Category Archives: Teaching Ideas

We’re all professionals here

We can’t be experts in everything, but we still have to deal with everything.

Now I want to make a confession – which I hope you might keep to yourself.  You see,  I’m pretty naff at sports and games.

Well actually, more than pretty naff.  I really just don’t have that hand-eye coordination that is fundamental when it comes to catching a ball.  Or throwing a ball come to that.

And then, not to put too fine a point on it, I don’t have much coordination between my legs and the rest of my body either.

Of course, I am sure your colleagues don’t suffer in this way, but I have to say that when I was offered the chance to publish a pack of PE challenges, written for teachers who don’t have much knowledge of PE, I jumped at the chance.

Not because they are lacking in coordination like me, but rather because coordinated or not, if they have no background in PE, they may well be finding PE lessons less than their favourite time of the week.

And so we have published a set of handbooks that enable teachers to deliver outstanding PE lessons with maximum pupil participation, no matter what their own physical abilities.

But there’s another point – because just as we, as teachers, are all different, so are the children, and so I was insistent that the materials include individual, group and whole class activities.  As a result, everyone can be involved.

Better still, because the book is not written for the PE trained teacher, the activities are laid out to complement the September 2014 National Curriculum Physical Education requirements. That’s another easy reduction in your workload!

Thus if you have a colleague who is not completely excited by the regular PE lessons she/he has to take, you can simply hand over a copy of the 50 Brilliant PE Challenges for the appropriate age group, and everyone will be happy.

For more information and examples of the activities please do take a look at our website.  I do believe some of your colleagues might well feel that their weekly schedule has just got a lot easier to handle.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Physical Education (PE), Primary school, Teaching Ideas

The habit of memory

What is the most effective way of helping children learn to use French phrases and grammar without thinking? 

Although it may not seem always to be so, most humans forget very little.  In other words we don’t lose memories; we lose the habit of recalling that memory. 

Fortunately this can be overcome, for when we have a meaningful link for a memory, rather than just an isolated memory, the knowledge in that memory can stay with us for years. 
 
In these ways French phrases and grammar become memorable and instantly available – and if those memories are regularly accessed they become habitual. 

For example, the use of “pas de” in French can seem like just another random phrase to remember.  But there is a simple way of helping children to understand and use the phrase.

What we can do is tell children that when a French person ‘has’ or ‘owns’ something, that person cares about its gender because they are very interested in the things that are theirs.

However, for things that don’t belong to them, they see no point in indicating the gender. That is why, instead of using ‘un’, ‘une’ or ‘des’ in negative sentences, they just use ‘de’.

So they say, “Il y a un chien” (there is a dog), but “Il y n’a pas de chien” (literally, there isn’t any dog).

Here’s another little memory trick that fascinates children – the fact that son = his or her.  Although objects in French have gender,men and women are equal and, thanks to this, there is no difference between ‘his’ and ‘her’ in French.

Unforgettable French is full of tried-and-tested French memory activities based on sound and idea associations that help engage the memory and make phrases and grammatical points habitual.  

You can download our “How French Works” flowchart via our website to see the most logical way of introducing French grammar and vocabulary using the Unforgettable method.

For more information or to order the Unforgettable French 2nd Edition for just £19.99 as a printed book, £13.99 as an e-book or you can order both formats for just £24.19, visit the website. 

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, French, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, lesson plans, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), Primary school, Secondary school, Teaching Ideas

The story’s the thing

What is the simplest way of getting students who are disinclined to read a book, to read the book?

For some students the chance to get involved with a classic such as Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Jekyll and Hyde, etc, is very welcome.  These are the students who have found the joy of books and who want to read.
 
But, of course, there are those who look at such books – even when they have alluring stories within them that might appeal to their interests – and back away.  They have defined books as not being part of their world.
 
So the question is, how to get these students started.
 
One way of doing this is to give the students an overview of the complete book within a format that they will find acceptable. And that is where graphic books come into their own.
 
Graphic books give students who are unexcited by the opportunity of approaching a complete novel a chance to grasp the story and come to terms with the characters before they start reading.
 
In this way when they do turn to reading the original, everything is already clear to them and they are now able to enjoy the depth of the story in full book form.
 
Hence they are no longer put off by language from an earlier era, a multiplicity of minor characters, or the amount of reading involved.  Everything is now familiar and acceptable.
 
This is why we have produced our series of Graphic Revision Guides.  Five volumes are now available: Jane EyrePride and PrejudiceGreat ExpectationsJekyll and Hyde and A Christmas Carol.

What’s more, the Graphic Revision Guides series is available both as printed books and as e-books, or you can purchase both formats together at a discounted price

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

Engaging pupils’ fluid intelligence

The important link between fluid intelligence and learning times tables

It has been argued that “crystallized intelligence has become disproportionately valued over fluid intelligence”, yet it is fluid intelligence that is closely linked to working memory and which is responsible for the ability to recognise patterns.

It is therefore important that pupils are taught their times tables in a way which engages their fluid intelligence so that they are not only able to understand why times tables form as they do, but also see how their learned knowledge of times tables can help them to solve maths problems in the future.

With this in mind, Brilliant Publications has developed Mighty Fun Activities for Practising Times Tables – a series of photocopiable activity books suitable for Years One to Six.

The Mighty Fun Activities for Practising Times Tables series uses superheroes to motivate children to practise all of the skills needed to solve multiplication, division and word-based times table problems.

The books contain reproducible sheets and are designed to be used as flexible teaching aids which teachers can dip in and out of in any order to support the learning of any times table. They work equally well as stand alone 5 to 20 minute lesson reinforcements or as regular times table learning.

The Mighty Fun Activities for Practising Times Tables series is divided into three books:

For more information and to download sample pages you can try with your pupils, simply visit the links above.

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

Sit still or wiggle?

Just because children are told to sit still, that doesn’t mean that’s the best way to study.

“Put a group of 8 year olds in a room and play some music with a clear rhythm, and they will move.  Some will move gracefully, others may jump about waving their arms and kicking out.”

We looked at my colleague as he said this – still an enthusiastic and highly energetic dancer himself, although well past the age most people associate with anything more than a slow waltz.

“So it’s a primitive response to rhythm,” said another of the editorial team in a ‘I’m stating the obvious’ voice.  “Does that help children learn French?” 

“Yes,” said the dancer.  He swears by dancing, dances modern styles rather than ballroom several nights a week, and travels across the country, even across Europe whenever possible.

“But most people don’t dance,” came the counter argument.

And then I got the point.  True, in our society most people don’t dance – but children do dance.  In most cases, no one has taught them, they just do it.  Which is why dance and movement are ways to teach other subjects – in this case French.

Because if you can actively involve the body, learning comes more naturally and stays in the memory far longer.

Which is why we have a DVD of simple routines which combine movements with repetition of important phrases, making learning languages easy and enjoyable.

To see how click on this link, it takes you to a part of the les couleurs video where Lynn Dryden, the author of Jouez, Dansez et Apprenez le Français demonstrates her dance routine with the children of Mountfield Primary School in Newcastle.

“Show me research that suggests that sitting still enhances learning,” I said, and there was silence for once in my office. 

“Movement is distracting,” replied the main objector on my team (why is there always one nay-sayer in every group?)  

“But not when everyone does it,” I replied.

And so here, for each topic, in addition to the main dance routine, there is also a bank of movement activities that introduce and reinforce the vocabulary, enabling the whole topic to be taught actively.

These tried and tested routines and activities have been developed by a language specialist who is also a qualified dance teacher and have been utilised with pupils and students of all ages, achieving outstanding results throughout.

There is more information on Jouez, Dansez et Apprenez le Français on our website.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, French, Key Stage 2, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), Music, National Curriculum, Physical Education (PE), Primary school, Teaching Ideas

Times tables and the mental block

Is it too much to hope that ALL your pupils will be fluent in their times tables?

There is a reason why some of us can’t decode maths problems. An increasing understanding of dyscalculia among professionals has meant that pupils with the specific learning difficulty are getting more access to materials which will help them to overcome their difficulties with maths.

For a pupil with dyscalculia, the very essence of number cannot be understood – thus, manipulating numbers with mathematical functions can be somewhat of a challenge. Indeed, it is possible for some dyscalculic pupils to understand numbers and simple mathematical functions (addition and subtraction) using mainstream methods, albeit at a slower rate than their peers. However, when the pupil advances to learning multiplication and division, there is often a mental blockage.

These pupils need to learn maths, and the functions of multiplication and division, using a multi-sensory approach. Using a multi-sensory approach with non-dyscalculic pupils has also proven to improve mathematical performance.

It is for this reason that we have produced: Fun Games and Activities for Teaching Times Tables.

This book provides stimulating and imaginative games to make the process of learning the times tables both effective and fun. The games require minimal preparation and ensure that all children gain a firm understanding of their times tables and will be able to recall and apply them rapidly and accurately.

The first half of the book contains games specifically aimed at teaching the 2, 5 and 10 times tables. The second half contains games appropriate for any of the times tables. These games are subdivided into three groups:

  • Games for learning each table in sequence
  • Games to test pupils’ memories and thinking skills as they try to identify the table they are working on
  • Games to teach children the different factors that can make up each answer.

For more information or to order Fun Games and Activities for Teaching Times Tables for just £18.50 as a printed book, £12.99 as an e-book or both for a discounted price of £22.40, visit https://www.brilliantpublications.co.uk/book/fun-games-and-activities-for-teaching-times-tables-746.

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

Are your children watching the Europa League Final tonight in Baku?

Football is fun for so many children and it provides rich resources for reluctant readers. No matter who wins tonight, Arsenal or Chelsea, for many people it will the source of fun, discussion and disagreement. Sheila Blackburn has written a series of stories about football specifically designed for reluctant readers in promote schools. As you will know, one of the challenges with reluctant readers is capturing their attention and imagination. Stories about football are one solution to this, particularly when as well written as these ones and at a time when UK teams will win the Europa League and the Champions League.

Sam’s Football Stories are specially written to stimulate and motivate slower learners and reluctant readers. Written by Sheila Blackburn, an experienced primary school teacher, the six compelling stories in Set A, tell the story of Sam, a football crazy boy. Let your pupils follow this dream come true for Sam and his friends. Join in the fun and excitement as they begin training, pick a team, join a league and enter a tournament.

 

These books:

  • provide stimulation and motivation especially for slower learners and reluctant readers
  • have gripping story lines make children want to read the next book
  • are compatible with the Primary Literacy Strategy category of everyday stories
  • are designed to look like books more able readers are reading with attractive covers and black and white illustrations inside
  • have carefully controlled vocabulary and sentence structure for easy reading
  • have an increasing number of words per book as you progress through the series
  • have a clear font and print style

To extend the stories further, use the Teacher’s Guide – Your Chance to Score!, a photocopiable teacher resource linked to the stories in Set A.

Like to try before you buy? Request your free copy of the e-book Football Crazy, the first story in the series, now by emailing info@brilliantpublications.co.uk

Click here to find out more about the books

Click here to see a sample page.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, English, Key Stage 2, lesson plans, National Curriculum, Primary school, Reluctant reader, reluctant readers, slow reader, Teaching Ideas, textbooks