We look forward with great excitement to welcoming all our children back to school on Monday. Our children have lived through extraordinary times and I have no doubt that the different effects of the pandemic may be felt for some time, for some children. We will need to be supportive, encouraging, patient, kind and understanding. All children will need to adapt again to being at school full time and to work independently in the classroom to a timetable.
Our children have generally shown remarkable resilience thanks to the support you have given them at home, and the guidance they have received from their teachers at school. We do not want the pandemic to define our children, although we must understand that their lives have suffered severe disruption.
I want to think at this crossroads in time, that there are different paths that can be selected for all. We could adopt a "can't" attitude because there are very reasonable excuses. Or, like the remarkable generation that lived through the war, our children may well be far more resilient and approach the future with determination and a "can do" attitude, eager to learn and more appreciative of all the opportunities they now have. They may indeed become another remarkable generation, and I want them to believe that anything is possible, and they can still achieve anything they want with the right attitude.
I will be encouraging all our children to take the second path and return happy to see and play with their friends and to approach all the elements of school life with determination, perseverance and thoughtfulness.
We are all here to help and if you have any particular concerns about your child/children then please do not hesitate to contact me.
One of our PE activities promoted this term was the Virtual Gymnastic competition where children were asked to produce a gymnastic routine consisting of at least 6 moves in a time of no more than 90 seconds. We had 14 boys and 8 girls who entered a routine across Key Stage Two and I am delighted to report we had a third place in the boys competition with Thomas, Yr 5 and a Champion 1st place in the girls competition from Pippa also from Yr 5. Congratulations to everyone who entered, as this was a tough challenge, to not only think up your routine but to then video yourself and enter. Courage, determination and a belief in yourselves certainly came through from everyone who entered. Pippa now qualifies for the County Finals which will take place in a few weeks over a virtual platform which hopefully we will all get a ring side seat to cheer her on.
Winning Entry from Jai, Yr 5
Science Department Perfect Snowball Competition
A small reminder of our beautiful snowy weather before half term. Mr Park set a challenge to Class 3, to create the perfect snowball using science principles. We also received a few extra entries from children in other classes. There were 18 entries in total (I think some got “used” before arriving at the judges tent) and some were disqualified, as although they may have hit the perfect target (Mr Park and Finley playing Cricket), they were not in the scientific spirit of the competition! Jai (Yr 5) and Billy (Yr 4) have been judged as being pretty close to perfect. Well done.
Winning Entry from Billy, Yr 4 (Top ball of trio)
Disqualified entry from Mr Park
Grantham Prep 100 Skipping Challenge
The children have been working on their skipping skills this term and we have managed to extend the challenges even further with the introduction of our own "Grantham Prep 100 Skipping Challenge". This competition has been launched world wide to our partner schools across the company. The challenge has been inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore and his story which has been widely publicised throughout the last year. The 100 Skipping Challenge encourages the children to work on three skills - Single, Double and Running on the Spot bouncing and each skill is worked on in arches of 20 seconds for a total of 100 seconds. Over the next month all the schools in the IES family are going to be developing their fitness levels and also their maths skills through the fun activity of skipping.
Last Wednesday we were delighted to welcome scientist Harriet Edwards from Albumedix, a global biotechnology company, to answer our questions about Covid vaccines and the virus itself.
The children asked challenging questions, which were answered brilliantly by the Global Affairs Director. We were all very grateful for the time she gave us and I am sure she helped to inspire the next generation of scientists.
Young Shakespeare Company - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Every year, we are visited by the Young Shakespeare Company, who offer us a performance of one of Shakespeare's most famous plays, plus workshop activities that include the children, and the teachers, in telling the story. The children are incredibly fortunate to experience this opportunity, embedding a passion and enjoyment for such classic literature and performance, pitched at an appropriate level.
We were really not too sure what would happen this year, but we were absolutely delighted that they were still able to offer year group zoom workshops.
Emily, from the Young Shakespeare Company, led sessions for each class in the Juniors, which magically still enabled the children to get involved with the action and to help tell the complex story of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
As I'm sure you are familiar with the tale of a love triangle, a father who will not allow his daughter to marry the man she loves, the magical characters in the wood, the loveable Nick Bottom and some bumps in the road along the way. A timeless classic.
The children were captivated and engaged throughout and Emily renamed each child as their character; we all spoke lines, made sound effects and joined in with slow motion running, fighting and spells.
We all hope that we are able to welcome them into school again next year, in person; however, it has to be said that I felt that each class was able to be more involved and immersed in the story telling in this way.
As always the experience was engaging, thrilling, exciting and reinforces how much fun Shakespeare truly can be.
This week started off with a very busy Monday. We had our Jo Jingles session which was a lot of fun. Mr Alkiviades asked the children to use some drums. We included pots and pans in the mix so we could make as much noise as possible!
In the afternoon, just before home time Mr Ridgeway, Aneira’s daddy came slightly earlier in order to show us Aneira’s rocket launch. Aneira had made a rocket during the half term break that could launch high up into the sky using water power and a pump. We all counted down from 10 and after a couple more pumps the rocket zoomed off towards the grey sky. It was very exciting to watch. Many thanks to Aneira and Mr Ridgeway for demonstrating their super homemade rocket launch.
We also celebrated St David’s day on Monday and learnt a little about the story of the red dragon battling the ice dragon. We had some yummy Welsh cakes for our snack time and some beautiful daffodils brought in by Aneira. We all had a go at saying Happy St David’s day in Welsh too.
The children have also been busy making things out of clay which they were totally enthralled by for many minutes on Tuesday afternoon and made some good models. On Wednesday we continued with our Space project. One more planet to go and our display board will be complete!
In Reception we are so excited that all the children will be back on Monday. We have been counting how many sleeps it is on a daily basis with both the children at home and at school!! There have been so many smiley faces it has been lovely to see!
We started off the week with the famous traditional story ‘The Gingerbread Man’ and the children enjoyed sequencing the main events in the story. They then went on to write some independent sentences about the main characters as well as made some amusing puppets and role play masks.
They also had some additional scientific challenges to try and see if a gingerbread man would float or sink? What would happen to the water? Some of the children decided to try it with their pet dogs’ biscuits instead. This was much to the amusement of the animals as they tried to eat their biscuits while they were bobbing up and down in the water!! What a fun experiment.
In our Maths we have been looking at positional and directional language. The children were confident to instruct the bee bots around the room in all different directions and through lots of obstacle courses! On Monday in the Jo Jingles Zoom class with Mr Alkiviades the children had lots of fun looking at birdwatching. They managed to bang their drums and flap their wings to the music. It was a very lively Zoom session!!
World Book Day
What a fantastic World Book Day. The children all looked great in their costumes and enjoyed sharing their favourite books. The children listened to the author Jonny Duddle who read his book called Gigantosaurus which linked to George’s costume and the book that he shared on Zoom with his friends. He is such an expert on dinosaurs and how to pronounce all their names!! He has over 400 dinosaurs in his collection at home!!
On World Book Day we were also extremely lucky to have the book illustrator –Nicola Slater sharing one of her books ‘The Leaf Thief’ online with the class and many other schools. It was amazing to see her illustrate the characters in the book in such simple stages that the children could copy her easily and produce their own drawings. They were really pleased with the end results as were we. I think that we have some budding illustrators in the wings!
Well done everyone, once again I am so proud of all the fabulous learning that you are doing at both school and home.
This week, Class One have worked extremely hard both at home and in school. It was lovely to celebrate St. David's Day on Monday and World Book Day on Thursday. I have to say that the book characters really came to life on Zoom - excellent dressing up and storytelling everyone. Many of the children read and shared extracts from quite challenging texts. I was very impressed. Alongside these fun experiences, the children have produced some beautiful pieces of written work. In Numeracy, the children have been encountering their first try at the three times tables, having further practice on telling the time and honing their mental maths skills.
In Literacy, the children have composed a class poem (over Zoom) about Spring, written dragon stories and discussed 'opposites' or 'antonyms.' Our Science session this week was spent in a virtual meeting with Harriet, a real-life scientist who answered all of our questions about Covid-19 and the associated vaccine. She made this tricky topic incredibly understandable and accessible to even our youngest pupils. All members of the 'Class One Team' will be reunited next week and it will be so wonderful to see everyone in school. Please have a lovely weekend and come back refreshed...another busy week approaches! Thank you to parents, children, nannies and all helpers for the sterling work done to support us over the past weeks. You have all been amazing.
It all began on Monday morning with The Young Shakespeare Company's performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream via zoom. The children thoroughly enjoyed taking an active part in the storytelling of this magnificent tale. Some of the children were given individual roles to play whilst everyone else played their part in creating the atmosphere and backdrop for the story. Fantastic morning.
The Borrowers was the focus for our comprehension this week. A story many of the children hadn't heard of. The children worked hard to answer questions about the opening extract and then had a long discussion about whether they had borrowers in their house. Some even looked for gaps in the skirting boards imagining they were doors to The Borrowers home.
On Wednesday the children were involved in a very interesting question and answer session about Covid19 and the production of the vaccine. The children thought carefully about the questions they wanted to ask and learnt a great deal.
In STEAM, I asked the children to get outdoors and create a nature photo frame. They created some wonderful frames as you can see from the photos.
Then came World Book Day. As well as dressing up as some of their favourite characters from books, the children were treated to a meeting via zoom with the author Lydia Sanders. She explained to the children how she became an author and what inspired her.
She also gave the children an introduction to some of the books that she has written and set them a challenge to write their own story about a scientist.
Well done Class 3. I cannot wait to see all of you back in school on Monday.
Class 4 have had a very busy week, starting with a busy day on Monday - St.David's Day - I was especially proud to be Welsh - following on from the rugby result.....but I shan't gloat!
We also had Serena's birthday to celebrate - with Class 4 making and designing some lovely cards to share with Serena.
We all really enjoyed the Young Shakespeare Company's Zoom - with some great interaction and acting of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. Following on from this, Class 4 have put pen to paper and have written poems, imaginative letters (from Hermia to her father - telling him why she ran away to the wood), and a report of the workshop activities.
Here are some of their poems - 'The Magical Wood' - with the frames designed and made in Art / Steam lessons. Very atmospheric work Class 4 - you were certainly inspired!
This week class 5 have started their Tudor topic work by looking at the Battle of Bosworth. This key battle in English history ended the War of the Roses and heralded in the Tudor Era. Take a look at some of the children’s work.
Following on from the amazing Shakespeare workshop with the Young Shakespeare Company, we were sent a pack of excellent activities to do, linked with A Midsummer Night's Dream. To make the choice a little easier, I chose 3 that they could choose from: a wedding invitation, a letter from Hermia to her father explaining why she must run away, or a scripted continuation of the argument between Oberon and Titania.
The children attacked this with the same enthusiasm, drive and creativity as they have shown throughout this lock down. Some of them even had a go at translating it into Greek - remembering that the play was set in Athens!
We have also been busy auditioning for the forthcoming production of 'Shakespeare Rocks!' Watch this space for further updates and announcements...
Using Technology to increase participation in Mathematics
For the past year and a half we have incorporated Sparx Maths into our curriculum at UIS, and I am pleased to say that so far it has had nothing but a positive impact on our students. We are currently using the homework program to reinforce what the students are learning in the classroom. The are numerous benefits that I have seen of using the program such as:
Increased independence in their learning - as the program differentiates for learners they are for the most part, able to complete their homework independently.
Motivation to reach the next level - the program rewards students for their learning and I make sure that they are recognised for their achievements within the class and the school community.
Bookwork checks - whilst the program is online, the bookwork checks ensure that students are still meeting the high standard of bookwork that I expect in the classroom.
Reinforces all concepts learned - The consolidation homework reinforces topics that they have previously learned so that they do not forget them over time.
Here is some feedback from some of the students in my class:
Q: What do you like about the Sparx program? A: Regular practice helps to build our confidence in Maths. It is also good to review previous learning and we also learn concepts that we are being taught in the future. The videos are very helpful as it is like having our teacher at home and it's a fun way to learn.
I am excited to see how the program develops in the future!
Ms Chantel Rodas,
Head of Middle School and Middle School Maths Teacher