I’ve spoken and written before, back in the days of Staffrm, about how important it is to ‘bump’ into previous knowledge all the time for it to have time to embed and be understood. As always, time is always blamed for this not happening properly in schools then *voila* they turn up in the next year group with gaps to be filled. Being back in Year 6 has highlighted this fact. In some cases, there are 6 years worth of gaps to determine and address and seal, which seems like a bottomless chasm to fill!
Here are some things we do in Year 6 to start filling these gaps, whilst not adding too much to the workload:
// Morning starters – 8:40 – 9am
- These are tailored to Year 6 objectives and change after assessments to target specific grammar, punctuation and spelling issues whilst also developing their vocabulary (Unicorn word = they nominate new words that they disover from their reading and I pick one each day which will support their writing that week). Pictures are taken from Pobble365, Bing homepage and Unsplash.The children can technically come in any time between 8:40 and 9am. Children are expected to finish all 5 questions, so we have found they come into school earlier than at the start of the year. Parents seem to support this as we discussed the importance of learning time at the first Year 6 meeting that was held.
Why kill ourselves by making our own resources all the time when there are amazing resources out there for a small price which have a massive impact?
- I’ve been a big Times Table Rockstar fan for three years now and have finally got a team (and indeed school) on board with it too! We mainly use the sheets as a daily activity, but children are expected to use the website at home as part of their homework, so we get even more information from their heat map about what times tables need targeted in class.
- Obviously, there are children who can’t access a computer at home, but investing in the app has helped this interestingly. We also provide these children with time at some point a few times a week to use an ipad – we do only have 2 children who need this, so this is manageable.
- We stream for maths so displaying their heat maps in my set (top) is a great motivator – this isn’t always the case. Our children have a great embedded outlook on the importance of their individual improvement rather than comparing to others, so they all have their heat maps in their maths books so they can compare every 2-3 weeks.
Spelling shed is something we have now rolled out across year 6 to help target not only our Y5/6 vocab and spelling rules but those from younger years too. Again, due to limited ICT resources, we use the printed packs, but this doubles as time to practise handwriting!
// Diagnostic Questions
Children in my set (top) should all be achieving ‘greater depth’ and because they are so confident in some areas, there’s no need to start at the beginning if they have a good understanding already – what a waste of time we just don’t have! Before each unit I set some diagnostic questions to assess for areas of particular strength and weakness to make sure that they’re all being stretched and supported as much as possible in each lesson – we only have an hour a day with them after all!
// Review sessions
Across the school, we now do review sessions as feedback from Year 6 as it is something we kind of automatically do anyway. These sessions are based on marking that week – what have we noticed about individuals/groups/whole class and target those things. We all use a good old fashioned class list and make notes throughout week and every fortnight one of the lessons is timetabled to be a ‘review’ session. This has now branched out into Maths too and, because it is timetabled, there’s no excuse for it to fall off. (Below is this week’s so it’s not as chocca with notes as normal)
// Longer ‘starters’
Using review sessions and tests to analyse where we aren’t bumping into knowledge enough for children to understand how to use and apply it. It took me maybe an hour to break it all down and find test-style questions based on these areas for development so every lesson starts with Times Table Rockstars, followed by paired whiteboard work discussing up to four questions. The conversation is key thus the paired work.
//WEDWK stolen from @cooperjoe
What Else Do We Know?
Children have the opportunity to apply previous learning and their targets to current learning to ensure they stay fresh – fractions is always key. It’s also a way to find out (like in the second picture) where gaps are – thus why the longer starter pictured above has volume in it now!