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Book reviews - Sage Publications

"SAGE is one of the world’s leading independent academic and professional publishers. Founded 50 years ago by Sara Miller McCune, we remain majority owned by Sara who has ensured that the company will remain permanently independent. We are proud of our independence, which enables us to focus on the broad publishing needs of our communities, not simply to meet the needs of shareholders."

Playful Teaching and Learning by Glenda Walsh

It can often seem that the fun goes out of learning once children get beyond Nursery/Reception but there is no need for that to be the case. This book starts with early years, and continues on to age 8, offering practitioners and teachers captivating ideas to make learning enjoyable and effective. It includes chapters that: establish the core principles underpinning playful teaching and learning; help students and practitioners understand how playfulness can be applied to all aspects of the early years curriculum including mathematics, literacy, outdoor environments, science & technology, and ICT; explore core issues in early years provision including observing, planning & assessment, and how they relate to playful learning; emphasise the role and qualities of the playful professional. This is a fantastic resource for any student or practitioner looking to enrich the lives of young children through meaningful playful learning experiences. Extensively researched with an excellent number of case studies to show how the principles work in practice, plus references for further reading, this is authoritative yet highly readable. It really highlights the benefits to children of a playful approach to learning, giving teachers confidence to incorporate the principles into everyday teaching.

Children’s experiences of classrooms by Eleanore Hargreaves

I wonder how often teachers stop to think about what children feel about their classrooms? This is just the book to stimulate that thinking and to help teachers and their pupils get the most out of their classroom environment. If children are to succeed and progress at school, schools and teachers need to understand how children experience the classroom - after all, much of their young lives are spent in the classroom so it is a formative influence and we need to utilise it to the full. This book brings together the experienced author's practical work on children's classroom experiences in a variety of contexts. She uses the student voice to great effect to show what children think of classrooms, tasks, tests and exams, and how this impacts their experience of schooling. This powerful book really shows the impact of the classroom environment and should be part of every staffroom library as well as for student teachers - and a focus for discussion and (importantly) action.

Developing School Readiness by Kathryn Peckham

This practical book starts off by explaining the concept and history of school readiness, emphasising the fact that preparation for school really does start from a very young age. Whether you are a parent wanting an in-depth look at the topic, or an Early Years practitioner looking to get the best possible outcomes for the children in your care, there is plenty of practical advice based on experience to be found here. The book explains what school readiness means in the context of child development and wellbeing and clearly demonstrates the implications it has for creating enthusiastic lifelong learners. Showing the importance of an early start, the book has chapters specifically for those working with babies, under threes and under fives. It's good to see this age distinction, as obviously the processes are very different for each age. The book also emphasises the importance of play.Readers will come to understand the experiential nature of children's learning; how future success is affected by the experiences that have gone before and the importance of the adult's role in the child’s journey. Enlightening, practical and confidence-building, the book will ensure readers have the confidence to deliver practice that exceeds expectations and the knowledge to stand by that approach to teaching and caring for the children you work with, as well as enabling them to pass that knowledge on to others.

Successful Early Years Ofsted Inspections: Thriving Children, Confident Staff by Julian Grenier

Each time Ofsted issue a new Framework, it seems that the goalposts are moved and the stakes are higher so there is never room for complacency. Ofsted have a new, tougher inspection framework for the early years. If you are judged to be less than good, you risk losing funding for places. A reputation that took years to build can vanish overnight This up-to-date book ensures that all concerned with running Early Years settings - head teachers, senior leaders, EYFS co-ordinators, nursery managers and Early Years practitioners; it's clearly set out and well writtien to appeal to all practitioners. But going beyond the stringent requirements of Ofsted, Early Years expert Julian Grenier argues that it’s time to do what’s right for children and families, and build long-lasting and effective provision which is not simply focused on Ofsted results but which is always aspirational. Completely up to date with Ofsted’s new Common Inspection Framework and avoiding a ‘tick-box’ approach to preparation, Julian focuses on the importance of developing your provision and your team up to and beyond inspection day. It is accompanied by easy-to-use time-saving pro formas and self-reflective documents that can be downloaded online for free - these are valuable documents which help to focus attention on key areas. A practical, down-to-earth book that will help embed good practice.

Big Ideas in Primary Mathematics by Robert Newell

Encouraging children to learn by understanding rather than by rote is at the heart of this book, building skills that will be life-long. Linked throughout to the National Curriculum, and arranged in chapters dealing with each of the main learning areas (for example place value, time, fractions, statistics and measurement), the author shows how the topics can be taught to enable learning and support mathematical mastery. For non-specialists, the focus on explaining misconceptions and errors will strengthen their own mathematical subject knowledge, while also giving them the confidence to deepen the understanding of the children they teach. Key topics include: Problem-solving, reasoning and developing fluency in maths; Place value and counting systems; Measuring money, time, and weight; Geometry, and understanding space and shape; Fractions and statistics for the primary classroom. The prefect book for anyone studying primary mathematics on initial teacher education courses, including undergraduate (BEd, BA with QTS) and postgraduate (PGCE, PGDE, School Direct, SCITT) routes, and also NQTs. Clearly written, it's a book that can be dipped into at any stage of teaching, giving practical advice and reassurance.

Life After Levels by Sam Hunter

Since the announcement of the removal of levels, teachers around the country have been searching out alternative methods of assessment. It has given schools an excellent opportunity to look at their assessment process without the restrictions of levels, and so should be viewed as a positive opportunity. This book is the account of one school's journey, step-by-step. Where do we begin? What is the best assessment system for our school and our children? How do we make the most of assessment opportunities in the classroom? How do we create an assessment policy from scratch and implement it in the school? How do we evaluate it, re-shape it and talk about it to parents, the wider school community and our colleagues in primary education? This practical approach enables teachers to follow the journey, giving them confidence in choosing and using their own system. The book does not gloss over the problems, but offers practical and tested experiences which will guide all teachers. The book is well written and down-to-earth; it is firmly based in classroom learning, with children at the heart of the concepts. A practical and reassuring book that will guide schools and help the development of new assessment systems, as well as helping with the implementation and effectiveness of current systems.

Children's Literature in Primary Schools by David Waugh

As a school librarian, a fundamental part of my role is to enthuse children for books and reading, so I was really pleased to see this book which will  inform my own activities. I was a little disappointed by the lack of references to school libraries though. How can you help children to develop a love of reading and books? Which books are the best ones to use in primary teaching? How do you make the most of children's literature in teaching across the curriculum? These are just some of the questions this book answers. Trainee and experienced primary school teachers need a knowledge of children's literature, not just the books they read as children, but more recent publications too. This book guides teachers through children's literature for the primary classroom, covering a range of genres including picture books, stories from different cultures, traditional stories, fantasy and magic, classic and everyday fiction, poetry and stories which address particular issues. Case studies that model good practice are included with suggestions for practical activities using literature to enhance teaching across the curriculum - many of these will make excellent library lessons. Book recommendations feature throughout the book, showing how specific texts fit into the suggestions given. This is the second edition of the book and updates include the new Primary National Curriculum; content on supporting children for whom English is an Additional Language; an extensive and very useful but by no means exhaustive list of 75 book recommendations for primary teaching; how to get more out of classic texts; and introduces new texts and new children's authors - it is so important to keep aware of the latest in children's publishing, which changes all the time. It is certainly a valuable book which focuses on a really important topic - but please, teachers, use your school library to encourage reading.

Inspiring Writing in Primary Schools by Liz Chamberlain

So often, schools have writing as a focus on their School Development Plans - it is frequently the area which returns lower SATS scores and is a topic schools are keen to improve. Writing is part Writing is not a subject on its own; it is part of reading, speaking, and listening; as such, its importance flows through all learning and on into the rest of life. This valuable book helps teachers to teach writing in an exciting way that will capture children's interest, and to know what a good writing lesson looks and feels like. Good writing needs a stimulating environment and enthusiastic teaching - this book offers that and more with its stimulating approach. The enthusiasm engendered will be conveyed to pupils, giving them the confidence they need to express themselves. Understanding the background theory ensures that teachers know why they are teaching in a particular way. Showing the ideas in practice, the book includes exemplar lessons and offers them alongside a detailed exploration of what makes them good, and the theory behind them; this helps teachers, and especially student teachers, develop their own lessons along the same lines. The practical examples and illustrations are drawn from real-life experience, so they really work The overall impression the book gives is of a positive, encouraging and empowering theme which gives all teachers, new and experienced, the confidence to deliver top-quality teaching.

Effective Assessment in the Early Years Foundation Stage by Jan Dubiel

 This is a new edition of the bestselling book. Teachers can feel overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork involved in assessment, but is a fundamental and essential part of Early Years teaching. This practical guide offers a clear explanation of the role of assessment in the revised Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). It offers step-by-step guidance for those working with children from birth to five on making and recording observations in practice, with plenty of case studies to support these; it would have been good to see a few more actual examples of children's work, though. The book includes: a new chapter on the History of the Baseline Assessment Policy; a companion website including access to SAGE journal articles, child observation videos and examples of completed assessments; and detailed guidance on the new Integrated Health and Education check at age two. Jan Dubiel is National Development Manager at Early Excellence, so you can be sure the books is authoritative - it is also highly accessible for teachers at any level of experience and helps to de-bunk many of the mysteries surrounding assessment, ensuring that practitioners are consistent and reliable in their assessments, so they feed effectively into follow-on assessments. This book continues to help students and practitioners develop an evidence-based understanding of assessment and an appreciation of what constitutes effective assessment in early years settings.