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Managing marking...big write how do you do it?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by annamellor, May 18, 2011.

  1. In Sept we are thinking of starting the big write to improve writing. I am a little concerned that this will increase marking significantly if you close mark each book. I don't want to add to teachers workload too much.How does your school make it work for you?
    Do you mark each book in detail each big write? Do you get extra time to mark/moderate?
    If you don't and you can think of a way it would work better can you let me know?
    Does big write fit better in a morning or afternoon? Is there a day which works better?
    Any other top tips?
    Anna x[​IMG]
  2. In Sept we are thinking of starting the big write to improve writing. I am a little concerned that this will increase marking significantly if you close mark each book. I don't want to add to teachers workload too much.How does your school make it work for you?
    Do you mark each book in detail each big write? Do you get extra time to mark/moderate?
    If you don't and you can think of a way it would work better can you let me know?
    Does big write fit better in a morning or afternoon? Is there a day which works better?
    Any other top tips?
    Anna x[​IMG]
  3. cally1980

    cally1980 Established commenter

    We do Big Writing every Friday morning - a 45 minute talk/plan session before break and a 45 minute writing session after break. The marking really is horrendous and takes me roughly 2 hours every Saturday - but it is something that the school have always done and it is actually my favourite lesson to teach! My kids love having the candle and mozart, and we put a lot of effort into thinking up lots of fab writing topics with visual stimuli and lots of talk time.

    We traffic light mark every piece and once a half term we also level and target set using the criterion scale.
  4. Thanks Cally- this is my worry, I think it may help improve writing but I am worried about the teachers. We have a lot of pressures at ours schools (federation) already. The teachers work so hard. They really shouldn't be marking on a Saturday!
    I want to make it manageable for everyone. Can you think of a way we could do this?
    Do you help the children plan before the write and then leave them to write independently?
    We have never worked with the Big write and so it would be useful to get the tips before we start![​IMG]
  5. cally1980

    cally1980 Established commenter

    We play VCOP games to warm up (5-10 mins), then we would introduce the task and show some kind of stimulus (a poem, a picture, a scenario, video clip etc). We would discuss the task, generate and share our ideas, record some relevant vocabulary. Then usually model to show the children exactly what we expect/remind them of the format. Occassionally (depending on task) we will work in some role play/hot seating. Then right before the break the children get 5-10 minutes to plan, in a way that suits them. Some simply draw their own version of a VCOP board & jot down all the vocab etc that they want to use in their writing that day - maybe focussing on their target area). They can then use it almost as a checklist so they dont get too into their writing to remember to use it all.
    The writing is silent & independent, though they know they can refer to the VCOP board on the wall and pyramids on the table. We stop at intervals and ask for an example of a connective in a sentence or something similar to refocus the children on what they should be aiming for in their writing but sometimes this can disrupt the flow.
    As for the marking, Id love it if we could depth mark 1 in 3 on rotation but I dont know if that is feasible? This way the children can work to the same target for 3 weeks and really consolidate the usage, yet marking is far more manageable. The other 20 could be read and given a brief comment as the children really do like knowing their hard work is being read and appreciated! The only problem is you would need to ensure that the rotation includes samples of different writing styles and purposes for every child or else you could end up having marks 5 poems belonging to 'Tom' and no examples of letters/recounts/non chron reports etc.
  6. I like the 1 in 3 idea, that is much more realistic. I think we would have to ensure rotation of genres though. Do you decide as a whole school what genre each week or is it left to your discretion?
  7. cally1980

    cally1980 Established commenter

    At our discretion - we share ideas though, so if im struggling for inspiration I will ask year 5 if they have an old one they have done that I can adapt for my Yr 4's or something! Sometimes it is as simple as a picture of a door - what could be behind it? WIll you open it? What happens? To write a story.
  8. [​IMG]Thanks Cally x
  9. cally1980

    cally1980 Established commenter

    Good luck with it!!
  10. When do they have time to mark then? I spend much of my weekend marking big write or not big write! how do you fit it in?
  11. I cut down my marking a fair bit by setting up a system where I underlined parts the child had done well (related to whatever the stated objective was at the time) in green, and errors, bits that didn't work well or whatever I was looking for in pink pen (or blue or purple or whatever colour was deemed nonethreatening - I did green/red... well pink for stop/go) with a note in the margin beside or at the bottom about WHY I'd flagged that bit up. Meant I could highlight as I read through, and reduced the writing reams and reams and reams of comments the kids never read anyway factor down - and they seemed to respond really well to the visual "this bit works, this bit is wobbly" factor of it. So I might have a green underline with a comment in the margin like "I really like the way you've used description in this sentence" or pink with "you've used a lot of speech here but not made it clear what is actually happening in this part.... that kind of thing if it makes sense.

    The other thing we did that helped a lot was get separate books for extended writing - meant you didn't have to turn them all around ready to use their literacy books on Monday morning so I could do 5 or 6 a night after school rather than it feeling like a trudge through reams and reams and reams of them.

    Oh and - if doing the "let them write in whatever pen they choose" thing for it (like one school I know does)... I'd recommend banning flourescent gel pens for this after seeing a colleague struggling to mark an entire Y6length work of pink flourescent gel pen and almost driving himself cross eyed in the process!
  12. Have you ever been on a Ros Wilson course? She advocates big talking and has been plugging her very own version of talk for writing for a long time now. I highly recommend that you go- it's the single most inspirational course I've ever been on. Big writing does improve levels if you follow the program correctly and have fun with it, it's not simply another test- it's about empowering the children with the knowledge about what makes a good writer. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, go on the Andrell website and post them. Ros is very prompt at replying and she gives excellent advice, I use it whenever I'm stuck.
  13. dc521

    dc521 New commenter

    BW - Big waste of time.
    Why teach units, focussing on genres to 'switch' to something else? Yes, I am in favour of creative writing and using the opprotunites that occur in school, news etc. but we have to remember to balance the work load.
    Marking 30 books in detail once a week, using BW levelling is unrealistic. Even if you train your class to mark, self assess, set targets with groups etc it is too much to manage. Also, where is the skills teaching in BW? Where is the coverage of a genre?
    I will not have BW in my school unless staff have the release time to mark in detail. This is what we do and is more manageable as the marking is at the end of a unit.
    Start of unit, a 'mini' write to use as AfL on the genre. Use that to set targets and areas to work on. Teach the units, following the phases as laid out on the framework. Cover the gaps. Teach the genre and skills for it. Blast the kids with VCOP games.
    End of unit. Use the BW 'activities' and build up to one planning sesion. Over night mark the plan. Focus the marking on: spellings and covering the genre features. Children need that input. Final lesson, recap plans, final push on genre features and then write independently.
    Yes, you are marking 30 long writes. That's when you use the checklists for the genres (get teh children to self assess as well). Mark strictly, tick off the genre features. Two positives and then one thing to work on (target). Also, pick up common spelling mistakes and if needed, comment in the margin on effective things.

  14. I sincerely think that you are missing the point. You can set your big writing genres yourself so that they are linked to your unit. It's worth mentioning here, however, that the framework is so obviously flawed in so many ways. Do you really spend five days out of every unit doing nothing but talking? With no writing in books? If so, the children you teach must be more able than mine. They need the practise at writing in length. It is good practice to mark in detail and PCP once a week at least according to the official criteria, and, when big writing is done properly it is a tool rather than a bolt on of additional work. You also have to be careful of teaching a unit then testing the children on that genre- in the Year 6 SATs the children do not know what genre they will be asked to write. It gives an inaccurate assessment if you only ever test what you have just taught- I know schools where every third big write is 'out of the blue', a genre that they have covered in the past but not recently, from Year 1 upwards.
    The excellent thing about big writing is that you can apply the VCOP to any genre. I play games like, give me the a sentence from a newspaper report about football that uses the opener, 'An important thing to remember is...' As I said before, I have found it to be a very flexible, incredibly successful program. Sometimes you just have to give things a chance and do your research!
  15. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    But I could let mine write for hours every day, but it would be rubbish. the talking and reading and exploring language allows the less often writing to be better quality writing. It is a common mistake to assume that poor writers need to write more often, they don't. They need to talk and read more.
    But once you have done it for a year and decided it is a nonsense, surely it is acceptable to say so. I gave it a chance, as had no real choice, and found it to be a waste of my time and the children's time. If I have a choice next year I won't be doing it again, if I don't have a choice then I will.
  16. Although I agree to the children needing time to talk, they also need to write. The framework gives a decent guide on the genres to teach- if only because we need to know what will come up in SATs- however, the 'phases' are unrealistic. It also depends on the quality of talk in which your children are engaged- they also need to be carefully matched so that they are speaking with a good role model, which implies that all of your children have a sound command of the language. It is a common mistake to follow the whims and trends that are in education at the moment, i.e. the talk for writing, which in itself is not rocket science and is certainly not novel.
    Of course it is acceptable to make a choice about a program, I just hope that you were trained how to use it properly and didn't just have it thrust upon you. In my experience, people become disollusioned with new things when they are hit with something that they never get time to fully investigate, this is when things don't work and is counter-productive. Which is a shame, as I said before, because Big Writing is certainly not a Big Waste of time. Rather it is the Best Way to improve children's writing.
  17. Just a further note on my last post. Although the talk for writing materials are new, the concept of talking before writing is simply common sense.
  18. have been looking into AP for my own school - hope you don't mind me jumping in and asking, but what made your course today so inspirational? Was it a single school event/a cluster or a national course?
  19. dc521

    dc521 New commenter

    Speaking and Listening must come before any type of work that deals with the genre.
    I do 'cut' the units to suit the class I teach (and trust me, they are not in any form 'able').
    I have taught and delivered BW in two different settings and can happily say that I have done my research personally.
    As for the S and L comments, that's part of my MEd.
  20. Congratulations on the MEd. So you've never actually been on a Ros Wilson course then?

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