Tag Archives: school

What happens when Mum forgets to say good-bye?

The pressure of balancing work and home life is something most parents juggle on a daily basis. Sometimes the morning rush means good-byes are forgotten in the midst of drop offs and rushing to work. Little One is left behind with so many worries: will Mummy come back? Where has she gone? Why did she have to go?

All you need is Big Ox, his canoe and his absolute favourite spoon to take you away from your worries. Sail away into a world of fantasy and fact as Big Ox takes Little One on an adventure in space where they hope to wave hello to Mum and hopefully disperse those worries.

— Read on http://www.amazon.co.uk/Space-Dust-Eloise-Sousa/dp/0244808430/ref=mp_s_a_1_1

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Monday Corrrfffeee!

It’s a beautiful day here in south east England and there’s a freshly boiled kettle waiting for us to fill our mugs. Join me in the garden for a coffee and catch up. Continue reading

Author Week

It’s that time of year again at our little primary school, when we gather the children and throw them into a time machine, a fantasty world or, in this case, an evacuee’s body and transport them to another place. Welcome to this year’s theme: The Midnight Garden. Continue reading

Catch Up Coffee

Monday has been devoured by time lords and I am desperately clawing away time to catch up with you before the week disappears. Grab your beverage and let’s meet at the yellow sofa for a quick catch up. Continue reading

Monday Coffee

Quick! Grab you mug and come join me on the sofa. I have some news! Continue reading

Monday Coffee

Thanks for joining me at the virtual coffee house! It’s great to see you after such a long time. Grab your coffee and let’s get settled on the big yellow sofa in the corner near the fire. It’s chilly again tonight and the threat of rain is imminent, as always. Continue reading

The Hook

Every Friday afternoon, my Writer’s Club meet to share our latest work, new ideas and, of course, complete the flash fiction and haiku challenge of the day.  All this is done in half an hour.  But, one of the first questions I ask when a story is discussed or an idea is framed for peer discussion is: what’s the hook?

Books flow in abundance from adults willing to share their lives or create escapes for others to enjoy. The purpose of these writings, the hook, is vitally important for any child to grasp if they want to become good writers. I can correct their grammar and spelling or focus on punctuation till I’m blue in the face. Alas, it doesn’t make their stories any more interesting if they don’t have a hook, a purpose.

Through so many sites, companies, self-help books and other paraphernalia,  we are taught the winning structure for getting our written word published – the how-to and what-not-to-do. In school, we focus more on getting the children to write legible sentences that fulfill the protocols set by government standards (which never stay the same). While some children sail through and grasp the concepts thrown at them with ease, others struggle and need a change of tack to get them to enjoy learning about grammatically correct sentences that mean absolutely nothing to them in the scheme of things. But, imagine if, just for a change, we focus on their enjoyment of the task. Imagine if we motivate them to find what’s missing from their work and to add it in all on their own.

That’s my purpose. I find the key to turn the engine to get the child motivated enough to find the missing link. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. That doesn’t mean I give up trying different ways, nor does it mean I ever think a child is a failure or incapable of improvement. It’s thinking outside the proverbial box of education and finding that spark to ignite the young minds to infuse their work with their personalities; to find the hook. I aim to enhance their skills as writers and become something that won’t tick all the boxes immediately, but will send them off with a confidence to learn more and achieve something greater than just a good grade: self belief.

So, the next time you enter a classroom or run your intervention groups, think of that exceptional child in the corner looking at you with his or her chin held in defiance to learning…and smile. You are the seer, the oracle. Give that child the key to unlock the knowledge trapped inside and set his or her mind free. After all, what’s the hook to this tale?

Monday Coffee

Hello! I am so happy to see you back here in the coffee house. It is great to see the decor has changed: the new paintwork and art lifts the atmosphere as does the new furniture. Dibs on the bright pink patchwork sofa near the bookshelves housing our resident authors’ books. If you’ve ordered your beverage, why not join me on the sofa. Tonight, we have the singers from This Is Jinsy entertaining us.

The first two weeks of studying have passed swiftly and I am thoroughly enjoying it. My love of history is growing with every assignment and meeting the other students and my tutor have secured my confidence in the course. What have you been up to over the time I’ve been away? I have been trying to keep up with bloggers and authors, dipping in and out of their blog pages and FB. If I haven’t managed to visit you or say hi, please forgive me. You are definitely not forgotten – I will get to you as soon as I can.

With us sailing swiftly towards November, my Writer’s Club at school is brimming with excitement. We have spent the month of October preparing for our exciting new novels and I am happy to say we have new children attempting the great feat of writing their own stories over the next month. Many are now veterans and are so helpful in prompting the younger ones (my youngest member is 7!) and have such a mature attitude to the writing process. Many have won prizes over the past year through different competitions run by the Young Writers. The challenge this year is going to be to reach 5000 words which is a lot to ask for any junior child. I have great confidence in them all and wish them the best of luck. Unfortunately, this year I will not be competing as it will be too much with assignments, work and the clubs.  Don’t think I could push for more things to do. Plus, it will be my birthday month!

Are you planning on challenging yourself over the month of November? What genre story do you plan on writing? Does your mind stumble and you find yourself stuck with only one idea? Well, there have been so many good ideas floating around the net about how to write and Robyn Paterson has shared great formulas on crime fiction. The best advice I can offer, if you feel some trepidation, is to enjoy yourself. Pace yourself and try not to fall too far back on your word count each day. If you do, don’t worry. Find the time to make up the word count but don’t leave it to the last week or the last few days! Try to give yourself enough time to load your story and verify your word count at the end and hey presto – you’ll be a Nanowrimo champion!

Now, let’s sit back and enjoy the last song of the evening before we have to return to our normal lives. Thanks for joining me and I’ll catch up with you soon.

 

Wine o’ clock

I love long lines of traffic, moody children complaining in the back and the scowling sky threatening to cry out to the world below. Love the stress of trying to balance a workday with after school clubs and meetings for four different children preparing for their new year in a new class (two at new schools!). Love the plucky looks of parents eyeing out my dog hanging out the back window as I park because he’s decided to make himself sick and nearly die, and me spending sleepless nights watching over him then going to work.

Yup. It has been fun. 

Suffice it to say, I am declaring it wine o’ clock and all my worries be damned! As I pour my glass of Shiraz and slip into my oversized pjs that don’t match but are the most comfortable clothes I possess, I feel bubbles of excitement fill my body. The thought of a night of relaxation with XXX on Sky (yes, of course I love Vin Diesel but not in the way you would think – I want to be him, not be with him!!) and my secret stash of Turkish Delights just waiting for me, I plan on forgetting the pending appointments for the week ahead, the deadlines on books I still haven’t finished writing and my start with the Open University where I will be studying a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. 

Yes folks, the future may be bright and filled with opportunities, but just for tonight, I’m taking a break. 

Please, be kind and leave reviews for my books. I will try to keep posts flowing on my blog but they will be intermittent (as they have been for the past few weeks). Apologies if I miss your posts. I will try to keep up but a few will fall through the cracks. 

If you need me, send me an email or contact me through my social media sites. I’m still around, just focusing on not drowning under children, work, studies and pets! 

Hugs to you all. 

What a week!

A while back I used to write a post called Saturday Confessions; it was a way of opening up and sharing things I had never shared with anyone else; kind of releasing the inner me onto you, the unsuspecting public! 
Well today I have woken up with that same feeling, due to the fact that I’ve achieved another awesome week at work, which I shall go into more detail about in a tick.  The other part is due to the incredible amount of work my fellow staff put in to make our school a cut above the rest.

Yesterday, I spent my break time duty walking around a playing field full of happy children, laughing together, singing in groups, challenging teachers on duty to races and encouraging them to play games, which the staff happily obliged in doing. The setting was almost too perfect to my cynical eye for the joy I felt was overwhelming. How on earth could 200+ students be so happy and content at the same time? I kid you not, those kids were beaming!

Now this leads me onto the reason why I was happy to volunteer to write an enrichment week for the teachers. Watching them and seeing just how much effort they put into their work, how much time and energy they place in getting the detail right to cater for every single child in their class and the support they provide for those lagging behind as well as the advanced students – it makes me proud to be a part of their support team. 

With careful consideration as to how we would utilise the resource, I had to write up themed lessons that would inspire the children to use their abilities in literacy and showcase their imagination, mixed in with technical writing skills for moderation. Not only that but giving the theme enough traction for the teachers to plan mathematics and science based lessons on it made it more challenging. With my Literacy Co-ordinator giving me her list of requirements, we banged out the objectives for the week and I began my planning. 

If I had to combine the time spent on creating the enrichment package, I would say it took me a week, maybe more, to get it right. That included meetings, editing and re-drafting of some lessons. Since time is not exactly free in this life, I spent my spare moments to piece this all together. 

Once the completed product was ready, I presented it to the deputy head (who is also the  head of junior literacy) and  Literacy Co-ordinator (who happens to be the head of early years Literacy). My theme was space, genre type: science fiction, and it roughly covered descriptive writing, diary entries, formal letter writing, code breaking, plotting a map and creating plants and animals found on a planet in our galaxy. There was, of course, more added details to make each day fun for the children and we included ideas (from the teachers) on artwork we could create during the week.

Once the package was approved, I made sure to role out a teacher pack and student pack so that everyone was on the same page. 

I’m not going to lie and say it’s an easy task or that there are no hiccups along the way. Some children respond beautifully to these specialised writing tasks, whilst others shut down completely and find it overwhelming. But that’s where the staff step in and make it all possible. Like superheroes, they descend onto the unsuspecting child struggling in the corner and sit with said child till they understand what is required of them. The teaching assistants work their butts off to support the teachers and by the end of the week, we have children from Reception through to year 6 using the same enrichment package and producing work on the same theme. 

It’s really exciting! 

For added effect, this year I included a link up with the National Space Centre in Leicester (from the midlands whereas we are based in the south of England) and we held a virtual classroom in the hall with all 200 children in attendance. They were so well behaved; we were very proud of them all. The space commander answered their prepared questions and the children got to interact with the presenter and watch video clips from NASA. They were pretty spellbound when they saw footage of the first jumping spider in space and I was hooked to the screen too!

To close the week off, we all dressed up as book characters, the staff choosing to dress as aliens in underpants! I’ll share a pic with you that my Headteacher took which I assumed was of just the book but included me. We ran an assembly celebrating the work from each year group and listened to stories read out from their missions. I got to read Aliens in Underpants Save Earth to the children and we all had a good look at the artwork created throughout the week.

Yes, as I said, it was a lot of hard work and creating the package was wonderful, but watching it get rolled out across the school made it all worthwhile.

Last year, the children went on a quest to save a baby Phoenix; this year they became space cadets and had to save the world and travel to Proximate B. If I’m asked to write the enrichment again, where will I take them next year and what will they become? Who knows, we might just go back in time or become something fantastic!