More worries. From TES TA forum

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:24 pm

http://community.tes.co.uk/forums/t/552621.aspx

The TES primary forum thread is a 'must' read - very important.

I am well aware of the anti paper and pencil ,anti 'worksheet' culture in our English schools - and here is some of the evidence...

...Schools which openly say, 'We do not use worksheets in this school'.

It beggars belief.

I think this needs to be drawn to Nick Gibb's attention.

No wonder standards aren't as high as they could be, and should be.

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by Maltesers » Thu Feb 16, 2012 4:10 pm

A very interesting read thank you for linking me in.

The world has indeed gone crazy.

I really don't know what to say. It's all this creative 'do it' through play and fun things culture which is spreading from early years. Before long we will have all primary children unable to sit and do anything by themselves unless it is exciting and fun. I like to see a mixture personally. Thinking of my own maths intervention, we do lots of learning through games but unless I give them practise with a pen and worksheet how on earth do I actually know whether they would be able to do it independently?

I would like to see daily handwriting practise, phonics, reading practise, along with basic maths throughout Primary. Then let them play, experiment and discover!
Being a Scientist isn't going to do you much good if you can't write about your experiments!

Perhaps we need to go back to the old ways :roll:
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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:11 pm

I am sure that we do have some great things going on in our infant and primary schools.


There is a lack of common sense, however, when it comes to what kind of activities are suitable for what kind of teaching and learning.


When we provide training for synthetic phonics, we have to spend half the time persuading people to follow the SP programmes AS programmes and that the paper and pencil core multi-skills activities ARE multi-sensory.

Many, many teachers think that 'multi-sensory' amounts to word cards in the sandpit and dashing around to corners labelled with graphemes.

Personally, I think that Letters and Sounds is not clear enough about the kind of activities which are the most fit-for-purpose regarding whole classes of children of all abilities learning a complex code and how best to apply it.

I also think that 'handwriting' should be the third CORE skill in the government's official 'core criteria' but it isn't acknowledged.

It is handwriting that adds to the 'multi-sensory' set of activities for core phonics learning.

We have virtually a nation of children learning to write with marker pens sitting scrunched up on the floor.

I ask teachers wherever I speak or train to conduct observations around their schools when children are writing to see just how they write (physically).

What is their posture, how do they hold their implements, do they write 'under' the words or 'above' (hooking their wrists around -writing 'upside down' in effect), where is their 'spare hand', how well do they form their letters on writing lines??????

Further, how do the STAFF handwrite in front of the children, when modelling any writing, when marking the children's work?

Further, who has received training in marking for spelling and what is the school policy for marking for spelling?

I could go on....

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by Maltesers » Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:50 pm

Yes there are some great things going on in our schools but I agree about the common sense part.
Many, many teachers think that 'multi-sensory' amounts to word cards in the sandpit and dashing around to corners labelled with graphemes.

Which distracts from what you are actually trying to teach. Children get too involved in the sandpit or the dashing around without really thinking about the graphemes.

I once put some planning on TES for Letters and Sounds phase 2 SEN. Someone immediately commented that there was too much writing! It was totally multisensory/VAK etc yet apparently too much writing! More importantly it worked with the children I was working with.

My children have their own writing books for phonics and just the other day a little boy wrote 3 fantastic sentences using the target sound. I could show him how much he had improved in 3 weeks by going to the front of the book. How can you do that with whiteboards and markers unless you photocopy everyone's board at the end of the lesson? Everything has its place including whiteboards and markers but not at the expense of paper and pencils.

There seems to be a growing trend in removing tables from classrooms now which I find difficult to understand. It stands to reason that if children aren't sitting at tables to write then they aren't going to be writing correctly by the time they get to year 2. Not only that but what about oldies like me with bad backs? :lol:
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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by volunteer » Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:08 pm

Even if whiteboards are not used, sheets of paper seem to be in vogue. What is the point of that? The child can't see their last piece of work, and there's nothing for the parents to look at and admire when there's a rare piece of homework either, just a sheet of paper that apparently disappears into an abyss. When my children's friends come round for supper they delight in telling weird and wonderful tales about the where the homework goes including trips to outer space.

What happened to exercise books? Is it because the spaces at the tables are so small that there is no space to open an exercise book? Or is it to give TAs a filing job to do?!!

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:14 pm

Think of the irony of the situation:

I can imagine people in some regions and countries aspiring to every child having a school place and/or a desk space for every child.

Here in the UK, I too note, desks are being removed not only for infants - but also for juniors (Key Stage 2).

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:19 pm

volunteer - it's a growing trend which is anti paper and pencil activities - particularly in the early years and infants.

And this is the very time that we are expecting to teach the children to read, spell and write.

It is hard to believe this state of affairs.

You have no idea how hard we have to work as training providers to persuade many teachers to use very purpose-designed paper and pencil activities to enable the pupils to learn the code knowledge and practise the core skills.

These are very dangerous times - and I'll tell you why I think so.

An increase in phonics teaching has led to some increase in standards.

This could lead to a belief that the slowest-to-learn children cannot do any better - and that perhaps phonics isn't for them - and thus we are back to the 'within child' explanation for lower than possible results.

In other words, some rise in standards will blur the issues.

I'm reporting to Nick Gibb all these observations. Other people's observations along the same lines will make a good contribution to unpicking these issues.

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by JIM CURRAN » Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:13 pm

Maltesers said : "There comes a point where children need to understand that even if it is boring and difficult it still needs to be done. Practise pays off."

I totally agree.

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:06 pm

It's a really sad state of affairs, however, that so many people in the teaching profession show signs of not realising that children, even young children, gain great satisfaction from focusing on their own simple activities and can feel themselves learning and applying their learning.

This is such a satisfying experience - but there's too much suggestion that children don't enjoy such moments and that, for example, focused paper and pencil activities are not appropriate.

Then, we are in danger of this becoming a self-fulfilling state of affairs - that children (as Maltesers has described) have little or no experience of calm, sedentary activities and therefore don't know how to appreciate them, or would not think of choosing them.

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by volunteer » Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:19 pm

My poor children get out their teacher voices every time I start a phrase with p and chant at me "practice makes perfect". It is perhaps even more important for numeracy than literacy. It seems to me in literacy that if you get it wrong progress just grinds to nearly a halt, but in numeracy the child rapidly goes backwards. However, there seems to be more "shame" in not being particularly "literate" compared with not being particularly "numerate". Sorry for going off the point.

I do keep on thinking and thinking about why some children do seem to need more practice than others. I hate the glib reason about what goes on / does not go on at home. Sure I can see that some children learn much more slowly than others for complex neurological reasons beyond my understanding and therefore need more practice, but there seem to be others who are just as quick at learning things when you get hold of them one to one as the rest of the bunch. It's just as though something in the group situation has not worked for them. I don't think we could call it some severe attention problem or other either as in the one to one they are perfectly capable of concentrating on tasks for up to 45 minutes at times. Thing is I have not had the benefit of observing the group situation in which they were apparently not delivering the goods so I can't answer this one for myself.

I meant to add, some of you suggested letter-sound drills and the Kirk-Legge drills for my voluntary tutee who was reading very slowly and sounding out an awful lot more than I might have expected. I did not know whether he would enjoy this or not. He does. Yes, even children who have appeared very switched off and distracted for a few years in class do enjoy simple tasks that they can get right and see their own improvement in. Actually, perhaps these children are the ones who enjoy it all the more because they have felt so little progress relative to their peers, and the steps they take are not applauded in the same way as the ones who get there early.

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by Susan Godsland » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:09 am

Debbie's now blogged about the anti-worksheet culture in schools:

England – the ‘anti’ worksheet trend – ‘worksheet free’ schools – dearie me!

http://www.syntheticphonics.com/blog/?p=115
What I predict is that those schools overseas where teachers are following the debate about synthetic phonics teaching versus other methods, and are taking on board the advisability of promoting consistent systematic synthetic phonics teaching – and who are not adverse to simple, routine, fit-for-purpose, core phonics practice – will get results streets ahead of those ‘anti-worksheet’ English schools.
'Sheets ahead', I think, Debbie ;-)

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by Susan Godsland » Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:08 am

Are worksheets a waste of time?

http://learningspy.co.uk/2012/04/04/are ... e-of-time/
But what of worksheets? Surely the ‘umble worksheet is harmless enough? We’ve all used them: a sheet of paper with a series of exercises for students to get on with while we sharpen our pencils, slurp down our cooling coffee and catch up on our marking. Where’s the harm in that?

Well, let’s make an important distinction. A worksheet is not just an instruction written on a piece of paper. It’s a series of activities designed to give students work to do. The goal is to keep them busy and is not primarily concerned with whether they learn anything. My particular bête noir is the downloaded worksheet. I hate these with an unreasoning passion and have seen some truly awful lesson based on nonsense from Teachit or other similar sites.

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