We were chatting today about how some elements of some Eleven Plus papers appear to be rather dated.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
We often use the word `juggling’ to describe a sense of wonder at how some people (mainly mums?) are able to manage a busy life of home, children, school, work, social and friends.
The word has roots in Latin, French and Old English. So it looks as many people have had to cope with `keeping a number of balls in the air. The first rule is never to look at your hands.
Then add the third ball. Do this one hundred times.
Adding in work with Eleven Plus papers is no more complex than adding another ball.
I would rather cope with a verbal reasoning question than try to juggle with a trio of chainsaws!
We launched today the first of a new battery of web sites: www.extratuition.com/gravesend.
The hard technical work has been done by Mauro. Thank you Mauro.Jonathon has project managed the development of our on line presence. (www.wordsandpix.com)
Pinar has been our Senior Researcher – and we are grateful for her meticulous work.
The ever cheerful Dan has found the links and written much of the material.
Monday, January 28, 2008
So now if 1500 feet is a good height for middle distance runners I wonder which height is best for other Olympic disciplines? It goes without saying that those involved in sailing need the sea to train at sea level.
The lucky few who take part in the pole vault may need to be a little higher than sea level.
Marathon runners do seem to enjoy high altitude training – witness the Kenyans and the Ethiopians who seem to flourish by running up and down mountainous tracks.
There are many different Olympic disciplines and each of them must require specialised training schedules. So this must lead us to trying to establish optimum conditions for Eleven Plus preparation.
Presumably the whole family should be able to take off the three months before the Examinations. This would provide the candidate (your son or daughter) with:
And finally, but not the least, a mother and father. We know that sea level would provide optimum conditions. Hot sun, the beach, gentle waves – lots of rum it all sounds idyllic. Some choices could be:
The Great Barrier Reef
As the day grows nearer there may be a need for a little altitude training. This would need to be near great skiing. How about:
This would help the family to come togther and start operating as a self contained unit. Naturally the candidate’s focus would start to improve.
Finally on the three days leading up to the examination the family should be encouraged to camp in the school grounds in large well equipped caravans. The children could walk over to the school hall and watch the chairs and tables being set up.
Naturally all this would need to be paid for by lottery money. After all just as Olympic athletes deserve the very best preparation – so do our children. If any parents would like to participate then please do not hesitate to contact us: www.dream-on.com.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Back in 1943 number of Italians were declared to be the equivalent of Prisoners of War in Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe).
The Italians were not held in prison but some were given a placement on farms. A number of prisoners with similar back grounds were banded together. My Grandparents farm, Mooifontein, near a small town called Umvuma was designated as carpentry centre.
Six Italians were billeted on the farm and lived as part of the family. This chair was made by the group of talented men. The chair was one of four in the set. It came into the possession of my son, Jonathon who has done all the work on our website.
Jonathon’s daughter is Carla – who is the present face the Extra Tuition Centre. We are very proud of her – and her father!
The carpentry workshop was large. There were four large benches and an amazing collect of tools. I have a hand made wooden saw – created by the Italians.
All this took place some time before the Eleven Plus was put into general practice. I am sure that some of those talented Italians could have passed the Eleven Plus.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
We know too about `Bookcrossing’ which is turning the world into one great big library. It is very simple you leave your book in a public place and someone will pick your book up and leave a book of their own. Over half a million people in over 130 countries take part. (www.bookcrossing.com}
I would like to initiate www.extratuition.com/elevenpluscrossing
Quite simply when you have finished with an eleven plus paper you simply leave the details on the website and you can exchange it for another.
Over the summer holidays you will not need to take a whole pile of papers – all you will need is to arrange a mutual drop off point.
Going to Rome? No problem – the third set of stairs on the right as you look up to `the window’.
In Paris? Easy. Under the clock at the railway station.
In Copenhagen? By the little statue of the Little Mermaid.
Scotland? By the 18th at St Andrews.
The car slid into the car park – just three spaces from the bus stop. The bus was a few hundred yards from the bus stop when we arrived. There was no waiting. The bus stopped outside the entrance to the terminal.
The walk to the departure gate was brief. With only hand luggage there was no waiting and no queues. The boarding card printed out the previous evening did its job. No smiles or eye contact with the man at the desk – but quick service. There was no waiting at the scanner and x-ray – and again no words were spoken.
It took no more than nine minutes from parking the car to passing scrutiny. Fantastic service by BAA. I wonder if this was a world record?
All went very well until we were sitting on the plane. With just five minutes to go the captain announced that the plane was carrying a cargo of cold foods. Too much weight had been in the front cargo compartment and some needed to move to the rear. His voice came over the tannoy a few minutes later to say the plane had missed its slot and would be leaving an hour late.
So we need now to fast forward to the day of the Eleven Plus examination. The children are all sitting in their seats. The examiners and invigilators are standing around the table. The Head Teacher whispers a little message. A sharp eared eleven year hears that the car carrying the key to the safe has been blocked in by the refuse cart. No key = no examination.
Should the Head have had two keys?
Should the carrier of the keys have remembered that it was collection day?
What else could go wrong?
Think of the security behind the papers. They will arrive with registered security. The Eleven Plus papers will be signed for by a designated person. The papers will be locked away in the safe. Very few members of staff will have access to the safe. The papers will be opened in front of the children – and this will be monitored by an outside observer.
After the examination the papers will be locked up. They will be collected and signed for.
So how does the Head Teacher entertain the children while the school is waiting for the safe to be opened? Community singing? A quiz? Some last minute advice? Should the children simply sit in silence locked in their own thoughts? How much longer will every one have to wait?
When the Head writes the report on the day’s proceedings is there a plea for some form of compensation for the children? Will the Eleven Plus authorities take any disturbance of this nature into account?
Thursday, January 24, 2008
It is always difficult for us seasonal gardeners to work out when to feed our plants. We know, because we are told, that there are key moments in the year to apply fertiliser.
It would be very useful if we could apply a gadget to a plant and know just when fertiliser is needed and how much is required.
Feeding with diluted water based solutions
Feeding through the leaf.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
We had a note from one of our teachers today who had spoken to a concerned mother last night.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
I am always amazed by the speed some children are able to grasp a complex system of rules. When we are working through Eleven Plus exercises it is sometimes a great help to all concerned if some basic rules are assimilated and then applied.
We know for example that there are many basic variations on the game of poker. The object of the game is to try to assemble the highest ranking cards into a hand. The winner takes the `pot’.
Before any cards are dealt each player has to put some money into the pot. One person is the banker and takes charge of the chips or the money. The players cut cards for the dealer and the player with the highest card deals the first hand. Cards are dealt clockwise – and the betting is in the same order.
In order the value the winning cards are:
Royal Flush – ace, king, queen, jack and ten of the same suit.
Straight Flush – five consecutive cards of the same suit.
Four of a Kind – any four cards of the same value.
One pair – two cards of the same value.
So it is easy to see how quickly a set of rules can evolve.
The highest cards win.
Players have to put money into a pot.
There is a banker.
Cards are dealt clockwise.
A Royal Flush is the best hand.
Now not all families and Eleven Plus children will want to learn to play poker. For those families who do play the basic rules are reasonably simple and quick to learn.
What takes time and noisy arguments are the extraordinary collection of variations on the basic game. Working through Eleven Plus papers is reasonably simple – but there are a wide variety of questions and types of questions that the children will meet. Just as poker can become addictive we would all like some children to become equally addicted towards Eleven Plus papers.
The poker term `Ace High’ comes from an ace being the highest ranked card. We all want our children to be `Little Aces’, don’t we?
Monday, January 21, 2008
We use the term Education to cover many different aspects. An Eleven Plus education would appear to apply to the mental and, to some extent, the physical training and development of our youngsters.
The word comes from Latin and it means to draw out.
We just hope that children do not find their Eleven Plus work long and drawn out.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
This photograph was taken on the side of the road leading up to our Industrial Park where our Headquarters are situated. We can see that thousands of years have lead up to this moment in time. The soil and the vegetation are comparative newcomers.
I wonder how many of our bright and able Eleven Plus children will go on to enjoy studying topics like this during the course of their education.
“Oh yes, I know that his study habits need some work – but he can do it if he is in the mood.”
Examples of sound habits could cover:
Ability to perform with speed and accuracy
General cleanliness of the body
Desirable Eleven Plus Habits:
A moral, truthful and honest child
The ability to cope with bursts of constant repetition
Parents help build good habits by:
Providing access to good examples
Encouraging regular study
Understanding that study involves deeds as well as words
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Skills for Health
I need a healthy body because I have been told that a healthy body makes a healthy mind. I know I am a bit lazy at times. A big dog would be a help because I could take the dog for long walks.
I know I must consume only the right food and drink. I think that Dad is right – I will have only one packet of pop corn and one coke at the cinema.
Skills for Logistics
I know I have the ability to manoeuvre Mum or Dad to take me to endless activities including school, social events. Mum has told me that the list is endless. She says she drives too many miles in a week.
I really do know how to learn to thank Grandmother and Grandfather prettily after they have collected me from an important event.
Skills for Care and Development
I am learning to think about others. Do I really need to argue with my mother about extra work and what I wear? I know she is tired and worried.
Should I really ask Dad to help me with my homework? I know that it is bed time and I could have done the work three hours ago but ….
I really will try to help my brother to learn better social skills. I will try not to call him those funny names.
Energy and Utility Skills
I will turn the light off when I leave my bed room. I will not run my tap water when I am brushing my teeth.
I do not need a night light in the hall. I know I am nearly eleven so I don’t need to burn all that extra electricity. I will also make sure I turn my computer off in the study before I come upstairs.
If I drop a packet of crisps in the car I will clean my side of the inside car. I will collect all loose pieces of paper off the back seat and the floor of the car. I will not argue about which side of the car my empty bottle has landed.
I will rake leaves (sometimes) in the garden. I know that I can do it. I will try harder.
Lifelong Learning Skills
I will not put off what I have to do today to tomorrow.
I know that I will have to go on learning after I have completed the Eleven Plus examinations.
Skills for Justice
I will say thank you to my parents. After all without them ……
Friday, January 18, 2008
Parents and teachers have been debating this topic for years and years. We are still no closer to a conclusion.
We know that most of girls will be conscientious – and more given to overwork.
Some of the boys will be all too ready to close their books and leave their selection papers in pursuit of some physical activity. “I just have to …..“
Picture the scene. A group of Mums and Dads sitting round the fire on a January evening. The meal is over the wine has left the table. All that remains on the table are the plates of chocolates and cheese and the cups of Irish coffee.
Mum 1: “I don’t agree. Eleven Plus examinations are harmful. Some of us have to start two years early and it is hanging over our heads all the time.”
Dad 2: “Well, how can that harm your child? You know that you will be making sure that your child has the best possible preparation. Hard and sustained work never hurt anyone.”
Mum 2: “You can’t talk. Look at the pressure your parents put on you to do well at school. You left before your `A’ Level examinations – and you had to study when we were first married. You never stopped moaning.”
Dad 2: “Well, I got there in the end, didn’t I?”
Mum 1: “But our Amelia just works all the time. She often says that she does not mind the work. I know that she loves getting ahead of the class in mathematics. But I worry sometimes that we are putting too much pressure on her.”
Thursday, January 17, 2008
A child who learns to read at three may want to read classics or Shakespeare or Dickens – or even books on science or discovery. A voracious reader may want to read a book a day. A child with no interest in reading may read only at school – and only when urged to do so by the teachers. For many children the `Knowledge’ books are of great interest.
There are some wonderful websites aimed at encouraging children to read and buy books.
So until some great author comes along and sweeps us into a frenzy of reading most us just do our best when we are recommending books.
If parents are `readers’ will their children become readers too? I suppose the answer is sometimes – but not always. Equally some children may become readers even when their parents never seem to read at all.
All parents can do is keep trying.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
This then is the Eleven Plus `Stairway to Success’.
Step One: Encourage your child to read the question and work out has to be done.
Step Two: Develop the point that a brilliant answer to a question earns no marks.
Step Three: In a multiple choice test it is essential to make a choice. An empty answer box can not earn any marks.
Step Four: Demonstrate over and over again the need to spend a sensible amount of time on a question.
Step Five: Help your child to understand the need to go back over questions where there was an element of doubt. Do this exercise practically.
Step Six: Try to avoid working with your child when you are both tired.
Step Seven: Keep everything in perspective. Try not to let your child carry the whole burden of winning a place in a grammar school.
Step Eight: Listen to your child. Try to engage in dialogue.
Step Nine: Try to help your child to understand that to pass an Eleven Plus examination he or she needs to be good at taking tests.
Step Ten: Explain that passing an Eleven Plus examination does not automatically make a more pleasant, loving and fair minded person.
So once you have climbed these ten steps – what lies ahead? Who knows but you do have to build your child’s confidence and test technique step by step.
Monday, January 14, 2008
“Oh, grandfather, I have saved ten minutes on my new bike coming here. I am so glad I saved so much time.”
“So you have saved ten minutes, my boy, I am so pleased for you,” exclaimed the old man. “What are you going to do with those ten minutes?”
So now we need to carry these ideas into the world of the Eleven Plus.
“Oh, mum, I have saved ten minutes on the new Eleven Plus paper you bought me last week. I am so glad I saved so much time.”
“Well done my son, you have saved ten minutes on the new paper. What did you do with those ten minutes?”
We now need to move a few months forward to the actual Eleven Plus examinations.
“Oh, mum, I found the paper easy. I finished ten minutes early on the paper.”
“I am sure you did your best. What did you do with those ten minutes?”
Somehow you will need to try to teach your children that time is rather like money. It can be kept or lost. It can be saved or wasted. Time can be made or spent.
It could take the full saved ten minutes to explain these concepts to your child. At the end of this `lecture’ your child may be enticed to spend the final ten minutes of any paper checking work over – rather than have to hear the `lecture’ again.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Let us add the criteria of the assessment of attitude and desire to do well.
Teachers would need to be able to mark children on a five point scale. There would be no need to a new test to be developed. Teachers would simply need to fill a form which described common attributes:
• Interest in passing the Eleven Plus examinations.
• Willingness to work with parents, teachers and tutors.
• Persistence and pride in work.
• Attitude to school and work.
• Desire to do well academically.
Let us look at the criteria for the section dealing with “Interest in Passing the Eleven Plus Examinations”:
1. Eager and happy to work. Always keen to initiate extra work. Shows depth of thought.
2. Interested in passing. Occasionally needs to be reminded about doing some extra work.
3. Works willingly – and never complains about extra work. Would like to pass.
4. Not all that interested – but would like to attend grammar school.
5. Not at all interested. Does not want to go to grammar.
I wonder what the children would make of the findings? I wonder too if our children could be enticed to complete the five sections of the survey with the five criteria prepared by teachers? Would it then be a useful tool to used to compare the teacher’s observations with those of the children?
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Which came first reading or writing?
We think that the symbols of what may have been the first writing system were probably pictograms. This would have been a pot or a fish or an animal. A fish with an open jaw may have introduced the concepts of hunger or even eating.
The problem came when early man and early women wanted to express an abstract thought. In text speak we say `b4’ for before. If one of the early authors had wanted to express the idea of before he or she may have had to draw a bee and then make the signs for four.
What we do know is that most of the major civilisations developed writing – and then reading – over a long period of time. The alphabet was probably influenced by the empires in Egypt and Mesopotamia. But all this has happened only in the last four thousand years.
So when I advised a very bright nine year old today to read some `hard’ books to develop his vocabulary I wonder if I did the right thing. After all what is the point of reading hard books if you don’t know what the words mean.
Possibly what I should have encouraged the boy to do was to write a series of short little stories. He should then have used his thesaurus to add an enriched vocabulary to his story. This could possibly have taught him far more new words than hoping to pick up a random vocabulary of `hard’ words from a `hard’ book.
So we are back again to the conundrum which comes reading stimulating books or writing stimulating stories. Either way the boy will need to use his dictionary or thesaurus to develop his reading vocabulary.
Friday, January 11, 2008
There were some truly amazing stands with lucid and compelling sales people. Other stands were to inform and educate.
I met a couple who told me their son had special needs and they had developed a robot that would entertain and help him to learn. I could not help but be impressed by how this couple had taken a product developed `on the kitchen table’ through to having it built in bulk in China – and were now selling the robot to schools. The depth of love and attention and focus displayed by that couple is to be admired. I wish I had been able to meet their son and see him playing with the robot. Look on the web for Robosapien V2. http://www.robosapienv2online.com/
I am sure a number of readers already have at least one of these little robots.
Imagine if we could program a robot to be able to do well in eleven plus examinations with certain types of questions. This would mean that we know the robot would be able to answer set questions. How much extra programming would be needed for the robot to be able to cope with one or two unusual questions thrown in by the examining board?
In the same way I wonder if it is the responsibility of teachers, tutors or parents to only teach what they think will be in the eleven plus examination? Surely children taking eleven plus examinations need to be able to solve problems and think?
I also met a man at the show who talked about Aristotle’s ethics. He was arguing that Aristotle’s views on virtue were still relevant to parents today. He felt that parents wanted to be involved with their children’s education.
So is it ethical for a teacher only to teach what is in the examination or does a teacher or a tutor have much wider responsibility? After all the last thing a parent wants is a little robot sitting in an examination.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Poor invigilator. I bet she wished she had had more training.
Good luck to the children and their parents.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Recently the Government announced that SATs tests would be offered to children when the teacher thought that the children were ready. This will require some flexibility on the part of the teachers, the children, the parents and the relevant authorities – not least the grammar schools themselves.
One problem with Eleven Plus tests is that results can be affected by physical conditions on the day. We often hear parents say: “We will just have to see what happens on the day.”
`On the day’ there could be problems with:
Major physical conditions – for example illness.
A minor ailment like a cold or a stomach upset could lower concentration.
The temperature of the room could affect some children. (Some like it hot, some like it cold!)
Some children could be affected by an unfamiliar desk or chair.
As the day moves on the light in the room could change – and affect performance.
Parents could try to `gee their children up too much’.
Siblings could pick a fight.
Nerves could creep in.
So the suggestion is that children should be able to take the examination when they feel they are ready – mentally and physically.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Over sixty years later there must be a case for the ability of the eleven plus examinations to predict future success to be re-examined.
Monday, January 07, 2008
Examinations try to diagnose
Examinations are used to evaluate the curriculum
Examinations attempt to predict future success
Examinations assess attainment.
So if Eleven plus examinations are trying to predict future success should they also contain elements that look at attainment?
Many years ago the Eleven Plus examinations were developed in such a manner that they looked closely at what children had been taught. There was not the same emphasis on reasoning skills as there is today.
Eleven plus examinations would be fairer for some children if all eleven plus children followed the same curriculum. Some parents would want more than the `same curriculum’ for their children.
Some children would find a common eleven plus curriculum boring and stultifying. These children would need greater enrichment and stimulation.
So if the Eleven Plus examination is to be used to predict future success then we may need to find tests that ignore a common curriculum and tests that do not try to assess attainment.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
The idea was that children in the final year of primary education would be examined to try to work what kind of senior education would be of most value. All those years ago the choices in schools were:
Grammar schools for the academic
Technical – as in technical schools
Vocational and in early secondary modern schools.
Today the comprehensive schools with their `accelerated’ stream and the new academies cover a similar range of skills, talents and abilities.
In the end the Eleven Plus became characterised by as a form of selection for grammar schools.
The recommendation of the head teacher became an essential part of the selection process. Problems arose when parents began to question just how good the eleven plus tests and the head’s assessments were in predicting future success.
Educators and those in Local Authorities have been debating selection and schools for many years. Nothing much is changing!
Saturday, January 05, 2008
In algebra, “like terms” are those that are of the same letter, like 2a and 5a. These can be gathered together, so instead of writing 2a + 5a, it can be simplified to 7a. HOWEVER, different terms, For example:
2 bananas + 3 apples + 4 apples added together is 2 bananas and 7 apples. As apples and bananas are different, these must be kept separate.
In the same way, x and y cannot be simplified and must remain as x + y.
Simplify 7t – 3 – 3t + 9.
7t – 3 – 3t + 9 = 7t – 3t + 9 – 3
= 4t + 6
Bright eleven year old children love the challenge of topics like `Collecting Like Terms'.
Friday, January 04, 2008
Some verbal reasoning questions do appear to be a little pointless – yet they are taken very seriously by teachers and parents all over the country. I know that analogies are an essential part of the reasoning process. A question like: Hill is to Mountain as small is to …. does seem to be a rather weak method of determining ability. Naturally a question with a more complex vocabulary and thought process would be a move valuable assessment tool.
Why can’t our bright Eleven Plus children try to cope with questions like?
Imagine how you would think and feel if you were the last person on earth.
Are two parents necessary for a child to develop successfully?
The problem of noise in modern society.
Should every school have a speed camera?
Disregard for the moment the problems associated with marking a range of test papers. We have seen how so many GSCE examinations can be marked through the internet and online. The sheer fatigue associated with marking lots of scripts can be solved.
Think of the difference in the content of lessons as teachers and tutors work to help children to learn to think and discuss a wide range of subjects. There would be no need to complete a large number of questions in a short time (as in verbal reasoning questions) rather children would be admitted to grammar school on the basis of their ability to reason and write a polished essay.
Every single parent knows when their eleven year old is trying to present a polished and reasoned answer. Why can’t we channel this evident ability into a deserved eleven plus pass?
Thursday, January 03, 2008
When I was a housemaster with a boarding element of around 140 boarders I used to watch the children being dropped off by their parents. The families would arrive in a variety of cars, trucks and lorries.
Very occasionally a family would arrive in a `best car’ – but usually in a car that looked well used. As the children arrived they had to report in on the duty manager or the house master. Most of the ten and eleven year olds were blasé about being dropped off – but I did feel sorry for some of the seven year olds.
Think of the tears of the parents – and their children – as the parents had to leave their much loved seven year olds for a few weeks of boarding school. Children and adults do grow up - thank goodness.
You may feel an element of loss as your child enters the Eleven Plus examination room without as much as a backward look.
So rehearse arriving out side the projected examination room just about on time. Rehearse too standing there with dry eyes you push your child towards the exmination room. Try to be as matter of fact as possible. Try not to have any tears in your eyes – as you might get into the habit
Think about the Eleven Plus examinations as a simple rite of package. The examinations have to be endured. The children have to write the examinations. You have to wait for the results.
If all concerned in the family pull together, just for the foreseeable future, then saying good bye in a cheerful and positive manner could really help your child.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
One of the most interesting elements is the ability of the experiments to cross boundaries. The Science Museum is recognised internationally. The clientele are international. As you push air through a tube to watch a vortex appear the multilingual appeal of the exhibits is evident.
Year 6 children will entranced by the rooms full of science – after all it is the Science Museum.
If you want to be able to discuss different types of Science Based careers – the room by room will provide all the stimulation you need.
Studying for an Eleven Plus examination can not only be about short term goals.
The career path of Grammar School, University and a `good job’ should also play a large part in Eleven Plus preparation.