Friend or Foe by Michael Morpurgo

Friend or Foe is a gripping, historical fiction novel about World War II. It is written by Michael Morpurgo, author of War Horse (now a major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg).  It is published by Egmont and with recommended reading age 9+

Read the book review below:

David and Tucky, two young boys evacuated from London during the Blitz, feel like the war is a long way away from their new life in the Devon countryside. Everything changes though, when one night the skyline of the moor is lit up with gun flashes and bombing. A German bomber crashes and the boys know that they should hate the airmen inside. One of the airmen, however, saves David’s life…will this change the boys perception of the airmen?

This is a great read and has been recommended by all the children who have read it! 

 Listen to the brilliant BBC podcast HERE! It’s amazing!

Do you want to write like Michael Morpurgo? Click here to read his 10  rules for writing! 

Find out more about Michael Morpurgo, visit his website HERE!

Like and share if you enjoyed this post or if you are a Michael Morpurgo fan.

Till next time…

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Dyslexia in different languages – Part 2

As seen in Part 1 of Dyslexia in different languages, dyslexia can be very different across languages because of their underlying structure. In this post we look at dyslexia in the following four languages: Polish, French, Italian and Japanese.

Polish:

It is interesting to note that the Polish language is ending based, which means that the meaning of a word in a sentence is conditioned by an ending. English is a positional language, meaning that a word’s definition mainly depends on its position in a sentence. Although Polish children and adolescents have slightly different problems in reading, writing and spelling than those who speak English, difficulties, faced by Polish dyslexics could stem from a phonological, phonemic awareness deficit like those faced by English dyslexics.

French and Italian:

As seen in the TIME magazine, scientists compared the reading ability of dyslexics from Britain, France and Italy and found that Italian dyslexics read far better than their French and English counterparts. Brain scans conducted during reading exercises confirmed that the boundary between language and visual processing areas was inactive in dyslexics, no matter what language they spoke. Lead author, Eraldo Paulesu of the University of Milan Bicocca, stated that Italian dyslexics can read better of the difference in the writing systems, which vary in complexity for historical reasons.

Japanese:

Linda Himelstein, in her article ‘Unlocking  Dyslexia in Japanese’ makes reference to a study of school-age children published  in Psychological Science that compared how good readers and dyslexic readers learn language. Using brain-imaging technology, researchers at the Yale Center found that when people with dyslexia read in English they rely on the same region of the brain as do readers of kanji, a character-based language in Japan.By contrast, a somewhat different region of the brain is used by good English readers as well as by children reading kana, another Japanese language, but one in which each character represents a sound, as in English.

Having dyslexia in any language does not have to be something negative, dyslexia comes with many advantages, too! 

Till next time…

 

Dyslexia in different languages

Genetically influenced peculiarities in the brain anatomy, present in a minority of people, get in the way of a certain kind of information processing. This could be a problem, if a particular writing system strongly relied on this information processing; those born without it, could have a hard time. This explains why dyslexia can be of very little consequence in one country and a handicap in another. Read on to find out more about dyslexia in different languages…

ENGLISH 
For dyslexic children who are learning to read in English, the most noticeable problems of functional literacy are in accuracy and speed of reading and spelling. Evidence from brain imaging work done on adults, has been interpreted to support the ‘phonological deficit framework’ for understanding dyslexia. Adults with dyslexia show atypical neural activity in the left hemisphere system, during both phonological and reading tasks. Environmental factors play an important role in acquiring reading, making grapheme-phoneme acquisition primarily a cultural factor that is dependent on teaching.

GREEK
In view of the nature of the Greek spelling system it is suggested that Greek children tend to find learning to read easier that learning to spell in Greek. This does not mean that all children acquire reading skills easily. On the contrary, some struggle in completing phonological decoding in word reading. This is reflected in the reading performance where the most important index of their reading performance seems to be the reading processing time rather than accuracy. This is in contrast to what happens in the English language.

ARABIC
There is little research on Arabic reading difficulties. Literary Arabic is taught in school almost as a second language. The nature of Arabic orthography demands high phonological decoding ability.

CHINESE
Relatively little is known about the prevalence of dyslexia in China. This is not surprising, when we consider that differences exist both within and between Chinese languages, such as Cantonese, Min and Mandarin and the more familiar Indo-European languages, which most of our knowledge about dyslexia has developed. Learning to read in Chinese may be easier for dyslexic children. Dyslexia is not common in Chinese speaking individuals and given that many dyslexic children may have unimpaired visual memory (through poor phonological awareness) the task of learning to read in Chinese may be easier for dyslexic children. A study showed that when they taught American dyslexic children to read words printed as Chinese characters they found that they were more successful at reading the words. This suggests to us that the unique properties of a script will determine the phenotype of dyslexia, in different language environments.

Dyslexia in more languages coming soon – stay tuned!

Please share to spread the word!

Till next time…

Helping Your Child Prepare For Standardised Tests

Many parents worry about their children’s end of year exams and it can be a very stressful time for both parents and kids. A level of anxiety is natural, but there are things you can do to prepare your child without adding extra pressure or worry. Read on to see how you can help your child do well in standardised tests…

 

Although it is important that revision is done specifically in areas children find most difficult, revision should also include practising topics they enjoy and are good at. This is equally important because it will help boost their confidence, which in turn will help them tackle harder topics.

In the U.K. children sit for SATs, but even if they are not sitting for those specific tests, they will still benefit from the opportunity to do some revision to consolidate learning. If your school is following an English curriculum, you can go to this page for links to SATs past papers from previous years to practice. Of course there are many more sites on the internet with revision papers for you to download.

Whether your child’s school is following the National Curriculum, one like the Cambridge Primary or if it’s the American Curriculum – there are slight differences between them – your child will still benefit from extra practice and revision. Whatever  revision is done, it has to cover the concepts they they have been taught that year, even if that means leaving out some questions or adding others in from other past/revision papers.

A good tip is to get your child used to sitting and completing past/practice papers, within the given time limit. This way, they can start learning how to manage time and practise exam-taking skills like: leaving the hard questions to the end, checking their answers and answering carefully. Encourage your children to revise from their notebooks and to ask the teacher if they are still unsure about something that has been taught.

Your child’s teacher will most definitely revise over key concepts prior to the standardised tests. Your child should go to school having completed any homework and practice papers the teacher has assigned, so that they can get meaningful feedback and appropriate guidance.

Above all, talk to your child, motivate and encourage them. Allow your child to take breaks and don’t let them reach burnout – sometimes doing too much can be counterproductive. Sitting for exams is a skill that develops with experience and in primary school, children take their first steps to acquiring those exam-taking skills. As they grow and mature, so will those skills – it is nothing but a learning process.

Lastly, if you are one of those parents wondering if your child’s future career will be affected by their performance in their end of year primary tests, the answer is, no. It will not affect them getting into University or determining which path they will take when they are finish school.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t encourage your child to do their best. Doing well in primary school, sets the foundations for future learning. Your child, however,  will still have many years of testing and only the final exams, prior to and during University, really count and will determine their future. There is plenty of time for your child to mature and learn how to perform well in tests.

On that note, I wish you happy revising! ❤

Till next time…

 

Free Educational Websites for Kids

There are so many fantastic resources that can be found on the internet, and best of all many are for free! These websites can make kids feel as though they are playing, but are actually learning at the same time.

Many times I’ve had parents ask me what educational websites I’d recommend for their children. Here is a small list of some free websites, for kids of all ages. Have a look and decide on your favourite one. Of course there are so many more available – do you know other free educational websites that you’d like to recommend? If yes, then leave your recommendations in the comments section, below this post!

Click on the image below to download the poster for free!
Free Educational Websites for Kids

Till next time…

Peppi Orfanogianni

Dora’s Animation: William Shakespeare Biography

Schools can limit creativity, however, when the rigidness of the school system is softened and children are allowed to create freely, they can truly take you by surprise. By giving pupils simple guidelinesthen letting them go about things in their own way, individuals will be able to experiment with their creativity and show what they are capable of.

Carnival theme this year was ‘Famous People in History’. Both teachers and children had to dress up as their chosen person (it had to be someone who was deceased) and present that person’s biography. Yes, that’s right – teachers, too – more about that in a future post, so stay tuned!

Pupils were given freedom of choice in the means they could use to create their presentation, which was then shown to the class. On Carnival day, the children came dressed up as their chosen person and presented their biographies. The results were amazing! We had all sorts: from Amy Winehouse, to Michael Jackson and Nelson Mandela. The projects themselves ranged from: beautiful PowerPoints, to stunning 2-D projects on card, as well as intricate computer programming!

When motivation meets talent, no matter how old the individual is, the results will always impress. Below is an animation about Shakespeare, which left us all speechless.

Dora (age 11) created this animation. She drew the images, edited it and made the voiceover. Enjoy! ❤

Special thanks to Dora and her family, for allowing this animation to be featured on the blog. 

Till next time…

Writing Targets Sheet and Writing Targets Achievement Certificate Free Download

Long gone are the days when a generic ‘Well done!’ or ‘Good!’ would suffice as adequate and constructive teacher feedback for pupils’ writing. Today, feedback given to pupils needs to be specific and clear and should give pupils guidance on how to improve their writing. Feedback is often confused with editing, it is much more than just correcting mistakes, it is showing them the way to make the next step in improving.

Feedback comments must be limited to three or four major suggestions  and should focus on positive feedback, as well as something to improve on. Writing targets need to be limited to this amount, too. An overwhelming amount of feedback and targets would prevent pupils from acting on your suggestions. Your feedback should help them understand what is most important for them to work on, even if the end result isn’t quite there yet. Your targets should help them succeed in showing improvement and becoming better writers. 

Remember, writing is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Pupils need to be given opportunities to close the gap between their current performance and the desired outcome. 

Use these templates to set writing targets for your pupils. Celebrate their success with a certificate and move on to the next set of targets to keep them developing further!

Download the free Writing Targets Sheet and Writing Target Achievement Certificate by clicking on the images below!  

Till next time…

 

Tips for flying with young kids

  Flying often, has allowed me to find out what makes parents with kids travel best. You know, the ones you see and think to yourself that’s how it’s done! On my many flights, I’ve talked to parents extensively about what works for them and through careful observation here is what I’ve noticed works best for parents, kids and their fellow passengers. Read on to find out more about how to fly with young kids. 

 

Choose the right seat. 

Take the car seat for your baby to use on the plane. Though kids under 2 can travel on your lap for free, it’s safer for your little one to have his own seat. Plus, your child will be more comfortable in a car seat, since they most probably be already accustomed to traveling in it.

Entertainment.

This cannot be stressed enough. No one enjoys a long day of travelling, needless to say a young child without any perception of time. Think along the lines of books, colouring-in pages, markers, Play-Doh, soft toys, portable DVD player with your children’s favourite programmes (don’t forget the earphones). Basically, anything that will help everyone have a peaceful flight.

Help with pressure changes.

For older kids, chewing gum works just fine. However, with younger ones that can be dangerous, so you might want to consider giving them a pain reliever about half an hour before landing, to alleviate the pain. Make sure to check with your pediatrician though first.

Comfort items.

Don’t forget to bring your kid’s favourite teddy, blanket and pillow to help them get comfortable and feel at home in their new surroundings. These along with their entertainment bits and bobs can be stored in a carry-on bag like the Trunki. These are so cute! If I ever have children, I will most definitely be buying them one. They also act as a back-up source of entertainment if you have to wait for your flight and teaches them responsibility by putting them in charge of their belongings.

Dress for comfort.

 Dress your child in bright, comfortable clothes and sneakers to make them easily visible. They should be dressed in layers because the cabin temperature changes from very warm to cold and also depending on your destination, the weather may vary from one place to another.

Passport.

Don’t forget the passport! Remember to check all passports ahead of time to avoid any nasty, last-minute surprises!

✈✈✈ Wishing you and your family safe travels!  ✈✈✈

Like and share if you enjoyed this post and found it helpful. Leave a comment if you have more tips to add.

Till next time…

 

 

Email etiquette for teachers – 10 tips

Communicating via email is no longer a luxury for some, but a necessity for working. As a teacher, it most probably is your primary source of communication with colleagues, parents and depending on the age group you teach – pupils, too. Before one starts it may be wise to consider the appropriate etiquette for sending professional emails, as it is imperative for effective communication.

Read on for 10 top tips to becoming the best communicator! 

  1. Always use your school email. 
    Avoid sending emails from your personal email, especially to parents but colleagues too; it is just simply unprofessional. Very close co-workers and friends can be exempt from this rule. 
  2. Use subject lines wisely. 
    Keep them brief and to the point. Your subject line should always link to your email’s subject and not something that will get attention for the sake of it. That way people can judge whether it’s a priority email or not, and can prioritise its reading appropriately.
  3. Start and sign off in a courteous manner. 
    Opt for formal greetings rather than informal ones, especially when writing to a parent. Greetings such as ‘Dear’ and “Hello” followed by the recipient’s name (spelt correctly) are a safe way to start off. ‘Hi’ can also be used, although slightly more informal, but will work well if you have a closer relationship with the recipient.
  4. Be mindful of your tone. 
    Golden rule: always avoid writing emails when you are upset or angry. Your mood will be conveyed via the email and can lead to embarrassing and unwanted consequences. Have someone you trust read it before you hit that send button, just to make sure the tone is right.
  5. Be mindful of length. 
    Lengthy emails should as a rule be avoided. They should be short, sweet and to the point. Anything more than 2 large paragraphs should probably be discussed over the phone or in person.
  6. Proofread
    Read it multiple times and check for typos that might not have flagged up. If you are still unsure, ask a trusted person to proofread it for you or copy paste it in word.
  7. Emotive language. 
    Use emotive language to acknowledge someone’s feelings or requests, then head onto addressing the issue at hand. This shows your recipient that you care and that the action you are planning on taking will be followed through. Skip the emoticons though, as much as you may love them, for they look tacky and unprofessional.
  8. C.C wisely. 
    Use the CC feature when necessary and remember to include everyone that needs to be kept up-to-date and informed. If you need someone to follow-up with an action, you should state this clearly in the email using their name.
  9. Leave the message thread and avoid using capitals. 
    WHEN YOU USE CAPITALS, NO MATTER WHAT YOU WRITE, IT READS AS IF YOU ARE SHOUTING. Please, please leave the capitals out but remember to include the thread. This allows the recipient to go back to what has been said without them rummaging through their emails to find it.
  10. End on a good note. 
    A personal message or note at the end is always uplifting – make sure you end your email on a positive note like, ‘Have a nice day!’

    Remember, great communication is the foundation of building great relationships. Follow these simple tips and be an awesome communicator! 

What tips would you suggest? Leave a comment below, like and share if you enjoyed this post. 

Till next time…

Why teachers get sick in the holidays

Believe it or not, teachers have a highly stressful job with an endless list of responsibilities and duties to get through, each day. Keeping stress levels and adrenaline at a high, is imperative to  multitask and get through the day having successfully catered for all pupils. Therefore it comes as no surprise when the holidays arrive and the gears suddenly change, from high to a halt, consequences are faced. So many teachers, who are rarely sick in their working week come down with headaches, colds, and illnesses during their holidays, as soon as daily stress is left behind.

This is known as leisure sickness, a phrase first coined by a psychologist in the Netherlands. Ad Vingerhoets, said that people suffering from leisure sickness typically had a stressful job and they simply couldn’t switch off, which triggered a whole host of symptoms. Currently with a sore throat and at the beginning of my holidays, I am looking into the reasons of this happening, to share with you lovely people reading this post. If you, like myself, are currently feeling unwell – I wish you the speediest of recoveries!

Cary Cooper, a Professor of Organisational Psychology at the University of Lancaster says that, our immune system is stimulated by the pressure we are under, so when we function with deadlines, our body knows we can’t get ill. When we take a break, our immune system knows there is no more pressure and allows itself to get sick. Furthermore, according to Liz Tucker, stress counsellor and lifestyle expert, leisure sickness is a warning that our life is out of balance and something should be done about it. Despite this, many doctors and psychologists are not in agreement about this phenomenon and its existence, thus further research is still needed in this area.

So how do we avoid leisure sickness? Those in agreement suggest that we must first aim to lead a less stressful career/ life as well as to balance them out. This can be done by taking small steps towards relaxing in your working life. In this way, when you take a break, relaxing won’t come as such a big shock to your body and make you ill. I know, this is much easier said than done, and to be honest I don’t even know if it is feasible. Expectations within the workplace need to change for people to cope with their workload without being under great pressure; employees will ultimately perform better the healthier they are.

In the meantime, look after yourself and get well with hot soups, tea and lots of rest!

It’s leisure time!  ❤ Share this with your teacher friends! 

Till next time…