Maurice Leahy is the teacher behind extra golden-time and his resources use dice and games to encourage children to practise their grammar skills. Read on to find out how he approaches resource creation, how valuable pupil feedback can be and why learning needs to be enjoyable.
Tell us about your professional background.
I've been a primary teacher for 15 years and have recently taken on the post of assistant headteacher. I love teaching and working with teachers, and despite all of the nonsense imposed on schools from external sources, I refuse to lose my enthusiasm for what is a fantastic job.
I always keep in my mind that working with young people is a privilege, albeit one that comes with many challenges.
You say that grammar can be a very ‘dry’ topic. What can teachers do to challenge this perception?
It has always been my approach that the drier the subject matter being taught, the more fun and creative the session needs to be. Introducing dice adds an element of chance. It is common to see dice used in a maths lesson to generate random numbers, instead of using a list of calculations.
A games-based approach to teaching important grammar concepts will get more response than a worksheet made up largely of cloze passages.
How do you make sure your resources are up-to-date and relevant for teachers and students?
Of course I have looked carefully at the national curriculum, but the main way I keep my resources relevant is by using them in class, then asking pupils if they enjoyed them and how the games could be improved.
I also use the games for inset days and teacher training purposes, and the response has been fantastic.
In general, what makes a great resource?
That's an easy one, from my point of view. It has to be two things: the first is fun and the second is purposeful.
A Reception teacher will tell you all about purposeful play, why shouldn't a key stage 2 teacher be able to say this too? If we forget about enjoyable teaching and learning experiences, we choke the life out of learning.
What advice would you give any teachers who are considering selling their resources?
Get them uploaded! Everybody out there has an idea, but it's worth taking time out to make it accessible and ready for other teachers to use.