

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I'm taking it from the lack of response so far that everyone else is feeling as confused as I am!!

 

Even if you don't have the answer it would cheer me up if you said 'I'm confused too' because I'm just feeling a bit stupid and questioning everything I'm doing...my whole existence and reason for being...ha ha!

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Hi edlee, don't panic over lack of response, I'm sure reception staff are at work at the moment but will pop by when they can to share their experience.

How many children are you hoping will reach exceeding in literacy, it probably isn't many unless you have a very experienced group of children?

I'm not really sure how much children have to write 'at length'to be exceeding, so are your expectations realistic for this? I think a really high quality continuous provision can provide opportunities for reading and writing at a level beyond the ELG. But I also think it is very difficult to achieve.

I do recall going back a group of boys filming stories with small world 'hero' figures and then narrating or writing their own books..It was their interest, and some could only write words, some simple sentences and one or two went beyond. It sort of grew into a big project where we had animations, books and even a 'film' whereby some of the girls were the directors!

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I do think there will need to be some discreet teaching whatever approach you take in reception - I've not read the whole book yet but I have "The Reception Teacher in action" by Anna Ephgrave here and she talks about whole class phonics sessions on pages 68 - 70!

 

As for exceeding writing, it is about children being able to write on the lines ie use the lines to guide the correct placement of the letters so a g sits on the line for example and an h has the same size looped part as the round bit of the g. They also need to know about genre by showing awareness of narrative - so how would they construct a story.

 

It's not about length of writing per se but goes beyond writiing simple sentences as per the exemplification.

Cx

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Ah the constant dilemma of reception teachers! I have a been teaching in reception for 6 years and have evolved so much over the years and constantly question the balance of adult/child initiated activity in my class. What i find from going to other schools is that everyone does it very differently. I find that my year evolves from almost all child initiated at the beginning of the year and then we gradually introduce more direct teaching (but keep it very hands on, fun, active and exploratory) so that by the end of the year the mornings involve adult directed phonics, maths, reading and writing activities sometimes whole class. Then the afternoon is completely free flow with all staff engaging with play and no withdrawal for adult directed. It works for us and our children. Many would say we are too formal but our head who is a lead Ofsted inspector for early years seems happy with the balance. Re the writing, we have what we call a 'rainbow writing morning' which is where we set up our provision with a range of writing activities based upon interests and our expectation is that everyone writes in that session. We start at the beginning of the year and so now we have a weekly piece of independent mark-making/writing evidence for all children in the class over the course of the year. This was to address the issue of having lots of evidence from some children (usually the girlie girlies) but nothing from other children. The children absolutely love this time and cheer if I say it's rainbow writing morning so must be doing something right! we put out big marker pens and massive pieces of paper, build dens and have writing by flashlight, have role play areas set up with writing opportunities that sort of thing. The exceeding writing according to our LA we were told hinged very much on the volume of words spelled correctly including correctly spelled 2 syllable words. I have a child who will write a 2 page of A4 story but it was not judged outstanding because she didn't spell enough key words correctly.

 

hope that helps-now off to write my reports, can you tell i'm procrastinating?

Deb

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hope that helps-now off to write my reports, can you tell i'm procrastinating?

Deb

 

Glad it's not just me! ;)

 

Edlee - I have gone away and come back to your question several times while pondering what I want to say. I think busybeedeb's first sentence says it all! Reception classes/setup seem to be the most different which is brilliant - you can develop things to suit your children, setting and yourself! However, it's also tough - you spend your time constantly wondering whether you are doing the 'right' thing.

 

Reading Anna Ephgrave and ABC Does is great - inspiring and full of ideas but (and I'm ducking my head below the parapet here) every school and setting is different. I had a class of around 30 mixed YR/1 children and usually around 6 hours of TA time a week. It was a small school and I had 4 or 5 leadership roles, my room setup had to be completely tidied away every lunchtime as meals were served in there and so did part of my outdoor area as the meals were cooked in a kitchen at a different school and the trolley delivering them needed access through my outdoor space. This isn't a complaint (although it probably sounds it - I loved the school) but I just couldn't provide for the children in the ways Anna Ephgrave or ABC were holding up as an example of good practice and I gave myself a really hard time for trying and failing to do so. In reality though, my class were happy and learning and made progress. I used to love looking at their books (yes I did have one!) at the end of the year to see where they'd come from.

 

Objective led planning, I personally feel, is a bit of a tricky phrase - isn't all planning meant to be objective led no matter what format the actual planning/activities/learning takes?

 

Adult directed activities are fine, they don't have to be dull! I also believe that there's a huge impact in doing something that you as an adult are interested in - you may be surprised by how the children respond. In the past due to topic titles which were proscribed for me and the need to teach my older children about a significant historical figure I have 'done' both William the Conqueror and Grace Darling. They wouldn't be obvious choices for a reception class but the children loved them and were playing "William the Conker" and "Grace" for ages!

 

As for the writing - I know what you mean! Giving a purpose for writing - the good old replying to a request from a popular character, giving the actual experience to write about will help. Also actually sitting down with the children while they're playing and writing will inspire some of them to have a go at producing longer pieces. I think that children need the opportunity to realise that writing about something is a possibility. I have a lovely book called 'Making my own mark' by Helen Bromley which I found inspiring in an achievable way! full of ideas. I also like the sound of Deb's Rainbow Writing Morning - I may pinch that one for next year!

 

I'm going to stop now because I'm burbling and probably not making much sense but I really wanted to say don't be too hard on yourself - you are not stupid and are exactly the same as pretty much every other reception teacher I've ever met!

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