Tip #7: Fidget toys: good. Poor expectations: bad.

Classroom Climatology

CC Tip #7- Fidget toys- good. Poor expectations- bad.This week, fidget toys have received a lot of attention in the media. Apparently, they’re being banned by exasperated teachers but according to the research out there, they do work. As teachers, should we bother to use them in class and if we do, how can we do it so it doesn’t annoy the living daylights out of the class? A clearly communicated, well-enforced approach should do the trick.

Before I go and further, I have two confessions to make. Firstly, I’ve got ADHD. It’s linked to Tourette’s Syndrome (thankfully, not the swearing variety, coprolalia) but it has all the bells and whistles associated with ADHD. Secondly, I banned fidget toys from my own classes early in my career despite knowing how important controlled fidgeting is for my own concentration.

Are fidget toys worth it?

Did I make a mistake? Probably. Evidence shows that fidget toys enhance cognitive performance and…

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Place Value Snap

One of the key objectives in Year 2 maths is to understand place value and recognising different representations of 2 digit numbers.  I thought that snap would be a great way of recognising these different depictions so I have made a pack of 56 cards which represent 14 2-digit numbers in 4 different ways like below:

Place Value Snap

Click here to download the word document which you can edit and change the numbers.  A copy of the original but as a PDF is available by clicking here.

Video for evidence when you are moderated like I will be in June!

Thanks for reading and sharing.


SATs Sunday

Miss B's Learning Journey

It’s that day. The Sunday before the SATs. SATs Sunday.

It’s an odd feeling for a Year 6 teacher. We know that we do not need these 4 days of watching our much loved children be put under strict time pressure to perform to prove both their own knowledge (and let’s be honest- our own professional abilities). As dedicated educators, we know that we have challenged their thinking, taught them as many skills as we can, made them more aware of what they can do every single day than the tests will ever show, and yet, here we are, faced with the cold harsh reality that, like it not, tomorrow we begin another round of the SATs.

I find myself sitting on the fence when it comes to the subject of tests.

In my previous life as a solicitor, sitting on the fence was what you had to do. You’d…

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Key Stage 1 Reading


Image credit

Following the success of the daily maths interim assessment sheets and maths moderation tests and also after working with the awesome John Murray (check out his website here and his Twitter feed – @ReadingExplorer), I have started to put together some reading comprehensions for Year 2.  These will be short texts (less than 100 words) with some anchoring questions to get the children thinking about the text before even encountering it; some questions about the gist of the text; some literal questions and some deductive and inferential questions about the text.

You can download them here and I will be adding to this, hopefully on a weekly basis.

Please let me know what you think of them and any improvements that could be made in the comments section.

*UPDATE 01* New reading comprehension added – The Darkness

Thanks for reading.


Maths Interim Assessment Sheets



If you, like me, are scrambling to gather evidence to show that your kids in your Year 2 class hit points in the interim framework, you might be using some of the interim assessment framework points as areas to teach.

I have made some sheets based on the exemplification materials for the interim assessment framework which you can download here.

These are different from the weekly checks which my class have been working on and I’ll be updating this folder each week with more work.

I don’t claim that these are the best work I have ever done, but they will help me collect evidence for moderation.  If they help save you a few minutes, please feel free to use and share.



Edit: The complete set for all 16 points of the interim assessment framework for maths are now in the folder for downloading.

KS1 Maths Moderation

Don’t do tick lists!

That is the message that is coming loud and clear from all areas to teachers who have to collect evidence to prove that their judgements are valid.

Don’t do tick lists!

However, we do need to see your evidence and it has to be readily at hand.

Don’t do tick lists…


*Edit: Let me add that I hate that I have been forced to do this kind of madness with 6/7 year old children. I dislike the term ‘Play the game’ as I don’t see education as a game.  However, in the sorry state of affairs we find ourselves in, this might be a way to lighten some of the burden.


After being on a KS1 assessment and moderation meeting last week where it was shared that there needs to be abundant evidence of children meeting all of the points in the interim assessment framework for teacher assessment, I have devised some simple KS1 maths quizzes that link to the 16 points and I have cross referenced them with examples from the exemplification materials released by the DfE as well.

To download them, click here or click the image.


All feedback to make them even better would be gratefully received. Just leave a comment below or find me on Twitter.


A twiddler, A dreamer, A silly-heart, A jabber-box – all round bad egg?

Making sense of Little minds


People like to start with a quote – mine’s a biggie:

Buck Russell sits down and sees that Anita Hoargarth the Assistant Principal has a mole and begins to make a fool of himself before she interrupts him…

AH: I’m assistant principal here…as you’ve probably noticed from the indications on the door.
BR: This door?
AH: The outer door!
BR: The outer door.’Cause there’s nothing on this one.

AH: That’s about enough of that. I’ve been an educator for 31 point 3 years…
and in that time, I’ve seen a lot of bad eggs. I say “eggs” because at the elementary level we are not dealing with fully-developed individuals.
I see a bad egg when I look at your niece.
She is a twiddler, a dreamer, a silly heart and she is a jabberbox.
And, frankly I don’t think she takes a thing in her life or her career as a student seriously.

Anita Hoargarth drops her pencil in a dramatic and “I’m finished” kind of…

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I’ve got to go home…

(Written as part of the #29daysofwriting on staffrm.)

“I’ve got to go home… I’m not feeling too well.”

These were the words that began an embarrassing incident. 

It was a warm, June day and I had PPA in the afternoon. School at the time had organised for a PE specialist to come to school and take classes to release teachers for their PPA. They were teaching kids athletics and covering the basics in running, jumping and throwing. That day was supposed to be looking at different ways of jumping with some skipping included. The PE specialist left me her plans and explained everything comprehensively and everything looked straight forward so I sent her home. 

I would miss my PPA, but I knew I would be able to catch it up somewhere else along the line. The only minor problem was that I wasn’t in my PE kit. I was in a shirt, tie and suit trousers, but it was only a bit of running, jumping and throwing so I thought I would just take off my tie and it would be OK.  

How wrong I was…  

The activities were on the field and were all set out as our Year 6 sports leaders had been helping. 

“What a doddle!” I thought while the sun warmed my back and I led the class down to the field.  

We were all ready and I started to demonstrate each station. Throwing the foam javelin; bean bags in a bucket; relay races. All pretty straight forward.

Until it came to the standing long jump.  

I started to demonstrate how to do it.  

Knees bent.

Arms swinging. 

Body swinging.

Build momentum. 



I lifted off and flew through the air. Michael Jordan had nothing on me!

Then I landed show how to land with bended knee and on both feet.  

As my knees bent, I heard and almighty RRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!

My eyes almost popped out of my head. I looked down. My suit trousers had split open from just beneath the zipper almost all the way round.  

The kids exploded with laughter.

And that was the day I learnt that wearing a PE kit is essential for PE. 


(I did say to another TA in school “I’ve got to go home!” and managed to dash home, find a pair of tracksuit bottoms and get back to school quite quickly as I only live 5 minutes away!)

The F Word

September 2001:

“Sir… Sir… Dean’s just called me the F word”


Dean and Oliver (names have been changed) were in Year 2 and this kind of language was very rarely heard in our school.  I went from normal teacher to verging on the edge of incandescence in 0.37 seconds.

“Dean. Here. Now!”

Dean looked sheepish.  With a hangdog expression, he made his way towards the front of the class, each footstep heavier than the last until eventually reaching the spot in front of me.

“Well?” I demanded.  “What have you got to say for yourself?  What on earth happened to make you say ‘that’?”

Dean’s head sunk even lower as he mumbled an explanation.

“Dean,” I said. “look at my eyes when you speak so I can hear what you are saying.”

Dean lifted his head. He could see the fury in my eyes and that I was ready to explode.

“Oliver called me an idiot, Sir.”

“That is no excuse to use the kind of language you used,” I replied.  “Do you know how rude that word is?  You won’t hear me or any other members of staff using ‘that’ word.  I think your parents would be very upset when they find out you have used ‘that’ word.”

Dean’s head almost touched his toes at this point.  I glanced over at Oliver.  His face was a mixed of shock and confusion. It was as if he knew that the word was wrong, but he was shocked at the level of reprimand I was laying on Dean.

And then a light switch illuminated in a small, dark corner of my brain…

“Dean,” I said with the dawn of realisation rising in my early teaching mind. “Please can you quietly spell out the word you used?”

Dean raised his head.  He looked into my eyes. I nodded, the shock and anger draining quickly from my face.

“F – A – T”

And that was the day I realised that when I am dealing with ANYTHING a 6 year old said, I have to make sure they actually saw/heard it and also to find out exactly what was said and why before I show any emotion.