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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 9:43 am 
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Morning all,

I didn’t know where exactly to post this as it is related to my DD's education but not directly to the 11 plus so mods feel free to move the post if it is in the wrong place!

DD is in year 6. In her last round of KS2 tests (September) she obtained a 5a in maths but a 4b in English which was surprisingly low, however, I have noticed that the gap between her English and maths scores has widened during the last year. Reading is well above average. The teacher’s comments were that DD's vocab needs improving and that she needs to vary her sentence openings. The teacher also said that she had marked very harshly so she could well have achieved a 4a.

I have constantly struggled with the school through the years as there have been many lulls where she has not been stretched as much as she could and neglected in favour of less able children. I do however understand that this is not uncommon, resources can be stretched and teachers do sometimes have their favourites, having said that, I do try to keep on top of it.

In maths they set the children by ability level, DD is in the top set - fine no problems with that. In English they are paired with 'talk partners'. So a more able child will often be paired with a child that is less able. They change talk partners every half term. DD has had the same talk partner at least twice since the beginning of year 5.

My DD has reported that the class are often given exercises that they need to do together with their talk partner, such as write a story. DD will try to use more interesting and descriptive wow words and synonyms when she can. She has a problem remembering new vocab at times, but I am working on that with her. She finds that her talk partner doesn’t understand some of the words that DD wants to include in their writing, so she then explains them to her. The teacher will then question the talk partner as to the meaning of the words and because the talk partner has forgotten the meaning, the words are not permitted to be used in the writing piece.

DD feels that it should be a 2 way learning process, however, this isn't quite the case as she is not learning anything from her talk partner. She is concerned about her learning and feels that she should be getting better, not stagnating.

My personal struggle with my DD is that she has always only liked to read humorous fun novels rather than other more interesting, well written books. Occasionally she will read one, but it's not that often. We read articles together and do vocab and creative writing exercises at home but she has difficulty remembering words. If I give her a list of words to look at, the chances are that she will only be able to recall them if questioned within a short space of time. If we go back and revisit the words, she will often forget. We have tried using word books and that hasn't helped her either.

DD feels that the teacher has her favourites and that she isn’t one of them, plus the teacher is ‘strict’ so although DD would like for me to speak to her, she is a little worried. I was intending to speak to the teacher today after school about these issues, but I just wondered whether anyone had any words of wisdom to offer?

Many thanks


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 9:53 am 
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I would have a word with the teacher, mentioning your concerns about your daughter not being stretched by her 'talk partner'. (I would be thinking all day how to word this so that it doesn't make the teacher defensive, but you may be better at that stuff than I am!).

But, through my own experience, I have learned not to expect too much from some teachers. I would say that any talking book in the car/ at bedtime; any good drama or children's story telling on TV (even the ancient 1980s DVDs of wind in the willows have v good vocab), science programmes, whatever, just always there, on in the background if necessary, and drawing attention to unusual words or interesting phrases and I think this stuff will start to seep in. Maybe even prompting: what does it smell like, stinky, noxious and encouraging her to think of a word. I always find that offering incentives, football cards, small sweet etc if I've heard he's done XYZ that he's previously struggled with, can work well!

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:21 am 
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I agree, I would definitely speak to the teacher. In my experience , I have found that it is just best to come out with it all and if said in a nice , humble manner then I don't think any teacher would take offence or feel they need to be defensive.Perhaps ask her opinion on how to improve these issues. However, from what you have said that you do at home, I would say you may suddenly find DD soars and her levels will reflect that , which at nearly 4a now aren't bad, by the way. Surely she will be a level 5 by the time she leaves ?

I also find that it's best sometimes to just plug on at home and try to improve things yourself and leave the school to do their bit. My ds1 was a whizz at maths but wasn't great at writing....no use of punctuation at all :shock: , some imaginative openings, but he basically hated writing and if he could use 2 lines instead of 2 paragraphs he would. By the time he left year 6 he was a level 5...it just suddenly came together. I would only be concerned if your DD is keen on literacy and is feeling upset by all this. That is something you will need to have a good discussion with the teacher with. Do you know why DD is still with the same talk partner ( sorry, but I keep thinking of my DD who has to sit next to a boy because her " talk partner " takes it literally ) if everyone else has changed ?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:31 am 
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Thanks both.

Scarlett - DD hasn't sat with the same girl for two consecutive half terms, it's just that it has been at least twice since the beginning of year 5 and she is now in year 6. It may have just worked out that way since she had a different teacher in year 5 or maybe it was a conscious decision, I really don't know to be fair.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:47 am 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Quote:
If I give her a list of words to look at, the chances are that she will only be able to recall them if questioned within a short space of time. If we go back and revisit the words, she will often forget. We have tried using word books and that hasn't helped her either.
This isn't necessarily the most inspiring way to learn new vocabulary.

Daily flashcards are much more effective. Make up three word cards and stick them to the fridge. If any word has more than one meaning it counts as two (or more) flashcards for the day. Explain the meaning of each word and ask her to put it in a sentence correctly. Then ask her to do it twice more that day. Make it as much fun as possible - allow her to have fun with the new words and even tease you or the family with them: "Mum, I decline to do my homework now because I am watching TV"; "I would like to adopt the idea of tidying my room, but maybe later?" Before you take the cards down the following day and put up new ones, ask her to do the same thing again. Award a gold star for every day when she gets all 3 words right (or for each one, if you prefer).

Take a look at the recommended reading list here http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/advice ... ading-list and then take a trip to the library to see if you can get her interested in some new genres, preferably from past eras, rather than the present, because the vocabluary will be very different. Patricia's example of The Diary of Anne Frank is a very good one: http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/advice ... or-11-plus I wouldn't suggest starting with that, but Little House on the Prairie or something similar might be a good place to begin.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:14 am 
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Sally-Anne wrote:
Quote:
If I give her a list of words to look at, the chances are that she will only be able to recall them if questioned within a short space of time. If we go back and revisit the words, she will often forget. We have tried using word books and that hasn't helped her either.
This isn't necessarily the most inspiring way to learn new vocabulary.

Daily flashcards are much more effective. Make up three word cards and stick them to the fridge. If any word has more than one meaning it counts as two (or more) flashcards for the day. Explain the meaning of each word and ask her to put it in a sentence correctly. Then ask her to do it twice more that day. Make it as much fun as possible - allow her to have fun with the new words and even tease you or the family with them: "Mum, I decline to do my homework now because I am watching TV"; "I would like to adopt the idea of tidying my room, but maybe later?" Before you take the cards down the following day and put up new ones, ask her to do the same thing again. Award a gold star for every day when she gets all 3 words right (or for each one, if you prefer).

Take a look at the recommended reading list here http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/advice ... ading-list and then take a trip to the library to see if you can get her interested in some new genres, preferably from past eras, rather than the present, because the vocabluary will be very different. Patricia's example of The Diary of Anne Frank is a very good one: http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/advice ... or-11-plus I wouldn't suggest starting with that, but Little House on the Prairie or something similar might be a good place to begin.


Thanks Sally Anne. We have tried a few books already from this reading list. I will definitely try the flash cards method. We also use another fun method where we play a game of guessing as many possible synonyms for the words like: big, small, cold, hot, sad, happy, fast, slow, said, went and so on, with rewards for the more interesting and tricky words.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:43 am 
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Has your DD taken the 11 plus or waiting for results ? I was just wondering if she had how she got on with the English aspect ?

It sounds as if you are doing lots with her , so I really wouldn't worry. Since my DS1 started secondary, his use of vocab has increased ( not always in the best way :shock: ) and so has his interest in literacy and I think that is down to better teaching and a more enriching way of reading and discussing which seems to be going on now in the classroom.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:55 am 
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Quote:
She finds that her talk partner doesn’t understand some of the words that DD wants to include in their writing, so she then explains them to her. The teacher will then question the talk partner as to the meaning of the words and because the talk partner has forgotten the meaning, the words are not permitted to be used in the writing piece.


I find this bit quite concerning, Sam. So your DD isn’t allowed to include any words unless her writing partner understands them also? Surely it’s axiomatic that a child should be assessed on their own ability not their writing partner’s?

I would definitely be taking this aspect up with teacher, and suggesting politely that your daughter’s work should – at least on occasion – be assessed on its own merits, independent of anyone else’s.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:31 pm 
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I was concerned about that point too, but I would tread carefully with the teacher on it because you also mention that your DD has the same problem with remembering the meaning of words after a short while. It might be that her "talk partner" is feeling the same way about your DD? If so, it doesn't sound very effective as a learning method because it takes both of them down to the lowest common denominator.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:34 pm 
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Rob Clark wrote:
Quote:
She finds that her talk partner doesn’t understand some of the words that DD wants to include in their writing, so she then explains them to her. The teacher will then question the talk partner as to the meaning of the words and because the talk partner has forgotten the meaning, the words are not permitted to be used in the writing piece.


I find this bit quite concerning, Sam. So your DD isn’t allowed to include any words unless her writing partner understands them also? Surely it’s axiomatic that a child should be assessed on their own ability not their writing partner’s?

I would definitely be taking this aspect up with teacher, and suggesting politely that your daughter’s work should – at least on occasion – be assessed on its own merits, independent of anyone else’s.


Yes Rob that's correct. I find this aspect very concerning too. I am confused as to why the teacher would ask for such words to be removed and replaced with words that are easier for her talk partner to understand. My DD finds this quite frustrating since she knows that she can produce better work if left to her own device.


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