Sunday, 29 December 2013

Counting Guide for EYFS/KS1

As promised is my previous post on number progression, I am posting the guide to counting.

The key part is the counting wheel...


The counting wheel also works really well using Numicon, as discussed in my previous post entitled Counting to 100 and understanding place value.

Here is the guide...


I thought it would also be useful to share a powerpoint file containing the number plates for printing...



Please do let me know if you have any questions etc.


The Edgazette

Monday, 17 June 2013

EYFS - Using tablets to record observations

I presented to an e-learning conference today, sharing my experience of using mini-iPads to record observations. If this is something you are interested in, you may find the following slides useful...











Update : Early Years FSF produce a system called Tapestry...well worth a look...Link

The Edgazette

Monday, 10 June 2013

EYFS Role-play: Flight to Africa and Safari (downloadable resources)

I participated in the  forum on twitter last week (every Wednesday from 8-9pm), the theme for which was 'journeys'. Lots of great ideas were shared, so I'd recommend giving it a try.

A few people were interested in the 2-day African role play that I used in Nursery (it would work equally well in Year R or even Year 1/2), so I thought I'd give a bit more detail and share the resources that I used...


Day 1 - Flight to Africa

We started by making passports and thinking about what we'd need on holiday and on safari. The parents had been pre-warned that the children would need to dress for a safari on the following day.

The passports were simply made by folding over sheets of A4 and stapling them together. The children then stuck their own photo's to the front and wrote their names (with support as necessary).


Next we made toilet roll binoculars for the safari, and worked out how to make a hide so the animals wouldn't be scared of us. A few old carpet roll tubes and our new den making kit came in handy (obviously we had to take them on the plane with us!)...














Finally we made sandwiches and packed our snack time milk on the plane...we were role playing airport workers at this stage. Once we had made our aeroplane (chairs lined up in front of the interactive white board), we went back to being passengers and checked in at the airport. My TA dressed up as a flight attendant and checked their passes as they boarded, whilst I donned my Captain's hat and joined in the role play.

I showed the following video on the whiteboard, adding a sense of realism for the children. The video has audio as well, so the children could hear the pilot talking to the control tower and the engines revving up...

The adjacent image is a screenshot.

Click here to download pushback and engine start up video






Once everyone had settled into their seats, I showed the safety video. I downloaded Thomson's video from youtube which features children and is very engaging...




We were now ready for take-off, so it was time to play the next video...




Click here to download take-off video





Now was a good opportunity to listen in to the children's conversations, and support them in developing the role-play.

After a while some children became a little restless in their seats, so it was time for the in-flight meal and entertainment. Out came the sandwiches and milk, to be served graciously by my TA. I took care of the in-flight entertainment...an episode of Octonauts on iPlayer. We have never seen such depth in the children's role play, and even had to convince one or two children that it was safe to leave their seats and walk across the classroom to the toilet.

I brought up google earth on the whiteboard and showed the route we were flying before asking everyone to return to their seats for landing...time for the final video...



Click here to download landing video







Day 1 ended as we left the aircraft and found our hotels...went home!


Day 2 - Safari

Up early for the safari. The children came in dressed appropriately and off we went. A few helped build the carpet tube hide, whilst others prepared their binoculars and gathered pencils and passport books in preparation for recording what they might see.

Everything was ready now. Some children occupied the hide, and others crept around silently with binoculars at the ready. The only noise was that of the savannah...

I edited the following soundtrack myself, including an elephant, lion, monkey, rattle snake and tiger...

Click here to download savannah soundtrack

The powerpoint file below contains pictures of the above animals that can be printed and displayed for the safari...

Click here to download African animals.ppt


We gathered in and around the hide for our snack, and set about recording the animals we had seen.


There is a clear opportunity to extend this activity into writing for Year R/1.













Day 2 ended, and the children went home full of stories and souvenir binoculars and passports. The feedback from parents was excellent, so we snatched the opportunity to collect some home observations the following morning.


Follow up activity

Over the next few days we used the following African animal templates to make collages with sand, twigs and paint...

Click here to download African animal outlines.ppt


It was then time for the adults to take a back seat, observe, intervene and collect evidence of the children's learning...it was a joy.


The Edgazette

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Am I being replaced by Siri?

I've been using iPads (mini ones) in Nursery for two terms now.

I like them a lot!

My TA's like them as well...to quote just one positive comment..."you can't let the children have their dummies in class, but it doesn't matter anymore because the iPads work better."

The children like them best of all...


I've modelled all sorts of educational stuff, but to be honest it's hard work getting anyone to do anything other than play Temple Run on them...even the TA's (I jest...we're actually recording all of our observations and assessments on them...more of this another time).

One of the objectives in Development Matters is for children to know that books and computers can be used to retrieve information. This is quite easy to model for the children, and every now and again we have a 'google' session on the interactive whiteboard instead of story time. I follow their suggestions and we see what we can find out.

Last week I took delivery of a 'Lightning to VGA' adapter, which means I can connect the iPad to the whiteboard and speakers....playing Temple Run that big is seriously good fun!...anyway, once we got over that I could demonstrate how to search the internet on it. All went very well, and on the spur of the moment I decided to show them Siri....oops!

Some had heard Siri at home, but for many it was a new experience. Probably didn't help that my opening question for Siri was "what are you doing tonight?"..."I'm learning some new languages" came the response....bemused laughter all round...

Me : How old are you Siri?

Siri : I'm not allowed to answer that question

More bemused laughter...

Me : What is the worlds tallest mountain?

Siri : Let me think about this...laughter, and then up pops a little picture of Everest with some statistics...impressed 'wows', followed by 'can I have a go now?'

So, it's time to end the modelling and let the children take over. Following the children's ideas...that's what EYFS is all about!...slight nervousness on my part...had I overdone the humour or was my last question serious enough to keep things on the straight and narrow?

I hand the iPad on to a very sensible 4 year old....

Boy : Poo

Siri : Sorry, I didn't quite catch that?

Boy (louder) : Poo

Siri (displaying 'who' rather than 'poo' on screen) : Who, indeed?

Boy : Big poo

Siri : I make you unhappy?

So then, Siri has a sense of humour...

Boy : Big poo from my bottom

Siri : Let's keep it clean here, OK

Boy (looking embarrassed) : I always wipe it

Siri : I don't understand 'I always wipe it', but I could search the internet for it?

Whole class (including staff) totally lost it now....uncontrollable laughter and tears...

I've always enjoyed playing the class clown and being at the centre of all things humorous, but it seems that Siri, complete with his dry American sitcom delivery, is the new game in town.

It's now only a matter of time before the children start asking Siri serious questions, and discover that his knowledge is total, his patience endless, and that he only speaks when spoken to...then I'm finished!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Racing to understand place value in EYFS

Place value is a fundamental concept in our number system, but it tends to fall between the cracks until children reach KS1. In fact many children struggle with it well into KS2. The National Strategies research project - 'Children who get ‘stuck’ at level 2C in mathematics' states place value as a key barrier to children progressing to the all important level 2B. To quote from the report...

"Most children were not able to recognise and state that there are 52 objects altogether in a set containing 50 objects that were arranged in 5 groups of tens alongside another 2 individual objects."

"In a test question, none of the children working at level 2C could identify that 37 has 3 tens; this compared with 60% of the children working at level 2B."

Neither Development Matters or the EYFS framework makes any mention of place value, so you could justifiably think 'it's not my problem' if this is where you work. However I hope that my previous post on counting shows how it can be successfully embedded from Nursery onwards.

However, the activity I set up today was never intended to tackle place value...

It started off as an attempt to engage a group of boys in number recognition. It's a group of boys that are always together, usually dressed as superheroes, and whose interaction with adults is mainly limited to 'can you put this Batman cloak on for me', 'can you make me another Ben 10 watch' and 'tcheew' (you know, the sound that Spiderman makes when he throws a web at a baddie). 

They were intrigued when the giant cardboard tube appeared, and no doubt had ideas of their own before I placed it on a slant between the bridge and a table. I sat down at the table with pen, paper, and a box of cars. Batman came up to me and spoke...

"What are you making?"

"I'm not sure yet Batman...what do you think?"

"I'm not Batman, you are"

"Why do you think I'm Batman?"

"Because you say 'Batman here' when you answer the phone from the office"

"Oh yeah, I was only joking. You're the real Batman right?"

"I am....can I have a car?"

"Ok....take one for Robin as well"

"Who's Robin?"

So off he went with the cars. He gave one to his friend and they did the obvious thing....what else would 3 and 4 year old boys do when supplied with some toy cars and a cardboard tube set up on a slant!?


After a few goes each the next natural step occurred...

"Mine went further than yours"

"No it didn't"

For me, Early Years teaching is all about intervention. You set up a learning opportunity, let the children lead it, and then intervene at the key moments that can lead them to learn something new.

I intervened...

"Can I draw a number line so you can see which car goes the furthest?"

"What's a number line?"

"I'll show you"

So now we had the learning opportunity set up...digits in place, and a motivation to use them.


Five minutes later there were about 15 children lining up to take part. Some recognised a few digits, some all, and some none. Some of those that knew all took on the role of teaching others (natural referees!), and I sat back and watched. It soon became time to intervene again...

"The cars keep falling off the end, we need more numbers!"

It wasn't my idea, this was a 3 year old girl intervening.

I brought out another table and extended the number line for them. I added the blue Numicon pieces at the side to represent the tens (with arrows drawn to show which numbers they related to), thereby supporting them in decoding the bigger numbers. They are familiar with counting in tens from our counting sessions, and I modelled how to match the Numicon with the tens digit, and then how to add on the units digit (establishing place value). The race was on again...



One boy was very proud that his car had almost reached the end of the number line. I asked him what number it was. He said 77. I was pleased that he had linked a big number with the end of the number line, and started to show him how to use the Numicon to decode 31. He was somewhat ahead of me...

"I know that's 31. My car is number 77. That would be 7 Numicons."

"Wow, that's very impressive!"



Using the National Strategies research quoted above, that's a piece of level 2B knowledge that we wouldn't expect to see for another 3 years or so. This is not a child genius (generally working within 40-60 months), and I haven't done anything particularly time consuming or exceptional to support him. However he was presented with the opportunity to piece together his existing knowledge and to 'construct' his own learning. It's served as a reminder to me that there's no harm in planning with 'unrealistically' high expectations in mind!

The Edgazette

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

How to use the Revised EYFS Profile...from the horse's mouth!

I attended a course today entitled 'Implementing and Moderating the Revised EYFS Profile'...

The details of the Revised profile are only just becoming clear, and with deadlines for data submission looming it seemed like a good idea to find out how it's supposed to be done!

My expectations for the course were not too high, but it soon became apparent that the man delivering it, Jan Dubiel, is a key player in the Early Years world. He was in fact responsible for delivering the previous EYFS Framework, and was on the approval panel for the revised version. He is the man responsible for coming up with the 80/20 rule for child initiated/teacher led! We were lucky enough to be hearing it from 'the horse's mouth' as it were, and I took the opportunity to get answers to many of the questions we no doubt all have...to be fair, Jan answered most before there was any need to ask.

I thought it would be useful to share some of Jan's key points (I won't repeat things that are clearly stated in the DfE documentation)...

Evidence & Documentation
Only record what is significant for that child. Record what you will otherwise forget.

Observations should not be carried out on a planned or timetabled basis, we should respond to whatever the children are doing/learning.

There is no need to gather 3 pieces of evidence or similar for every learning step (apparently it's a myth that there ever was...Jan would know, as he is the one who wrote it!)

There are two types of observations...

Instantaneous : Recording the 'wow' moments.

Detached (what we might call extended observations) : No need to do these regularly or for every child. Be careful, as they usually won't tell you anything new about the child. They can be useful for the 'invisible' children that might otherwise go unnoticed (the ones that don't grab us by the arm all the time!)

The majority of evidence should come from child initiated activities, as this demonstrates that they can apply their learning in a different context to that which they were taught in.

It's OK, or even good, to intervene when observing a child in order to extend their learning at a key point where they might otherwise lose interest.  It is also OK to move them on and enable them to demonstrate their new skill/knowledge.

It is clear that children should only be assessed against the ELG's as 'Emerging', 'Expected', or 'Exceeding' when completing the profile. However, if a child has moved beyond 40-60months before profile time, then they can be assessed as 'working within' the relevant ELG.

It is a statutory requirement to prepare children for the ELG's (the implication is that ELG's need to be built into planning from an early stage).

The ELG's must not be split up into their constituent sentences. Assessing is about the 'best fit', not ticking off all the parts.

The characteristics of learning assessment should be 5-6 sentences in total.


OFSTED & Demonstrating Progress
Despite the fact that the ELG's are only assessed at the end of Year R, OFSTED require schools to demonstrate the progress that children make. Although Development Matters is non-statutory, OFSTED are largely expecting it to be used as a framework for assessment within schools, particularly to assess children on entry...

On entry to Nursery, 3yr olds should be secure in 22-36 months, and be working within 30-50 months.

On entry to Year R, children should be secure in 30-50 months, and be working within 40-60 months.

Anything less is below age-related expectation.

On-entry assessments should focus on the Prime areas, and be completed by October half-term. Don't judge the first two weeks, as this is assessing the children's response to transition.

Despite plenty of analysis, no correlation has been found between EYFS data and performance at the end of KS1 or KS2. Therefore, no sensible predictions or targets can be made for children at the end of EYFS.

Finally, the pilot for the revised EYFS Profile showed that 41% of children reached a good level of achievement (this low figure is due to raised expectations, particular in literacy and maths). We have been set a target of 75%.......I suspect we'll all be keeping our heads down when the national results are published in October....Gove will no doubt be blaming us for the poor results, but who will the press turn on!?


Jan Dubiel is the National Development Manager for Early Excellence. www.earlyexcellence.com


The Edgazette
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