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Y1 working independently

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by modgepodge, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    The vast majority of my Y1 class are incapable of working independently. Perhaps this is normal, but they need to get better at it so I'm looking for ideas!!
    In most lessons, I will set a task, usually differentiated in maths or literacy. I then usually work with a group, the TA will work with another. I make it clear to the children working independently what is expected and how much (e.g. 10 sums in numeracy, 3 sentences in literacy) and that once they're done they can simply put their book in the finished work tray and choose an activity to do. I sometimes put a reminder on the board (e.g. circles group - 10 sums). They do not need to show me their book. HOWEVER, every lesson I am plagued by children either coming to show me when they've finished (or when they've done 3 sums and fancy showing me), asking what to do next, telling me that Jonny has touched their arm or that Aaron said "poo" and other such exciting stories. This makes it impossible to work with a group effectively. Today in topic they had a simple task, I made it clear what to do, and I tried to listen to children read whilst they did it. However I could not as so many children kept interrupting, very few for any real reason! I do not think the tasks are too hard as when I mark the work generally most of the children have done well with it.
    Any suggestions? I only took over in January so I suspect some of it is just what they used to do with the last teacher, but I don't see how it is possible to work effectively with a group if the rest of the class can't entertain themselves for 15 mins with a task that is very clear!
    Also, any suggestions for what to do about constant tale-telling would be gratefully received. How do I make it clear that I'm not interested in Daniel playing with the plaster on his finger without being rude??
     
  2. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    The vast majority of my Y1 class are incapable of working independently. Perhaps this is normal, but they need to get better at it so I'm looking for ideas!!
    In most lessons, I will set a task, usually differentiated in maths or literacy. I then usually work with a group, the TA will work with another. I make it clear to the children working independently what is expected and how much (e.g. 10 sums in numeracy, 3 sentences in literacy) and that once they're done they can simply put their book in the finished work tray and choose an activity to do. I sometimes put a reminder on the board (e.g. circles group - 10 sums). They do not need to show me their book. HOWEVER, every lesson I am plagued by children either coming to show me when they've finished (or when they've done 3 sums and fancy showing me), asking what to do next, telling me that Jonny has touched their arm or that Aaron said "poo" and other such exciting stories. This makes it impossible to work with a group effectively. Today in topic they had a simple task, I made it clear what to do, and I tried to listen to children read whilst they did it. However I could not as so many children kept interrupting, very few for any real reason! I do not think the tasks are too hard as when I mark the work generally most of the children have done well with it.
    Any suggestions? I only took over in January so I suspect some of it is just what they used to do with the last teacher, but I don't see how it is possible to work effectively with a group if the rest of the class can't entertain themselves for 15 mins with a task that is very clear!
    Also, any suggestions for what to do about constant tale-telling would be gratefully received. How do I make it clear that I'm not interested in Daniel playing with the plaster on his finger without being rude??
     
  3. MissMistoffelees

    MissMistoffelees New commenter

    What year group were you in before? I'm early years based (nursery and reception) and have always found 3-5 year olds pretty independent and able to keep themselves busy for a while, albeit not necessarily on productive tasks! When I did supply I found older ones would also get on with what was expected but the middle groups, mainly Year 1 and 2 are quite needy in terms of teacher approval for bits of work they've done and resolving little disputes, drove me crazy on supply! If they're finishing the task easily within 15 minutes perhaps give them something more tricky and explain to them that after 15 mins you will go and see them (to give them a bit of approval) but they are glued to their seats until then. I've started using mini certificates in my nursery for putting coats on as some children were so lazy; it just says 'Fantastic! (space for child's name) You put your coat on all by yourself' and has a clipart coat at the top and a star at the bottom, 6 to a page, printed and photocopied onto coloured paper and the children love them! Maybe an 'I concentrated for 15 minutes' certificate for all of the children who stay at the table/away from you and the TA for the alloted time would encourage them?
    As for the unrelated news updates I usually just say "Ok but we're not thinking about that right now, we're thinking about.... Keep it in your head though and we'll talk about it later" then ask them about it if you can at the end of the lesson.
     
  4. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    I'm an NQT. Did placements in Y3, Y6 and Y1. Y1 was May-July and they were quite capable of getting on by themselves so I could work with a group - think they'd been well trained! It's also earlier in the year so they've got 5 months less of practicing independent work!
    They really do need constant approval.
    On the whole whilst "choosing" they can get on ok and I can listen to a reader.....though then they are STILL coming up to me to tell me that Freddie just accidently spat at them whilst talking or that Sian is writing on the wrong page or.....you get the picture.
    I feel like if I give them trickier work, they'll interrupt even more......! Liking the idea of certifcates, thanks.
     
  5. It's still January! ... I think they are simply adjusting to you and your expectations. Give them reminders like "Who can tell everybody what you should do when you have finished your work?" Appoint a leader in each group, sensible child, who enjoys the responsibility of directing others to do the right thing. They sound like they certainly are looking for your approval. Let them know what you are looking for and how PROUD you will be of those who reach your expectations.
     
  6. How is your room set up? It's still January and if they've been used to a FS environment where they were 'playing' as they see it, they'll probably find it hard to sit down and work independently straight away. If you have areas in your room, perhaps you could work with a group, your TA with another, have one group accessing areas independently ('choosing') and another completing an independent task within an area. (Eg. creating sums on mini whiteboards by finding numbers in the sand or making cakes in the dough area and sharing candles onto them etc). You could rotate gthe tasks. That way you're starting them off with an independent work habit but without the expectations of sitting down and 'working'. As the term progresses, and they're used to getting on by themselves in a play based task, you could maybe extend the independent tasks to simple 'sitting down' tasks like games, then to written tasks. Just an idea.
     
  7. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    It WAS set up with different "areas" in Sept, but the teacher was gradually reducing that, and by the time I went in to observe in December, she was teaching in a fairly formal style - they'd all sit down and write at the same time for example. We don't really have "areas" anymore. The other Y1 teacher said that last year the year group they had were quite "young" and needed a lot of playing time, whereas this year group seem more mature and are more ready to sit down and get on with more adult led tasks.
    I think they just need training. Chatting to the TA I think the other teacher used her a bit differently too - between them they somehow used to listen to every child read twice a week, with no specific reading time allocated!! The last 2 weeks we've managed to listen to abotu 25 out of 30 kids read once. Apparently the TA used to take kids out during the input to lessons to hear them read (I tend to get her observing certain kids, or working with some who struggle), and also I don't like kids missing the input, cos when they come back they don't know what we're doing. And inevitably the kids who need to read the most are the ones who will benefit most from the input! The TA also used to listen to readers rather than working with a group in maths and literacy....but my bottom group NEED someone with them every day otherwise they won't do ANYTHING, and if it's always me then the rest of the class don't get any time which I don't think is fair.
     
  8. I suppose all Y1 classes are different and some are more mature than others but I really feel that they all benefit from a play based curriculum. (I know it depends on the school and what your head will let you do). Because we have children accessing the workshop areas all of the time and only work with a group at a time, it means that the work they do do is really focused and quality. The independent tasks they do are play based and keep their attention so we don't really have a problem with the queueing at the table while we're working with groups. I totally agree that they all need to be in for the input. Taking them out to hear readers seems totally detrimental to the lesson! (Especially if when they come back, they're expected to get on and do something independently!) We manage to hear children read, mainly on afternoons, when the children are accessing the areas. One adult might be observing or working with groups on topic based activities and the other can hear children read. If they're not all engaged in a set task all the time, it's much easier to pull them out to hear them read as they're missing child initiated time rather than time out of a set task which then won't get done. Years ago, when I used to teach Y1 with them all sitting down, hearing readers used to be a nightmare! Now I don't find it stressful at all and actually have more time to spend with each child as they read. I totally love teaching Y1 in Rec style. In the summer term, we introduce a little more independent work, but they still have lots of time to 'choose' and complete challenges in the areas. The Y2 teacher always says they're more than ready to sit down and start more formal work when they arrive with her and that they have an independent attitude to work as they've been used to getting on in the areas themselves. The standards are good too so it works for us!
     
  9. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    I do like the idea of a play based curriculum....and they do have this 3 afternoons a week (I set 1 topic based task, the rest of the time they can choose) and whenever they've finished a task early they can choose. Problem is I have to do what the other Y1 class do really, and their teacher is far more experienced than me.
    Reading in the afternoons is hard - I only have a TA 2 afternoons a week. One of them is forest school, and she's the first aider, so we both have to be in forest school, and the other is my NQT time!! But I will direct the person covering my class to ensure the TA does lots of reading. I personally think 20 mins "reading" time timetabled on each day would allow us to listen to the kids at least once each week, but I've asked and apparently that's not an option.
     
  10. It's hard when you have to do what other people want, I know! Do you have any guided reading time? That can be a way to hear more readers in a shorter time. How do they manage in the other Y1 class? Sounds pretty difficult. Is your timetable really fixed or could you change things about just in your class? What about other helpers? They can be useful to hear children read.
     
  11. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    As I'm an NQT, and only started in Jan (and on a temp contract) I'm reluctant to go making big changes that people have kind of already vetoed!!! Timetable's quite fixed what with forest school, ICT, music, PE twice a week and a whole day of NQT and PPA time all timetabled in!
    Guided reading we will start after Feb half term. Not sure I see the value of GR for the lowest ability kids - I think just 1:1 reading time would be a more productive use of the time tbh, but again orders have come from above. but yes, this will give me a chance to hear more kids which is good.
    We have parent helpers, one on the day we do forest school (and we have no TA in the morning on that day, so I have her with a group), and one other day, and she does do a lot of the listening to readers. Tbh if it wasn't for her we'd only get through aboutu 8 kids a week!
     
  12. sounds like you are trying really hard and reflecting, there is lots of practical advice on here so all I woudl say is to watch your language as thiscan become selffulfilling. CHildren never are unable to do anything nor to work independently- what they are not able to do is to follow tasks and activities that do not make sense or have meaning for them.
    Too much 'schooling' dumbs down children, makes them regress, takes away the things they 'can do' and suggests that they can 'no longer 'do'- unless it fits a teachers agenda. Tells them the play agenda is irrelevant, WE are in charge of the teaching agenda and you have to fit in or we will find YOU lacking. The learning agenda, the really interesting agenda is OUT, that is the message we are giving.
    And yes schools and SMTs can be wrong about this. It is your year one class and you are the teacher. Break it up, change it around NQT or not. Children need to have the opportunity to act independently, to be intelligently active, to choose materials and to some extent purposes and then to have the time and opportunity to use them in ways which are individual with an outcome which is satisfying to them,not only conforming to a pre-determined format. Give them a well set up graphics corner at the very least where they can spend time on entering the class drawing or writing, give them the chance to act independently on tasks they choose and you will I am sure see a transformation- although it will be the same children but it is your view that will have transformed because you will be looking for, and valuing, the real activity of the classroom and not the stage-managed and superficial.
    Engaging with that deeper learning will be very rewarding to you as that is what you are - a teacher, not a circus trainer or a till assistant counting out exact change in some kind of bargain basement sale. They are real kids with the usual range of ablilites, true each class/group has its own chracteristics but there are none that are as incapable as your first post suggests. They are not being done justice and nor are you by the 'orders from above'. Someone in that school must see the positive in your group and that person you need to find and get on your side to allow you to make the changes necessary and give these kids in your class what they really need.
     

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