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How to improve writing in year 6

Discussion in 'Primary' started by cableknit, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. So, I really need some advice/experiences/suggestions...
    I've taught the same class since September but very few of the children's writing levels have gone up since then (in fact many have stayed the same, some i'm convinced are lower still than what they were given in year 5- but let's not get into the politics)
    With teacher assessed writing SATs looming, I'm despairing as to what I can do to really make a difference to their writing ability at this stage. All year i've tried to create engaging opportunities and teach the pupils as much as I can- but i'm starting to feel really really rubbish as they just don't seem to be getting better in unaided tasks.
    So, I suppose i'm asking... how do YOU actually teach writing? What can I do in the space of 4 weeks to really make a difference?
  2. I do a lot of guided writing with my Y5s but I've trained my class up and they know how it works now. Basically, I write a piece of whatever type of writing we're focusing on in front of them on the IWB, talking them through it and explaining why I'm doing things like adding punctuation, proof-reading etc.
    I tend to write a sentence or a paragraph at a time and then we talk about it and they write their own. I have seen amazing results with it and my class have really come on in their writing. Even my statemented child gives it a go, with TA support and he's now using all sorts of punctuation independently that he would never have attempted a while back.
    My class really enjoy it and believe me, I've got some very tricky children this year who I thought wouldn't cope with it back in September.
    When I started doing it, I would practically write the piece before the lesson so I knew what to include and cover, then write it up in front of them. Now though, I just go with the flow and they suggest bits for me and we think about whether it works or whether we need to alter it. They've told me this week that it's their favourite thing and want to do it more so it must be working!
  3. greta444

    greta444 New commenter

    Have you tried Pie Corbett strategies? My class loved them.
  4. The response about modelling writing is really good advice because we all learn from copying others and then gradually taking over. Give them access to really good quality engaging text and see if they can replicate the style.
    The subject matter is key and I would give the children some choice as well as a real purpose for their writing. (Books / stories for the Year 2's?).
    Lastly give them all a piece of card to keep in their book. One side to write on correct spellings of common words they are getting wrong as a quick reference, and the other to record any Wow vocabulary that: they like/find in a book, use orally, or that you want to see.
    Try to stay positive otherwise they will pick up on your concern. Celebrate any successes.
    Good Luck :)
  5. Its aimed at upper KS2 and lower KS3 - in my opinion it works brilliantly with children working at Level 3+
    Its a fantastic resource to have as it gives sensible, realistic advice and strategies to help move writing on quickly. Once you've used it once you tend to find that the methods become second nature and it becomes part of your approach naturally without relying on the book.
    The book contains a ten week programme of Big Writing (a stand alone friday writing session) where skills are taught explicitly then application is immediately required. This enables children to see impact almost immediately and it becomes habit for them to include the skills delivered across the whole week.

    If you type in Big Writing or Ros Wilson into the search bar there are loads of threads discussing the publications :) hope this helps.
  6. Thanks for that. I'll look into it. I have a group of UKS2 who need a real rocket at the moment, and although we don't use Big Write I'm sure the HT would be very interested in moving children on quickly...

  7. Some advice for next year.
    In September, we give each pupil a plastic wallet and they keep exemplars, lists of connectives etc in this, adding to their resources throughout the year.
    One of the most effective strategies we've used over the past few years is that of marking ladders. Pupils refer to these before writing in a specific genre and then, having glued them into their books after a piece of writing, go through methodically and comment upon areas which they can see need improvement.
    We don't use schemes of work but we try to make sure that most writing outcomes link with our topics in order to make them relevant. For example, a recent study of Anne Frank and the Nazi occupation of Europe led to diary entries, an autobiographical extract in the role of Miep Gies, a newspaper report about Kristallnacht etc. When studying the Caribbean, they produced leaflets promoting St. Lucia, persuasive letters on behalf of Fair Trade banana producers etc. In this way, pupils don't see writing as a discrete area but something all encompassing which stretches across the curriculum, embedding their literacy skills in every area.
  8. A very simple thing that encourages children to use interesting vocabulary, similes, metaphors etc in their writing. I use a green highlighter and tell them I'm looking for words/phrases to highlight -
    <u>Green forGreat</u>. It's a strategy I used a few years ago but hadn't used for a while. My current class have been reluctant to really think about vocabulary and phrases so I used it today and what a difference! There was quite a competition going on to use the best phrases and words.
  9. I teach year 6 and recently registered on Pie Corbetts site(he was my old college tutor!) I used his free resources - suspense story, showed the class his videos over 3 lessons and they wrote in his style but their own versions. They loved it - we collected his language features and made posters, printed out his paragraphs and stimulus pictures and they use his vocabulary all the time now. Plus they were inspired to write again and lots of their levels are up 1/2 sublevels just due to this. Hope it works for you! hope the SATs ask us to write a suspense story - we'll be sorted!!

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