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Can anyone help me? I am not sure where to be going next?? :(

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by pisces77, Feb 16, 2011.

  1. pisces77

    pisces77 New commenter

    Are you following the renewed framework for Literacy? Do your children write independently or copy the words on cards. The next stage of their writing would be to use their phonic knowledge to write words and sentences. This is just an example and I am trying to help blindly but you could do some work on a story with a familiar setting e.g school the characters are just them selves e.g I lost my teddy. I was very sad. I looked in ...... I found it ..... I was very happy. A simple story but children can use own knowledge to write these sentences. Look at talk for writing - but the next stage for writing would definately be independence and getting the children to apply what they know. Obviously teaching them by modelling the writing - capital letter full stops what sounds can i hear ? How do i write the letter that makes that sound.
    Another place to look for ideas would be developing early writing i think you can still get it from the national strategies website.
    PM me if you would like any help .
  2. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Some pretty intensive handwriting teaching sounds in order here, or are they already getting that?
  3. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    If they can form their letters correctly and can segment for spelling I would try some dictation.
    Personally I wouldn't copy sentences .
    First I would make sure they can say sentences and tell stories. Then I would model writing their sentences and stories and finally I would ask them to write sentences and stories.
    Can I ask how long these children spent in reception as they seem to be working at a very low level for Y1?
  4. They are still very young children. Perhaps you could ensure you have a really good graphics area established, with aviety of resources from plain paper, labels, ziz zag books, lists etc (look this up anywhere in the early years curriculum or in emergent writing. In short any material which supports early writing. You want them to be learning, not necessarily directed teaching of handwriting or dictation, although they have part. You want them to be using writing to explore and express meaning, give them examples of writing-out-loud, just as you would think-out-loud, then spot,catch, hold, show , share and celebrate all efforts that you see. Highlight this at group time, in a small display in this area, or in other moments. Do not insist on controlling the agenda too much. Once your teaching input is over they need a lot of time to explore, experiment, practise and show off their stages of development. You should find there is a whole range there. That gives you many great opportunities for talk-about-learning, about helping each other, about the messages they are trying to communicate. However you must allow them time to deeply get into it. You must not worry too much. They will develop in their time and with the right kind of input and opportunity. Remember you are the model for 'why' to write as well as 'how' to, so think of all the possible reasons for highlighting print and written communication. Accept the whole gamut of their exploration, it is about sign and symbol. Dictation as long as it is a game might be useful occasionally but equally they are still in year one and neeed the continuity from reception. The most important is a high level of talk about everything in general and writing as part of that generality. I wouldn't worry about targeting and grouping, I would differentiate by celebrating distinct stages in the process. You want to light that bonfire not suffocate it with targets and an over anxious focus on product. Remember they are young but have a great many observations and conjectures about writing (and reading) as they have seen or been exposed to it. Andd don't let others shock you about a supposed 'level' of your children -they are where they are and I have no doubt that many are further than you think because this is not only dependent on 'structure' or 'systematic' teaching. Children are garnering experience from a whole range of contexts they need the opportunity to control for themselves how they begin to play with and understand those elements of their experience that you are trying to develop. You could also read 'the boy who would be a helicopter' by Viven Gussin Paley
  5. Once children have the handwriting competency and they can orally segment for spelling, they can elaborate on their 'news' and do story re-writes.
    Too much, in my opinion, do we ask children to re-invent stories rather than simply ask them to write down a very well known story in their own words.
    We seem preoccupied for children to write in specific structures (genre writing) and 'creatively' before they can barely write at all.
    Personal experience, well-known stories, handwriting sorted, phonics sorted, then focus on simple sentences.
  6. Re post 5 - of course we want children to 'get deeply into' their writing - but they have been left too often to become 'developmentally ready' because we have failed to understand well enough the need to actually teach children how to write.
    How to hold a pencil.
    How to form the letters fluently.
    Relationships between sounds of our speech and letters and letter groups.
    What a sentence is. How to transform a thought into words, into written words.
    All the time, inspiration and fancy book shapes in the world are not going to make writers out of many children without teaching them 'how' to write.
  7. re post 6, where do you get that idea from ...'too often they have been left to be developmentally ready...' 'we have failed to understand well enough the the need to actually teach them to write' . Biased, unsubstantiated, politcal posturing. Where is the evidence that this is widely the case? There isn't any. That all children are tarred with the same brush (and all teachers) suits the limited argument that is being put forward here. And yes, they are either developmentally ready or not. You can help that readiness by the teaching that I emphasised in my post. The only difference here is one of emphasis and what is appropriate teaching and when. They are very young, they DO NOT need to be stressed, or their teachers, over this in nursery, reception and year 1. So you have ignored the basic tenets of teaching young children which are experience - modelling, real-life examples, thinking aloud, along with time, opportunity and materials. You see it is not as simple as saying that it has been done 'wrong' and the answer is the simple phonics agenda. The whole country has not been doing it 'wrong' and therefore doesn't need 'it' solving. There is no collective 'they' or collective 'we'. There is only the narrow pursuance of a limited fixed agenda and early years teaching is far wider, deeper and richer that that. The fallacy that it is 'leaving them to it' is propagated by those who do not really bother to spend time with the hopes, apsirations and practical realites of early years teachers, nor who can sustain a view which is not so culturally, school-systemically born and raised in an atmosphere of criticism and lack of trust.
  8. I certainly did not mean to offend - but I am very defensive of the modern expectations that children will be able to write, and in a range of genres, when they are still very young.
    The irony is that in some ways we are not so far apart. I am not a target-setting proponent - but I do know that we need to be very mindful of the smallest of steps for something as sophisticated as 'writing'.
    It may well seem that people like myself 'have an agenda' but the only agenda is life-chances for all the children and teachers and parents who are well-supported and knowledgeable about the processes involved with reading and writing.
    I do think that historically there has been too much dependence on 'developmentalism' regarding reading and writing - at the expense of systematic teaching.
    I, too, can wax lyrical about children and childhood, creativity and inspiration - but too often I have seen children let down, shortchanged, because the adults 'waited' for some magical moment of growth and capability.
  9. sadika

    sadika New commenter

    Small steps - absolutely!!! Writing is SO complex and I thoroughly subscribe to the idea that far too much is expected far too soon in terms of writing and systematic TEACHING is required.
    Therefore suggest that you look at narrative technique - starting with who/where/when and starting with TALKING it through.
    This was explained to me on a speech and language course many moons ago and I've stuck with it ever since ... as it works!!!!
    I'm sure if you do a search on here you'll find one of my previous contributions on the subject!

  10. Are you following any reading scheme? May I suggest you take the Ruth Miskin Read Write Inc path? Buy Set One books - simple stories made from mainly cvc words but with a few tricky ones thrown in to challenge the children. These "red" words are introduced at the start of each book, so you can flag them up before you begin reading. Tell your children they can't sound them out, they'll just have to recognize them - and as they are printed very helpfully in red, they'll soon cotton on. Once they have read the story, you can ask them a few comprehension questions - again, very helpfully, each story book has a set of questions at the back and you can always add some more. Then you can move on to the workbooks which are full of activities relating to each story in the set. First you read out a simple sentence which the children need to hold in their heads then write down. Next up is an editing exercise - find the 4 mistakes in this sentence sort of thing. Finally, using picture cues, the children are asked to re-write the story.
    I love this scheme as it is utterly failproof and the children find it fun. All aspects of reading and writing are covered in depth - spelling, reading, comprehension - and the stories, although simple, are not dull, repetitive and predictable.

    All resources are available from Oxford University Press website.

  11. I teach EYFS at the moment but have taught all the way through the primary school. The children I have at the moment are now writing simple sentences themselves but only if they can see the purpose of the writing, this takes that enforced writing out of the equation. (you would not be able to read some of the sentences, but the children can! :) ) This week, as part of our topic on Castles and fairy tales, we had a banquet. The children looked at an original menu and had to decide what they would serve at their banquet and so wrote out the menu. They used the phonics they have learned and an adult was with them to encourage them to have a go at using the sounds they could hear, but not to correct their spelling yet - that is kept for phonics 'lessons'. They also wanted to invite the children in year 1 so they had to write invitations and we followed the same process. This allows me to see who is beginning to use the phonics I have taught, who is ready to be pushed a little and those who are still mark making and are not ready to write in an 'adult' way. All children get the teaching, the opportunity and encouragement but those who are not ready are not pressurised. I feel this addresses the problems expressed by other people who have responded. In year 1 they have used a topic inspired by the children's interest, Pirates, and have used talk for writing to develop stories through drama. They have developed stories over 2 weeks in small groups and writing the story down is the final activity after lots and lots of develpment of the storyline together. Young children do not know enough about stories to write one 'off the cuff'. Next they started to make pirate puppets and after each stage they wrote an instruction so by the end of the week they had a lovely puppet and had written a set of instructions.
    Making sentences with word cards seems more like a reading activity than a writing activity and I wonder if you need to take courage and just jump in. If it goes wrong you have not ruined the children's life or stopped them from becoming a future author, you have had a learning experience which will give you a clue about how to change it next time.
    Good luck :)
  12. I think teaching is an absolutely wonderful way of existence. In the same way as walking through a jungle is. It is exiliiarating because there are all kinds of threats to one's integrity. I don't think you mean to insult but you do... I wax lyrical, and you say you 'could' but you want to overcome underachievement, implying that the two don't go together. I can only say in my case they do. Yet the relentless focus on hours and hours of adult set teaching in predicatable school formats may be as much to do with any demise there is in this merry go round of planning, assesement, content, SAT's and inspections, tests and exams and you bang on about phonics; of course it is important to have it in our arnoury and to integrate it into children's development but it isn't the be all and all, neither dare I say it is reading, and not reading too early.

    Thinking, giving food for thought, overcoming as much as possible the artificial (and often dull) construction that is the school, with its micro control from the very top to the very bottom. Children smell this, they smell the fear, the control and they have no power over it so in the long run they become cycnical and switched off. They have to conform. I often think that it doesn't matter; we should give them plenitude and variety but worry not that it be ordered and consistent, they are hungry let it be random and continuous, they will devour it all the same, growing irregularly, opening their patterns before the sun, each with their own beautiful symmetry. It is the learning agenda that is far more interesting, rich, and full of potential than the teaching agenda.

    I hear the cynicism behind your 'wax lyrical' but there is 'more important' stuff you say, yet what is there for you, I wonder?. Maybe, just maybe children have had too long of the 'important stuff. You seem to ridicule developmental approaches, because it is easy to do so, and anyone with the minimum of training can teach a phonics course. However not anyone can teach children. It is far too easy to jump on the bandwagon and think that your cause is right. Many of us learnt well without the imposition of phonics, of more and more layers of control, inspection and bureaucracy on the class teacher. In those days, of the sixties and seventies, projects and less control didn't seem to do too much harm to many. SO why do all need the same medicine now in this holy grail of equality, which means mediocrity.

    We are awash with corporateness, whole schoolness, but I say that to wax lyrical is to green your own growing self. So I won't let you easily get away with lumping that in the same bag as being the cause of underachievement.. There are some great thinkers and observers of children that teachers ought to know and relate to, who can set the boundaries further afield than the school agenda. I am surprised at times that you don't challenge this school agenda more. You are too critical of the great work that has been done in trying to understand the child and its interests before seven years of age. INstead you focus on the easy and achievable stuff of reading and writing which at the end of the day becomes the sum total of the school experience. They have to read and write about stuff which is of little interest and little relevance to them. If motivation, engagement, interest, even a large element of randomness, which would naturally settle into age related interests and ways of learning were to be emphasised and liberty to explore placed centre stage. perhaps education would happen in schools.

    Perhaps I am extreme but I too have seen, and toiled away in the underbelly of underachievement and have seen too many teachers who do not wax lyrical but who themselves have not had the chance to dream big and do stuff their own way, instead held in check by fear and a punitive system. You seem to be an arch exponent of reducing even further the need for teachers to have ownership of what they do. Yes, its tough that kids depend on their teachers, We cannot make a totally safe world of bland, corporate, cloned teachers, We have done that for ten years and got nowhere. YOu propose the same methods of control, testing and inspection, only this time with the holy and popular current theme of phonics held like a crucifix against the darkness. You do that and expect that it will somehow bring forth the holy grail - whatever that is. All children switched on and reading whatever stuff is put in front of them, by passing their interest centres. It is part of taking away all risk, we bubble wrap everything and everyone but kids and teachers have a need to rip away that bubble rap and live int he moment, to meet there and expereince the possibilty of learning something useful, not just something written in a curriclum by someone party to ministerial favour and seeking to further partial truths.

    No, Debbie, often you do speak some sense, a hard won practical sense gleamed of years of work at the front edge with children. However when you talk as you do you set some of my alarm bells ringing. You do not seem to see alternatives to the way schools operate and the reasons why children do not get engaged, or why teachers fail them.
  13. Are you a Steiner teacher? If so, you will see child development differently from many.
    I am a teachers' supporter and I am anti bureaucracy and the target-setting culture in primary schools.
    However, the ONE area that I think is so important for teacher-training and provision for children is the teaching of reading and writing.
    When all children are empowered with the ability to read and write, they are ahead of the game and this frees up what teachers can provide and the potential for a creative curriculum.
    However, if you are a Steiner teacher/proponent, then no wonder you see what I promote in negative terms.
    Please don't assume however, that because I am a phonics proponent, that I am not ALSO creative and capable of being an inspiring teacher enabling children to blossom in their own way and beyond what might be expected of them.
  14. cariad2

    cariad2 New commenter

    I went on a course run by our speech and language team, that was all about the same technique, and it really inspired me. I bought the Reception Narrative Pack for our 3 Reception classes.
    It was time consuming printing and laminating all the resources and collating them into a folder, but it was well worth it. In Reception we mainly use it to develop children's speaking and listening skills, but we also refer to the concepts during shared writing.
    This year, the Year 1 teachers are also incorporating the scheme into their teaching. They've come back to us full of enthusiasm, saying it's really helped the children to structure their work.
  15. No Iam not a working steiner teacher but a very involved and (I think) professional early years teacher who has read, visited and interacted first hand with as much of the range of thinking and practise as possible. My background is however both nursery class in a primary school and nursery school. As well as teaching across the age range from 4-11 at the moment. I do think many, many mainstream teachers could do well to invest time in understanding child development from the Steiner perspective as it is very respectful, very protective and intrinsically reflective. However all the references from Tizard and Hughes, Montessori, Freobel, High Scope, Vivein Gussin Paley, Axeline, Bettleheim, Brierley, Early Eduucation, the PPA, are for me profound wellsprings from which to draw deeply as a teacher. I do not find too many colleages (with the expetion of nursery school colleagues both NNEB and teacher) with the time, inclination or even awareness of, the need to study this heritage. Instead the EYFS is taken as the current gospel, useful though it is, is only the briefest paraphrasing of a greater philosophy. Others such as Tina Bruce, Nutbrown, and Mary jane Drummond amongst others humble me with their eloquent and revealing insights into this heritage and the possible aspirations of teachers. I am the same as most. A common a garden classroom teacher building the craft of the classroom over the years and finding curiously that there are continuous challenges and refinements to the art and science involved in this classroom craft. I resent imposition, conformity, spurious judgement born of political expediency. I resent doom and gloom phrophecies which are used to peddle the latest fashion. I resent the dumbing down of teachers and I resent that many teachers learn techniques to pacify and 'school' but do not have the opporutnity to, nor are expected to, reflect and deepen this narrow set of techniques beyond the ´whole school agenda´ towards education. The bells hoops, whistles, tests, exams, planning schemes, assessment jargon and current platitudes turn me cold when at the forefront is an absence of the sympathy and wider understanding that children need to meet in school.

    You mention empowering others and in this I agree totally. However motivation which is the motor of all is given such scant regard. We manipulate children through ranked and graded tests, schemes, ladders, and scales and their teachers too. The whole school control, the tight teaching agendas that suggest all is lost and it was never done well enough before we had the NC or literacy and numeracy (.. blah blah.. the stuf of these forums basically). The lack of democracy, the manipulation of information - and that is before we get into home-school agreements, homework policies, uniform uniforms,. unauthorised absences and all the other mechanisms of enforced central control that have ridden unchecked trhough our primary education and even now hold the early yers to hostage.

    You may well be creative but perhaps your undoubted commitment, energy and consumate ability to communicate should turn towards the inequities of schooling as the source of ´failure´. Yes there are many interesting features of other systems including the Steiner, the Finnish, The reggio Emilia etc and we suffer our historical street cleansing accident that sweeps all children into formal education at five before language and thought have really had time to ground themselves. I resent the critisicms of the sixties, seventies and early eighties as though the teachers who taught using projects or passion did a dis-service. it did me quite well and most others that I know. This force feeding of all children the same diet is too much akin to the force-fed chicken rather than the free-range fowl.

    I know you are opposed to target setting and bureaucracy, yet you still insist on the strict sytematic application of a teaching scheme within a narrow time limit and so I think all you do is replace one set of 'targets' by another and the mechanisms of control have yet more traction over the freedom, flexibility and craft that is at the heart of teaching. That is why I wax lyrical, because I want to loosen the bonds that are ever tightening around us. But be rest assured, I am a weary teacher writing this on a friday after being at the centre of a whirl of child energy and activity the learning process, five days a week every week. Politicians, pundits and the cult of advisor, 'improvement partner' and other tails that try to wag the dog do not rest easy on my shoulders on most days, but today least of all.
  16. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I knew very little about the Steiner system other than what I had read in theory books and it sounded very appealling however after meeting parents who had children in Steiner schools I'm not so sure.
    I think their is a huge problem when you try wholesale adoption of education systems that work well in other cultures into ours and a better approach is to embrace aspects that match our needs.
  17. Well Msz I suggest you go and get to know at first hand one of your great neighbours. Like all neighbours they have good points, and irritating differences, but at least they can help you see your own house and way of living in a different light. There is a wide range of thought outside the mainstream school and it is good to let that inform what is done within the 'main' system. I have a critical-soft spot for Steiner- Waldorf education because it is born of 'our system' as much as anything is born of our frail human systems, but I also have the same for Montessori, Macmillan, Regio Emilia, HIgh-scope and other likewise great gusts of air that lift the early years teacher's mind into flight. They give us a 'why' if not elements of the 'how'. Thanks to them I feel teaching is a vocation and it is essential to my own growth as person to believe I will one day become good at it. Far more than all the LEA training and the glossy documentation, the dull-dreary-bland language of inspection and action planning that for me dominates the primary and secondary school agenda. Yet I now that the collective 'we' of schools and society is also made up of the 'me' and the people I know. It is just that many of us, myself included, are at a loss to explain how the logic of certain desires such as equality and opportunity, can translate through mechanisms beyond our control into the monstrous, machine that churns out statistics and pronouncements.

    The use of natural materials, the repetition of a body of oral work, the value of play as making the man, the offering of real- life role-models of craft or household tasks, the insistence that children whilst not totally protected are not force-fed experiences at an early-age when they can be met later, didgested and assimilated to better effect; the assertion that the teacher has to have a wide degree of freedom and BE TRUSTED to emply this freedom , the working together of teachers without a strictly enforced hierarchy nor a punitive, critical, populous-political need to manipulate the outcomes. Of course you might not see into it all those things, you might be initially taken away by appearances, the absences of the familiar, the strangeness of thinking about certain things.. Yet they work for some, and they deserve their right to do it their way, and I might add that everyone benefits from dialogues and you are going to get a better more informed, more passionate and stimulating, dialoge that you will get with any SIPS or OFSTED mind as the latter have usually only gone up in a straight line, haven't wavered or wandered and garnered strength and resilience from negotiatoin the contradictroy winds, the more blustery elements of alternative ways of thinking. That is why very many teachers and schools will question the child and its family before they will even, if ever, question themselves and the very basis on which they are constructed.

    My brief parpaphrasing of Steiner-waldorf to the above few sentences is just that, and if any Steiner teachers are reading ( I doubt it) then I apologise for my limited ability to write more. CHildren love their schools, of whatever type, in general for their friends and because on the whole their integrity is not overly threatened each day. However there is a very subtle agenda of manipulation that runs throughout from top to bottom, and which in-time I think does affect many children and they can become cynical, switched off, resentful and partially interested, because to a large degree they need the emotional connection with learning which is lacking in teachers who teach material to which they have no emotional - read passinate- relationship. . This can be engendered by good teachers, and children can learn things they are unaware of and which enrich them, but too often perhaps they are held tight in a system which doesn't recognise enough all the maifestations of the growing psyche. Teachers who themselves have only gone straight up the system - find it hard to recognise the deviations, the twists and turns as life within each child tries to grow towards its light and gather the resources it needs to bcome strong.

    The lack of child development, if not in an implicit theory - Piaget was too heavy for me- at least in certain images of the growing child allows the teacher to support the real growth of the child. Instead we hear so much especailly here on the forums of teachers looking for techniques and how to impart more to the child when often the child is disinterested. Some of the longest threads are nothing more that a list of teachers asking for a copy of the latest plan for this or long-term this - why? Because teacher quality is seen in terms of being able to show something on paper, regardless of ownership by their heart of said material. Teachers are lead to believe that their success as a teacher and growth as a human being is through responsibility points, SMT membership etc, where they are then in a postion to compound their own mal-nutrition by force feeding not only children but other teachers the same restricted diet. A diet of compliance. I do know what I talk about from first hand experience of all the roles I mention. Personally I have climbed down from such lofty aspirations and find that the biggest challenge is right here on the ground tryng to put this into practise with children, the enegy of growth and life, everyday. That is why I think everyone should visit a Steiner, a MOntesori or whatever they choose because it allows insight and shines the light of questions into the dark corners of assumption, of custom and practice, and makes compliance to unquestioning, carrot-and-stick driven organisational assumptions.

    So Msz I don't think we are talking about a problem of embracing something 'foreign', only of getting to know and accepting something which is a part of ourselves. The practical hows and whys can seemn daunting when one gets to know them - such as the conditions which allow reggio emlia to flourish yet which would be politically and socially inconceivable here. Yet thank goodness for alternative and variety, for without it we might never see the accident of evolution which creates newer and more resilient growth for our future. In the end I think it boils down to trying to be part of a creative, forward looking stream of life and not a fear-driven, castigating, deeply unequal, inflexible schooling system. One which does have many good points, (the school is an efficient way of bringing certain opportunites to large numbers of children) but which has perhaps lost its way through too much political short-term policies and far too many people talking about it, managing it , and not actually doing it on the ground, mixing-it, slogging oit out toe-to-toe, eyeball-to-eyeball, mind -to-mind with children. Thank you for replying and pardon my extensive reply. I am thinking as I go along.
  18. by the way I am very sorry about the formatting. Yesterday paragraphs appeared, today they do not. I am using OPERA browser. If anywone know what I can do please let me know. I have tried 1,2,3 returns, but all to no avail. The paragrpahs in my original are not there one posted.
  19. I am no expert on Steiner schools - but my impression is that there is no lesser an agenda in Steiner schools than in schools of other models, that teachers are no more free (perhaps even less free) than teachers in state schools.
    The agenda is different, and I have heard it is as much covert as open, and I have never gained the impression that teachers are free to follow their own creativity and instincts.
    I think that teachers in the state schools are suprisingly free to create their own environments and provision - the difficulty is that many early years teachers and providers simply fail to exercise their freedom - and they succumb to the paperwork chase instead of rising above it.
  20. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Yohanna I have experienced Montessori, Reggio Emilia and High Scope education first hand and although I haven't seen Te Whariki first hand either I have have spent time with teachers who have and have been fortunate to meet Margaret Carr and Wendy Lee on a number of occasions and have felt inspired.
    However the nearest Steiner school is a considerable distance from me so my knowledge is mainly from research coloured slightly by accounts from ex pupils and their parents and I'm afraid their experiences (these children didn't love their schools) and rightly or wrongly leave me feeling concerned.


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