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Exciting writing!

At the beginning of this year we had the pleasure and inspiration of a visit from Julia Skinner, creator of the 100 word and 5 sentence challenges. I have followed Julia on Twitter for a number of years now and have used her writing strategies in class, both in my time as a teacher and still now when I work in class with our fabulous children. After a day with Julia visiting each class, every member of staff has used her strategies this year to enhance their teaching and to give the children the opportunity to be the best writers they can possibly be.

What has always been so apparent is that given a creative, inspiring or thought provoking prompt, children will take their writing to places that we may not normally experience. You see, the 100 word challenge and 5 sentence challenge have no boundaries. No limitations. The children are given a prompt, be it a picture or a few words and they can write descriptively with passion, focusing solely on the one stimulus, giving it their very own spin. This, I have found for children, is liberating and allows them to be completely free in their writing, producing top quality content that they are proud of.

Then of course you add in the power of the blog and children’s writing is taken to a whole new level as suddenly they experience an audience for their work. An international audience of educators, children and peers from around the globe who are all interested in what they have written, complementing them on their writing and even suggesting ways to improve through comments on their blog posts. For our children this has been so empowering and so exciting, to know that somewhere, someone has enjoyed what they have produced and has taken the time to say so. Of course, teh children have also been able to comment on each other’s writing and that of other children around the worl on their blogs and so we have started to develop a network of opportunity that inspires, motivates and engages children to write for a purpose.

I am incredibly proud of what our children have produced this year. Some have even made it to the prestigious showcase – picked by teachers from hundreds of entries as some of the best. A fantastic achievement. Having had such a successful first year working with the challenges, I am very excited for next year as we will be using 5 sentence and 100 word challenges extensively to inspire children to be the best they can possibly be in their writing, harnessing that creativity, whilst at the same time enhancing the harder to learn areas such as grammar, punctuation and spelling. I am delighted to be collaborating with Julia to produce a scheme of work over the summer that will enable us to do just this and will look forward to teaching it in the new academic year.

In the meantime, here are some of those that really matter, our amazing children, talking about what they have enjoyed this year about the 5 sentence challenge and 100 word challenge. If you would like to have a look for yourself, visit https://fivesc.net or https://100wc.net. It really is a fantastic idea that has produced some outstanding writing from our children this year and I am so grateful to Julia for her inspiration.

Thistle and Clover Class get dramatic!

This morning Thistle and Clover class have been enjoying some drama during their learning time. Faye visited us to work with both classes and a huge amount of fun was had by everyone as they pretended to be a variety of characters, exploring their creative skills.

Here are some photos of the children having a fantastic time. Do please ask them what they were enjoying!:

Westwood Radio visits the BBC

This week I had to get a blog post down as it has been incredibly exciting for us in school. On Monday our incredible broadcasting team we’re invited to visit BBC Wiltshire and to take part live in Marie Lennon’s morning show, which was just brilliant!

Emma Colman, who works for the Marie Lennon show on BBC Wiltshire 9am – 12pm weekdays, learned of our children’s success with their radio broadcasting and visited us in October to interview some of the children. Emma was even interviewed for one of their shows whilst she was here! Having had their piece played out live on air following Emma’s visit, the children were then invited to the BBC Wiltshire studios in Swindon on Monday where they took part in a live show with Marie, explaining what they enjoy about their radio station and how they are able to connect with their audience in the community and beyond. Of course, we all had to ask how Marie plays the jingles and fades the microphones in to see how it compared with our studio back at school. What was fascinating to watch was how the children were so engaged and interested in the technicalities and running of a professional radio station and Emma and Marie were just so lovely, answering all of our questions and making us so welcome.

Showing the same level of confidence, respect and professionalism that they do every week on air, the children were superb and a real credit to the school. They also got to meet some of the other presenters and the brilliant team behind every BBC Wiltshire programme. It was certainly an experience and a day to remember for our budding presenters and our huge thanks to Emma, Marie and the team at BBC Wiltshire for giving us such a wonderful day.

Here are some photos and clips of our magical day:

Another reason to feel proud

No doubt that you will have seen in the news and on social media this week that the organisation of the SATs from the highest level has been less than what we may have hoped!

In school however, the atmosphere, planning, preparation and commitment from everyone has been superb. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking Mrs Tyler and Mrs Robertson for their compassion and for ensuring that, in a time of some uncertainty and potential stress, the children were as happy and positive as ever. With a wonderful breakfast club to come in to every morning, plenty of upbeat tunes to listen to and their friends around them, the children were given every opportunity to take this week as it came. This is, of course, how it should be.  Their commitment was, of course, outstanding. Their smiles, ever prevalent. Their attitude, exemplary.

Well done everyone for a really great week, I could not be more proud of you all and I know that every single person will have given their absolute best, as that is how you all are. Now, please, have some fun…

 

A great start to the term!

It’s been such a busy start to the term that I haven’t been able to sit down and write about it! With so much great learning taking place throughout the school and children engaged and excited, it is lovely to see them being so enthusiastic.

Already in Thistle and Clover Class there have been celebrations of Chinese New Year, culminating in a wonderful dragon dance, which all of the children enjoyed taking part in. If you would like to see for yourself, you can, it’s here: http://clover.westwoodblogs.org/chinese-new-year/. Now we have classroom learning environments adorned with red and gold and it all looks fantastic!

In Lotus class and Orchid class, new IPC topics have been the focus for attention, with lots of excitement around the entry points. Entry points are the ‘WOW’ moment to introduce a brand new topic, without letting the children know what they will be learning. We have found that this approach engages them very quickly and hooks their interest, resulting in a very rich and valuable educational experience. Lotus class this term are learning all about Egypt – you can see their entry point, as well as a lot of brilliant writing and even some French, on their blog: lotus.westwoodblogs.org. Orchid class will be focusing on a unit of work called ‘Switched on’. This will involve looking at how things work and experimenting with their own ideas. Their first impressions, as well as some super diary entries and much more can be found at their blog: orchid.westwoodblogs.org.

With World Book Day this Thursday, everyone is looking to find that magical costume to wear of their favourite character. Don’t forget to bring the book it is from as well. I am sure the teachers will want to share some of the stories throughout the day! Let’s hope the good weather continues for our cyclists too, although that may be too much to ask…

The build up to Christmas…

I always think that this is the most magical time of year in school, but it can also be the busiest. Busy in a good way. Today the school was filled with the fun, excitement and enjoyment that you would expect for early December. From the hall I could hear Thistle and Clover class practicing their performance. Not only was the singing wonderful, but the children have worked incredibly hard to learn their lines and stage directions. I am very much looking forward to their performances, but I won’t say too much as I know it will be a super day.

With our broadband now upgraded to lightning fast fibre speeds, the children were keen to use ALL of the laptops at once today to test it out! Some excellent work by lotus class on their Scratch projects, all focusing to code their work effectively and systematic debugging to ensure that their programs worked properly. This afternoon it was the turn of Orchid class who, having the benefit of a laptop or Chromebook each, were able to research for their IPC topic and develop their knowledge and understanding even further. All of this to the backdrop of Christmas musical interludes from our pianists, learning their festive songs in the entrance hall and gymnastics in the hall to the tones of Noddy Holder’s I wish it could be Xmas everyday!

It really doesn’t get much more diverse and with smiles in every corner of the school, you know that everyone is having fun with their learning. Now I’m off to prepare for a curriculum parent meeting. Perhaps I should wear a Santa hat to get into the mood…

Digital Leaders

At Westwood school we now have Digital Leaders! You will recognise them from their shiny green badges and they will help you with your blogging problems and anything you might want to know. Please ask them and they will be happy to assist.

Here they are introducing themselves:
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