Monthly Archives: January 2015

A Friday round-up!

From this week’s newsletter

It seems to have got a little chillier since I last wrote to you, so can I please remind everyone that they need a coat, hat and gloves in school to wear on the play ground. I have certainly been glad of mine recently!

I would like to say a big thank you first of all, to the parents and members of FoWs who have kindly offered to help run the library on a Tuesday and Friday after school. It was my aim in the New Year to establish a regular pattern of opening hours, so that children, adults and members of the community can use the library on these days, which we have now achieved and I am thrilled. We are so lucky to have the library as a resource and I would like to see it used as much as possible, so please feel free to come along on a Tuesday and Friday from 3.15pm, where you will be able to browse our stock of books and borrow one or two to take home and enjoy. I would also like to thank those of you who so kindly donated books for our library. We now have plenty to be going on with and there are a number to be catalogued, so for now, we will not need any more. If you are a parent, grandparent or a member of our community who would like to make use of the library, please pop in during opening hours and let the librarians know and they will pass your information on to me. I will then create a library card for you. We do look forward to seeing you!

Our school council have been very active recently and are taking a key role in the improvement of our school for the children. They even have their own blog now: schoolcouncil.westwoodblogs.org, where you can read our minutes and see what our current topics of discussion and areas of development are. On Friday 13th February at 3.15pm, alongside my Tea with the Head, they are holding a cake sale as they have agreed that they would like to raise money for small play equipment for play times and lunch times. If you were able to make or donate some cakes for this event, we would be very grateful as the school council have planned it and will be running it on the day. If you have a moment to read our minutes, there may be other areas that you are able to help with in supporting them and our school. Thank you.

Around the school we are as productive and focused as ever, with lots of great learning taking place. Last Tuesday we held a maths day, which the children thoroughly enjoyed. With maths a focus for us this year, we are exploring different ways to engage children in their maths and to make it even more exciting for them. The impact of the Big Write and blogging has been huge to improve writing and we are now trying to emulate this with our maths. We also have a maths blog now too – maths.westwoodblogs.org. I would ask that you join us in our challenge, further developing our Home School Learning Partnership, by working with your child for a few minutes each week on their homework and by using Mathletics. A fantastic online resource, Mathletics is individually tailored to all of the children’s needs and allows developmental progress through a series of activities and online challenges against pupils of similar ability – a far cry from the Cuisenaire and counters approach that I had at school! Every child has their own login, found in their HASP book and the link can be found on the Home School Learning Partnership Page, under the Community tab on the school website. Have fun!

 I have had the very good fortune to spend time teaching in nearly all of our classes over the past two weeks. What occurs to me each time is that the children always enjoy their learning and are keen to engage in discussion in order to find out more and to develop their own knowledge, skills and understanding. With the IPC, I believe we have a curriculum which both inspires and excites our learners and the topics being taught across the school are fun, a key element to successful teaching and learning.

 You are most welcome to have a look at our School Development Plan for this year, as I have now added it to the ‘Our School Curriculum’ page of the website. On that note, we always welcome suggestions and improvements as I believe a successful school is constantly looking to improve in all areas. In particular, our website is very much a key resource for information and communication, so if you feel that this could be improved in any way, please let us know, but do make suggestions for any area of school life.

 Once again, thank you for your continued support in making our school community so successful and welcoming.

Have a great weekend

We’ve gone even more international…

…well, some of us have! I am thrilled to firstly let you know that the Lowtons have arrived safely in Mexico and that I can also point you in the direction of a new blog in the Westwood stable – Bella and Oscar travel the World.  As part of their learning, Bella nad Oscar will be posting, and indeed have bgun to already, write about their adventures, with added photos. We are hoping to link up with them at some point, so watch this space. In the meantime, check out their brilliant blog….

A VERY international Westwood!

At the end of a wonderful week, I thought I’d spend a few minutes sharing what I’ve enjoyed – we ask the children to do it all the time and they do it so well.

Our Google Hangout session in Clover class with our friends from Georgetown Elementary in Michigan went brilliantly yesterday, giving true meaning to the sense of international learning. The children were able to ask questions and get first hand answers about the weather, climate, locality and the clothes that you would need to live to live in Hudsonville. Without a live video conference, we would have had no way of knowing that they currently have a foot and a half of snow, with Snowmen aplenty dotted around the countryside. It brought it home to me that, as teachers, we try to impart and share knowledge on a daily basis to enrich children’s lives, yet the knowledge we share is often researched in preparation. The value of yesterday’s learning was far and above anything I could have taught the children and they will remember it much more clearly, which is super. I now have some more ideas for connecting classrooms and, of course, each class has their own international link so I am hoping that this will take off to strengthen international links and knowledge. HUGE thanks to Mrs Woodring and Room 104 for their time, laughter, fun and good conversation yesterday. I know it will happen again.

Here is an extract from some of our Google Hangout with Room 104:

I also happened to be having a wander around school this afternoon and I saw the progress and development in Lotus class’ electricity skills and understanding. i was with them earlier in the week and it was great to see how independently they were working with circuits, looking at fair testing and challenging their thinking. I also saw some fabulous writing in Thistle class from today’s Big Write. Considering that this was from our very youngest children, I was very proud. Continuing the theme in Clover class, the children got the opportunity to dress up in clothes from around the world which made for a very hands-on learning experience which they clearly enjoyed.  I’m looking forward to Monday when I get to teach in Orchid class again, which I haven’t for a while. Everyone in and around school has worked so hard this week, it has been a pleasure to see and is a reminder of the wonderful community we have at our school.

Have a great weekend everyone!

A couple of lovely days teaching

The last two days I have had the opportunity to get back into the classroom to do some teaching with Lotus and Clover class. Every chance I get, I like to grab with both hands as it lets me  see how the children are enjoying their learning first hand. I can honestly say that it has been a joy and a privilege. The children have all worked hard, committed to their learning and we have had a lot  of fun too.  It has been very diverse, also, with some super IPC learning on Electricity with Lotus class and today in Clover class we have been writing questions.

The reason? It’s quite exciting really. Tomorrow I am back in Clover class and the children will be asking their questions to some Y1/2 children in Georgetown Elementary School, Hudsonville, Michigan to find out what the weather is like there and the sorts of clothing they need. I thought it would add a little more excitement the already brilliant All Dressed Up topic that they are doing. Watch this space!

Below I have added some audio which I recorded of the children describing what they had learnt in their own words. Just to note that in Clover class today the children practised asking me questions, hence some of the responses!

IPC learning in full flow

What a busy Westwood week it has been! With the introduction of new topics from the International Primary Curriculum there has been a lot of excitement around school this week and I was able to celebrate much of that in assembly this morning. Despite the fact that we have only been back 4 days, there was a lot to celebrate, too, as there always is.

I always feel that into the Spring term the children grow in confidence, not only in their ability, but also in themselves as people and that has been particularly evident his past few days. In Clover classroom yesterday, I had the pleasure of recording the Thistle/Clover class collaboration of their ‘Clothes show’ spectacular. With a new topic of ‘All Dressed Up’, the children were asked to bring a teddy for their entry point, not knowing why and spent the day designing, making and modelling their teddies dressed in the outfits that they had created. Such good fun, a lot of learning taking place and some great catwalks by the children and their teddies. Today both classes are discussing their knowledge harvest – what do we know already about clothes and what do we want to know? Later in the term they will revisit this discussion to see how many of the questions have been answered. For a fun look at what happened yesterday, please visit thistle.westwoodblogs.org or clover.westwoodblogs.org.

In Lotus class a new topic of Electricity is well underway and I know that this afternoon they will be making circuits and testing them out. Already, there is plenty to see on their class blog lotus.westwoodblogs.org and the children are immersed in their new learning. In Orchid class a topic of ‘They See the World Like This’, a creative and artistic unit of work beginning with an in depth view of the children’s host, i.e. their own country. Again, please keep up to date with what they are learning at orchid.westwoodblogs.org. All of the children are very excited and I hope they will share their learning with you at home. Please ask them about it and if you need any support, the Class & Curriculum tab of our school website will tell you everything that they will be learning this year.

I hope that gives you a flavour of what we are working on in school at the start of our new term. If you feel that you would like to support us by sharing books with children or helping out, please pop into the office, we are always looking for volunteers.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Happy New Year!

A very warm welcome back to a new calendar year and a bright and shiny new term. I do hope that you all had a really super Christmas and New Year break with plenty of rest and maybe one or two mince pies…

It seems strange to think that we are already into the Spring term and that February will be half way through the academic year, but when you consider all that we have done and the children have achieved so far it is easy to understand where the time has gone. I always enjoy spending an assembly with the children on our first morning back, discussing resolutions, plans and challenges to improve ourselves. As always, the children’s responses were positive, thoughtful and uplifting and it is a pleasure to see our school community in discussion and working together so well. Today has been very much about that – settling back into learning and trying our best, which is always good to see and very evident throughout our school.

Another positive start to the term and i know one in which so much will be achieved by everyone. I look forward to chatting with you on the playground and don’t forget to keep up to date with what we are doing on our class blogs at westwoodblogs.org.