Class Ethos

After reading multiple books and blog posts covering topics such as ‘What is the point in school’, it has really made me think what I want sort of children I want the children in my year 4 class to be. Following on from this thinking, including hearing Will Ord at the 2014 mindsets conference and reading ‘Encouraging Learning’ by James Nottingham, I have created a class ethos. I will refer to this regularly during all lessons to remind children what it is I want from them. Actually, completing the lesson outcome is down the list. The skills and attitude listed in the ethos is far more important. If these are in place, the outcomes will be achieved as a by-product at some point on their journey.

Here is the graphic I have made. Each image is A2 in size, so it will be a reasonably decent size once it is printed.

Let me know your thoughts either on here or via my twitter. Here is the template in Publisher format (ClassEthos2014) in case you want to steal and modify it.

ClassEthos2014 ClassEthos2014_2



Child Collaboration Rubric Poster

I have made a little poster with the intention of improving the quality of peer-to-peer feedback in my classroom. The systems of supporting each other rather than sitting with their hand in the air are now in place and working 90% of the time, but I still feel the quality of dialogue can be improved. Some of the less confident children (both in attainment and personality), just take their partner’s word for it and change their ideas without asking any questions! I created this poster and hope to get the children using these as discussion prompts when they decide they need to chat about their learning. Let me know what you think, either via a comment on here on on Twitter (@stevefoxast).

Here is the PDF file (A3).


Christmas Themed Writing.

I have been on the lookout for inspiration on Christmas literacy activity.  Having looked at, I decided to do something with their idea on using the current Cadbury advert (here is the link).

The children will watch the advert a couple of times before I explain their task. An example text will be shared, the children will discuss this. What is good about it, what don’t they like or would change when they do it.  I have included a few Alan Peat sentence types in this writing, based on the ones we know so far (2A, boys, ly, O(I), 3_ed)

They will then use the planning document (provided in link) to map out ideas and words before writing their own version on special ‘chocolately’ paper! During the process, peer feedback and assessment of their writing should happen throughout. If this isn’t happening, I will stop them and nudge them in the right direction. I also hope to level this writing to aid in my assessment for autumn 2.

You can look at, use and change my resources here:

I would love to see children’s writing, if you decide to do this in your class. If it can be put on a blog, my children will look and comment.



Using Google Docs for drafting writing.

In literacy we have been writing warning stories, using a template (The Canal by Pie Corbett) changed to include Alan Peat’s sentence types. This has been a little bit arduous as we ended up ‘boxing up’ the story a paragraph at a time before writing that paragraph. They found it quite hard at first to ‘modify’ the example to fit the new storyline.

As part of the writing process I have been trying to develop effective peer to peer feedback, giving them specific things to look for and comment on. Although the feedback is improving, the children are still not critical enough in their reading of each other’s writing. They still miss basic punctuation and grammatical errors which they spot easily when doing the same task in a whole class situation. I aim to carry on working on this, training them to look for, and feed back, on specific things.

I also wanted to level this writing to give me information for my Autumn 2 O-track levels. Therefore, I wanted the children to work on their own, and each others, writing without very much imput/feedback from myself at this stage.

Now they have finished their drafts, I have marked their work using our marking policy. There job now is to re-draft their work, this time using the Chromebooks and Google Docs. This is the first time I have done this and so far, very impressed by it. Being able to add comments onto their writing in real time is fantastic. As they address the things I say, we can tick the ‘resolved’ box by the comment! See the picture below for a screen shot. I will update you, with some finished examples, when the project is complete.


Active Reading

In literacy we have been using active reading techniques to generate questions and ideas about extracts from a text. Children were given two random paragraphs from a warning story, they then stuck these to a sheet of A3 paper and wrote questions around it about the text. We fed back to the class about our own paragraphs, stating what we found out, e.g. It was a stormy day, mum was a worrier.

As a class, we tried to piece together the text orally before writing a 5-sentence story about it, using evidence found.

Our next challenge is to write our own version of the text, paragraph by paragraph. All of this before we have even read the text fully, as a whole story!


Paired Reading to Improve Levels.

We have an extremely large year group of over 120 children in year 4 this year which makes it hard to listen to children read as much as I would like. Obviously we have TA and adult helpers, but I want even more! I am setting up a dinnertime reading system whereby the higher attaining year 6 children ‘pair-read’ with the lowest 15 readers in year 4. This will run 2-3 dinner times a week.

In addition to this, I also run mixed ability paired reading during the week within my own class. The children love it. Sometimes they read the school reading scheme book, othertimes a free choice from the classroom and on a Friday they can bring in their own book. The children really enjoy it. Here is a video clip of paired reading as I want it to happen, both children engaged in one text.

Paired reading from S Fox on Vimeo.

Circuits with Littlebits.

Last week I was excited to receive our order of ‘Littlebits’, 15x starter kits. It is basically an electronics set which snaps together via magnets to create circuits.

The first session comprised of letting the children ‘play’ with the components and figure out what they did (Outcome: I have identified what each component does in the circuit).

Littlebits Intro from S Fox on Vimeo.

During the next session, they planned how they could use the circuits, along with art/craft material to produce some kind of product. This could be a toy or something to perform a job.


5-sentence stories with a sweet twist!

In literacy we have been writing 5 sentence stories using given openers. We have used ‘Rory’s Story Cubes’ app to generate ideas for our stories from the pictures rolled.

As an end of term treat, the children were given 5 Rowntree’s Randoms sweets to do the same task. They had a level 4 features checklist to adhere to. If they were successful, they could eat the sweets! Some great short stories were created which could easily be extended into longer writing, had we had more time. They posted their stories on The learning platform as a blog reply.

Here are some examples of the stories written and some pictures.