Teacher, Mr Gane with Teaching Assistant, Mrs Hayes.
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 email@example.com 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.
Homework: Friday 17th January 2020
Due: Monday 20th January
Please finish the ‘Underground City’ comprehension (started last weekend) in the CGP fiction book pages 18-21.
Please complete all of the set Mathletics Activities by 9am Tuesday morning. Remember to use a pencil and paper to do all of your workings out!