Identifying end rhymes and internal rhymes using the famous poem by Edward Lear, ‘The Owl and the Pussy-Cat’.

Children become aware of rhymes early on in their educational development, as it appears in phonics and early readers. Rhyming texts are often more fun for younger children to read, as they find it catchy and notice the song-like character it can give to a piece of writing. A child’s understanding of rhyme and knowledge increases as they grow older.

Building a child’s understanding of language and how it functions is critically important and continues throughout their school life. There are many types of rhyme: end rhymes, slant rhymes, internal rhymes, rich rhymes, eye rhymes and identical rhymes. There is a heavy focus on end rhymes, internal rhymes and slant rhymes (often called half-rhymes), but it is interesting to know about all the varieties.

As children reach secondary school, they learn more about the effect that rhyme can have on a reader and how it can alter pace. I tend to show older children the effect of rhyme by initially focusing on rap, as all forms of rhyme is particularly prevalent in rap.

Older children also learn how to label a rhyme scheme and by KS3/GCSEs, they are able to name a specific scheme. For instance: alternate rhyme (ABAB), enclosed rhyme (ABBA) and rhyming couplets (AABB). This knowledge is critical when attempting to identify the form of a poem. For instance, a Petrarchan sonnet consists of 14 lines, starting with an octave using enclosed rhyme (ABBACDDC), followed by a sestet of variable rhyme scheme. Often this is a accompanied with a change in tone or resolution.

Recognising rhymes and building an understanding of how language is structured at an early age, can form the foundations for success in later years.

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Does early self-control determine a child’s future success?

If so, can self-control be taught?

When I read that The Marshmallow Experiment was replicated yet again, it got me thinking about why this is.

The Marshmallow experiment is one of the most famous social science experiments. The first time this experiment was carried out was in 1960, by a professor at Stanford University.

In this experiment, young children were offered a marshmallow to immediately consume or 2 marshmallows if they waited 15 minutes. The results were then linked to educational attainment, higher SAT’s scores and even lower BMI. In other words, the children who were able to wait for the 2 marshmallows generally did better in later life.

This would suggest that behaviours such as self-control cannot be taught. If you extend that to education, does it mean that every child is born only with fixed traits in learning?

This experiment has been replicated with some sort of twists over the years. Almost all of them have drawn different conclusions from the original.

 

The Marshmallow experiment has been repeated yet again, this time to test results looking at social and economic conditions, and this time, the conclusion is that children from poorer backgrounds fared worse.

Yet in another very similar experiment, Cameroonian children showed that they waited twice as long and complained a lot less.

To my mind that puts the social equality theory into question.

Also, what if the child does not like marshmallows, or they simply think that two marshmallows are not worth the wait, and they may have waited if there were more?

I would also say that this has not taken into account the massive impact of things like social media and the internet. It also does not take into account the differing personalities of each child.

Young children are said to be impulsive and to live in the present moment, with no concept of the future. To add insult to injury, children are said to grow up with a sense of entitlement and the need for instant reward. There is the perception that the more technology reliant a child is, the shorter the attention span.

If we extend this to academic success, does it mean that this will lead to poorer grades in school?

 

Across my many years of tutoring, I have seen and worked with children who had set their goals and were determined to achieve them- whatever it took, while others were simply happy to coast. Some children are simply not academically inclined.

As a tutor, I believe that whilst self-control is important, determination is equally as important, if not more so. This along with guidance and practice is surely the key for any achievement, academic or otherwise.

Non-Verbal Reasoning Codes – How to Answer

Our year 4 and year 5 11+ students have recently been learning how codes questions work in Non-Verbal Reasoning. There are a few techniques you can use to answer these types of questions more quickly and more accurately.

The first thing to do is look at the different position numbers and find shapes which have the same letter in the same position number. For example the following question has 3 letter positions, each of which represent a different element of the shape.

We can see that the first and second shape both have the letter ‘A’ in the first position. We must then look at these shapes and see what element they have in common with each other. In this case the only thing they have in common is the fact that they both have a dot inside the main shape. ‘A’ stands for dot. Therefore ‘B’ (a different letter in the same position) must represent a shape having no dot.

At this point we look at our question shape to see whether it has a dot or not. It does, meaning the first letter of our answer is ‘A’.

It is best to fill this in as soon as you have worked out this element rather than trying to work out all three letters at once at the end.

Are there any more positions with the same letter in both?

In this case the answer is yes. Shape 1 and shape 3 both have ‘X’ as the letter in position number 2. What element do shape 1 and shape 2 have in common? They both have a border. ‘X’ must stand for border and ‘Y’ must stand for no border.

Our question doesn’t have a border so it’s second letter will be ‘Y’. Again fill this in as soon as you find it.

Now in most cases there will be a position number where all the letters are different. It is always best to leave this until the end as we have already ruled out some of the elements of the shapes.

In our question, the 3rd position is where all of the letters are different. What is different about all 3 shapes? The shapes themselves. So ‘N’ must stand for square, ‘M’ must stand for star and ‘L’ must stand for pentagon.

Our question shape is a pentagon so the 3rd letter will be ‘L’.

See if you can work out the answer to the question in the second picture. Comment with your answers.

To learn more about these question types as well as others you can refer to RTG Non-Verbal Reasoning Book 1 on Amazon as well as practice questions and learn about Non-Verbal Reasoning from the ground up.

For more difficult questions as well as practice papers see RTG Non-Verbal Reasoning Book 2 on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Non-Verbal-Reasoning-Book-1/dp/0993377009/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1539442167&sr=8-3&keywords=RTG+non+verbal

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Non-Verbal-Reasoning-Practice-Book-Publishing/dp/0993377017/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1539442251&sr=8-2&keywords=RTG+non+verbal

The Olympic Runner – World Poetry Day

The Olympic Runner is about a runner who is unfairly stereotyped by critics. Rhyming-couplets are used throughout the poem to reflect the steady and fast pace of the runner. There is also a subtle use of irony that makes the poem particularly effective – see if you can spot it.

This poem is a useful teaching tool for KS3 and GCSE students, because it is both fairly easy to understand and uses many structural and language techniques. The non-literal elements are also easily understandable.

 

The Olympic Runner

The sun beat down so hard it burnt his back,

His feet ate the dust as he ran the endless track,

The wind gave him wings and the miles flew by,

He was gunning for gold, for victory he’d die.

Critics had a field day when he entered the arena,

They could have knocked him down with a feather,

“Sideways you can’t see him through a 50-cent coin,

Bones on a cold carcass make up his manly loin.”

“His feet so long he will surely fall flat on his face,

Legs stretch down like two bamboo poles in place,

From the land of famine he gets not his daily bread,

If he wins, we’ll eat our hats,” in mockery they said.

As he touched the finish line, the crowd went wild,

Cheers heard across the land by every man and child,

His heartbeats so erratic they were beating out of time

If he could take a shot at his critics it’d be no crime.

Sweat streamed down, pooled like rivulets on the floor,

A warrior back from the battlefield, battered and sore,

Standing tall as a Brobdingnagian, the anthem sung

The joy so sweet, he could taste it on his tongue.

He was so tired he felt he could sleep for a year

The cynics struck dumb, had no cause to jeer,

‘A man in a million’ were the headlines that day

“Not a mere man but a giant in spirit,” they say.

By Jacinta Ramayah

 

‘Gender-neutral’

The trend toward making everything gender neutral (unisex in old money) is gaining momentum.

Canada is introducing gender-neutral passports. Citizens will have the option of M, F or X on their passports.

John Lewis has announced that all its children’s clothing range will be ‘gender neutral’ from now on. This means that instead of the label reading boy or girl, it will now read ‘boy and girl.’

When I heard this, my first thought was, is there a third category that I am not aware of? Are we heading towards every child being called it, rather than he or she in order to not offend anyone? Does it mean that boys will have the option of wearing skirts to school, or that girls will no longer have the option to wear skirts? Now that would be true equality, I thought!

It seems some schools are also following suit. The TES reported that Priory School in Lewes, East Sussex has banned girls from wearing skirts to make their uniform gender neutral. It reports the reason is ‘to make the uniform gender neutral for transgender pupils and to deal with complaints about the decency of short skirts.’

Bishop of Llandaff Church-in-Wales High School in Cardiff has introduced unisex toilets. It is reported these toilets have cost the school up to £20,000.00. (Many would argue that money would be better spent on classroom resources). The school has said these toilets have been installed as a practical solution and it is not about gender.

For me, this raises more questions than it answers. For example:

  1. How will this neutrality transfer into job equality?
  2. What difference will it make to your job prospects if you wore a skirt or trousers to school?
  3. Does that mean that girls will be objectified less and be treated as serious prospects for top jobs?
  4. Most of all (being a cynic), what is the reason behind this new trend.

The answer lies in economics. We are now, more than ever competing on a global scale, so our workforce is compared to the global workforce and in the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Goals (17 of them to ‘transform our world’) with a target of achieving them by 2030. Gender equality is goal number 5.

In the UK, equal pay was only made statutory 37 years ago, yet currently, according to Prowess only 17% of UK company owners are women, whilst in 2015 a survey found that 5.5% of company CEO’s were female. In 2011 there were more than 20 boards of FTSE 100 companies, that were all male. Today there are none.

On average, men still earn 16 to 18% more per hour than women.

Academically, girls consistently outperform boys, but when it comes to the workplace, women consistently fail to keep up. However, on closer inspection, it is much more complex.

65% of boys compared with only 43% of girls take up Maths at A Level out of those that have achieved grade A’s in their GCSE Maths. Only 29% of all students are female Further Maths students; a crucial subject if you wish to study a STEM subject at degree level.

More than likely is the role of family responsibilities, which are not shared equally. Women are much more likely to take career breaks and often will not go back to a full-time job. But as women begin to gain financial parity, will this become less relevant?

Surely, rather than worrying about skirts and trousers, the focus should be more on hidden gender biases in the curriculum. For example, look at the historical stereotypes of men and women, or the tokenisation and objectification of women in our class resources.

If the underlying structures are reorganised to create and promote gender equality, this will surely have a much greater impact than what style of uniform is being worn to school.
It is clearly a mammoth task, but one that I feel cannot be avoided if true gender equality is to be achieved.
Rupa Radia

 

GCSEs: The importance of awareness and organisation

…After speaking to the student and after I had flicked through his disorganised folder, it became all the more evident that the student hadn’t the faintest idea what material he needed to know in order to pass the exam. He looked down at the table and rotated his pencil slowly between his fingers. Exams were barely two months away…

This is an issue I have actually encountered a few times working with children working towards their GCSEs late into the exam cycle. Although exam success is by no means guaranteed, quite a few children do not give themselves the best chance to succeed.

At school, I know that I was especially bad at organisation and was frequently chastised by teachers for my poor level of organisation (especially in A level Philosophy). The reasons I managed to succeed in exams was that I always remembered things well at school and I was always aware of what I needed to know. However, perhaps with better organisation at school, I could have made exam success easier to attain.  

GCSEs are particularly a difficult challenge for children to go through. Teenagers are themselves going through biological developments and mentally changing too. Although some of the major bodily changes have already taken place between the ages of 11 and 15, from 15-16, teenagers have more concerns about the future and are even more likely to be depressed.

Children of the GCSE age-group start to develop their working habits. They start learning about how they learn best, what they want to learn about, how they want to organise their work, how they can use their knowledge in the future and so on. The Government have tried to tackle these issues by introducing students to study skills as an extracurricular add-on. Study skills should not be regarded in this way, but should be pushed early in a child’s development and enforced by those around the child (parents, teachers, tutors etc). Of course, different people have different ways of organising and this uniqueness should be celebrated too, but there are always general ideas that should be consistently enforced and reinforced.  
Although I did not enjoy being lectured weekly about the state of my folders, I have to admit that teachers certainly left an impression on me and I did start to pay more attention. Looking back, I wish those around me had started teaching me earlier about the value of organisation and thinking about what they need to learn. How aware is your child? Does he/she know how to approach studying? How organised are your child’s notes? Under which exam board is your child taking an exam? Does your child know what skills and knowledge is needed? These are just a few of the questions that parents can consider leading up to exams.

Jonathan Strange

Lifelong learning and the web

“Lifelong learning” at the moment is particularly in vogue. The concept is based around the idea that learning continues into adulthood, past our compulsory and formal education to further life skills and aid our professional development. The term originated in higher education circles; in the academic life, lifelong learning is necessary in order to stay relevant. Governments have also started to see lifelong learning as one of the answers to skill shortages in our economy.

The web has huge potential to bring education to both the educated and the less educated. For instance, Khan Academy started as YouTube hosted videos created by Sal Khan for his cousin and has flourished into a fully-fledged education platform. Children and adults alike can use internet content to gain a better understanding of subjects and topics. In the classroom, teachers are also utilising the huge store of available online content. Of course, these vast stores of knowledge are a powerful resource, however, the fact that they exist does not necessarily lead to a true education revolution: 7.2 billion people live on this earth yet 4 million still lack internet access.
It often seems to be the story that the rich are getting richer and the poor are staying poor.  The story is the same in education; the educationally rich seek greater enrichment, and the educationally poor tend to stagnate. These social trends are called the Matthew effects.

An example of this in education are MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) which are free for anyone who wants to take part, but they have mainly attracted those who already hold degrees; there are still many barriers to access for the poorer educated. My advice is to start young when it comes to educating yourself. If you want to learn a skill for tomorrow, start today. Whether you utilise online content or read a book or learn by doing, just begin now.

By Jonathan Strange

The Power of Practice.

 

We have all heard the saying ’practice makes perfect’.

Well, that saying is not exactly true- it needs some further insight and explanation.

Take for example, writing your name.

How do you know that what you have written is correct?

When you first learned to write, you had to be told that in English, we write from left to right. You had to be told what the letters were and you were taught to make the connections between those letters to make sounds and eventually create words.

Now imagine that you had only ever written your name once in your entire life. Would you remember how to do it so many years later? You would be able to write your name but would have to think about it. It would not be instinctive, automatic and natural.

The same is true of most things, whether it is mental agility or physical exercise. The brain is a muscle and needs to be exercised in the same way that you would exercise your body.

Practice Makes Perfect

by PookyH

Nothing is easy

Unless you know how,
What was not easy then,
Might seem quite easy now.
What is hard when you’re three
Isn’t hard when you’re four,
By the time that you’re five,
You will know even more.

It’s not practice, but deep practice that makes perfect. So what is deep practice?

Deep practice is effectively breaking down the components of practising anything, whether it is learning to play tennis or your times tables.

The first step is to break it down into small, manageable pieces.

The next step is to focus ONLY on those small pieces and repeat the practice of them.

The final step is to review what your mistakes were when practising and correcting those until the process ‘feels’ natural.

Rupa Harji

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