In schools up and down the country, many Teachers and Teaching Assistants can currently be heard fretting that they “simply do not have enough hours in the school day to fit everything in”.
Unfortunately, this blog will not suddenly relieve all the pressure you feel under, BUT it may remind (or possibly even introduce) you to some hidden gems that you have access to within your ‘Let’s Get Digital’ subscription.
1-2-3, We Have Blast Off!
The first hidden gem waiting to be uncovered is to be found in the ever popular j2e Tool Suite. Hopefully it hasn’t slipped under your radar; if it has, I would suggest you take a look at j2blast and this video: J2blast gives you four options to choose from Spell blast, Tt blast, SATs blast KS1 And SATs blast KS2:
Encourage Your Pupils to Become Spelling Bees:
Spell blast encourages pupils to learn spellings whilst playing and competing against each other. As they progress through the “levels”, the words automatically adjust to the pupils’ ability so that they never find them too easy or too difficult. There is always a challenge, if no other live players are waiting for a game, robots take over, so it always appears that there are multiple players. The scoreboard shows the pupil their place in the class, school and world.
Feedback is built in to this tool and teachers can see detailed information about the achievements of their pupils as well as which aspects they have found difficult. A word cloud shows commonly misspelt words.
As the user progresses, they earn points which unlock new premium pirate characters. This makes learning fun and increases motivation.
As well as being able to access the Statutory Word Lists for Year 1&2, Years 3&4, Year 5&6 and ‘Letters and Sounds – Phase 2-5’ words, you have the ability to create and add your own word lists. These can then be shared with other colleagues and your class or you could limit it to a particular target group of pupils.
Tt blast – Rapidly Recall Times Tables Facts:
Maths teachers recognise how important times table recall is to later success in maths lessons; yet it can be hard to find easy and engaging ways to get pupils completing daily practice. Tt blast encourages pupils to rapidly recall their times tables by presenting a mixture of multiplication and division questions. As the pupils progress through the “levels”, the questions automatically adjust to the pupils’ ability so that they never find them too easy or too difficult. This can successfully boost times table recall speed when used regularly.
Remember your current Year 3 cohort will be the first pupils to take the online times table check to be administered by schools to Year 4 pupils in 2019/20 academic year onwards.
Again, like with Spell blast, feedback is built in and teachers can see detailed information about the achievements of their pupils as well as having which aspects they have found difficult being highlighted.
Prepare Year 2 & 6 Pupils by Using SATs Blast:
SATs blast KS1 and KS2 provides:
- SATs maths games for both Key Stage 1 and 2
- ‘Have a Practice’ or ‘Take a Test’ modes
- Teacher feedback on areas of success or to highlight problem areas
- Automatic test certificates for pupils who complete a SATs maths test
- Gamification – earn points to release avatars thus encouraging pupil engagement
Do remember that your pupils will need their USO to access these resources from home but by highlighting them prior to the Christmas holidays some pupils may surprise you and get hooked on the competitive nature.
The dates for the Year 6 SATs are 13th -16th May 2019.
Get R-ea-d-y for the Year 1 Phonics Checker:
LGfL host a range of resources to support with phonics (and Year 1 pupils with getting ready for the ‘Phonics Checker’). The date for the 2019 Phonics Checker is 10th -14th June 2019.
Busy Things has fun and engaging activities to help students at any phonics level. With the ability to change from pupil mode to teacher mode you are able to search via curriculum content and strands and can choose exactly which phonemes and graphemes are being used and so allow children to work at their own pace/level.
Don’t forget the super useful Phonics Resource Maker which enables you to create your own paper-based resources to support a systematic phonics programme and is great for group work. Simply choose the Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence you want to use, select from the pictures and words generated, choose your favoured layout and press print! In January, watch out for the release of phonics flashcards in the updated version of Busy Things on LGfL.
I do hope that these hidden gems are like an early Christmas present to you and that you will start to encourage your pupils to begin competing against one another but also with pupils from across the country and event the world, to encourage the basic skills.LGfL understand that demands placed on schools and all stakeholders (especially in the form of accountability measures) mean that some of the more creative subjects can get squeezed out of the daily diet provided to primary aged pupils. Hopefully, as well as saving some of your school’s budget (by not having to buy additional subscriptions) these fantastic resources may even help to free up some additional time in your busy schedule to encourage the next Georgia O’Keeffe, Usain Bolt or Elton John develop their creativity.