J Pod -Grovedale West Primary School

The J Pod blog – Year 1 and 2 learning at Grovedale West Primary School

Week 6 Recap, Week 7 Learning Foci and Assembly Time!

Week 6 Recap


Student’s have continued to embrace their artistic sides whilst exploring feelings and emotions in Discovery  this past week. We have seen some excellent progress in the way that our students collaborate and communicate with one another during our activity rotations.

Dramatic Play Benefits Reading Groups

How fantastic is this! Our drama rotation as part of our Arts focus in Discovery learning has allowed us to create valuable learning opportunities in Reading. Here, children can be seen using their drama skills to act out the story they are reading to help with their comprehension of the text. Just look at this comparison, what better way to understand a text than to become part of the story yourself, great work guys!


Exploring Emotions through Music

How fascinating it was for both staff and students to consider the range of emotional responses we can have to a piece of music. Below you can see some examples of children’s emotional responses to 5 very different pieces of instrumental music. Their use of colour and drawings to symbolise different feelings reflects an increasing emotional awareness amongst the group which is pleasing to see.







Paper Mache Creation

As mentioned in last weeks blog post, the collaborative effort that went into this creative process was incredible. Below is a photo you may recognise from last week’s JPOD Challenge in which we asked you to name the Gruffalo characters from left to right (this week is your last chance to get your answers in…PLUS you have the added advantage of seeing some of the finished models displayed in the next photo down. GO ON! Have a peek and leave us a comment with your answer)



Did somebody say….Junior Assembly?

Yes, it’s time for our first Junior Assembly of the year! Please feel welcome to attend in the school gym 2:45pm this Friday the 11th of April. If you think the Paper Mache work above is exciting, then don’t miss this great opportunity to see our students showcase some of the outstanding artistic learning they have done in Discovery this term.

We will also present to you the J Pod representatives (2 for each home group) for Junior School Council. We had some fantastic oral presentations over the last week and the voting, by the students, for each home group was very close indeed.

We hope to see you there!

Week 7 Learning Foci


This week we will be adding another CAFÉ reading strategy to our toolbox known as ‘Skip the Word and Come Back’ – this strategy is great for  when we have become stuck on a word and our other strategies like ‘sounding out’ aren’t helping. We simply skip the word and once we have finished the sentence, we reread it and use the starting sound of the unknown word to help us figure it out. It also helps if we think what words would make sense in the sentence as well.


This week we will continue to utilise the Arts to explore emotions and build upon the student’s communication and collaboration skills.


Students will be working on including a range of connective words and openers in their writing this week as they write personal/reflective pieces which explain their favourite moments from Discovery learning this term.


This week we continue to build upon our understanding of the concept of ‘Place Value’ and it’s application to other mathematical concepts.

Don’t Forget: Junior Assembly – This Friday 11th March 2:45pm in the School Gym.

See you next week!

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Week 5 Recap and Week 6 Learning Foci

Week 5 Recap


We’ve had another fun-filled week of artistic and creative exploration within the J Pod. Our students are becoming increasingly in tune with what it means to be a collaborative and creative individual and they should be proud of their achievements within Discovery learning this term. It has been fantastic to see students continue to develop these valuable skills by acting, playing music and creating paper mache masterpieces in response to Julia Donaldson’s,  ‘Room on the Broom’. Let’s not forget the fact that these collaborative, creative learners achieved all of this with a big smile on their face.

Here are some images of their creative work:

Drama Theatre

This ‘Mud Monster’ comparison is priceless and just one example of the outstanding dramatic work the students have been producing with Mr. Ramage and Ms. Newton: see if you can tell which one is the real ‘Mud Monster’.
mud monster

Technology has enabled us to have extra copies of the text for students to act out and respond to in the outdoor setting.




Paper Mache Creation
Wow! We have been well and truly blown away by the artistic flare the students have displayed within the Paper Mache rotation activity. For each of the three Discovery groups to be responsible for one individual stage of the final collaborative product is an achievement in itself. These Gruffalo characters look absolutely fantastic!

See if you are clever enough to respond correctly to our challenge on the final photo 🙂





Can you correctly name the six Gruffalo Characters featured in the photo below in order from left to right?
e.g. 1. ________, 2. _________, etc.
Go on, have a go and leave a comment below this blog post!

Students that were interested in becoming Junior School Council Representatives for their homegroup finally had the chance to present a speech which outlined why they would make a suitable candidate. Well done to all those students that put in the hard yards over the past week and spoke clearly and confidently in front of their peers. The votes will be tallied in the coming days and our JPod Junior School Council Reps will be announced later in the week.



Week 5 Learning Foci


This week will see students further consolidate and apply their knowledge of the ‘Back Up and Re-read’ CAFÉ reading strategy. Students re beginning to self-monitor when reading and to identify those moments when the meaning of the text has become unclear.

See below for the second installment of our CAFÉ instructional videos which was also featured in last weeks blog post: this video will explain the strategy in more detail.



We couldn’t be more excited for another engaging and entertaining week of artistic exploration in Discovery. Due to the overwhelming positivity and enjoyment expressed by the students; we will continue to develop their communication and collaboration through visual, musical and dramatic activities which stimulate their creative and artistic minds.

This week we take a step back from Julia Donaldson’s works and venture into the world of emotions. Our artistic exploration of emotion will be supported by the popular children’s film, ‘Inside Out’. Using the characters within this film (each of which typify a particular emotion) we will investigate how we feel and how that affects us and the way we act in every day life.





Our writing will continue to focus on our handwriting in order to improve letter formation and placement on dotted thirds. Students will also be writing about different emotions and reflecting on when they have felt a particular way.


This week we continue to explore ‘Place Value’, a highly valuable concept which acts as a foundation for many mathematical applications.

We also revisit Mathletics, teaching students how to use their individual logins and access tasks which can be completed at home or school.

low_mathletics Mathletics-Homepage-WEG-1024x600DON’T FORGET TO CHECK IT OUT 🙂
Students login details will be recieved early this week and pasted into their school diary and Maths book so that your child can access Mathletics both at home, and at school. We encourage you to log on with your child and explore the site which is also available as an app. It is a great tool to build maths skills in a fun and engaging way.


Thankyou for taking the time to keep updated with our blog. We hope you enjoy being a part of our learning journey and following us every step of the way. Please feel free to post a response or to contribute your thoughts on our wonderful learning because you too are a pivotal part of our learning community.



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Week 4 Recap and Week 5 Learning Focus

Week 4 Recap


How fantastic it has been to see the J Pod student’s collaboration and creativity flourish as they embraced their artistic sides within Discovery this past week. Whether it be in the form of a paper mache animal, a musical score or a theatrical display; all children shared in some memorable creative experiences in which they had a great deal of fun.

Drama Theatre

Julia Donaldson’s, ‘The Gruffalo’ got the Broadway Treatment last week as all students had the opportunity to add some creative and dramatic flair to the celebrated children’s novel by presenting it in a live play for their peers. The students particularly enjoyed practising their roles in our newly acquired outdoor learning space which will be developed and utilised more frequently throughout the year.




Paper Mache Creation

What a great job the students have done using nothing but newspaper, balloons, glue mixture and simple craft supplies to recreate some of their favourite characters from ‘The Gruffalo’. Paper Mache art in itself is quite a complex and time consuming task, but the students have taken this in their stride; with each of the three Discovery groups working collaboratively to complete a shared body of work.






This week in Philosophy we continued to unpack what responsibilities and qualities a great Junior School Council (JSC) Representative would have. Students discussed this with one another and decided that a great JSC Representative would be someone who is: – helpful to others
– a good team member
– has great ideas
– speaks well in front of a group
– a good role model for other students
– a good listener
-responsible and sensible

Students then had to consider which of these qualities they possess which would make them a suitable Junior School Council Representative for their homegroup. Following this, each homegroup had an opportunity for students to show an expression of interest in being a representative this year.

Next Monday (Week 6), these students will have the opportunity to present a short 1 minute speech to their homegroup which outlines a few of their key strengths or qualities which they think would make them an exceptional council representative. The child’s homegroup will then cast a vote to elect our Junior School Council Representatives for the year.




Week 5 Learning Foci


This week students add another CAFÉ reading strategy to their toolbox as we learn to ‘Back Up and Re-read’. This strategy encourages students to monitor their reading to identify moments when something they have read doesn’t make sense. At this point they are then able to stop, ‘Back Up and Re-read’ in order to identify any potential errors they may have made, and to clarify what it is they may have misunderstood. See below for the second installment of our CAFÉ instructional videos which will explain the strategy in more detail.



What a ball we have had exploring ‘The Arts’ to open up new creative avenues for our students within Discovery learning. It had been great to see the J Pod’s collaborative and creative skills continue to develop and we look forward to strengthening them further as we explore another Julia Donaldson masterpiece, ‘Room on the Broom’.



This weeks artistic exploration tasks include:

            -Creating a character from ‘Room on the broom ’ using paper mache.

            -Soundtrack production for a scene from ‘Room on the Broom’ using musical instruments our voices and body percussion.

            -Planning and presenting a ‘Room on the Broom themed theatrical play which presents a scene form the story.

If only the witch in the story had as much room on her broom as we do in the J Pod to explore all these fantastic creative activities. Looking forward to another great week of Discovery learning!



Our writing will continue to focus on our handwriting in order to improve letter formation and placement on dotted thirds. Students will also be learning to write a reflective recount on their Discovery learning with a particular focus on accurate punctuation and interesting sentences.


Maths will see students continue to develop their mental strategies to assist them with their addition and counting skills. In addition to this, they will be taking part in a range of engaging and hands on tasks to build their knowledge of Place Value.


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Term 1, Learning for the coming week 3..

Welcome to week 3 in the Jpod.

Here is a brief overview of our learning foci for the week ahead.


With CAFE routines established this week’s CAFE focus will be on ‘Getting our Knowledge ready for reading’, by connecting with the text, making predictions and using SEE THINK WONDER.

We hope you enjoy the first of our CAFE instructional videos below which hopefully helps explains this very important strategy for readers. We also hope this video will give you some help with ways to tune in your children to their reading and to discuss their reading with them to help develop their comprehension skills.

This week will also see students begin their small group guided reading workshops.

Students have 1-2 of these workshops in a very small group with a teacher every week, which allows teachers to explicitly coach and support students with the next steps needed with their personal reading goals.


Writing this week will focus around drawing labelled plans and writing about ideas for how we might develop our new outdoor classroom space. Students will also refresh their letter formation skills and writing fluency.


Maths will focus on counting and mental strategies that students can use to help them with their addition and counting. For example, estimation, counting on, using known number facts, doubles and bridging to ten.


Continuing on from last week the focus will remain on developing students Collaboration skills through working in groups on creative projects using hand on materials and technology.

We will also be helping students understand what it means to compromise with others and what being creative really means.  You can give your child a head start with this learning if you watch and discuss the video below with them. We will be using this as a stimulus in class to explore compromise and creativity.


This week’s philosophy session used the photo below as a stimulus for students to discuss. We used the thinking routine SEE THINK WONDER to discuss what might be happening in the photo, why it might be happening, how the students in the photos might be feeling and to help our students develop strategies to help them stay positive and resilient in group situations.


Finally, just a little message to remind each student to bring into school a box of tissues. We really need a good supply of these to prepare ourselves for the winter months.

Looking forward to a great week from the Jpod teachers.


Transition program

This week the year 2 students have been visiting the MI Pod to experience life in year 3 with a reading and maths session. They have enjoyed being year 3s and have looked settled and at home in the MI Pod. The consistency across the school and from area to area really helps the students to take this in their stride.

The Jpod has also hosted the prep students for two sessions and the current year 1’s have been year 2 students for the day, feeling what it will be like to be leaders and role models next year.

Next Tuesday, December 8th, the students will have a 3 hour transition session, running all morning from 9.15-12.30 which will give them further time to settle into their new learning areas for next year and work with their friends new teachers.

This is what some of the students had to say:

Lucas (year 2) – Maths was fun because we played nasty numbers.

Freya (year 2 ) – We met new people in the Mi Pod and I enjoyed meeting new students and teachers.

Isla (year 2) – I thought it was interesting how they learnt different things and I had fun because I was entertained with the new things.

Joseph (year 1) – I liked the transition because we have been having time with the preps and I wanted to spend more time with them to get to know them.

Olivia M (year 1) – SERIOUSLY Mr.Ramage…don’t you know who I am!!!!!!!… (Mr Ramage pretending he had forgotten Olivia’s name)..actually, I meant to say the preps are wonderful.

Emily (year 1) – The preps are wonderful and it’s been good meeting them.

Sophie (year 1) – I like working with the new preps and getting to know them.

Miky (prep) – I have enjoyed learning new things with the grade 1s.

Alex (prep) – we got to do some different things in the Jpod like playing get out of the house.

Makenzie (prep) – I have enjoyed seeing other people and making new friends.

Remy (prep) – I have been feeling less nervous after coming up to the Jpod.

We would love to hear some comments from other students:

What did you think of the transition program and what are you looking forward to next year next year?

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Write a book review about a favourite book (Homework task).

The Scholastic book fair is on at school this week and we thought that this was a perfect opportunity to give the students the opportunity to respond to stories and think about why they enjoy certain stories more than others. Enjoying books and understanding the authors purpose behind a book are essential aspects of both reading and writing texts.



As part of our learning over the next couple of weeks in both reading and writing we will be giving the Jpod students the opportunity to:

  • retell and summaries stories they have read;
  • identify the important parts of stories, such as the the setting, the key characters and the problems the characters face;
  • reflect on what the authors purpose was for writing the story and what it is about the story that they enjoy or connect with.

To compliment this learning we are setting the students  a blog homework challenge.

The challenge is to post a brief book review about a favourite book from home.

Anyone can post the review as a ‘comment’ under this post . The students can also bring their book into show the class and share their post from the blog.

Here is a brief guide to what the book review should include:

  • The name of the book and the author
  • Give a brief taste of the plot, but don’t give the surprises away. Readers want to know enough about what happens in a book to know whether they’ll find it interesting. But they never want to know the ending!
  • explain how you feel about the book and why, not just what the book is about. A good review should express your opinion and persuade the reader to read the book , e.g. I really enjoyed this book because the story was so funny and I love books that make me laugh – you might too!

Here is an example that a Grade 1 student has written (taken from the scholastic book review site):

‘Review by: Fiora S.
Missouri, Grade 1

The Umbrella by Jan Brett

Do you have an umbrella?Well you should read The Umbrella. First, there was a boy who had an umbrella. And he is going to climb a tree and he drops his umbrella. And animals get in it.

I like this book because it is funny.You should read this book because the pictures are pretty. Don’t forget to read the Umbrella.’

Good luck, we can’t wait to hear about the great books that everyone is reading!

Remember, you can also comment on someone else’s book review, especially if you have also read that book or are interested to read it.

Jpod Teachers


Cafe Reading – ‘Checking for Understanding?’

Over the last couple of weeks the students have been exploring CAFE reading strategies in detail.

We have been focusing on ‘Checking for Understanding’.

We encourage students to use this strategy to check their comprehension when either reading by themselves or reading to someone.

This is a strategy that you can encourage them to use at home, or when you are listening to them read. Ask them questions at the end of the page they have read to ‘check for their understanding’.

A good simple question is ‘who did you just read about? and what just happened?’

You should encourage your child to give you as much detail as they can, without repeating exactly what the words in the text say. If your child can summarize in their own words with a reasonable amount of detail about what has just happened then it is likely that they are comprehending what they have been reading about. Here is a video of two of our students explaining the strategy and modeling how to practice it when reading to someone during partner reading.

Look out for our next CAFE blog post which will feature some information about the ‘accuracy’ CAFE strategy we call ‘Cross Checking’.

The Jpod Team


CAFE Reading

At Grovedale West PS we use the CAFE model for reading.

This is a  system that organises reading strategies into four goals according to the ‘CAFE’ acronym. The reading goals are Comprehension (understanding), Accuracy, Fluency and Expand Vocabulary. Students learn and practise reading strategies that help them move towards mastering these four reading goals.

The strategies are not used in isolation but combined together to give the students the tools needed to become proficient readers. It’s a great system that has proven very successful and is implemented consistently throughout the school.

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