Classroom Practice · Reading For Pleasure

My Transition Activities

Two weeks ago, I had ‘Move Up Morning’ with my Year 4 class. Next Monday and Tuesday I also have the pleasure of being with them just prior to the summer holidays. Having two and a half days of ‘transition’ to plan is an incredibly exciting yet open-ended task. Much like all other areas of education, there seems to be very little agreement on what should be done during transition days and so I’ve tried to make it work for the context of my new class, school and who I am as a teacher.

Here is what I have been/will be getting up to with my next class and – most importantly – why:

What Do You Know About Mr Rhodes?

The children in my class have all moved up together from the previous academic year and so they are used to being in each other’s company. The only new factor in the equation is me. In order for them to get to know me swiftly and effectively, I brought in a range of photos and artefacts that they looked at in order to work out what it said about me. This was a rather hilarious activity at times as they misinterpreted a photo and thought I was the father to five children! The class appreciated manipulating a range of artefacts including theatre tickets, books and photographs. (Previously I did this task using just images on a whiteboard but it felt far more personal this time around.) In the end, it confirmed or clarified different aspects of myself, allowing them to get to know me to some degree, and also provided some assessment of the children’s inference skills.

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Mental Health First Aid Kits

I hope to create mental health first aid kits with my new class ASAP to see how I can support them during their time in my class. More importantly, it provides an opportunity for them to consider what they can do to help themselves.

Below are examples that I created with my previous class last October. At the start of the session, we discussed what we can get worried/anxious about and then talked about ways in which we could make ourselves feel better. We then populated a first aid kit template with these strategies to refer to when necessary. It proved very useful to help develop approaches to support children who were anxious by any means.

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Incidental Music Games

I adore music and believe there are many benefits to exploring the subject at primary school. However, I’m also very guilty of not finding adequate time to teach music lessons of a substantial length. Instead, the majority of my musical teaching so far in my career has been during singing assemblies or productions. This year, I need to ensure music takes a greater priority in my timetable. I also want to use music in ‘dead time’ or during transitions between activities to keep our skills ticking over and filling up little slots of time that are otherwise wasted.

I was inspired by a music lesson I saw at Bottisham Village College during our Year 6 Transition Day and was struck by the simplicity yet effectiveness of practising a round, identifying rhythms or changing musical elements in a piece of music. I look forward to trying some out with my class over the next couple of days to get them thinking musically from the offset.

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Book Shelfies

Making book shelfies, in which they create a mini-display of books they enjoy, provides a great opportunity to see what books the children have read/are reading and helps to gauge their interests and confidence levels. It also instantly raises the profile of reading at the beginning of the year – and boy do I go on about Reading For Pleasure. Reading is, to me, the most fundamental skill that pupils should acquire, and so I make it a very explicit part of my classroom and teaching.

 

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Low-Stakes Projects

Transition days aren’t there to produce bundles of work. They are there to make strong bonds with your class from the get-go.

I used the TES/Twinkl ‘Personality Spiral’ activity to allow the children to give me adjectives they thought described them best. Whilst they were decorating their personality spirals, I moved around every group and just had a natter about anything and everything. Admittedly, it also provided me with a good opportunity to observe pencil grip, spacial awareness and their ability to follow instructions but it was predominantly just wonderful to have a laugh and a chat whilst they worked on this piece of art. The finished products also gave me some ideas as to who the children were, or how they perceived themselves.

Next Monday, I’ll be using tangrams as a low-stakes activity to focus on whilst I yet again meander around on my wheely chair to check in on the children and get to know them more.


 

So that’s just a small insight into some of the activities I have considered for my transition days with my new class. I’ve been provided with a lot of freedom in regards to these choices. (My year group partner is taking up her current class, so they have an alternative approach as they have already spent a year in each other’s company.) I’ve loved the opportunity to design my own transition days in order to make sure it truly represents myself and my pupils and would advise others to seek out their own unique approach to meeting – and getting to know – their new class.

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