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Reception Lesson flow + Number Recognition

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by Mac93, Mar 12, 2016.

  1. Mac93

    Mac93 New commenter

    Hi everyone

    I'm a trainee teacher and I really could use some advice. I have been called to an interview where I've got to teach a low-ability reception class number recognition to fifteen for an hour.

    I'm not worried about taking the little ones, but Reception is a new experience for me since most of my experience has been within Reggio-inspired Nurseries/ SEN schools where children would pick an activity during free flow and I'd turn that into a learning opportunity, rather than planning an extended session like this. I'm not even sure how many children there will be but I'm going to assume 30+. I don't know if there will be any TA's, if there are any SEN/EAL or anything like that.

    How does a typical Reception lesson "go"? About ten minutes for an opening activity on the carpet? Five-ten minute plenary/final group activity...I've thought about setting up three or four activities in the middle as the main thrust of the lesson (and getting them to swap at some point) but I'd appreciate some advice on how a Reception lesson should be organized.

    Any advice on this would really be very much appreciated! As would any suggestions for number recognition to fifteen. I don't know any Nursery Rhymes that go that high to use for an opening but I had a few ideas for activities and the plenary (Missing numbers on a numberline, line of green bottles; how many are there if we knock some off? Fishing out numbered balls from a tank, can they then place them in order?). Am I on the right kind of track with this?

    Any input would really help, thank you.
  2. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    I, too, would be unsure what would be expected from an hour session at interview. I would want to ask the school some more questions, including how many children there will be, whether TA support will be available, and whether the classroom would be available for me to set up beforehand.

    Without any more information, I would assume that they want a 10-15 minute whole class teaching session, a focus group activity that I would lead with a small group afterwards, a couple of themed activities set up for children to access during free flow, and then a final group activity to end the session. After working with the focus group I would observe children at play (at the themed activities if possible). I am not an expert at interviews, though, and this may not be what your interviewers are looking for!
    Mac93 likes this.
  3. Justkeepingup

    Justkeepingup New commenter

    I teach Reception at a school where it is expected that a whole class introduction will take place, followed by small group work doing an activity to develop / practise the skill. So I will work with all the children in the class on the activity in small groups over the course of the morning or afternoon. I would never get through them all in any meaningful way in an hour, and I have a class of 22, so I definitely wouldn't aim to do this. I like your idea of several activities based on the skill that the children can access independently. If you will have TA support one or more of these could also be done as focused activities.

    With this in mind I agree with Kartoshka, I would ring the school to clarify anything that you are unsure of with regards to the number of children and any specific needs, the presence or not of TAs and whether you will be able to set up the classroom beforehand.

    In my experience, anything over 10 minutes for a whole class introduction in Reception means that you will lose the attention of at least some of the children and will then end up having to manage their ensuing 'behaviour'. As an aside, number recognition to fifteen for low ability Reception? My low ability are still working on 1-5.

    Good luck!
    Mac93 likes this.
  4. Mac93

    Mac93 New commenter

    Thank you both for your replies Justkeepingup and Kartoshka, I feel much better knowing that I'm on track.

    I did initially intend to ring the school to ask more questions, but I was told my a friend that asking for more information could be seen as a sign of incompetence so I was a bit frightened to do so; but now I think I'll give them a ring or an e-mail first thing tomorrow morning.

    So, I'm looking at an intro, focused activity supported by related free-flow choice activities and a final group activity. Can I just ask if you would allow children to flow freely between them or would you get them to swap to something else at some point during the lesson?

    And yeah, 1 to 15 for a lower ability class. I'm a bit puzzled by that myself and I've thought about having a 1 to 5 activity for LA's just in case. My main fear is that children won't engage with the task without staff support to explain it, and I'm unsure if I can model use of them and do an intro activity within ten minutes.

    Can I just ask is free flow still practiced normally at this point of the year? I was told by another teacher this morning that at this time of year there's a bit of a push in her school to get the kids at desks for as long as possible doing set activities ready for Year One. Is that right? At the moment I'm looking at things I could get them to do at tables in groups or on the carpet (maybe even outside if that is an option).

    Thanks ever so much.
  5. Justkeepingup

    Justkeepingup New commenter

    All I can offer with regards to contacting the school for information is that the schools I have worked in would welcome you ringing with pertinent questions regarding your interview lesson because it shows that you are aware of the things that need to be considered in your planning in order to meet the needs of the children and to make the best use of the resources available to you.

    As far as the level of free flow goes, I think it varies from school to school. Remember that they can't expect you to be a mind reader regarding their current practice. You should probably be ready to discuss why you set up your lesson as you did during the interview though. What I imagine they will really be looking for is whether your activities allow the children to meet the learning objective, how you interact with the children, how you challenge and support them in their learning and how you manage the class as a whole during the lesson.

    If you have a TA you have the choice of asking them to do one of your activities as a focused activity with groups, or asking them to observe and support the children in their free flow. Again, you might be asked to explain why you made this choice during the interview. I would definitely briefly model your free flow activities or the children will not have a good understanding of how you'd like them to be used. Could you introduce these as exciting challenges and then before the children leave the carpet after your introduction ask 'who would like to try this challenge?' and send small groups of children to access the activities independently for as long as they choose to? In this way, you can be sure your activities will be used during the lesson.

    I am in no way saying that these are the right answers to your questions, just offering you my thoughts really. I think you are asking yourself the right questions anyway!
    Mac93 and Kartoshka like this.
  6. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    Although some schools may do this, it is not considered best practice generally.
    Mac93 likes this.
  7. Mac93

    Mac93 New commenter

    Well, I sent the school an e-mail last night and the teacher of the class I am due to have was ever so kind and rang me up.

    I'm glad she did, I know now I will have a TA and 30 children of a pretty wide range of ability; they're divided into 5 table groups (not sure how many at each table) and ability ranges from up to 9 to beyond 20 for the most able table.

    It has thrown a bit of a spanner in the works for what I had in mind but I think I have a rough outline now of what to do, thanks for the suggestion of challenges Justkeepingup, I've drawn from that a bit.

    My current plan is along these lines...

    Opening: Variation of "Kims game" from Numbers and patterns documentation (approx ten minutes)

    Part One: Learners will gather on carpet and be given a number card each (as pairs for numbers 10+). Learners will be asked to stand in a line and read out numbers in order. Learners will be asked to try and discover the correct order.

    Part Two: Learners will stand up (if not already) and be introduced to next part of game; will explain that I will make statements ("who has a five in their number?", "who has more than six?" and they should sit down as quickly as possible if it applies to them.

    Model free flow activities (3 minutes)

    Free flow activities (swapping after every 10-12 minutes)

    "Play dough": Learners will be directed to use numeral shaped playdough cutters to produce numbers, can they create arrays of the correct numeral? "What number is this?", "How many more will we need?", "Is this the right numeral?" (I'm thinking of using colored icing instead of play dough for this, after an incident at one of the schools I worked at [not in my class] I'm very wary of giving children I don't know play dough in case they try to eat it. I can't imagine icing that had been previously worked would taste especially nice but it's harmless).
    Jigsaws: Learners to assemble numeral shaped jigsaws (with range of children's characters within the outlines), with number of pieces corresponding to numeral. Can learners assemble them and place in series?
    Mystery Box: Learners to withdraw polystyrene balls bearing numerals from feely box . Can learners place them in the correct order/spaces within eggboxes?
    Crowns: Learners will match foam crowns to numerals, corresponding to number of gems on each foam crown.
    I thought about having a coloring by numbers activity for learners to pick since it links into Exploring Media and Being Imaginative but during my teacher training lectures I've been warned any form of worksheet in EYFS maths is is seen as poor quality teaching so I'm a bit unsure.

    Focus: Learners will have opportunity to play game of skittles with numbered pins. Learners will be asked to record how many pins were knocked over on whiteboard using correct numerals (either foam number stickers or written). Learners will be supported through modelling language and additional situation specific questions: "How many blue pins did we knock over?" "What number is on this pin?",

    I'm thinking of calling specific tables up for the focus, tables 1 & 2 can count to 15 and beyond, get them to do that with the TA, after first activity swap and I will do the activity with tables 3 & 4 who are counting up to nine and ten, then for the final switch the TA works with the table who can count beyond 20. I'll swap the pins for each group [table one's pins might start at 11 whereas table threes will start at one]. I'll work with the lowers on focus because they seem to see the teacher the least in other schools but this way I get to monitor the child chosen activities and intervene which might be key to differentiating the challenge of these activities).

    Plenary: Number Line (10 Minutes)

    Learners to gather on carpet to decide which numerals are needed to fill in gaps upon the number line. Learners will have opportunity to match numerals to arrays and vice versa, as well as consider number order.(I haven't decided if to do this on the interactive white board for the Technology element of Development matters or if to make an real giant magnetic numberline. I usually try to avoid use of the IWB usually since I think kids spend too much time looking at screens already and I know Singapore Maths has a big thing about "concrete" resources learners can touch).

    I think the main thrust of increasing difficulty during free flow will be child-led, marking higher numbers out as being part of a greater challenge and encouraging learners to take a "higher star rated" part of an activity.

    I know this is a bit rough but I'm still deciding what to do. I would really appreciate your thoughts on this :) The school is lovely and I want to do as much as I possibly can to make this lesson effective.

    Thanks ever so much for your responses so far, this has been a really great help to me.
  8. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    I'm a little unclear about your structure for the middle part of the lesson. Do you mean that the four "free flow" activities will be on offer for children to choose from freely for 10-12 minutes, while you/TA works on the focus task with a group?
  9. Mac93

    Mac93 New commenter

    That's right, although I'm planning now to get them to match numicon to numerals instead of the crowns activity. It seemed a bit too similar to the playdough activity.

    From what I can gather this school has opted for table work, and I'm thinking of having one or two doing the focus activity and the others at whichever table they pick for that 10-12 minutes.

    My thinking was to have one member of staff doing focus, and the other moves between tables. My thinking was on my first period I could make sure learners understand the activities, and during the third free flow period assess them more closely.
  10. Justkeepingup

    Justkeepingup New commenter

    You have obviously given a lot of thought to your lesson; now have confidence and go for it! Let us know how you get on.
  11. Melj16

    Melj16 New commenter

    I am also in a school where the head expects to see a three part lesson in EYFS o_O

    I would think about the 'free flow' - they are not free flow if you are expecting them to stay at the activity for 10 minutes and then move onto another one - that is very much adult led.

    I would have one focus group with you......one with TA......one doing an adult initiated activity and the other two groups 'choosing'. If you put the related equipment in the environment and show the children before you set them off to 'choose' then they may well decide to explore. Personally, I would not carousel the children around the activities. Its is only 1 hour and I wouldn't want to overwhelm them.....they need to have some child initiated time.

    A typical lesson my head likes to see is......

    - 5 minute oral and mental starter (counting to 30 up a large number line / using splat square on Interactive White Board to count in 10's ) - Think about where your TA will be (I tend to have them supporting a very small group of less able children......maybe have number cards 1-10 where they can focus on putting them in order as counting to 30 and in 10's will be beyond what they are capable of at this point.

    - 10 minute main teaching carpet input - again think about how you will use TA.

    - set TA group off (no need to model on carpet because TA will do that - just get them straight on)

    - Clearly model adult initiated (independent) activity - and set them off (I tend to have the most able chn doing this for an ob because I find I can mostly rely on them to 'get on with it')

    - Show the chn who are choosing what you have put in the environment and what they COULD do with them (IF they want) I would keep this to two or three things,

    - Start your focus activity with your small group.

    This would take you to around 35 mins.

    Then a little bit of choosing time - support play - look for opportunities to extend learning with your objective in mind.

    A 10 minute plenary at the end and link to future learning - why is it good to recognise numbers? - link to a real life scenario.....when we catch the bus, when we are counting coins to pay for something, when we are sharing sweets with our friends.

    I tend to have my least able group choosing......and work with the mid ability group as my focus.

    Sadly what one observer wants to see is different from another.....just got to try and gauge it and play the game! Remember though.....they are looking for potential. You are a trainee so they are mostly looking at you as a person and how likely you are to fit with the school and obviously how they feel you can progress as a good teacher.

    Best of luck. I'm sure you will be fab!! :):)
    CassiaJaneK likes this.
  12. Mac93

    Mac93 New commenter

    Hi everyone, so it took me so long to get back here. Lost a few passwords when my PC died and access to my email which was fun!

    In the end I didn't get the job, although apparently they didn't hire anyone in the end. Apparently my lesson was great but I was too nervous in the interview.

    Oh well, back to looking again :)
  13. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    See if you can get someone to quiz you. Good luck next time.

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