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  1. Holistic Writing

    November 2, 2013 by Mrs Hurley

    Recently, I have been lucky enough to attend a 2 day Professional Development opportunity run by Ann Angelopolous about her writing model.

    Teaching writing is something that I’ve never been great at. Yes, in my placements at uni I was exposed to a number of different programs, but in all of my placements I’d never been given the chance to actually come up with a writing program. Nor did I ask! I didn’t know any better and it’s not something I really thought about. Kids could just write, couldn’t they? All my job was, was to teach them the different genres, wasn’t it?

    It became very apparent when I started teaching my own class and this year particularly, that no, kids could not ‘just write’.

    What has really sold me on the writing model is clear progress shown by students in such a short amount of time. Ann’s most reluctant writers, who would write 2 sentences in an hour in barely legible handwriting could now write 2 pages of quality writing that followed a correct structure in the most beautiful handwriting! Don’t get me wrong, I know that handwriting isn’t everything but when I still have 11 and 12 year old’s in my class who have to read their writing to me because it’s scribble on the page (and even they struggle!) then handwriting becomes important.

     

    How are these reluctant writers achieving so much in such little time? Well, a combination of different reasons but here are the reasons why I think:

    1. All writing from the beginning of the year is broken down to sentence level and explicitly taught. Simple, compound and complex sentences are explored.

    2. Writing devices are explicitly taught. Students know what the difference between a simile and metaphor is and can tell you what Power of Three is AND use them all in their writing.

    3. Students write every day and have achievable goals – For example, today we are all writing the orientation of our piece. Achievable for all!

    4. Vocabulary is differentiated and a list is provided for all students – brainstormed by the students and added to by the teacher. Maybe there are particular words you’d like your students to include? Maybe you want to expand the vocabulary of your more able students? Providing a vocabulary list also helps with the spelling of words which takes the pressure off those less able students.

    5. And most importantly, you don’t teach Persuasive text for a whole term in preparation for NAPLAN!! The Writing Model is all about teaching kids to be storytellers and writersnot teaching them how to write particular genres.

     

    There are a couple of essentials for each writing lesson (unit?) See, instead of expecting kids to write something new every day, after the introduction and vocabulary brainstorm and all, you should have a complete writing piece about every week. Each writing piece should include;

    • Pre-writing strategy: What will you focus on this week? Practising similes and metaphors?
    • Supportive stimulus
    • Supportive plan: include your expectations for each section of the text. What needs to be in there? Approximately how many sentences?
    • Supportive text: Give examples! Write one yourself!
    • Supportive vocabulary
    • Share time throughout

     

    I’m really looking forward to implementing the strategies that I’ve been taught and I am looking forward to improving the writing quality of my students.

     

    What framework do you use for writing? How did you get taught to teach writing? How do you raise expectations of your students’ writing?

     


  2. Hopelessness

    September 23, 2013 by Mrs Hurley

    Over the past couple of weeks in particular, I have noticed the absolute time-wasting questions I am asked throughout the day. These usually happen after I have explained an activity but can be asked at any stage during the day. Here are just a couple of examples;

    • Which book do I stick it in?
    • The question says I have to write sentences/rearrange/do something extra – do I have to do it?
    • How long until lunch time?
    • Are we going to play a Maths game today?
    • I can’t find my pen/scissors/pencil case (OK, so this is not a question but the way it is said like it’s MY responsibility to immediately click my fingers and make these items appear is something I get A LOT!)

    I don’t want to spend my precious teaching time solving minor issues – I (try to) strongly encourage independence and I want my students to be the problem solvers, not me!

    I am so sick of my own name being said in a whiny voice. And I am trying my damn hardest to ignore/re-direct these questions but the kids just don’t seem to be getting the hint. I know I’m probably not handling it in the best way but what else can I do?

    Have you had these issues in your classroom before? How did you encourage independence and “thinking for yourself” without coming off as careless? Do you think these habits are formed at home because the kids are so used to parents doing everything for them? How do you then get them to “do it for themselves” at school (and hopefully continue to do so in their everyday lives?)


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