Grammar Test Blues

I really, really dislike the Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling test. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not campaigning for a Sats boycott. KS2 tests in whatever format are here to stay but the GP&S test is wrong on so many levels.

First of all, why on earth do the children need to remember the names of grammar terms? Surely what is important is being able to use grammar effectively in their own writing? Talking to colleagues who teach English up to A level and they are amazed at the demands of the Year 6 curriculum and cannot see the need for it. In my experience, my children use the past progressive and past perfect effectively in their writing but sadly can’t always remember the names correctly in a test situation.

This need to revert back to grammatical structures and rules of the 1950s for children at school in the 21st century seems to be total madness and unproductive to say the least. Because I am having to spend so much time learning the names of grammar rules, I have less time to teach them how to write well. How can that possibly be seen as a good thing?

The aspect of the GP&S tests that really annoys me though is the mark scheme. Unlike the Maths or Reading papers, the Grammar test is not interested in what the children can do; it is trying to catch them out. If you look at any questions on the Reading or Maths papers where the children have to give 4 or 5 answers, then these are 2 mark questions and the children will receive 1 mark for getting most of the questions right. Not so on the Grammar paper. Many of the questions have multiple elements, sometimes as many as 6 things needing to be found and all of these questions are worth just one mark. If a child misses a single one eg forgets to circle London in question 26 of the sample paper, then they receive no recognition at all for the fact that they really do understand the use of capital letters.

The paper states that the pupils have 45 minutes to do 36 questions but in reality there over double that number but very few marks available for them. This to my mind is simply wrong. If a child is able to create new words using suffixes in 4 out of 5 cases, then they surely have a good grasp of what they are doing and should be given credit for what they know. The Grammar paper should use the same format as the Reading and Maths papers and let children receive marks for the things that they get correct rather than one error cancelling out several correct answers which is the case in many of the grammar questions at present.

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A day off for a good cause

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Primary school should be about more than sats and stats! After History day last month, Friday was our annual charity day. Every year in March, we devote a Friday morning to raising money for charity. When it is Red Nose Day, that is our good cause. In the alternate years, we raise money for the school’s chosen charities.

The morning begins with a talent show assembly. Each class holds auditions during the week and the best acts get to appear on stage (for a small fee). The acts range from foundation stage singing en masse, jokes (funny and not so funny, strange, surreal sketches to singing and dance acts.

After that, the juniors go out and strip their classrooms of tables and chairs and turn the playgrounds into a giant bring and buy sale. It is all entirely their own work. All the teachers have to do is provide sellotape and prayers for a day that is dry and not too windy.

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We had a huge variety of stalls and competitions this year. As well as the usual cakes for sale and guessing the number of sweets in jar, we had a hula hoop competition and a wet sponge throwing stall.

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Foundation stage and the infants come to spend their money and the teachers stock up on books and wet play games as well as break any diet intentions by buying too many cakes.

This year the sun came out and we had a fantastic morning. I was impressed both by the ingenuity of some of the stalls as well as the generosity of many of our parents who had donated contents of stalls, prizes or helped their children to bake cakes.

This year, we raised a record amount of £875 which I think is £100 more than last year. That is almost of secondary importance though to the other things that the children get out of the morning. A morning free from Maths and English being just a tiny part of the benefits.

Maths Recall

This was originally begun as a Maths Blog when I had to keep a reflective journal as part of my MaST course several years ago so I decided that it was more than time for another Maths post.

One of the problems with Maths especially for Year 6, is helping your pupils keep all the plates spinning in the air at the same time. I have found my daily 5 a day practice to be really useful in keeping concepts and methods fresh in pupils’ minds as you are teaching them something different
See blog post here    https://devoil.wordpress.com/2015/02/

Another idea which I spotted today on Twitter was this

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This was from the excellent JustMaths (@just_maths ) and is to provide a bit of maths for Year 11 pupils everyday as they prepare for their exams. I am a great believer in not reinventing the wheel and so am going to create my own version of it for my Year 6 class to use in the Easter holidays. Hopefully the idea of doing just one Maths question a day won’t be too offputting and will help to keep methods fresh over the short break. It is interesting that I could easily use some of the same questions shown above which is indicative of how much more is being asked of our Year pupils this year.

I will post the Year 6 holiday version here when I have created it.