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  • Writer's pictureMr D

Resource Round-Up 2020

2020 has been an incredibly trying year for many of us and teachers have often been thrown to the dogs by factions of the media desperate to direct their anger anywhere except the government.

However, the pride I have for our profession is stronger today than it has ever been. We have played vital roles supporting the children of key workers through lockdowns, delivered food, learned how to administer remote learning, tended to the needs of anxious children, assessed and re-assessed risk on a daily basis, taught a broad and balanced curriculum in the face of insurmountable barriers, kept our own distance from loved ones when isolating after bubbles have popped or limited contact to our extended families who do not want to be near someone who works with 30 unmasked potential germ bombs!

We have put the mental health of others ahead of our own, we have reassured parents and carers, we have had heroic caretakers and cleaners, TAs who have had to bypass social distancing to work with children who need contact, cooks that haven't stopped cooking and head teachers who have not thrown the towel in. WE HAVE NOT BEEN FURLOUGHED. We have loved our class bubbles, and done what's right in the face of adversity, and re-built our schools, and gone more extra miles than anyone outside of our profession will ever know. We kept the very cogs of society working by keeping children safe, learning and smiling. Many know this but just in case you don't, YOU SHOULD BURST WITH PRIDE. Ignore anyone who says otherwise.

With that unexpectedly dramatic introduction out of the way, we've also had a year where resources have had to adapt or have surfaced in the most unexpected of circumstances. Here are our favourites, big and small, in no particular order.

1.) Draw With Rob - Rob Biddulph became the nation's favorite illustrator during lockdown when he shared a range of cuddly characters in a step-by-step series of videos accessible to everyone. My three-year-old loved sitting with me to draw the Furry Purry Bean Cat and Gregosaurus, whilst my Year 6 bubble adored the sense of calm and concentration it required to draw Captain Walker Plank. His new book is awesome too!

2.) The Body Coach - If anyone had mentioned Joe Wicks in February, I would have been none the wiser but now he's a household name giving P.E. workouts to families at home, dress-up Fridays and raising millions for Children in Need. Sticking a five-minute workout on in class has become a staple for many classes this term and rightly so.

3.) Comprehension Ninja - The new year seemed so promising! Vocabulary Ninja sent us these awesome skills-focused comprehension books linked to the curriculum in January. Filled with awesome knowledge and incredibly useful tips and strategies to teach retrieval and recording skills, these are must have KS2 books for the classroom.

4.) The 7 Series Poster Packs - This year we created 3 sets of posters for the primary classroom linked to our book knowledge organisers. The idea was for primary classes to study aspects of literature perhaps often bypassed with the ever-increasing focus on reading skills. The 7 Series included explanations and posters for the 7 Story Types, the 7 Character Archetypes and the 7 Micro-Rules of Non-Fiction.

5.) The Book of Hope - Author Katherine Rundell (Rooftoppers and The Explorer) sought to bring about a sense of hope to children across the nation during the lockdown by getting in touch with over 100 authors and illustrators to provide something towards this perfect classroom addition. Is there any better way to start 2021 than with a Book of Hope? From Michael Morpurgo to Maz Evans, it's a beautiful keepsake and a great book to whip out and read from anytime in the classroom. A donation from the sale of each book also goes to NHS Charities.

6.) Miss Kay's Face Masks - Definitely not a resource you'd ever expect in a list like this but 2020 has brought some strange things into the classroom! With that in mind, Year 6 teacher @MissKay_MissKay's facemasks have made their way into corridors and classrooms and we thank her for her ingenuity and range of fabrics!

7.) Microsoft Teams - It's been a year that the teacher technophobe had to take a deep breath and jump into the unknown. Suddenly Zoom, See-Saw, Teams and Class Dojo are all words even your grandparents use. This all-in-one platform workspace has been embraced by the teaching profession and looks set to become a permanent fixture in our new way of working.

8.) Ashley Booth's Reading Curriculum - Mr Booth is consistently full of insights and ideas to support reading in schools. The reading curriculum he has built for his school contains PowerPoints and links to reading material and covers a vast array of subjects. It's a perfect start for anyone looking to develop reading lessons in their own school and all free!

9.) Cardboard Book Display - It's such a tiny little tweet from @MissAHurst but it made a difference to my own classroom! Here she displays a book stand made from cardboard. Make a load (even wrap them in nice looking paper if you really want to go for it) and display your books beautifully around the class.

10.) Edutwitter Cooks - Nothing to help you teach here. Just a super little cook book by teachers on Twitter to keep your cooking ideas fresh and interesting while we all have very little else to do. Anyone else just spend ALL their money on food now? If so, have a gander at this from @deputygrocott.

11.) Picture Book Curriculum - @DukeSkywalker , @smithmm and a whole host of other members of the #edutwitter collective put their heads together and came up with this amazing selection of picture books to suit a huge range of topics for the curriculum. It's fab!

12.) Oak National Academy - Oak was initially launched by more than 40 teachers and colleagues from education organisations in April 2020. Lockdown had millions of families teaching at home for the first time and the Oak National Academy provided over 10,000 hours worth of video tutorials across the curriculum. It's still a great tool for remote learning and one which looks set to stay.

13.) Word Root of the Day - All the root words you need...and more! That's what the site says and that's exactly what it does. Every word is broken down into its constituent roots, a simple description tells you how the roots contribute to word meaning and there's even a cool little tree to click on.

14.) No More Marking - This year was the first time we paid for Daisy Christodoulou comparative judgement tool to manage writing assessments in school. I can't believe we didn't do it sooner. Judging becomes enjoyable and leads to some great conversations amongst staff. Following repeated comparisons, the resulting data is statistically modelled and responses are placed on a scale of relative quality. Take a look!

15.) Reading Rocks Teacher Book Subscription - For those of you who like to keep on top of what's new and exciting in the world of children's literature, the best thing you can do is read the books themselves. Reading Rocks takes the arduous task of having to choose yourself and delivers a gorgeous box of books every half-term for you to enjoy and add to your class or maybe a treat for staff which also promotes reading!

16.) Independent Bookshop Map - @JohnBid has created a simple tool to find your nearest independent bookshop. We've all learned the importance of shopping locally to help the livelihoods of those who often suffer in these difficult times. Here's somewhere you can support local bookshop owners.

17.) 500 Words - It was a huge tragedy to hear the BBC ending a competition so loved by teachers, parents and teachers alike. Thank goodness Chris Evans continued it on Virgin Radio but here's hoping it gets the press and coverage it deserves in 2021.

18.) Homophones Weakly - It'a been around for 4 years apparently, but most of us only discovered it this year. It's a visual exploration of words that look the same, sound the same, or are otherwise easily confused. Updated 'weakly' through 2016, now only occasionally.

19.) Borrow Box - If you have a library card then you need to download Borrowbox! The website itself is easy to navigate and it has loads of books you can borrow and return digitally via the Adobe Editions app. The Adobe app is a bit clunky and sometimes bugs but overall it's a fantastic way of getting even more out of your library card.

20.) Video Link - There are quite a few safe view Youtube website but many ask for payment. This one is free. Just copy the link into the search bar and play your video with no adverts. A must have in all classrooms.

2020 may have been pretty rubbish but these resources prove there is plenty to be proud of. Be sure to check out our 2019 list from last year too.

Thanks for reading and we hope you found some of these resources useful.

Mr D

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