Curriculum: Year 3, Terms 5 and 6

So, it’s been a looooong time and lots has happened, which I don’t actually have time to write about. I’m on here because I was clearing some stuff out and found the list of curriculum topics Katie had for the last two terms of Year 3, and wanted to keep a record of it for nostalgia’s sake but didn’t want to keep the list around (I have enough junk). So, here’s a quick summary of the main subjects:

Science: Plants, mainly of the flowering variety

Geography: Physical geography including the water cycle, types of settlement and land use. Locating the world’s countries, particularly in Europe and North/South America.

History: Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age

Modern Foreign Languages: French

RE: The Hindu belief that there is one God with many different aspects

PSHE: Sex and relationships education

Computing: Creating wikis and a group blog (come to think of it, I have no idea what happened to that; I don’t recall being given a URL to it, which is a shame)

Also, Maths, English, Design and Technology, and Music, all of which had general enough descriptions that I didn’t bother writing about them. Also, swimming classes in Term 5 (in continuation from Term 4 – they had 12 weeks of lessons altogether).

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Jamie’s new regime – Week 1

Jamie’s new regime was, unfortunately, interrupted in the first week when he woke up in the earlier hours of Tuesday with a nasty stomach bug; fortunately it proved to last for little more than twenty-four hours, but consideration of infection risk required me to keep him off for another two days after that, so he was only actually in for Monday and Friday of this week. This also, annoyingly, made for a delay in the find-a-different-school endeavours, as I actually had appointments to look round two places on the Tuesday (after a morning of phoning around local schools on the Monday) and of course had to postpone them so that I could stay home with Jamie. (They are now rebooked for this coming Monday, along with a third who rang me back with an appointment a few days later, so it will be a busy but hopefully fruitful day.)

Other than this, the trial regime has been an almost unqualified success.

There have been some problems, which was only to be expected; he still has as-yet-unmedicated ADHD, and no-one was expecting him to turn into an angel overnight. However, the problems now are on the level of ‘shouted at teachers and called them stupid when he got frustrated with his work, but teachers managed the situation by reminding him he could ask for a five minute break if he needed it’ which obviously isn’t great, but is a massive improvement on ‘spent half the morning running round the school attacking anyone who tried to head him off from anything too destructive’, which was the kind of thing that was happening before. He’s been actually getting his work done. On Friday, he managed two decent-length pieces of written work – a letter on internet safety and a list of facts he’d looked up about the Battle of Britain – which is excellent for a child who hates written work so much. He’s been getting on well with the TAs, who love his cheeky personality (and are very impressed by how well he does maths!)

Part of the regime is that he now has homework, for the first time in several years; I wasn’t sure how this would go but in fact he’s done very well so far. It consists of one Maths and one English task given out on Wednesdays (or Friday this week, because of him being off, so it’s annoying I didn’t realise this was going to be the case or I’d have asked for them while he was off and we could have got them out of the way before he went back – oh, well) and handed back on Mondays, and spellings to be learned for a test on Wednesdays (which I assume will also normally be handed out on Wednesdays, but that hasn’t quite been specified). This week, his English was two pages of questions on plurals (there isn’t too much to write per page as it’s fill-in-the-blanks stuff with lots of spacing between questions) and his Maths was speed-mental arithmetic. I suggested to him on Friday evening that it might be worth doing some of his homework then so that he didn’t have it all to do on the weekend, and he sat down and did the English (though I had to help him a lot as he didn’t seem to have done plurals before), and he did the Maths this morning. It was only a few minutes for each so it was fairly manageable, but being willing to sit down and apply himself to get it out of the way is unusual for Jamie and such a great sign.

I do hope this lasts; but, at the very least, I now feel much better about the idea of speaking to head teachers on Monday trying to sell them on the idea of taking my son. We’ve seen how well things can go, with the right environment. With the hope of medication on the (distant) horizon, I’m feeling much more positive about Jamie’s schooling than I’ve done in… goodness, practically since he was in Reception class.

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Jamie’s new regime

Although it isn’t something I’ve chosen to talk about on this blog beyond a passing mention, Jamie’s school life, which has never been good, is currently going catastrophically badly; he’s refusing to work and is almost constantly being excluded for his uncontrolled destructive outbursts. A lot of this, it now turns out, is because during all the years that everything amiss in his behaviour was being blamed on his autism he has in fact also had undiagnosed ADHD. Now that we finally know this, we can look at getting him some medication, although the slowness of the NHS means that that won’t be happening immediately. Still, it’s been a very welcome gleam of hope.

However, there are also a lot of concerns over his current school setting and their handling of various issues. To cut a long story short, we are trying to find a change of school placement for him (a drastic step given that he’s in his final year here, but we’ve reached the point where it does need to happen) but that is proving difficult for various reasons. At an emergency meeting on Wednesday, therefore, the staff proposed the following solution: Jamie can be moved out of the autistic unit and into the school’s resource base, where he will spend part of the time doing Year 6 lessons with small groups of students and part of it working on project work of his own choosing. For the Year 6 lessons, he will do Maths, English, and topic work on the Battle of Britain. For his own project work, he wants to choose computer hardware. This will be a temporary setup to give us a few weeks to find a different school for him. If it doesn’t work out, the next step will be to have him tutored at home, which will raise enough practical complications that I hope it doesn’t come to that, but we’ll worry about that if it happens. The new regime starts on Monday and we’ll see how it goes.

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Homework: Year 3, Term 1

Katie’s list of tasks for homework this term is:

  • Describe an animal of your choice using WOW adjectives without telling me what it is. Remember to use a range of punctuation. Can you use paragraphs?
  • See me for a handwriting challenge sheet
  • Go on Mathletics. Can you earn a certificate?
  • Go on a bug hunt. What minibeasts can you discover? Create a bar chart.
  • When you next go to a shop, write down and draw six things you could buy for less than £1. Then add two different amounts together. How much change would you get from £1? £2? Repeat and show me 6 different calculations.
  • Do some research on our new class topic (topic to be revealed on 18/9/15!) Create a fact-filled poster and illustrate. Ask if you would like to borrow a topic book.
  • See me for a Maths challenge sheet.

The class topic, Katie tells me, has been revealed to be Egypt. Sounds interesting.

Katie initially picked the Maths challenge sheet for her first choice, but I pointed out that we hadn’t got one at that point and she’d have to wait until she could get it from the teacher tomorrow, which in turn would mean that she’d have to do her spellings that night to get them out of the way… she went for Mathletics instead, which was nice and straightforward. Harder times still to come. Oh, by the way, I am pleased to report that she got a perfect score in her six times table test on Friday, which means, if it works the same way as it did last year, that she only has to get one more perfect score in the 6s before progressing to the 8s. Which is good to know.

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Homework, Year 3; also term topics

Katie has now received her homework book for the year. The weekly homework load is, apparently, going to be the same as in Year 2 – ten spellings to learn, one task from a list, reading three times a week and unspecified practice of tables. The only difference is that this year, spellings are given out on Wednesday for the next Monday rather than on Friday for the next Friday, so we only have five days to work on them, during which we are also supposed to be getting the week’s task done; that’s going to be a bit of a pain, though I daresay we’ll manage (fortunately, Katie’s quick at learning spellings).

Again as for Year 2, the first task given was to decorate the homework book. This time Katie put much more work into it than she did last year, when she started off enthusiastically collaging a couple of things but then tailed off; this year, she’s covered the front of the book in coloured paper and produced a beautiful 3D design in other colours of paper on top of that, as well as writing her full name very carefully in multicoloured lettering.

Speaking of times tables, I see that the last time I updated on that matter (at the end of February) Katie had just finished learning 3s and progressed to practicing division sums. I am pleased to report that, after reaching sufficient standard on the division sums, she moved on to and in the fullness of time conquered the 4x table, followed by the 6 (these days, the tables are learned in order of ease rather than in numerical order the way we used to do them). She was just moving onto 8x at the beginning of the year, but this year seems to be starting back on 6s again, which sounds useful for giving her extra practice. Year 3 still have the custom of having a tables test on Fridays using a standard sheet set out like a racetrack with numbers on, where you write the answers to the sums in the times table you’re learning next to each number. Katie got 21/26 on the 6s last Thursday, so I assume she’ll be working on those for at least a couple of weeks yet.

We haven’t had any term syllabuses yet, but apparently Katie’s class theme is ‘Under The Sea’, and Jamie’s class topic is going to be ‘Hot and Cold Places’; today he was meant to be working on the Kalahari Desert, though getting any work out of him (he’s on exclusion again, alas) is like pulling teeth so ‘meant to’ are the operative words there.

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Homework, Year 2 Term 6

Home learning tasks for the last term of Year 2:

  • Draw a detailed map of the area around your house. Can you identify the physical and human features?
  • Draw a picture or take a photograph of your house. Write an interesting description. What type of house do you live in?
  • Choose a topic that interests you. Prepare a short presentation to deliver to the rest of the class. Remember clear, expressive voices.
  • Write instructions about ‘How to Grow Cress’. Remember numbers and time connectives.
  • Weigh different items around your home using any scales you have (kitchen, bathroom). Focus on accuracy. What items added together make 1kg, 100g, etc?
  • Go on Mathletics. Can you earn a certificate?
  • Find 5 items of food. Have a look on the packet and find out what country it comes from. Record your findings in a table. Can you locate all the places on a map?

This time Katie omitted the ‘How to Grow Cress’ instruction-writing. For the map, she drew our back garden, which may or may not have been what the teacher had in mind; it appeared to pass muster, anyway. I must say that our food-buying habits aren’t very interesting; four of the five items she picked turned out to be from the UK and one was from France. At least we’re buying reasonably locally, I guess.

But the presentation was where Katie really shone; she chose this as her first task, and was the only person that week to choose it, which made her the first person from the class to do it. She decided to present on the computer game ‘Spore’. I tried to keep my contribution to just giving her a few hints about what level of detail to aim for with a class who didn’t know anything about the game, and let her figure out most of it herself, which she did brilliantly. She thought up the summary (which I typed out for her) and practiced presenting it to me, and then did such a good job of presenting it to her class that her best friend apparently came out of school insisting to her mother that she had to do a presentation next week like Katie had done. Good to know my daughter’s inspiring someone.

And that’s it for Year 2 – which also, by the way, means that that’s it for Key Stage 1. Next year (tomorrow, indeed), Katie enters the giddy heights (or something) of Key Stage 2. I’m looking forward to seeing what Katie and Key Stage 2 make of each other.

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Homework, Year 2 Term 5

Katie’s home learning tasks, Term 5:

  • Think about our class piece of music ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’. Create a wanted poster to describe the troll. Remember to include adjectives.
  • Borrow some coins from an adult. What amounts can you make with the coins? Record the addition sentences in your books.
  • What information can you discover about nocturnal animals? Choose how to share your information with me.
  • Be creative – design and make an island. Make it out of anything you like!
  • Go on Mathletics – can you earn a certificate?
  • Create a treasure map of an island. What will be on your island? How will you show where the treasure is? Maybe you could add co-ordinates to the map.

Katie did the map first, using some of her father’s graph paper to put co-ordinates on it, followed by Mathletics, the coin sentences, the island, and, rather to my surprise, the information about nocturnal animals rather than the poster; she had the bright idea of doing it as a table, which her teacher was pleased with.

The island impressed me most, though, since I never have a clue how to do anything like that and am forever intrigued by Katie’s ability to plan and execute these things; she drew and cut out an island shape from paper, drew around it on a piece of cardboard and got me to cut it out and stick it on as backing, stuck the whole lot to a piece of A4 paper, and coloured the island in yellow for sand and the paper around it blue for water. She added a two-dimensional palm tree on the island and shark fin in the water, with eddies drawn round it (she got me to do the fiddlier bits of sellotaping). I was extremely impressed, though that faded a little when I saw the islands the other children seemed to be producing; one was an amazing papier-maché creation and one had layers of cardboard stuck together for contour lines. But maybe their parents helped them out with ideas, who knows. In any case, I’m suitably impressed by Katie’s island-making abilities.

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