School Long Ago and Faraway.

Micklehurst Primary theirhistory via Compfight

Students interviewed their grown ups, their parents and grandparents about what school was like when they were young.

Some parents went to day school and some went to boarding school and there were accounts from schools at home and abroad.

The earliest account was from 1938.
Many children walked and when it rained they ran.
Some drank a little bottle of milk at break time.

The boys wore shorts, a jacket and cap.
The girls wore a smock or pinafore over their clothes to protect them.
When it was cold children would were their coats in school”.

This is an account from 1946:
There were 55-60 boys in a class
and the classroom was heated by a fire.
The children all sat in rows of desks all facing teacher.
In the summer term, many children came to school barefoot”.

“In Poland there are no uniforms, by law since 1976.
When I went to school, it started at 8 ended at 2.30.
In the yard girls played with elastics.
The boys plays soccer, chess, join the dots.
There was 3-4 hours homework every day!”

Some people remembered high windows.
They let in plenty light, but the children couldn’t look out and be distracted.

“There was wooden desk with a top that lifted up where we kept our books copies and pencils.
We enjoyed playing with friends, chasing, football, hurling, skipping and hopscotch.
Great times, loads of fun no worries”

When we are eager to grow up and leave school, we hear people say that they are your happiest days and we aren’t sure if we believe them but later you realize they were right and you school friends are friends for life”

Thanks to all the ‘older people’, who agreed to be interviewed about school
in other countries and in olden days!

We can see that some things are the same and some things are very different.

Limitations of Project Work

Rainbow of Ribbons
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: december_snowdrift via Compfight

I do an amount of project based learning particularly in SESE. I just think that one has to be very systematic and structured to get the most value from it as a methodology.

I am still struggling with maximizing the benefits of co-operative learning. I feel without a lot of initial direction from teachers, it can fail and have a detrimental effect on the participants, resulting in very little learning.

My own personal and teaching journey goes some way towards explaining my reservations. I am a child of an Irish classroom of the 60s where collaboration was not encouraged! I started teaching in the early 80s where it was seen as an enormous ‘sticking plaster’ where it would be the answer to nearly everything.

At the time the enormous creativity shown in classrooms in the UK were given to us as exemplars. It seemed to me at the time that project based learning was presented nearly as an alternative to strict objective based lesson planning.

I was on my own learning curve when I first started teaching. I had a third class. Deciding that project work was mostly about process and developing research skills I gave the children ‘free choice’ in terms of deciding on their topic with the very first project that we did.

Then each child set about researching their subject. In those days our main source of information was a twenty volume sets of the Children’s Britannica. In my first year teaching I asked one child to look up Russia, her chosen topic. Some long moments later when she hadn’t resurfaced, I went to look for her and found that she had started at the beginning, looking through Volume One Aa – Ay and was laboriously going through each book page by page. That’s when I realized I’d have to teach research skills.

To further elaborate on my reservations about the use of projects in class I wI think Allan Ahlberg‘s poem ‘Do a Project’ sums up my reservations about project work and co-operative learning

Do a project…

Do a project on dinosaurs

Do a project on sport

Do a project on the Empire State Building

The Eiffel Tower

The Blackpool Tower

The top of a bus

Ride a project on horses

Such a project on sweets

Play a project on the piano

Chop a project on trees


Write a project on paper

A plaster cast

The back of an envelope

The head of a pin

Write a project on the Great Wall of China

Hadrian’s wall

The playground wall

Mrs Wall


Do a project in pencil

In ink

In half an hour

In bed


Of someone else

In verse

Or worse

Do a project in playtime

Do a project on your hands and knees

Your head

With one arm tied behind you

Do a project wearing handcuffs

In a steel coffin

Eighty feet down

At the bottom of the Hudson River

(which ideally is frozen over)

On Houdini

Forget a project on memory

And refuse one on obedience.

There is also a story that sums the dynamic I often see where there is a group based project where not everyone is pulling their weight. 

A Little Story

This is a story

About four people




Anybody and nobody.

There was an

Important job to

Be done and

Everybody was

Sure that

Somebody would

Do it.



Could have done

It, but nobody

Did it.


Got angry about

That, because it

Was everybody’s

Job. Everybody

Thought that

Anybody could

Do it, but nobody

realised that


Wouldn’t do it.

It ended up that



Somebody when

Nobody did what

Anybody could

Have done.

So it is vital that the teacher monitored that the goals are being achieved and that the participants are maintaining an effective working relationship. Judicious assigning of roles to the team helps.



Active Learning: The Jigsaw Method – Topic: The Author, Jenny Nimmo

Active Learning – The Jigsaw Method
Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept
Photo Credit: Scott Maxwell via Compfight is an excellent website,
which explains this method in detail.
Phase One – Research Groups

1. Class divided into groups of six.
Each group will be assigned an aspect of research e.g.

What was the author’s childhood like?

Why are they famous?

Why the author does, what they do?

What is life like for them now as grown ups?

2. The groups are asked to research the answer a question(s)

They read, discuss, and record their findings.


Phase Two – Project Groups

New groups formed with one student

from each of the groups.

Each student in the new group

shares the information they have learned.

These new groups will create a poster

to share with the class that sums up their learning.


Tell me about Jenny Nimmo’s childhood?

 Jenny Nimmo’s Childhood

 Jenny Nimmo was born on 15th January 1944.

There was just her and her mother at home,

so she went to live on her uncle’s free-range chicken farm.

Jenny was sent away to boarding school when she was only six.

She found this hard.

She was happier after the age of 11,

when she went to a secondary school

where her talents as an actress were encouraged.

At school, Jenny was quiet but she loved to make people laugh.



Why is Jenny Nimmo famous?

Jenny Nimmo is an author who has written many books for children.

Many of her books are about ‘magic’ in real life situations.

Books she has written include

‘The Owl Tree’,

‘The Stone Mouse’

and ‘The Dog Star’

but she has written many, many more e.g.

The Snow Spider

The Chestnut Soldier

Delilah and the Dishwasher Dogs

Jupiter Boots

The Bread Witch

Granny Grimm’s Gruesome Glasses

The Witch’s Tears

Alien on the 99th Floor

The Night of the Unicorn

The Starlight Cloak


Why did she do what she does?

Jenny Nimmo is a writer of children’s books.

She has always loved reading and writing.

She read all the books in the junior school library

by the time she was nine

so she had to ask to join the senior school library then.

She enjoyed reading books as a child.

When she became a grown up she decided

she would write books for children.


Tell me about her life now

as a writer and grown up?

Jenny now lives in an old water mill in the countryside in Wales

with her husband, who is an artist. She has three grown up children.

First she feeds all the chickens, rabbits and cats, then she writes.

She uses a soft, 3B pencil and redrafts and edits as she goes along.

When she’s sure she has made all the changes,

she lets her husband read the story

and then types it up for her publisher.



The Owl Tree

The Stone Mouse

The Dog Star

The Snow Spider

The Chestnut Soldier

Delilah and the Dishwasher Dogs

Jupiter Boots

The Bread Witch

Granny Grimm’s Gruesome Glasses

The Witch’s Tears

Alien on the 99th Floor

The Night of the Unicorn

The Starlight Cloak


Chinese New Year – A Voki Project on China by 2nd Class Room 6

With Chinese New Year on its way,

we have been learning about China.


Meet Avatar Niamh.

She starts off our project by telling you

about the ABC of China

the abacus, bicycles and chopsticks.


Avatar Tadhg is going to talk to you

about Chinese Dragons


A Forbidden City sounds interesting.

Avatar Owen will tell you about it.



If you want to hear about

the Great Wall of China,

Zac has some information:


Avatar Lewis introduces us

to some important Chinese inventions


Avatar Nicole has some information

about the Chinese inventions

of kite making and fireworks.


There are so many people in China

that there is not enough land to live on.

So what do people do?

Avatar Tom will tell you!

Have you ever seen the

Disney movie ‘Mulan’?

Matthew will tell you about

the Chinese legend of Mulan.


We don’t want to make you hungry,

but Avatar Mark would like to talk to you

about Chinese food.



What do you know about Pandas?

Let Avatar Senan tell you what he knows about them.

When 2nd Class Room 6 saw

‘The Sacred Way’ on Google Images,

they were amazed.

Avatar Shane will tell you why.

Finally Max will tell you about

another spectacular sight that

we saw on Google Images when

we looked up the Terracotta Army.

When doing this project we found this ABC of China

from a 3rd Grade Computer Club

from ‘The Franklin Institute’, Philadelphia

a very helpful starting point.

The alphabetical order was

a very helpful memory aid.


A Song for Chinese New Year, from ‘Children’s Music by Nancy Stewart’..


This is our second Voki Project this year.

The other one was on the planets in our solar system.

Our Project about the Planets in Our Solar System

For these projects we tried to create avatars that looked like us.


Now that we have that done,

we are each making our own unique avatars

that definitely do not look like us.

Look out for them in the weeks to come 😉


Thanks to Lucy from TY who helped us with this project.


To comment, please double click the title at the top of a post

or the ‘Continue Reading’ box at the bottom and a comment box will appear

It would be REALLY great to hear from you!

Planet Avatar – Starting A Project on the Planets in our Solar System using Voki

We are doing a project on the Sun, and the planets in our solar system.

We thought it would be fun to do our project using avatars.


First we wrote down what we were going to say.


First Avatar Abi will tell us about the Sun.

Avatar Alice talks to us about Mercury

Avatar Amy tells us

some interesting facts about Venus

Avatar Calum talks

about his home planet, Earth.

Avatar JC gives us

some information about the Moon.

Avatar Cian has some information about

The Red Planet, Mars.

Guess how many moons Jupiter has?

Avatar Clara will tell you the answer and more!

Breaking News!

Saturn has even more moons than Jupiter.

Our reporter Avatar Fiona will tell you about it 🙂

A report from the very special

and unusual Avatar Jack.

He is truly out of this world!

This is Isabella’s report on the planet Neptune.

Well done to all.


The experts tell us that Pluto is a dwarf planet

but we are fond of it and wouldn’t like

to see it disappear from school books

Finally Avatar Jake is going to tell us

about the early days of the Planet Earth.

We think we would have a lot more fun

if only we could get our own voices recorded properly on Voki.

At the moment we have to change ‘text’ into words instead.

It is fun, but we really don’t sound like this!

We are working on trying to solve this problem

and are going to try a different microphone.

Has anyone any advice?


We enjoy learning about the planets.


Can you see the planets hanging from our classroom ceiling?

We live in Viking Meadow!

The children of 2nd Class, Room 6 were very interested

to hear stories about the history of Greystones.


Matthew lives in Rathdown.

He was amazed to hear that

people have been living in Rathdown

since the Stone Age.


Twenty years ago, a cliff near Rathdown

fell into the sea.

Among the rocks and earth,

people found Stone Age axe heads.


The children in 2nd Class, Room 6

were also fascinated to hear

that Vikings were in the area.

One of our favourite things to do,

when we have visitors from older classes

or students from Transition Year,

on work experience, visiting our classroom

is to challenge them to a game of Viking Quest.

Click on the link below to play!

BBC’s ‘Viking Quest’

We don’t always win this game …

but we usually do!


This is what we learned in class:


We know Vikings visited our local area because


1. Some of the local placenames

came from the Vikings.

‘Gata’ is the Viking word for road.

Windgates is the road

between Bray and Greystones.

Wicklow comes from

the Viking words ‘Vyking Alo’

which means Viking Meadow.


2. Viking coins were found

in the local area.


3. The monks wrote a book called

‘The Annals of the Four Masters’.

In it they said that there had been

a big battle nearby at Delgany in 1021 AD.

The King of Leinster beat

the Viking King, Sitric.


We think it is exciting that Greystones

has had such an interesting history

from the time of the Stone Age

and that Vikings visited here too.


Later we heard that a castle

was built at Rathdown.

We look forward

to learning more.



Signs of Autumn Twitter Project

We are taking part in a collaborative project about

the signs of Autumn

on Twitter

during this first week of October.

Get your own Poll!

We are tweeting photos and comments

about signs of Autumn that we see #anfomhar.

You can see more details about this project

on the following link:
All about the Signs of Autumn Twitter Project on Seomra

Teacher looks forward to this great opportunity to introduce the class to the uses of Twitter.

Click here for the link.

As always I am very conscious of online safety.

No photographs of the children will be used

and I will only use the children’s first names.

This is the project so far, at the half way point:


Can you see the Autumn photo you took today? (PhotoPeach)

Please supervise your child when they are online.
Create your own Animation

We have a friend from Azerbaijan

Projects about the Countries We Come From.


This week we finished doing projects about the countries that we come from..

Our friend and classmaate Vagif comes from Azerbaijan.

We had never met anyone from Azerbaijan before.

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest was from Azerbaijan,

so we saw what a really beautiful country it is.

Vagif is an ambassador for his country.

He is a good friend and is always kind and helpful.


Children in the class have done projects on








New Zealand,


The Philippines




and Wales.

We certainly learned a lot.


Did you know that …..

After Russia, Canada is the second largest country in the world?

and that the Rubic Cube and ball point pen were invented by Hungarians?


Project Work in History.


Maks’s illustrations really brought his project to life.

Projects about people in history.

Now we are doing projects about people.

Our first project was about Isambard Kingdom Brunel who was born in 1806.

He was an engineer who designed steamships, bridges and tunnels.

He engineered the railway line between Bray and Greystones.

Next we are going to learn about Elizabeth Whitshed

and her husband Colonel Frederick Burnaby.

Lots of places in our local area are called after Colonel Burnaby.

Colonel Frederick Burnaby was a Victorian celebrity: a soldier, adventurer, and writer.

He and his new wife Elizabeth Whitshed travelled to North Africa on honeymoon,

but due to delicate health, Elizabeth returned to Greystones.

She moved to Switzerland for health reasons.

Colonel Burnaby was killed in action (near Khartoum in Sudan) in 1885.

Elizabeth went on to become a mountain climber and alpine expert. S

he married twice more and lived to the ripe old age of 73.

Other projects are planned on
Inventors: Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein.

Did you know that both of them found school difficult?


Authors: JK Rowlings and Roald Dahl.

A quick update about projects we are doing in school

Imagine it is Easter already! The year is flying by. Teacher is delighted to report that Second Class, Room 6 are making excellent progress in learning their addition and take away tables. We will be ready for the challenges of multiplication and division next year in Third Class.

We have done a lot of science this year. We made a walkie talkie using tin cans which really worked. But we decided that the best fun we had in Science was the day we made Baking Powder Bombs. A close second was the day we experimented with the static electricity using balloons and made our hair stand on end 🙂

We are doing a lot of project work. We began by doing projects on the owl. This was because we were reading ‘The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson.

We followed up be doing projects on animals we met in another book by the same author ‘The Aardvark Who Wasn’t Sure’. We learn that aardvark means ‘earth pig’ and they like to eat termites. We learnt about nocturnal and diurnal animals. We learnt about their habitats. For example aardvarks live in the veldt in Africa. We learnt whether they were herbivores, carnivores, insectivores or omnivores.

Another day we were learning how to write riddles. We saw this one online;
‘I live in the canopy. I rarely touch the forest floor. I hang upside down all day. I move as slow as a tortoise. My hair is brown and green. I eat tree leaves. Who am I?
Can you guess the answer.

It is a sloth.
We became so interested in them we ended up doing a project about these fascinating animals too.
They are a greenish brown because they are so slow moving a green algae grows on their fur!

Laura’s lovely ‘Owl and Fox in a Landscape’.

Some projects we are working on in school.

Today we sent off our Write A Book projects

This is the first page from Patrick’s book about an imaginary land called Limuria.

‘Once upon an imaginary time,

a long, long, time ago,

there lived a captain of a pirate ship

whose name was Captain Conor…’

We are also working on our entries for the Texaco Art Competition.

We were asked to draw ourselves as a character in a well known story.
Here Sinead is working on a picture of herself as Rapunzel.

How to do well in project work

How to earn marks in project work

One hundred marks are allocated for each project.
Students get marks for an eye catching title for their project.
– They get a mark if they have a title.
– They get another one if the overall look of the title is neat.
– And another one if letter formation is good.
– Another mark is earned if the words in the title are spelt correctly.
Further marks can be gained if the title is done
– in decorative writing,
– in colour,
– with pictures or graphics.
Marks are also awarded
– if the title is more than one word
– and is original.
All in all, the title can earn 10 marks.

Teacher will award 10 marks for originality.
This means that the project should be written in the children’s own words.
To do the project Teacher will give out an information sheet.
The children shouldn’t write down information from this sheet word for word.
Instead they should write it in their own way.
Bright ideas and original drawings also gain marks for originality.

Illustrations or pictures are an easy way of gaining 20 marks.
Teacher will give up to ten marks for the main picture and will give one or two marks for small additional illustrations.

During these recessionary times, I’m sure you will agree it is better if illustrations are the children’s own work, rather than down loaded from the internet and printed off. From the learning point of view also, I think original pictures from the children are better.

Content is very important and can earn the student up to twenty marks.
Generally Teacher awards one mark for each piece of information.
Original information that the student provides themselves gain even more marks.

But this information has to be accurate.
Accuracy and correct spellings gain twenty marks.
A mark is lost for every incorrect spelling up to a total of 20.
I would also like the information to be given in sentences
that start with a capital letter and ends in a full stop.

Good handwriting can earn up to ten marks and
neat presentation gets another ten.

All in all these projects are marked out of one hundred.

Children should be encouraged to try to improve on their own score each time,
rather than compete with one another.

In a nutshell then:
Title: 10 marks
Originality: 10 marks
Illustrations: 20 marks
Content: 20 marks
and handwriting 20 marks
and accuracy 20 marks
One hundred marks altogether.

Our 1st project of 2012 is on owls

Nadine’s ‘Owl Eyes’

We have begun to do projects in class. In a little while we will be doing projects for homework.

We are reading ‘The Owl Who Was Afraid Of The Dark’ by Jill Tomlinson. We are doing a project about owls.

We used the Enchanted Learning website for information.

The children were particularly interested in the subject of owl pellets.
We used this site KIDWINGS

The class enjoyed listening to recordings of owls. There are some on the Kidwings site mentioned about but they much preferred the audios of owls screeching.

These following links come with a ‘Government Health Warning’ as some of the owl screeches can sound rather shrill.


National Geographic for Kids can be accessed HERE

Laura’s ‘Owl Eyes’.

The internet is fantastic for researching project work, but please supervise your child’s use of same.

Update 15th January 2013

Today we found this lovely website with a video of a barn owl in flight. If you look further down the page on the right, you will see there is also an audio of what the barn owl sounds like.

Barn Owls have been spotted in our neighbourhood. We are going to look out for barn owls when we are walking at night. They fly silently but they have a very loud screech.

Great website about nature. This is a link to a barn owl in flight.