Teacher, Mr Gane with Teaching Assistant, Mrs Hayes.
Happy St Valentine’s Day and happy half term too! Can you believe that this marks the halfway point of the school year, which means… just three more half terms for your babies at St Stephen’s…. gulp!
After some frantic writing then typing then uploading, I can confirm that each and every child in the class has entered this year’s BBC 500 Words competition – with a certificate to prove it too. They have worked very hard in English this week; managing also to squeeze in two grammar lesson on the ‘expanded noun phrase’ and on regularly confused homophones – there, their and they’re.
Mr Perry’s Maths group have toiled on perimeter and area amongst other things, while my group finished off their topic on algebra with a short quiz, in which they all did very well indeed. We also managed to squeeze in an end of half term Maths Quiz, which is always fun… well I think so.
Two Humanities lessons and a quiz polished off our geography work on the UK and a final Science lesson and a quiz saw off our topic on Light – you see where I’m coming from.
Today was DT Day, which saw the children designing and building bridges, and not just any bridges…. suspension bridges no less. It was a complex and fiddly task which after a session in the morning spent designing, left the whole afternoon for construction. Results were amazing and I must say that there certainly are a good number of budding engineers in Y6 Ayres.
So, with Storm Denis having put the kibosh on my first ever trip to Liverpool this weekend, I will have time to reconstruct a new garden fence following Storm Ciara last weekend – weather permitting!
Do enjoy your half-term.
What a wonderful thing technology is when the children can learn and be inspired by the likes of Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Charlie Higson and Francesca Simon, which they were on Monday morning as they watched the BBC 500 Words Live Lesson. This kicked off our week’s English lessons as the children picked up some great story writing advice and top tips from these hugely popular authors and BBC 500 Words Judges, before they brainstormed their own fantastic story ideas. After planning and drafting their stories, the children then began the (long) process of editing and up-levelling their stories while typing them up. I will ensure that each one is submitted to the completion, then it will be fingers crossed to see if anyone has made it through to the final and presentations in June. Good luck too to Mrs Pereira, who this year is a judge!
Continuing the technology theme, Friday was Coding Day here at St Stephen’s and Y6 Ayres took part in the ‘Hour of Code’ activities as well as learning about algorithms in an ‘unplugged’ lesson; thank you to Mr Faith and Miss Billington for organising everything. The pupils in my Maths group might have liked a bit of technological assistance this week as they learned about function machines, expressions, equations and formulae in the algebra topic – high level thinking all round.
I was reminded during Humanities on Monday of the quite quaint movie, “The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain”, which is the story of an English cartographer informing the residents of a Welsh village that their local “mountain” was only a “hill” because it was a few feet short of the required height. It came to mind as the children learned about various mountain ranges in the UK as they used first atlases then iPads to investigate the ‘elevation’ of the highest peaks in the kingdom. After gathering their data they presented in in the form of bar charts in true cross curricular style, which leads me nicely to Science.
Casting shade – in the most literal sense (not to be confused with the ‘urban dictionary’ definition) – was the order of the day in Science this week as the children investigated shadows. They devised an investigation to measure how the length of a shadow varied depending on its distance from a light source; lots of torches, glue sticks and scrabbling on the floor. Keeping it a ‘fair test’ was key, so they ensured that there was only one ‘variable’ and gathered some impressively consistent results. I do like science.
Rugby, on the other hand, has its good days and bad, so with last weekend’s dismal result firmly behind us, let’s see how we deal with the mighty Scots this weekend. (Of course I’ll be wearing my Irish shirt when it comes to the other match of the weekend).
One week to go!
I’m sure the children will be delighted that this week is over as we have been focused very much on the SATs tests, doing a mock run through of all six papers. Actually, on the whole, the children are quite ‘up’ for it and in general tend even to enjoy the challenge of beating their PBs; seeing the fruits of all of their hard work in hard statistical terms. I can’t praise them enough for all of their wonderful efforts and keep reminding them of the lush green pastures of the post SATs era that comes after mid-May.
Science, Humanities, Spanish, Music, PE, Gymnastics and ‘Animal Farm’ with Mr Schumm all continued unencumbered by the on-going assessments and on Friday the children were treated to an additional one-off Drama session, thanks to Miss Kelly’s Y3 being out on a trip! The Choir, including Basliel, Biba, Maggie and Masha, missed this end of the week treat as they were performing at St Paul’s Cathedral accompanied by Miss Rachel, Mr Schumm and Mr Perry.
Finally, I must say a big well done to May, Y6 Ayres’ sole representative in the school team whose masterful display of footballing prowess on Thursday saw them battle to reach the finals and a chance to represent Hammersmith & Fulham at the London Youth Games. They went through all of their matches in heats with clean sheets, which includes a dramatic penalty shootout. Fingers crossed for the finals.
The Six Nations is back – have a great weekend; I will.
With Booster Classes for most children after school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, it was an even fuller week than normal for Y6 Ayres. These classes are designed to assist individual pupils fulfil their potential in the SATs tests in May, helping them to make it over the ‘working above expectation’ or exceeding mark that the government sets for them. The lessons are very focused on the types of SATs questions that the children already know and ‘love’, and designed literally to boost their confidence so as they are as relaxed and familiar with the tests when they come.
Maths for my group this week saw the children rattle through work on percentages, not only finding percentages of amounts, but also working backwards to find original amounts from a given percentage. For the children in Mr Perry’s class who have already covered this, their focus was on Measure; looking at units of measure and conversion to and from metres to kilometres for example, as well as reading measures from scales.
A modern retelling of the Perseus myth was our starting point in English this week, as the children completed a comprehension on Perce, Danni and King P. Demonstrating further their understanding of the story in its mixed ’traditional’, ‘fantastical’ and ‘realistic’ genres, the children first planned then wrote their own ending to the story in a genre of their choice, which they greatly enjoyed. They are always urged to show off their English writing skills in all of their creative writing, with this week’s focus being on the inclusion of colons and semi-colons, taken from Monday’s lesson on grammar.
The children learned more about light in Science this week specifically that the light they see travels in a straight lines. They discussed how light can be reflected using mirrors and, after a bit of theory on the law for reflection (the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection) they had lots of fun in a darkened classroom shining torches on to mirrors, testing their predictions. Learning in Humanities focused on county lines (maybe I should say borders) with the children investigating just where County Durham, Surrey and Lincolnshire are in the UK, amongst others. BTW they could all pinpoint Devon and Cornwall for some reason.
RE on Thursday saw the whole of Y6 gather in our church as we continue our learning about the Liturgy of the Church of England. Mr Perry had arranged for Rev Denis, joined by Phil Hoyle (a Pioneer Vicar) and Ruben Hunter (A Free Church Minister) to talk about how the liturgy is interpreted in their services. Using questions prepared in our last RE lesson, the children then bombarded them with a barrage of very well considered questions; recording their responses. It was a super opportunity to get answers to those tricky questions that you have always wanted to ask. Sadly Biba, Basliel, Maggie and Masha missed this as they were rehearsing at St Paul’s Cathedral as part of a special School Choir event that will take place next Friday.
So to Friday, and with the Word Learning (spelling) test, library book day as well as Mr Schumm’s English lesson, there is a lot to remember and to get through. There’s often a sports match of some sort too, and today was no different with Ike, Jackson, Malachi and Ryan, as the backbone of the School Football Team, vying to win selection to represent QPR in the EFL Cup. ….Breaking News… THEY DID IT, beating 20 or so local wannabes, and will represent QPR in the regional finals in Bristol – the last stop before Wembley!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Have a super last weekend of January.
The children kicked off the week with their very last ‘trip’ on the LifeBus, a wonderful opportunity for honing their life skills run by Coram Life Education. In preparation for life after the safety here at St Stephen’s the children discussed good decision making in a few hypothetical scenarios that they may be faced with at secondary school. Dare I say that children with older siblings seemed the most savvy.
The Indoor Athletics Team, which included May, Ike, Malachi, Ryan & Shaniya, took part in the Hammersmith & Fulham Sportshall Tournament on Tuesday morning tournament, playing against 18 other local primaries. Pushed hard by St John’s in Fulham, they squeaked through by just 4 points, and now go on to represent the borough at the London Youth Games. Well done indeed.
It’s been a big week in Science too with Mrs McGregor back in residence. Your children spent either a morning or afternoon exploring the research opportunities of space – the final frontier. See the website – in due course – for more details, but in the meantime, for the real keen beans, take a look at this amazing competition that you might want to try.
Meanwhile, back in the classroom, those that were here and not out at high school interviews, managed in English to plan, write and edit to up-level their very own sea monster poem based on Stevenson’s ‘The Kraken’, before ending the week this morning with a comprehension based on the 3,182 line, devilishly hard to understand, Anglo-Saxon epic poem, Beowulf – they didn’t read it all!
The children working with me in Maths completed their focused work on decimals with all bar a handful of them scoring 95% or 100% in the end of unit assessment, which is truly amazing. Mr Perry’s group continue their work on fractions and percentages of amounts as they continue to hone their SATs busting skills.
We began a new geography unit in Humanities, which will focus on both the physical and political geography of the UK, while in Science we took a closer look at the eye – a cross-section in fact. Then on Thursday, the moment they had all been waiting for, Mr Schumm was back (chalk in hand) explaining the intricacies of George Orwell’s allegorical master piece, ‘Animal Farm’, which he will continue for a few weeks up to Easter.
So that’s it for another busy week at St Stephen’s, I do hope you have a peaceful weekend and, in case you missed my ramblings on social media, it’s repeated below.
Social Media in the News Today
As the children in Y6 turn 11 and right after Christmas, it might not be unusual for them to be the proud new owners of shiny, very inviting smartphones, personally, though admittedly it was a few years ago now, I managed to hold off opening this particular Pandora’s Box for my three children until the September of their respect Y7s – each to their own.
However, it appears that many of your children are already taking their first tentative steps into this mine strewn world, so with the help of SaferInternet I thought I would share a few snippets of information, beginning with the age limits set for users by various social media platforms. It wasn’t until I checked the SaferInternet website that I realised that WhatsApp announced a change to their terms and conditions for users based in Europe last April and that users of its app now need to be over 16…
Nearly all other social media services require users to be at least 13 years of age to access and use their services. This includes Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Toc (Musical.ly) and Skype. Whilst there is no age restriction for watching videos on YouTube, users need to be 13 or older to have their own YouTube account (enabling them to subscribe to other channels, like videos, post comments, share their own content and flag inappropriate content).
Set Ground Rules Early
Forgive me if I’m being too preachy, but I really do think it is worth saying that as a parent, I cannot recommend strongly enough the benefit of setting the strict ground rules for use of web devices now, before it’s too late.
At the age of 10/11, you can, and should, rightly be in full control of your children’s access to the internet. Not allowing, phones/iPads etc in bedrooms is the ideal, but children of this age should certainly not be taking them to bed to be woken by incoming WhatsApp messages at 3am! Believe me, setting an early precedent for devices to be left outside the bedroom at bedtime, will reap huge dividends during teenage years. Also at this age, you should control your child’s password, checking on what they are doing and who they are interacting with.
Finally, I have spoken briefly to my class on this subject and suggest that, if you haven’t already, you sit down and talk with your child about their phone usage, before you lose the upper-hand. Do have a good look at the SaferInternet website first, there is loads of great information and advice.
It was only four days, but felt like five, as we got off to another flying start here. With Alastair on the Kick London annual retreat, I was in the playground (along with Mrs Walsh) to take Tuesday’s PE session, which was a joy; I remember now how much I miss taking PE. With lots of children coming and going all week for 11+ tests, we had just enough for two netball squads and played a rolling game for the best part of an hour in the very light drizzle, which the children enjoyed, after their first Music lesson of the year and Spanish too.
Paul and Fiona were keen to meet up with the class for Gymnastics on Wednesday morning before we really got stuck into Maths, English and Science – our new topic being ‘Seeing the Light’. This should not be confused with Thursdays RE lesson, the first in our focus this half term on the Liturgy of the Church of England. The children tested their knowledge of the various objects used at a typical Sunday service, then examined a couple of ‘Order of Services’ before we discussed as a class the key elements of Sunday Mass, which was most enlightening.
Starting our new English Poetry unit, the children analysed Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s classic, The Kraken (1830) – with the help of a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ clip – familiarising themselves with some of the more obscure vocabulary used. The following day, using their creative writing techniques, they went to town describing the creature in grisly detail, which of course they loved; lots of slime. On Friday they went through a comprehension paper…. They’ll be lots more of that this term!
My Maths group (what there has been of them this week) has worked on Decimals to three places, looking at all four maths operations – see Mathletics for more of the same. Mr Perry’s class have been finding fractions of amounts and well as the inverse; finding the initial whole amount from a given fractional amount i.e. If ½ is 5, what is one whole.
Thanks to all who made it along yesterday evening, I hope the details about the post-SATs trip to Whitby was interesting and the SATs briefing, informative. As discussed, details about your child’s SATs Booster classes will be with you shortly – English on Tuesdays and Maths on Wednesdays (3.30-4.30pm).
That’s it from me for week one, have a great weekend.
It’s always a funny old week at school, the last before Christmas and this year is no exception.
In class the children have been doing lots of ‘finishing off’, which has included their learning about the advertising of Christmas in RE as well as work on circuits in Science. Then there was the inevitable comprehensions in English and a few friendly Maths tests followed by Mr Gane’s End of Term Maths Quiz, so with all the regulars running right up to the wire too, the children enjoyed Computing, Drama, Gym, Spanish and PE as well this week.
It was Music, however, that dominated; with the children enjoying two practice sessions with Miss Rachel, a rehearsal for Miss Bell and then a whole run-through of the ‘Carols by Candlelight’ service in the church on Thursday morning and again in the afternoon. So, with so much hard work put in by the children it was wonderful to see so many of you at the church last night – weren’t your children wonderful! Undoubtedly the best in my view…. but it’s not a competition. What better way to start the Christmas break.
God bless and best wishes for a restful Christmas and a peaceful 2020.
The Daunt Books Children’s Short Story Competition.
Further to Mrs Pereira’s email on the matter I would strongly recommend that all children have a shot at this. The children can let their imaginations flow as there are no restrictions on genre, the only proviso is that the story must be all your child’s own work and must be between 300 and 1500 words.
How do I submit?
You should email your story as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 20th February. Please put your child’s name, age and class as the email title and on the story attached.
E.g.: Mr Gane – class Y6 Ayres (Age 34) Please also make sure that the stories are typed, double-spaced and single sided. A copy of the children’s stories will be kept in a special folder in the Library for all to read and results will be announced in April 2020 and winning stories will be published in during summer term.
Roald Dahl’s Matilda proved to be the ideal inspiration this week as the children planned, wrote and edited a persuasive letter to the Education Secretary in an effort to oust the demon Miss Trunchbull as headteacher at Crunchem Hall. They are getting to be a dab hand now at reeling off letters packed full of very persuasive arguments and counter-arguments delivered with just the right intensity of emotion. Super skills that I can see being put into action for real sooner rather than later.
My Maths group came to the end of their fractions focus with a look at dividing using Bar Models as well as KFC, and finding fractions of amounts – they celebrated with not just one, but two end of unit tests. Oh, and they’ll be some for homework too. Mr Perry’s group meanwhile have been looking at calculating fractions for all four operations; then learning how to simplify answers and how to convert improper fractions in to mixed numbers. It has been a challenging topic for a number of children in the class but Mr Perry reports that they have all worked really hard to get to grips with all the different methods they need to remember.
The run up to Christmas is always a busy time for the School Choir (including Florrie, Masha, Maggie, Basliel, Biba, Felix) which began its seasonal recitals at a well-known local mall, entering the annual Westfield Christmas Carol Competition on Wednesday afternoon. With some angelic solos and tender choral carols, they had a great time performing bringing joy to all around as well as a runners-up cheque as a gift for Mr Schumm! Well done Miss Rachel.
A dark Thursday afternoon was the ideal time for the children to continue their investigation into simple circuits. Itching to get their hands on the assorted wires, batteries and lightbulbs, the children first learned how the power in batteries in measured in volts and that by adding more batteries to a circuit, the voltage is increased. They also learned that components such as bulbs are designed to work on certain voltages and will ‘blow’ if supplied with too much power! Armed with this new knowledge, the children carried out a number of investigations recording the circuits they made each time by drawing circuit diagrams in their books.
In Computing, the children are getting to grips now with ‘SketchUp’ the 3D design software as they learned about specific features that allowed them to create a house and add a chimney. Next week they will build a new, more refined house as they develop their knowledge and understanding of the tool
I’ll end with ’The Greek Project’ which was truly overwhelming – the sheer amount of effort that everyone has put into them, the authenticity and individuality of each and every one, has blown away all who have visited our classroom gallery today. I recognise that it has been a long journey and one that I appreciate not everyone will have enjoyed. However I hope that you have all gained something from the experience. There is so much to appreciate and as I look around the room I can see a couple of Pandora’s Boxes, a selection of Greek armour, weapons and a shield, a Parthenon or two, an Acropolis, Monasteries of Meteora, a Mount Olympus mosaic, Medusa, a centaur, Icarus’ wings, lots of authentic looking pottery, a Golden Fleece and some beautiful Greek clothing! And this was just my own class! There were equally amazing examples in Mr Perry’s class and prizes will be awarded over the next week or so – although I know that the judges are finding it very difficult to pick the winners. The inter-year group popular vote went to Ryan and Daisy – two standout creations among their peers, well done. Congratulations to all the children and probably to some of you parents too!
Enjoy your project-free weekend.
Set: Friday 14th February
Due: Monday 24th February
Over the half-term the children have been set four SATs practice papers. They have paper copies of a Grammar (GPS) and also a Reading Comprehension test, both of which should be completed in the booklets.
The two Maths papers (Arithmetic & Reasoning) have been set on Mathletics. As always, the children are expected to read the questions from the screen and then use a pencil to work out their answers on paper. Only once they have checked their answers on paper, should they type in and submit their answer on Mathletics.