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an overview of expectations and guidance from the government and other sources

My thoughts on teaching writing....

What exactly is ‘good writing’? How do we define improvement? How can we recognise it? Measure it? What part does a teacher’s own confidence and skill in writing play in children’s progress? What range of strategies are available? Getting writing ‘RIGHT’ is a massive challenge……..

I LOVE teaching children to write! Do see my blog post (Encouraging a passion for writing).  Yet, it doesn’t come naturally to some children and therefore, many different approaches and stimuli may be required.  I do love some schemes; those that enhance and gently steer ideas in exciting directions. Others, are not so grand!   I am currently in a school that uses the Talk for Writing approach and I love the pattens and imitation stages that children can really rely upon.

Reading Practice and Pleasure

Learning to read is one of the most crucial skills that a child will learn in his/her lifetime. We live in an speculative society in which proficient literacy abilities are embraced and are considered the key to success and academic achievement.

Growing up, I loved to read and it sort of came naturally as a skill for me.  It was such a passion of mine and the perfect escape from reality.  I can recall happy memories reading Black Beauty and the whole repertoire from Roald Dahl!  The teaching of reading has changed and developed over the years yet there are still children out there who fail to pick up the basic skills and struggle with reading as a process. Why is this? Do some approaches work better than others and do different children learn in different ways? How can we better equip ourselves as teachers to help children overcome their reading struggles? Are some schemes more proficient in the teaching of reading?

Teaching Tips!

Writing

  1. No…… to weekend news!

    Unless they have been somewhere worth writing about or chose to write about something that has happened to them. Children need contexts and reasons and substance!   And a REAL audience works wonders too! Send a letter to a real person or write a story based on a local hero! Make it worthy! Phonics is where they can have that guided practise. But story writing is a whole new ball game and needs to be explored.

  2. Plan it!

    Don’t knock the planning stage of story writing! It is important for gathering ideas and research too.  To invent characters or discover what life was like in World War 2 for a boy.

  3. Teach grammar implicitly through the teaching of English and NOT as an add on!

    Take regular breaks in writing to address whole class issues; Quick question: Do we need a question mark here? What word could replace joy? Can any one help John to spell thoughtfully?

  4. Practise. Read. Repeat.

    Revisit instructions in different topics and home learning tasks. Mix those genres up so familiar and originality meet. Tell the story of Goldilocks in Space! How would that story pan out?

  5. Slowly take the scaffold away

    – over time; once concepts have been satisfactorily internalised. Scaffold is GOOD and obviously there for a reason! But it needs to come down eventually to give way for greater independence and freedom. Take away the success criteria on the wall, hide the “please include these” lists and let the internal story voice blossom and develop! Writers never stop learning!

Reading

  1. TEACH reading discreetly & bring the text to life.

    Reading to children should also happen for pleasure; to excite and enthuse children. Children love to listen to adults read and make meaning from their narration and interaction with the text. Scaffolding is integral in the reading process and lots of concepts are new to children. They can see how texts can be discussed and portrayed in different ways.

  2. Children can join in

    on the repetitive, predictable parts of texts. Revisit books as often as you can and see how many more children join in.

  3. All reading is good! 

    Don’t rule out short snippets, newspaper headlines, non-fiction, comics, tweets, magazines, food labels, schedules, maps, instructions, and brochures, menus or leaflets. Reading is reading!

  4. Re-tell the story

    Paraphrase what you have read. You can do this by writing down/ drawing the main ideas of a chapter in a story, or an article you have found interesting. Summarising what you have read, in your own words helps to extend vocabulary – this is VERY important!

  5. Read with huge enthusiasm and excitement!

    Use drama! Use different voices for different characters in the story – an encourage the children to do this too. Use children’s names instead of a character’s name to make them listen out. Make puppets and use them to act out a story.

  6. Create reading challenges in class;

    not necessarily who can read the MOST, but who can find the most exciting sentence? The best description of a beach? The recipe with the most adjectives etc… let it be a class challenge and you reach the goal TOGETHER!

  7. It’s all about YOU!

    You can be a reading role model: your children learn from you…..so seeing you thoroughly enjoying and truly valuing a good book can be such great inspiration!

Resources I have Found Useful

Human Body Non-Fiction writing ideas

Learn all about the human body and create a piece of Non-fiction writing!

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Writing Prompts

Promote writing using these prompts  and questions. Powerpoint version. 
Can you use the pick and mix prompts to ensure that your writing is full of variety? Celebrate the best sentence of the day or the 2 best adjectives used! Add word to the vocabulary vault too!

Phase 4 - What's in the Box?

Pop the words into a box. Children to select a word from the box and match it to the picture! A phase 3/4 game. 

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Gallery of Inspiration