Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Inspiring writing

After looking through pupil asset this holiday I have been trying to think of ways to further inspire writing at East Harling, as this is an area that needs improving. As SENDco and the person with responsibility for assessment, I need to be aware of all the children who are struggling and I feel it is my duty to support the teachers to support the children. Running a Film Club for year 6 children targets some literacy skills as they write reviews and we discuss the films. I can also have a direct influence on children in KS1, but need to make sure that I support the children and teachers in between.

As a school we have just introduced Read, Write inc and although I was the biggest sceptic, after using it for a few weeks I can see how it will support struggling writers. This is only part of the solution though, so I am thinking of other ways of creating a writing culture at school. Many of you will know how I use a dramatic enquiry approach to teaching and this lends itself very nicely to purposeful writing across the curriculum, for example my digital literacy project and 'A Waspish Sort of Problem'. This has been embraced by East Harling and we have agreed as a school that teachers will teach though drama at least once a term. 

 Introducing blogging will further help develop a writing culture and this is top of my list for 2014. I will also let teachers know about Julia Skinner's 100 word and 5 sentence challenge. I have used Julia's ideas effectively with my own pictures as additional creative writing  and guided group sessions. I have shared my 'Talking Pictures' visual literacy pack (laminated stills and art work) with our year 3 teacher and she reported that the children loved it. The pictures include a selection of Jacek Yerka's art work, which I have blogged about here

I use a range of interesting pictures, then ask questions to inspire talk, before descriptive writing. The pictures are great for comprehension, lending themselves nicely to in-depth inferences and deductions. When writing, starting with simple observations about the picture, then building on them can inspire some great sentence writing. We write on white boards so that editing can be done easily (I have found that this reduces anxiety for children). I laminated the questions below to support teaching assistants and parent helpers deliver effective guided sessions, as they may need support with development of questions. 

This works well in my class, but I need to think about promoting writing across the school. These are my ideas so far. They are not original ideas, but ways of developing writers: 

  • Hold a whole school writing competition each month. This can be part of my assemblies, so kills two birds with one stone (I'm all for time saving!)
  • Get East Harling blogging
  • Employ some reporters to write about sporting events or other special occasions
  • Start a newspaper club, managed by a parent
  • Host drama days 
  • Participate in Livewriting
  • Start a book club for year 4/3 children, managed by a parent, to meet once a month
  • Start a creative writing group
  • Create a blog with resources that teachers can use
I sent a message to my good friend Jenni about the last point, as she was an AST for English and has delivered many workshops and training on writing. She was way ahead as usual and had started a blog called 'Never Mind the Spag'. It hosts a collection of resources to support writing that have been used successfully before. Taking the time to share things is what makes Jenni the inspirational leader she is, and I was chuffed when she invited me to blog with her. I have added my favourite pictures from Machinarium and Tiny Bang Story as these have worked for me in the past. 


I hope that these are of use to you too. Don't forget of course the fantastic Literacy Shed, which hosts a huge range of resources to inspire writing. 

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