Learning Matters

Learning Matters

This page is like my 'Melting pot!' I'm putting down the thoughts I have. The links to things that interest me. Notes on the books and articles that interest me. The images that resonate and the songs that inspire me. A mish mash of thoughts that I'm trying to order and draw upon in my classroom practise and in my own learning journey.

What makes the difference?

A turning point in my understanding and thinking about how children learn was when I talked with groups of Year 6 pupils about their achievements and thoughts about Maths. In answer to the question, 'Why do you think some children do well and others don't?' the resounding answer was, ' Because some of us just aren't bothered!' (Page 4 - 5 on my Maths Blog)

It initially came as a real shock, I was expecting answers about how engaging the lessons were or weren't, how hard they found the learning or how interesting or valuable they thought Maths was and yet it came down to 'attitude.' 

I have reflected on my own experiences of learning. I worked hard when I was at school and what was motivation...... to try and make my mother happy. My father died when I was seven and all I wanted to do was make my mother smile again and in my child's mind I thought that doing well at school might just do that.  While I strived to come top in tests, the one thing I hated was PE and when I think about this, I recall my teacher telling me that as I was so tall I must be able to run very fast with such long legs! I never could run very fast and spent all my school days trying to avoid the humiliation of not being able to run fast - despite the supposed advantage of long legs! A similar scenario instilled a dread of netball after I was told I would be an excellent netball player as being so tall would make it easy for me to score goals! Not a chance! 

I recall changing school and going to my first Art class, to be told that as my brother couldn't even scribble, I could attend for a month and then the teacher would decide if it was worth me continuing! Interestingingly, this rather negetive approach actually made me determined to prove my worth and 'no way' was I going to have to leave the art class, especially judged on my brothers abilities! 

As a teacher I want my pupils to be engaged and motivated - I surf, read, think and reflect on how best to inspire them and I guess the truth returns to the thought that we are all different. What drives each of us is different, and yet there do seem to be some ways we can try to do things better. 


I have compiled a list of all the books that I have read recently when I have been thinking and pundering the question of 'What makes the difference to learners and learning?'

Click to view my Listomania - Learning Matters.


Books to share with children.

I want to put together a list of picture story books which give a starting point to discussions about Growth Mindsets, the importance of practise and not giving up. This is very much work in progress!

Giraffes dont dance Used this story in an assembly recently. It also comes with an audio Cd and was a good book to get the children to think about learning.

Singing MermaidIn this story the Mermaid has to learn to walk on her hands to escape from the circus. She is taught to do this by a fellow circus performer and it is practise that leads to her success and helps her to finally escape. 

I've also looked for books to teach children about how the brain works and how we learn.

Fantastic Elastic brainFantastic Elastic brain 1

This is the best book I have found that is a child friendly approach to learning about the brain and how we can 'grow' it. There is also a brilliant APP available for £2.99 and this also has some brain training games at the end of the interactive book. Having the book as an APP has also meant I have been able to screen capture some of the pages and have put them into a notebook for sharing with the class. 

Learning Matters Links.

The Internet is full of fascinating articles too and a daily browse through Twitter sets me of on many interesting journeys. I can't rate the value of Twitter high enough, I learn constantly from the information shared by others. You can follow me @ejf23

These are just some of the things I have favorited and found interesting recently.

Labels Limit Learning - a Tedx presentation by James Nottingham. Just brilliant - and so true. (IMO)

Class Teaching. Sharing Best Practice. - Developing a Growth Mindset. A really comprehensive post with lots of links to more information too. (Thanks to  for sharing)

Getting into the right Mindset.  Another blog that I really enjoyed reading. (Thanks to  for sharing)

Growth - Happyologist. - An interesting article about 7 Fixed Mindsets that prevent happiness and growth.

http://www.sparkyteaching.com Lots of great free information and ideas on this site, but I was so impressed I paid and downloaded the 'Shine' resources and I'm thinking about how to use them in class soon. Also some excellent real life Maths problems and I liked the 'Caution Minds at Work' images too. 

Goals Setting Quotes. 


Sometimes I think a picture really is worth a 1000 words and I like to have images, posters and picture to put around the classroom, or just to insert as pages in Smartnotebooks. So here is a collection of a few of my favourites. 

You MatterThis has to be the best - and I still put it up everywhere and repeat the mantra until my children almost say it before I do! In thinking about Growth Mindsets, it also reinforces the notion that we need to be striving to do OUR best, and not comparing ourselves with others. 

Growth MindsetGrowth MindsetGrowth Mindset fabulousGrowth Mindset fishI just love this saying! 

Growth Mindset okayGrowth Mindset pitI'm playing with the notion of the 'Learning Pit.' It doesn't sit easily with me because I don't think the language of 'learning' and 'pit' should really go together, but this image makes sense of the idea for me. I do think children need to understand that learning isn't always easy and that they learn best when they feel challenged. Equally the notion of making mistakes is all part of learning is very important. 


So if a picture is worth a 1000 words - then no wonder I like a good video clip! 

I can easily get lost in Youtube! but eventually you come across some real gems and here are a few of my favourites!



I think singing positive songs together really helps to build up a postitive Learning environment. Over the years I have gathers some favourites and singing them both in class and as part of assemblies puts a smile on my face and brightens my day. 

Out of the Ark. I've purchased a lot of books from here over the years and enjoy a variety of their songs. 

Sing up   
This website is full of brilliant songs - it's no longer free, but it's still a great resource. I like that you can search for songs by subject and KS.

Fischy Music 
Many of my favourite songs come from the resources sold here. Amongst my favourites are 'We can make a difference,' 'Build up' and 'Fabby Dabby Dee.' Just received their new CD - We're on this Road, and it has some really positive catchy songs about resilience and creating a positive attitude. 

Songs on Youtube - again many of the song videos on Youtube also have the words and these make them even better for using in assemblies and singing along together. Here are some current favourites.

I can I will

This Animoto puts some of my favourite posters together with a Success motivation track. 

This is a Mindset Questionnaire I have put together to do with my class. It is important to stress to the children that there is no wrong or right answer and to make sure that it is what they think / feel, not what their neighbour or friend puts down. I'm going to give the children a sheet with the numbers 1- 10 and they will just tick 1,2 or 3, and questions 11-13 will have a numberline from 1-10 which they will put a cross on

The class answers can be recorded on this sheet.  This is Smartnote of the Questionnaire.

Mindset Questionnaire

 Fascinating video of Carol Dweck lecture on Mindsets.

2014 update.

Starting the year with SEAL theme 'Going for Goals' has meant that I have searched for inspiration to share with the children in our first assembly. I am going to share this video about the courageous young girl, Malala Yousafzari.

This is the poignant poster reflecting her words at the end of the video.

Here is a link too to a video which I found really inspirational from Alistair Smith. While constantly looking for books, songs, stories and videos to inspire children, I also need vidoes to inspire me to keep moving towards my goals too and this video is one of these.

This video was part of an excellent article I came across through Twitter. http://ictevangelist.com/show-students-give-damn-help-learning/

BETT 2014

 I can't wait to be inspired by the things I see, the words I hear and the people I meet at BETT.

I've signed up for a 2minute session at BETT Teachmeet, and decided to not talk about Maths this time - but about the importance or happiness in the classroom. Here's the visuals I will use, along with a quick reference to note on this page.

Mind over matter

A snippet of a great song from Fischy Music - http://www.fischy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/4-you-are-an-inspiration-clip.mp3 



















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