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VCOP / Big Writing for Dummies

Discussion in 'Primary' started by sulla, Oct 25, 2007.

  1. New to VCOP and want to learn about it. Is there a site I can go to (or an article here) that explains in detail exactly what VCOP and Big Writing are?

    I know what VCOP stands for. I also know there is a VCOP forum and that there are lots of threads about VCOP and Big Writing here, but these seem to be sharing resources and ideas for implementing VCOP/Big Writing rather than explaining what it is and what to do do implement it.

    Here are a few dummies questions people could help me with for starters:
    1. What is the difference between VCOP and Big Writing (if, indeed, there is one)?
    2. Are the four strands of VCOP all based on pyramids?
    3. Does VCOP not emphasise things like varied sentence lengths, the structure of text, use of paragraphs, use of dialogue?
     
  2. New to VCOP and want to learn about it. Is there a site I can go to (or an article here) that explains in detail exactly what VCOP and Big Writing are?

    I know what VCOP stands for. I also know there is a VCOP forum and that there are lots of threads about VCOP and Big Writing here, but these seem to be sharing resources and ideas for implementing VCOP/Big Writing rather than explaining what it is and what to do do implement it.

    Here are a few dummies questions people could help me with for starters:
    1. What is the difference between VCOP and Big Writing (if, indeed, there is one)?
    2. Are the four strands of VCOP all based on pyramids?
    3. Does VCOP not emphasise things like varied sentence lengths, the structure of text, use of paragraphs, use of dialogue?
     
  3. and to add to sulla, how is it used in ks1???
     
  4. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

  5. Ok, I'm new to this too and also want to learn more. There are lots of experts on here but I'll give your questions a go.

    1) Opera Diva gives a v good description of Big Writing here https://www.tes.co.uk/section/staffroom/thread.aspx?story_...
    See Post 5.
    VCOP are 4 ways chn can uplevel their own writing. So they use their knowledge of VCOP when writing/self-assessing whenever they write. Big Writing is a particular session.

    2) The pyramids work v well for punctuation and quite well for connectives but IMHO less well for V and O. However they are a useful prompt for the chn.

    3) Not at first glance, but the O can cover varied sentence structures. Someone on here (think its OD again!) calls it VCOPP to take account of Paragraphs and this could link well to text structure. Before the chn begin writing in a Big Writing session, the text style is reviewed and I assume text structure etc is taught then.

    Am not sure how it is best adapted to KS1 but am v interested to find out. Have heard some people mention a 'Big Talk' in KS1/FS??
     
  6. Thanks for your posts so far. So Big Writing is basically a lesson structure within which VCOP is placed?

    (I was thinking that because of its name Big Writing was on the lines of big books (ie shared reading).)
     
  7. Think the name 'Big Writing' is just to make it more of an event - special paper, pens, snacks, break, candles etc
     
  8. Nice to know you are all so clever. How about letting the rest of us know what VCOP stands for? If you're setting up a blog about something wouldn't it be nice to reduce barriers to clear explanation.
    One of the dummies.

     
  9. <h1>VCOP</h1>
    Vocabulary

    Connectives

    Openers

    Punctuation

    Each contains sets of words (or punctuation, or connectives etc) ranked into 'rungs' on a pyramid, where students start at the point (easiest, least number of entries to use) to the bottom rung (most difficult entries)

    http://www.brendenisteaching.com/downloads/1_17-vcop.php
     
  10. I'm in KS1, year 2, my children love VCOP.
    I use one strand as a starter for each literacy lesson e.g. up levelling sentences by using connectives.
    In extended writing we stop half way and using four coloured pencils, one for each strand, they underline where they have used VCOP. This helps them to see what they are using in their writing and what they are not, so when they carry on they can focus.
    Some of them also find it motivating and make an extra effort to use 'level 3 punctuation'.
    It's the best thing I've introduced so far this year. Hope to start doing Big Writing next term, then introduce it across the school in September.
    Go on one of Ros' courses, her enthusiasm is infectious!
     
  11. To try and get Big Writing/VCOP explained in a nutshell is tricky-probably impossible.
    VCOP-the four generic targets -are what are taught. Big Writing is when children write an extended and unsupported piece of writing. Although it is called Big Writing it is driven by talk-talk should be at the centre of it all.
    The best way to really get a proper handle on it is to attend an Andrell course or to read some of Ros Wilson's books.
     
  12. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    I think of it thus:
    VCOP is to good Writing, what Painting-by-Numbers is to good Art.
     
  13. Exactly!!!
    I wish I'd thought of that!
     
  14. I use VCOP in Year 2 and the children have been really engaged. I have colour coded the four sections.
    Vocabulary - Purple
    Connectives - Blue
    Openers - Orange
    Punctuation - Red
    When we do shared writing we use appropriate coloured pens when we use any VCOP. We also use green for our capital letter (like traffic lights - green is go and starts the sentence).
    We also read through using Kung Foo Punctuation. We have actions for VCOP too.
    V - jazz hands
    C - link our fingers like a chain
    O - turn a key
    P - Kung Foo Punctuation
    This help include a variety of learning styles and the children enjoy really sharing in the 'shared writing'.
    I have made displays for the children to have a look at during Big Write. Part of the display contains envelopes with coloured coded A4 laminated help mats for some of the areas of VCOP. The children help themselves to these during Big Write and have them on their desks.
    I also have a caterpillar with the tricky words from each of the phonics phases. The resources around the room give the children enough support to work without my help during our Big Write session.
    Here are some of the resources I use if anyone is interested...
    VCOP display and help mats...
    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&item=290310515457
    Tricky word caterpillar
    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&item=290309695519
     
  15. Sella - for fear of being destroyed here with my comments - I will however give a bit of advice regarding your plan to introduce VCOP to your practice.
    Firstly, the principle of supporting pupils to develop language skills, vocabulary etc. is one that I fully agree should be happening. Ros Wilson's materials, in my view, really do assist teachers and children to do so - but only if used properly.
    I would say please, please, consider very carefully how you go about it, and have a very clear idea of what constitutes sound and appropriate development for children. For my sins, I am a SATs/NCT marker, and for the first year, VCOP-ing has been extremely evident in many children's writing. I marked 10 schools - 4 of which had clearly employed VCOP - with all doing it - and sorry to say - badly in my opinion. The writing was often so distorted. As a marker, I could clearly see the set of 'flowery phrases' that had been 'taught' as 'good expressions' to classes. Thus in the tests, children were using them totally out of context and as a result produced pieces of writing that could only be desribed as gobbly-gook (sic?). As a result, I found it so difficult to evaluate the writing presented. I could not confidently extract the pupil's true ability - and thus award marks accordingly - when it was drowned and overloaded by the overt use of inappropriate expressions, connectives etc.
    For example - and I admit to creating this so as not to identify any particular school/child, but I assure you that this is the kind of writing I had to evaluate:
    "Meanwhile (totally incorrect use as an introduction given the paragraph written before) I got into the subway in New York and saw all the peeple pushing. and however the sweet aroma of freshly mown grass hit my nostrils! with the sun shining high in the sky overhead it was so busy and I wasnt happy being pushed on the grownd but it was so exciting to be there."
    ?????????????????????????
    To get a further idea of what I, and other markers, had to deal with, take a look at the SATs markers' forum - I would say posts around early June. As you will see there, many markers were finding the same outcome as I in their papers, and the expression used to describe it was: "This school has been VCOPed to death."
    I hope Ros Wilson/Andrell et al will also view that forum to see how their well designed materials are being used in some schools. I feel sure that their sound philosophies were not intended to produce such writing.
    Children do need support in developing their language and writing skills, especially those who are disadvantaged by coming from homes and families where extended vocab is limited. Schools and teachers need to fill that gap for them. But, as I learned from my tutor when I trained to teach very many years ago: "'Teaching' is not taking place if there is no evidence of 'learning'. That is a statement that stayed with me throughout my career. You can 'VCOP' to death, you can 'teach to death', but if the 'learning' doesn't actually reflect that either/both have been done well, then a complete re-think needs to be considered.
    I sincerely hope that I haven't upset anyone with my comments above. That is not my intention. I just hope that they may give some food for thought and consideration.
    Good luck Sella - hope you get lots of other responses to assist you with your question. The above is just my view of course. 'However' I would say well done to you for asking it. You clearly show a very professional approach to the very difficult task of 'teaching'.
     
  16. I've just tried this link and it seems to be broken...would you mind adding it again. Thanks
     
  17. The link is just taking me to the community tab on the TES website. Please could you add the link again Many thanks
     
  18. VCOP can be a really useful tool BUT (echoing what the SATs marker and others have said) badly done VCOP can easily become a mindless "writing-by-numbers" exercise.
    For me, the WOW words concept is often misunderstood.
    The best vocabulary/openers are the ones that are MOST APPROPRIATE to the genre the children are writing in... not the longest/most flowery words they can think of.
    Brilliant vocabulary/sentence structures for instruction writing are very different from brilliant vocabulary/sentence structures for story writing and children need to understand that...
    C x
     

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