I love the outside. I’m one of those strange people that actually picks cold, wet days to go for long walks (you see less people!). I reckon getting the kids outside is beneficial too.
I’m fortunate to teach in a tiny school, in a great setting, where we’re not required to book the playground space or hall space – if we want it, we’re pretty much guaranteed to be able to have it without having to organise it with the other classes. I try to make full use of this… Even when it’s cold or wet.
This first term has contained a real push, in our class, towards improving literacy. We’ve been working on descriptive writing in particular and I can confidently say everyone in the class has made some real progress. Recently, I’ve been encouraging the class to ask themselves “why am I even writing this?”
Purpose plays such a huge part in being able to write particular text types and mastering purpose means that features can easily be distinguished, and then used. Getting the kids to think about what they’re writing, and why they’re writing it in the first place, has made this much easier.
What’s better is I’ve not been sugar-coating any of the process and the children have reacted very well to this. Literacy ‘units’ (although we’re not using a particular scheme) follow a general set of steps:
- Introduce the type of writing (description, recount, persuade etc.)
- Figure out why anyone would write like this (what’s the point?)
- List the things in the writing.
- Practice using those things in different text types (so, for persuasion, we used advertisements, speeches, plain writing and letters).
Throughout these steps I’ve used words like purpose and features and the children now know exactly what they mean and can confidently pick texts apart.
Once the children figured out that the features were the things being put into success criteria they began to talk about the features they needed to write an effective piece for a particular purpose; showing an understanding that writing changes and being able to tell anyone why it does so!
This has got to be a better process than simply teaching children what’s needed for particular text types and trying to get them to remember.