Category Archives: Teaching Ideas

How to create a whole-school Grammar and Punctuation Programme

What is the most effective way of creating a whole-school Grammar and Punctuation programme?

Schools that adopt a whole-school Grammar and Punctuation Programme typically find it easier to respond to the demands of the English Programmes of Study. For not only does it make it easier to have a unified approach to tracking pupils’ progress, but it also ensures that everyone knows what has gone before and what comes next.

However, what can be challenging when creating a whole-school Grammar and Punctuation Programme is knowing which resources will be most suitable. For the resources need to, for example:

  • meet the requirements of the English Programmes of Study
  • be consistent throughout the programme
  • exercise differentiation
  • be age-appropriate and highly engaging for all primary age groups
  • provide systematic progression throughout the school.

Which is why Brilliant Publications has produced the Brilliant Activities for Grammar and Punctuation Series.

The Grammar and Punctuation series has been designed especially for schools that are looking to enhance literacy skills throughout the school and thus meets all of the requirements listed above (and more).

The six book series teaches basic grammatical and punctuation concepts in a fun and memorable way, which will challenge and stimulate the whole school.

The sheets are designed for the practise, reinforcement and consolidation of grammar and punctuation skills, and they address the requirements laid out in the Programmes of Study in the September 2014 National Curriculum.

Pupils are motivated to think logically about the activities and to share their knowledge and understanding with their peers through working individually, in pairs, groups or, sometimes, in whole class contexts.

Furthermore, the books all include an assessment checklist and answers to help you with tracking pupils’ progress.

You can find out more on our website where there are also sample pages to download and try with your pupils.

This is one of the characters which features through the books

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, English, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, National Curriculum, Primary school, Teaching Ideas

The emotions of special needs

What is the best way of overcoming the negative emotions that some students experience on opening a novel?

Quite clearly what was once the main form of prolonged entertainment for literate people is now, as often as not, seen as unapproachable, old-fashioned, dull, and irrelevant.

And yet, in recent years a new method of engaging teenagers with the classic novel has been devised and used with much success.

The only reason it has not come to be the mainstream introduction to classic literature for GCSE students is because this approach started out as a method of engaging certain SEN students – such as those with dyslexia.

Yet for many mainstream students, brought up as they are in a home in which people mainly read from a screen, reading a complete book can be an alien concept.  What should be an enjoyable and engaging activity – the reading of a novel – can be lost even before the end of the first few pages. 

And once lost it may never be regained.

The solution to this problem has come with the Graphic GCSE Revision Guides.  These help the students understand the plot and become engaged with the characters in the novel, from the off, by telling the story in graphic comic form.

Five books are available in this form, and each is described (along with a range of sample material) on our website.  The books are Jekyll and HydePride and PrejudiceA Christmas CarolJane Eyre and Great Expectations.

A Christmas Carol: GCSE Revision Guide cover image

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, English, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Secondary school, Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), Teaching Ideas

Familiarity helps progress

For many children, the key to learning maths is being able to see how the familiar links with the new.

Take any random group of primary school pupils and the range of maths understanding within the group will be significant. 

Even if the groups are selected by maths ability the issues that some will grasp and others struggle with will still be varied.  Some will need support and help with one topic, others need extra exercises on a different topic.

Which is why having a complete series of books on Maths Problem Solving, all of which are photocopiable, and where the same topics recur but are presented in increasing depth and complexity, is such a benefit. 

For this allows the pupils to be supported immediately in the area where they are making slower progress.  And that in turn allows the children to join up the new learning with that which was learned before.

As a result, with differentiated worksheets all pupils will move towards mathematical fluency by building on past knowledge, without anyone holding up the progress of others or themselves being held up by the lack of understanding of some around them.

What’s more, to ensure that the learning is totally embedded, the problems that are set for each child within each category use a range of functions so that each issue is fully understood before the child can progress.

To aid this process, throughout the Maths Problem Solving series the books are divided into sections containing work on making decisions, reasoning about numbers or shapes, problems involving real life, money or measures and finally organizing and using data.

In each case the length of the problems are varied with short, medium and more extended problems presented for children to solve.

For more information on and sample pages to try from the Maths Problem Solving series, go to our website.

Maths Problem Solving series cover images

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, homework, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Mathematics, National Curriculum, Primary school, Teaching Ideas

When the strategy is king

Children will always come across words they don’t know.  How they respond determines their reading age.

In a language that is derived from as many separate sources as English it is inevitable that children will, throughout their time at school, come across words that they don’t know.

At that point they may just give up, they may make a wrong guess as to what the word is, they may make a correct guess as to the word, or they may use a suitable strategy that leads them to the solution.

Obviously what we really want is for the pupils to use the final option because the best strategy is to have good spelling skills which will then lead to an understanding of the word.

For it is in this way children go on to become confident readers and fluent writers, because they are no longer pausing to consider individual words that they don’t know as they come across them.

In order to help this process towards confident reading and writing children need to be taught strategies and then have the opportunity to practise using them.  Which is why this year we have introduced Boost Spelling Skills for children in Year 2 and above.

It represents a unique approach to helping all pupils come to terms with the vagaries of English spelling and thus, increasingly, to make sensible and accurate decisions as to the pronunciation and meaning of words which they don’t know when they come across them.

You can read more about the book and see some of the strategies introduced on our website. 

Boost Spelling Skills cover image

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, English, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, National Curriculum, Primary school, Secondary school, Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), Teaching Ideas

Greater motivation

How can we motivate the more reluctant learners to become engaged in their times tables?

There are of course a number of different ways of motivating children to learn their times tables. 

One popular approach is through competition and testing, but the problem here is that those who pick up numeracy skills rapidly will generally fly ahead of other pupils – and so the motivation of the less able is lost.

An alternative approach, and the one we have taken, involves engaging imaginary characters as the friends of the children who can help each child solve the puzzle: imagine if these characters were a team of superheroes!

In this way the less able child is not competing in any way with others in the class but is working in harmony with a superhero as the couple solve the maths puzzles at their own superpower speed.

There are three, fully photocopiable, books in the series Mighty Fun Activities for Practising Times Tables. Each book uses a team of superheroes to help encourage the children to tackle a vast variety of maths problems. They can practise their 10x table with Mighty Jet Pack Jim, or the 2x table with Mighty Supersonic Sinitta.

You can download activity sheets free of charge from our website. The pages are in the ‘try before you buy’ area of the webpage. You will also find on this page more information about the books.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Mathematics, National Curriculum, Primary school, Teaching Ideas