In this blog post, Karen, one of our members, shares how she uses our resources professionally in a Post-16 setting and also with younger Beavers in her volunteer role at a Scout Activity Centre.
My name is Karen, and I first discovered Teaching Packs nine years ago – what a fantastic find! During this period of time, I have had the privilege of seeing the number of packs available grow… and how much easier they have made my professional and voluntary life.
Firstly, a bit of background on me. Professionally, I have always worked in Alternative provisions with the “hard to reach” students. When I am not doing this, I am a Beaver Scout Leader and Activities Co-coordinator at a Scout Activity Centre. Teaching Packs have helped me immensely in both these fields over many years.
Nine years ago I started work in a Post 16 alternative provision; here I was asked to deliver Functional Skills Maths and English to assist students in achieving vital qualifications that would support them on their transition into adult life. Most of these young people had missed a great deal of education due to various barriers and circumstances. Due to this, they were convinced they would not gain qualifications. OK, so the Maths bit did not phase me as I have always had a love of numbers and science. On the other hand, I have always joked that I am allergic to anything to do with English, so how could I ignite my passion for this subject in order to do so in others? The discovery of the Teaching Packs website was the answer, and so my crash course in English began.
Verbs, adjectives and connectives suddenly had a meaning when I discovered the descriptions and example word mats. Even better, you could print them off, laminate and use them in displays on walls or as discrete prompts when put on students’ work tables. “Stretch and challenge” became easy by suggesting a student use a different word than they usually use. In the classroom, students who had been “written off” by so many, including by themselves, engaged, experimented and, most importantly, grew in confidence.
Story starter / writing prompt pictures I found on the site were and still are, a fantastic resource. Again, these could be printed, laminated and used as starters, extension activities or even as the base for a whole session.
All of a sudden, my allergy to English began to subside, and I began my first of many years of using Teaching Packs in my professional life. They took away all the anguish, hours of searching and planning sessions into the small hours of the night.
In my voluntary role, Teaching Packs have been fantastic too. Scouting is a Movement which likes to develop young people whilst maintaining traditional values. We are not all about lighting fires and tying knots! Scouting now looks at equipping people with skills and knowledge for life… but we still love earning badges. About five years ago I was approached by the Centre Manager at the Scout Activity Centre where I volunteer as an Activity Instructor; Pete wanted someone to co-ordinate a Beaver Scout Fun day and felt I would be the ideal person. This involved planning seven hours of activities for four hundred 6- and 7-years-olds. “Herding Cats” is a term often used by Beaver Leaders when running any activity for the “Turquoise Ninjas” (The Beaver’s uniform is Turquoise).
Many of you will know how challenging it can be to occupy a couple of young people at this age, but to do it on this scale outside is HUGE. We have loads of facilities on site, but I needed something different to make the day memorable – Teaching Packs came to the rescue. I used resources from one of the packs to create a Picture Hunt Trail around the site – this was met with a great response; even some of the Duke of Edinburgh groups we had on-site wanted to join in. Due to the success, I was asked to run this event annually, but with a different theme.
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