Raspberries, Apples, Scratching and Pythons.

The new computing curriculum is on its way, whether we like it or not… and, coincidentally, I do. I think part of my relative happiness that the IT curriculum is being updated stems from the fact that I like technology.

I’ve always loved a good gadget and taught myself to use a couple of different ‘coding languages’, albeit to a fairly simple level. And the new curriculum, as we all know, includes a section on computer science. The nerd in me loves this!

I was lucky enough today to attend the Hull IT conference 2014 and got to see some pretty cool stuff. I’m not going to blab on too much about it all – a lot of it was marketing – but I’ll mention a couple of things I’ve taken away from the day.

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What’s the point?

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:

  1. Introduce the type of writing (description, recount, persuade etc.)
  2. Figure out why anyone would write like this (what’s the point?)
  3. List the things in the writing.
  4. 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.