Starting at the beginning of this month, we have been sharing a word game every school day on our Facebook page. The games are suitable for all ages and can be seen on the wall or click on the Boxes tab.
Next month we will be releasing subject knowledge grammar videos for teachers. What grammar would you like explained?
Happy New Year to you all. 2011 looks like being every bit as exciting as 2010 did. I thought I would start off the year as I mean to go on and therefore want to share a great new book with you.
The Beasties by Jenny Nimmo and Gwen Millard is a fantastic book that can be used in a couple of different ways but both related to talk for writing.
The book follows in the long tradition of children’s literature about night time and not being able to get to sleep and the worries that the dark can bring. Daisy is a little girl that finds it difficult to get to sleep, lying awake listening to all the sounds of the street and not noticing the three creatures, could they be monsters, that creep into her room and start to look at all their treasures. What these three creatures do is pick out one of their treasures and tell a story around it just like storytellers do. When Daisy finally plucks up the courage to look under her bed, where they are hiding, she finds three very very small beasties and is encouraged to make up her own stories.
This book would make a great model for children to create their own version of in groups with each child writing their own story based around an object. What you will need for this is a story telling bag with lots of objects in it such as rings, unicorns, special keys, bowls etc that a story can be built around.
The book could also be used however to develop children’s ability to add detail because each of the stories is in reality a bare bones. This would mean that the children could learn the bare bones and then using games such as ‘Tell me more about…’ they could add detail and description to each section and then tell their version of the story. They would provide a good opportunity to consider how the reader is to feel during each section and how that can be achieved.
We are delighted that it is now up and running and would like to offer you a free Talk for Writing booklet in appreciation of the fact that you have kept on visiting the site and have contacted me for the things that didn’t download.
The booklet describes all the talk for writing strategies that we like to use on training and when working in classrooms.
Have you ever sat down to plan your guided writing sessions and wished for inspiration?
This publication is a practical tool for teachers to support them with planning quality, guided writing sessions.It is packed with ideas, clearly linked to high value aspects of writing to support teachers from FS to Y6 with moving children on in their writing.Many of the suggested activities include effective Talk for Writing strategies, which can also be used in other teaching contexts.
The bookis divided into three sections each including an overview and subject knowledge, activities with progression and variations plus all the resources required. The sections are based around the following key themes:
Composition and effect
adaptation for purpose and reader
style and effect: choice and use of linguistic devices
I have enjoyed watching teachers’ faces as they read Tadpole’s Promise by Tony Ross and Jeanne Willis. Usually they are shocked as the book lulls us into a false sense of security thinking that there is a happy ending. Even the bubbles on the front cover lead us this way. But in a tragedy, of course, there isn’t a happy ending.
In this story Caterpillar and Tadpole meet and fall in love and promise never to change which of course sets up the whole story as all children know that both will. It is these changes that lead to a tragedy for both but in different ways.
Christopher Booker’s description of tragedy is:
The hero looks for something. He finds it and focuses his energy on it.
He aims for this thing and all seems well.
Things start to go wrong and may begin to behave darkly.
Things start to slip out of control badly.
The hero is destroyed.
One of the discussions the book can lead us to is that there is more than one story in here. There is the story of the caterpillar and of the tadpole. When using the blueprint it is important that you decide who the hero is. This is not hero in the sense of having super powers and saving all – rather the main character that you want to follow.
Having the Literacy Centre situtated in a corner of the School Library Service has definite advantages for us. We are near by when good books are found. Here are two that were recently given to us to look at.
Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett has been out for a few years now but as I looked at it, the word play reminded me of warming up the word activities. The book plays around with the four words orange, pear, apple and bear and uses them in different combinations such as Apple, pear Orange bear. This is exactly what we are doing in usual words in unusual combinations, trying out words in different orders to hear the one that sounds great and makes sense. Older children can study the use of commas in this book and how they help the reader make sense of the combinations.
Toddle Waddle by Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharrat is a wonderful cumulative sound story of a trip to the beach, playing on the beach and going home. I can just see aline of children chanting this as they walk around. It is ideal for developing sound descriptions and as a model for creating your own sound walk. In fact it is a book that works extremely well with Phase 1 of Letters and Sounds. Wonderful!
If you don’t know the trees you may be lost in the forest, but if you don’t know the stories you may be lost in life.
Siberian Elder in StoryWorld by John and Caitlin Matthews
I have been experimenting with inventing sessions for two terms now. Inventing is where children become text-tellers, story tellers and non-fiction tellers and I am always on the lookout for resources to support this work. I recently came across StoryWorld by John and Caitlin Matthews.
This pack contains a set of cards and a book explaining how the cards can be used to create stories. The children that I have used the cards with have enjoyed exploring the pictures and finding the links between the cards but I have enjoyed the back of the cards best.
For instance the Star Blanket card says on the back ‘I am a blanket woven from the starry sky’s protection.’ There are then listed three questions that will help the storyteller get started with some ideas.
The book that comes with the pack has a number of suggestions for the ways in which the cards can be used to create stories. One of the ways in which the cards could be introduced is to think of stories that the card reminds you of. For instance the Star Blanket card reminds me of The Princess’s Blankets by Carol Ann Duffey.
This is a beautiful resource that I will be dipping into again and again. There are several different packs of cards such as Stories of the Sea, a Quest pack, Animal Tales and Faery Magic.
These cards reminded me of the myths and legends cards that were in the Further Literacy Support pack and were therefore in most schools. If you have lost your pack or set of cards you can download them (scroll down the page you have clicked on to see the cards in colour) and print them off in colour. These cards can be used in exactly the same way but don’t have the same supports on the back.
What resources do you use to help children become storytellers?
Everything comes from something else; nothing comes from nothing.
Anthony Browne, Children’s Laureate in Books for Keeps January 2010
Inventing texts is a way of showing children how to bring together everything that they know about writing to create something of their own.
I have been doing a lot of work recently on plastic carrier bags and inventing – they are an easy thing to carry around the county!
So here are my instructions for inventing:
Take one carrier bag and show children a letter written to you from Tesco asking for suggestions to make the bag more suitable as a school bag.
Ask children to ‘see’ what they would put into this carrier bag to take to school. As each item goes in imagine how the bag feels and looks. (Imaging) Quickly write these objects as a list. Share with a partner and make one list of all the items that you intend to take.
In pairs take each object and explore what adaptations you would need to carry that item safely. (Expanding an idea) Sketch each adaptation quickly on a separate piece of paper. (Mapping)
Choose 3 objects that you would like to tell Tesco about and place them into an order that you feel would be best to tell them. (Sequencing map)
Find your formal voice and start to talk your letter to Tesco. It is at this part you will need to support children in suitable language and detail.
Here is the map that I modelled. Idea number one, internal padding to protect my laptop and a lock to keep it safe. Number two wheels as I always seem to carry a lot around and number three longer padded handles.
Whenever I am questioned by children they always ask, ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ I always reply, ‘The same place you get yours – things that have happened to me, particularly when I was a child, stories I’ve read, films I’ve seen, paintings and dreams.’
I have written several times about Found Poetry. It is a talk for writing activity that allows children to magpie words and phrases from great writers and roll the language over their tongues so that its’ patterns become internalised. It also allows children to combine words in different ways. This is a high value activity.
Whilst I often talk about this in relation to fiction, people sometimes find it harder to believe when I tell them that it also works with non-fiction. So here are 3 found poems created by one school’s staff using the wikipedia page about plastic carrier bags.
Mr McBride’s Dixie bag
Mr McBride’s Dixie Bag
Pioneer in plastic processing, patent applications
Consuming oil resources with a blend of plant-derived thermoplastics
A packaging war errupted.
Here’s one being read.
Pioneer in plastic polyethylene processing
His idea produced
Thermoplastic, petrochemical commericalisation,
Composite construction with handles!
Common for carrying as we know it today.
A hazard to animal life
Excess usage, excess usage, excess usage
Bin bags, trash bags, Dixie bags
The skills involved in creating this poetry were numerous: reading and rereading, scanning, identifying words and phrases that you liked the sound of, listening to hear if combinations sound right, applying poetic devices, organising and sequencing, rolling the language over your tongue, collaborating, sharing ideas. The list is long.
I talked to a teacher on Wednesday who had been on Talk for Writing training and had read our thoughts aboutblueprints. She wanted to know how she could start to introduce the idea of blueprints to the whole school and embed Talk for Writing training with only one staff meeting to do so. We came up with lots of ideas that she couldn’t do and eventually hit upon the idea of taking one blueprint and using it across the whole school. So the one staff meeting could focus upon a blueprint and talk for writing ideas for using it in reading and writing.
We agreed that not only would it be one blueprint but the whole school would focus on one main story – Little Red Riding Hood, an overcoming the monster blueprint. There are lots of versions of Little Red Riding Hood and there are lots of innovations on this story – telling it from the wolf’s point of view, adding other characters and adding other subversive elements. It will be interesting to see if any of these books use a different blueprint because of the way they are retold.
So, here is my list of books/films/websites based around Little Red Riding Hood that are suitable for primary age children. I haven ‘t really gone for any of the traditional tales as schools will already have these.
Hoodwinked – the movie with lots of intertextual links and most primary aged children will have already seen it.
Visualising Little Red, a paper by Sarah Bonner about the images used in modern retellings of Little Red Riding hood
Added on the 04/01/10 Little Fred Riding Hood by Michael Cox
Little Red Riding Hood retold by Tony Ross
Beware of Boys by Tony Blundell
Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf by Catherine Storr
Little Red Riding Hood by Anne Walter
Red Riding Hood Rap by Penny Dolan
These books can be used in shared time and a great guided reading session would be for each child to take one of the titles and discuss how the books are the same and different. I look forward to seeing what they do.
If you know of any other stories based around Little Red Riding Hood please leave a comment.