Engaging Reluctant Writers
Every classroom has students who hate writing and will avoid it at all costs. They might groan and moan when you say the word ‘writing’ or ask to go to the toilet the minute you need them to sit at their desk. When they do sit down, they take 500 years to write the date and then poke the person next to them or engage in some other off-task behaviour. Their antics mean that you can’t spend time supporting those who WILL engage but need some support or conference with those who are quite capable…
8 Ways to Supercharge Your Writing Instruction
Over the past several weeks I have brought you a series of posts about writing instruction. This area of our teaching is one that can leave, even the most confident teacher, feeling adrift. There is so much research and solid information about reading instruction and yet when it comes to writing, there is scant reliable information and guidance out there. In my quest to support you all and your students I spoke with a number of teachers to ask them about their experiences of teaching writing …
But He Can't Write A Sentence!
In preparation for my new Teach Along – Writing Success in the Early Primary Years – I talked to quite a few teachers to really understand what it is they experienced when teaching writing. There were many things they had in common, and one of them was this statement:
“I am expected to get all children writing full texts, when some of them can’t even write a sentence. It just doesn’t make sense!
As I spoke with them, I could hear the frustration and worry in their voices. Frustration that th…
A Writing Lesson to Engage Every Child
Last week’s post talked about some of the finer points of language selection to support our students' writing development and suggested that there really isn't a need to have small group instruction in order to reach every child. What I didn’t get time to do was to explain exactly what this might look like in your classroom. So gather round as I tell you a story.
There was once a teacher who tried her very best every day to help her students learn to write. She modelled using the struc…
Sometimes Conversation Just Isn't Enough
I have said it many times and I’ll say it again.
The simple fact is that our children don’t have enough time focusing on language at school. Now I know that they talk to each other in the playground and that they talk in the classroom when you don’t want them to. I know that you are likely already doing some ‘talk to your partner’ in your classroom (if you aren’t, please do start) and that you are possibly engaging children in oral sentence level instruction.
Even with all these things goi…
Creating Order From a Crowded Curriculum
One of the things we can all agree on is that our curriculum is a crowded document. The expectations of what we are supposed to be able to teach, assess and track are, frankly, ridiculous. Before I decided to ‘just keep things simple’ I felt incredibly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of ‘stuff’ I was supposed to get my little people students to know and do. It was as if I was being asked to be on some kind of teaching game show where I was put in a booth and had to quickly stuff as many marshma…
The Key to Increasing Student Motivation to Write
There’s a funny idea that floats around in education, that the way to increase student motivation for learning is to make things more engaging. This can mean a variety of things including making learning more ‘authentic’, giving more choice in learning activities and (heaven forbid) making learning fun.
Let’s talk about why authenticity, choice and fun can lead us down the path to instructional ruin if not applied in moderation.
- Authenticity is a concept that we hear often. It is often ac…
When 'What We Have Always Done', Just Doesn't Make Sense.
I spend a lot of time interacting with teachers. Whether it is through social media, emails, Teach Along Course sessions or on the phone, they all say the same thing about writing instruction. “It just doesn’t make sense to ask a student in the early years, who can barely write a simple sentence, to write a complete text”. Here are some of the things that I have heard:
“We skip to full pieces of text far too quickly.”
“I feel like my students just aren’t writing enough.”
“Asking all Foundati…
'How to Teach Writing in the Early Primary Grades'
We have all known the feeling of frustration (and maybe helplessness) that comes with not really knowing how to get children writing. Some kids just seem to 'get it' and will happily sit down to write a story or information report for us while others struggle along, unable to complete the task no matter how many times we go through the 'modelled, shared, guided and independent' cycle that we have been taught is the key to good writing instruction.
When we try to figure out what we need to tea…
Using Rich Text to Build Language
Once we understand the need for explicit language and writing teaching, the question becomes, “Exactly what does this look like in a classroom?” This post aims to begin to answer that question.
Quality picture books.
A particularly engaging and effective method of building language is through the use of quality picture books. This is by no means a new way to explore and contextualise grammar. I highly recommend Joanne Rossbridge and Kathy Rushton’s book “Convers…