20Nov/11Off

Innovative lesson for an Abacus

This blog piece is written by Rachel Sneyd. Rachel is currently completing an undergraduate degree in History and Politics at Trinity College Dublin. She is a keen writer and has just submitted her first teen-fiction novel for publication.

I set the team a task of thinking of an innovative lesson or use of a new toy, abacus - especially not for maths!

Rachel was thinking about using it for younger kids as a way of measuring progress/encouraging them to push themselves. If a student is having particular trouble writing, you could use it to build up the number of sentences/words they'll write and if they're having trouble reading you could use it to get them to read more paragraphs/pages/poems and so on!

So all the beads would be on the left hand side on the first day. You'd get them to read or write as much as they're willing to. Then you would move one bead from the top row to the right hand side for every sentence written/poem read etc.

The next day you would reset the abacus to show how they got on the week before and then challenge them to do better, so maybe this time you will move three beads over instead of two. As the weeks go on they will be able to clearly see that they are improving and hopefully they will be motivated to beat their own scores!

Brilliant - Just the sort of idea I was looking for!

 

10Oct/11Off

Benefits of Poetry For Kids

This blog piece is written by Rachel Sneyd. Rachel is currently completing an undergraduate degree in History and Politics at Trinity College Dublin. She is a keen writer and has just submitted her first teen-fiction novel for publication.

For many young students the idea of reading an entire book is terrifying. Even the idea of starting a book can be scary. Poetry can be a great tool to get these students started.

They can see the entire poem on the page and know that they can handle it. Good children's poetry is engaging, fun and accessible and so they can genuinely enjoy reading it. They can read the entire poem and get the satisfaction and confidence that comes with finishing something.

Shel Silverstein's work is a fantastic example. His poems are hilarious and bizarre and he can tell a story in just a few short lines. The poems have titles like "Sister for Sale" and "Prayer of the Selfish Child" and come with wonderful illustrations.  He uses simple language and has a wicked sense of humour that gets students laughing out loud and begging to read "one more."

 

 

 

14Jun/11Off

The Value of Going Back to Basics

This blog piece is written by Rachel Sneyd. Rachel is currently completing an undergraduate degree in History and Politics at Trinity College Dublin. She is a keen writer and has just submitted her first teen-fiction novel for publication.

The Value of Going Back to Basics

It might seem counterintuitive, but sometimes in order to help a student move forwards you have to go backwards.

The roots of seemingly big problems are often found in basic gaps in knowledge that occurred months or even years before. For whatever reason a student doesn’t fully master a piece of information or skill. They can’t keep up with subsequent work that relies on them having this knowledge and they fall further and further behind. Their confidence is eroded and they are too embarrassed to ask for help with something they should already know. A simple gap, like not having fully grasped factorising in fifth class, becomes a big problem, like not being able to do Leaving Cert algebra.

Identifying these gaps and taking the time to fill them in, even if this means going backwards in the curriculum, can allow the student to finally catch up with their classmates.

There is also value in going back to a level of work that the student finds more manageable. They finally get a chance to be good at the subject and their confidence is built up. A third year student who thinks they are bad at English can excel at first year year level comprehensions. They can gradually be moved up to second and then third year work, often without realising that the work is getting harder. They have the confidence to attempt work they would have thought was impossible and even more importantly they expect to do it well because they have gotten used to succeeding.

 

14Jun/11Off

Back to Basics: ABC’s

This blog piece is written by Rachel Sneyd. Rachel is currently completing an undergraduate degree in History and Politics at Trinity College Dublin. She is a keen writer and has just submitted her first teen-fiction novel for publication.

Young students (and not-so-young students) who have trouble reading and writing often struggle with the most basic building block of all: the alphabet. For some this means confusing Bs and Ds or forgetting what sound Q makes. For others it means not being able to identify more than a handful of letters. Not knowing the alphabet is a problem but luckily patience, revision and a bit of play-dough can make a big difference.

Aim: To revise the alphabet and build reading and writing confidence.

You need: Markers, coloured paper, play-dough, stencils.

Give the class the markers and coloured paper.

Write the day’s letters on the board and have the students copy them down. This works best if you break the alphabet up into manageable blocks and concentrate on 3 or 4 letters per lesson. It will take some time to get all the way to Z but the results are well worth it!

7Jun/11Off

Measure the speed of light using marshmallows

This lesson is developed by Conor Coyle. Originally from Monaghan Conor moved to Dublin for university where he studied Applied Physics for four years. After this he spent a year in Chongqing China teaching, my itchy feet didn't stop there, after China Conor moved to France where he worked as a waiter and studied French part-time. He then returned to Dublin where he is now a final year postgraduate researcher working on low temperature plasma physics for biomedical applications. Conor likes cooking and make a mean chilli con carne. (which he hasn't made for me yet! Naoisé)

Items needed for this experiment : Marshmallows, Plate, Microwave, ruler, marker, brain engaged

What you need to do:

  1. Cover the plate in marshmallows, remove the turntable from the microwave and cook for 45-60 seconds.
  2. Take the marshmallows out and note the melted spots on the marshmallows. Using ruler measure the distance between the spots.

Point of Blog

Our motto is that "we don't do normal". Everyone who comes to The Homework Club is different and is here for a different reason. It's not important if they are dyslexic, have reduced hearing or simply don't "get-it". This Blog is about creative teaching that suits everyone, all of the time! No one needs to be "special". The work is done in groups, so students avoid stigma and don't feel only they need help!

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