After following him on twitter (@abcdoes), discovering his blog, then buying his books the next step for me was to see this man at one of his conferences and WOW he was brilliant. The alarm was set, train ticket was booked and iPad was packed ready for what I anticipated to be the biggest note taking session of my life. However, after sleeping in, missing my train and then having my battery die on my iPad, I was not off to a great start! Arriving two minutes into conference I crept in and still managed to get a front row seat!
The main messages and key points that were being made throughout the day were engagement and attainment. The misconception and the skill of being able to identify between a child being engaged in a low level activity and a child being engaged in an activity that moved their learning on.
To begin we started looking at the different types of provision (basic, continuous, enhanced, adult etc) Â which for me confirmed that the practice that was taking place in my classroom was correct 🙂 Highlighting and reminding practitioners that we must audit the skills children can do in each area to ensure that they are being used to their full potential. Alistair also spoke about how to plan effectively for continuous provision, which was something I took great interest in. This part of the day allowed to me reflect on my own practice and highlighted that it was now something I wanted to change.
Alistair referred to the different types of learning styles (visual, auditory and kinaesthetic) and the importance of high level engagement to ensure that the children in your class made the best possible progress they could.
We covered the different types of stimulus that could engage and support the writing in the classroom e.g. films, children’s direct interests, challenge tubes etc and then went on to the physical development aspect of the course, which for me was undoubtably one of the most interesting parts! Better than the snack times, which provided divine sweet treats such as these.
Becoming aware of the different types of pivots and the development of children’s muscles and joints was an eye opener and for me something I now need to look at in my nursery and Reception class to ensure that we are catering for the different types of children and their physical needs. Ideas were passed on such as funky fingers and dough gym, so these were some of the things the Nursery teacher and I wanted to look into when we go back to school. One thing that is happening straight away is the taking away of chairs at the malleable table. Children work so much better and develop and strengthen their physical skills more when standing up. FACT of the day that was!
A segment on the day was also focused on left handed writers and how we can aid them and their writing in our settings. Many obvious points were made, yet ones I personally did not realise such as them having to write against the page unlike us right hand people and them having to over cross their arms when putting in a finger space :o. Engagement of boys was spoken about, again, with great ideas and thoughts on how to get them writing in a fun way. Its been discovered that boys love writing on the move so giving them clipboard and opportunities around the room to write instead of pushing them to a ‘writing area’ will produce a lot more writing from them.
Alistar then looked into and talked about print in our learning environment, the use, purpose and relevance of it, again so useful as it made me reflect on my setting and what could be done without (e.g. ‘sand area’ banners).
We then had the talk on jedi writing, which I had been looking forward to all day! Ideas were given and shared to encourage handwriting and letter formation for children at each stage of writing (emergent, symbolic etc).
Overall, this was a great course. It was so refreshing to attend some early years training with a confident and knowledgable speaker! I will for sure be going to watch him again!