Teaching Core - Sample Essay

At my school placement, I am currently working with a year 4 class. I decided to take a differentiated group of eight children out of the class to work with them on a poem, which was called First Day at School by Roger McGough, and evaluate the children’s response to and engagement in text. The group consisted of three children from the top set of English, three children from the middle set and two children from the lower set. I told the children that I would read the poem to them first and then I would like each child to read three lines each. When they had read the poem, we would then discuss the poem and I would put some questions to them to make them think about what the poem means.

When I read the poem, I used enthusiasm in the language and facial expressions to engage the children and capture their attention. All the children listened carefully to the text, and laughed at the humorous parts. The poem really engaged the children and they seemed to enjoy and understand the poem completely. When the children had read their lines of the poem, the lower set needed some help with their reading, but the middle and top set managed to read the poem very well.

I thought it would be a good idea for the children to read the text for themselves, so that I could evaluate how well they read and determine whether they could read with enthusiasm and understanding or whether they just decoded the text, and also so that they could become involved in the text themselves and involved in the lesson. When they had finished reading the whole poem, I asked the children if they could tell me what the poem was about. The children understood that the poem was describing a child’s first day at school and one child even managed to memorise the poem and recited parts without looking at the text. This was very interesting and I realised that she had enjoyed the poem and related to the text well according to her response.

I asked the children various questions about the poem, and decided to investigate whether the children had spotted the incorrectly spelt words used in the poem. After studious engagement with the text three of the children from the top set raised their hands and explained that the words such as ‘glassrooms’ were used in place of ‘classrooms’ and ‘Lessin’ in place of ‘lesson’. The children were very well informed of poetry and so I decided to relate the narrator’s feelings and discuss how they felt when they started school for the first time. This really interested the children and they recalled their memories well which led to a lively discussion. One of the children in the middle set suggested that the narrator could be an older child just starting school for the first time and not just a 5-year-old child.

I chose this poem because I think that children need to be able to see themselves in the text to be able to engage with it, and the children managed to do this well with this poem. When I was selecting the text to read aloud to the children I kept this in mind. I needed to make sure that I was completely confident with the poem before I read it to the children and so I practiced reading it aloud, until I was confident enough to use the expression needed to interest the children and I was rewarded for this within the results and the reflection on how the children engaged with the poem.

My year 4 teacher, (Mr. P) used a newspaper article from the Daily Mail, to explore a non-fiction text with the children, which was reporting the ban of using mobile phones while driving. Mr. P made the learning objectives for this lesson clear at the beginning of the lesson. The main learning objectives of this lesson were for the children to understand the differences between fact and opinion, and to explore the way in which a newspaper article is written.

The children were encouraged to discuss the details needed to make a report and discuss and define the headline, sub-heading and adverts on the page, which were relevant to the article. Mr. P directed the children to consider how the report was set out and also discussed the use of columns, pictures and captions used in the article. The children observed Mr. P intently and understood that the caption described what was in the picture and that the text in the columns made the report easy to read.