U is also for …. uniform

ULove it or hate it, if you go to school you have to wear a uniform. Interestingly, my younger pupils think you should be able to wear whatever you want to school, and my older ones think uniform is a good idea.

No matter what you think, uniforms have a purpose. They help to identify you, and this is important for adults too. How would you recognise a policeman if they didn’t wear a uniform?

They also put you into the right frame of mind for the job you are about to do: think about people in the forces. Do you think they would be as focused and efficient if they were allowed to wear ripped jeans and band t-shirts in training?

And rightly or wrongly, how you dress affects how other people see you. If you were about to have an operation, would you prefer your surgeon to be in calming green surgical scrubs and sensible shoes, or teetering about on sky-high heels and dropping sequins and glitter in their wake?

So even if you hate your school uniform, wear it smartly at school and change into your own choice of clothes when you get home. It will stand you in good stead for the rest of your working life.

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T is also for…. trying

tIf at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again. You’ve probably been told this before, but it is very true.

Some people are very lucky and they manage to do things at their first attempt. Most of us are not that lucky, but that doesn’t mean that we should stop trying. You may never be the best in the class no matter how hard you try, but the important thing is that you will be better than when you started. Always try your best and nobody can ask more of you than that.

Your teacher will be able to see that you are doing your best, and he or she will be proud of you for it.

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S is also for….. similes

SWe have already talked about using adjectives in your writing. Another good way to describe something is to use a simile. If you’re not sure what a simile is, think of the description of Snow White. She had “hair as black as ebony, lips as red as blood and skin as white as snow.

A simile compares two things, so instead of just saying her lips were red, the writer tells us how red. There are two things to bear in mind when using similes:

First – you need to compare to something that everybody knows, so “as white as a newly-fallen snowflake” is a good simile because everyone knows what snow is like when it first falls, whereas “as white as my dad’s car” is not a good simile because unless we’ve seen your dad’s car we don’t know whether is a bright, shiny white because he polishes it every day, or whether it’s a dirty-white because he forgets to clean it.

Second – you need to compare it to something that is always the same, so “as red as a ripe strawberry” is a good simile because all ripe strawberries are red, but “as red as a pencil” isn’t good because not all pencils are red.

Have a go yourself now. How would you describe the length of Rapunzel’s hair?

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R is also for … Research

RSometimes your teacher will ask you to research a topic. This means that you have to find out about that topic. There are three things you should remember if you are asked to research.

1)    Books are a really good source of information, so don’t just rely on the internet – go to the library and have a look at some books as well.

2)    Not everything you read on the internet is true. When you are looking for information on the internet, have a look at at least three different websites. If they all give the same information then it is probably correct. If one of them gives different information then you need to look at some more websites to check what it says.

3)    You shouldn’t just print off the pages, or copy what it says word for word. You might not know, but this is the same as stealing – it’s stealing somebody else’s words and there are laws against it. When you have looked at three or more websites, you should write down what you have found out in your own words and write down which websites you had a look at.

If you remember to do all of these things your teacher will be very happy because you will be showing her that you understand how to find information from more than one place, and by writing it in your own words it shows that you have learnt something and that you have understood it.

Happy researching and good luck with your research homework!

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Q is also for … questions

QAsking questions is an important part of learning. Some children think that asking questions is wrong, or that they will get into trouble if they ask a question, but your teacher will be much happier if you put your hand up and ask her to explain again than if you sit looking at your paper and not doing any work because you don’t understand.

There is no such thing as a silly question – just relevant and irrelevant. What does that mean? Well, a relevant question is one about what you have been learning, and an irrelevant one is about something else. For example, if your teacher has been showing you how to do short division and you put your hand up and say “I didn’t understand what to do with the remainder, please could you show me again?” that would be a relevant question and your teacher will be happy to explain again. However, if he has been showing you how to do short division and you put your hand up and ask “Is it true that bees have five eyes?” he will probably say, “That question is irrelevant!” and won’t give you an answer.

So, next time you are stuck in class, take a deep breath, put your hand up and ask a relevant question and see how much more quickly your understanding grows.

And just for the record? Yes, it is true that bees have five eyes.

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