May 6, 2013
What a treat on a friday that leads into a bank holiday weekend! David Mitchell, he of the fantastic results in writing through blogging, spent the day with us down here in Devon sharing the ways in which he used blogging to transform writing in his school.
The bank holiday weekend has given me plenty of time to reflect upon the day, whilst pulling bindweed out of my garden, and to make links with what I know about learning in literacy.
What became really clear to me was how David inspired the children to write. Blogging was the tool that allowed the children to write at home and at school but it was the audience for the writing that really got the children going. David reported that some of his children had written 100,000 words on their blogs and this is not just at school but at home as well – in fact for some children mostly at home! For me this linked with one of my project schools who have been focusing on increasing the amount that children read. The outcome of this is increased levels in reading attainment, improved perceptions of themselves as learners and readers and an improvement in writing. If just reading more can do this, then writing more must have a similar impact. Practise makes perfect!
David showed us what it was to listen to children and to be driven by their needs. This was a theme which flowed throughout the day and shows us that insisting on a specfic way of using the blogs is counterproductive. Each class must find their own way with the blog but audience is critical. An interested audience on twitter can really help here. Who knows where your connections might take you.
I loved the use of QR codes in literacy books to take you to the blog post that the writing had set up and the responses from around the world.
At half past three were all still working on our tools for the blog that we had set up , no one was clock watching adn we had new people on twitter and 40 classrooms with blogs ready for children to use. I look forward to reading posts from children in these classes.
Thank you David. It was fantastic!
November 26, 2012
We are all teaching quite a lot of phonics with our projects at the moment and I had a thought about linking advent calendars with phonics. However, I soon let go of the link as I looked around at calendars that could be made in the classroom. Here are my favourites that I think would be suitable for children to have a go at.
I think this is possibly my favourite just because it is so easy to make. Inside the envelopes I was thinking of a little message giving the class a different task to undertake each day – or you could put chocolate! If it was a phonics calendar, you could put the sound/phoneme or high frequency word of the day!
Boxes of all sort feature heavily in handmade advent calendars. I like the arrangement of these boxes.
November 20, 2012
I have written before about my collection of christmas books by Carol Ann Duffy. This year’s addition to the collection is Wenceslas with illustrations by Stuart Kolakovic.
The book tells the story of the Christmas Pie for Wenceslas; of the swan stuffed with heron, stuffed with a crane, stuffed with a goose all the way down to a lark with an olive in its beak. If you know the carol you will know the story that involves a poor man gathering winter fuel or as we would sing it fuuuuuuueeeel.
The language is rich – I love the variety of verbs to describe the placing of one bird inside the other. I used stuffed but Duffy uses harboured and jammed and describes it as winter hand wear
a partridge, purse to a Plover,
a Plover, glove to a Quail;
and caught in the mitt of the Quail,
What is your favourite christmas book this year?
October 7, 2012
This book by Fiona Macdonald and David Antram is a wonderful model for children’s writing. It starts with an overview of myths and mythical creatures, moves onto where in the world and then begins the countdown of mythical creatures.
Each creature has a double page spread that starts off with a brief introduction to the animal and some vital statistics. The second page has the sub-title Be prepared! Always expect the very worst and goes on to detail the worst aspects of the creature.
This is a wonderful book that children in Yrs 2 – 4 would really enjoy.
There are lots of websites that have details about mythical creatures. so here are some of my favourites:
This book is just one in a whole series of Top 10 books that cover just about every area primary children study. Definitely a series for our non-fiction texts that teach.
May 20, 2012
It is a very long time since I last posted on this blog. So much has happened since then. We have now become Babcock LDP as opposed to Devon LDP but our work goes on.
One of the things that I have been working on is trying to capture some teaching of reading both in guided reading and reciprocal reading. We have been working with some wonderful teachers on phonics and for some of us that has lead to guided reading. These videos exemplify the early model of guided reading, the model used up to about a 2c/b ish. Both videos can be seen on our site here.
Important elements to note are the thorough book introduction. Research suggests that children who are still focusing on decoding use the book introduction to tune into what the words might be. If chidren are ensconsed in the decoding, they will need the big picture of the book to support them.
The next element that always has someone commenting is the fact that the children are all reading at the same time, at their own pace out aloud. I have done this with a lot of guided reading groups and the children really do NOT mind. Once they get going, the pressure is taken off them and they have to problem solve EVERY word. The more you read, the better you become as a reader. This only works if you have the book at ‘instructional’ level. Generally about 1 in 10 words ( no more) to problem solve. Get going with your running records to find the right level. This independent reading develops children’s stamina/perseverance and gives a great feeling of success.
How is your guided reading going and what have you been up to?
March 8, 2012
I love infographics so many thanks to @literacyadviser (Bill Boyd) for sharing this one with everyone via twitter. It is American but still interesting to see what the favourite books are at the moment. I wonder what a UK version would look like? Probably pretty similar thinking about Harry Potter, but I think that Dr Seuss would be replaced by The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. What do you reckon?
I have often thought about presenting Devon’s data using infographics (every year when we get our new data in fact) but have never managed to get round to it. Perhaps that should be a challenge for me! If you want to make your own, try visual.ly I’m off to play with the site.
Via MAT@USC: Become a Teacher
March 4, 2012
Dear Educational Publishers,
Just recently you have really improved your provision of phonically decodable texts. It is not easy to write a book that contains only the sounds /s/ /a/ /p/ /t/ /i/ /n/ but you have done a stirling job. This one can be used after week 5 of phase 2 of Letters and Sounds. The quality of the resources is so much better. The illustrations are rich and compliment the text well one example of this being the Traditional Tales from Oxford Owl.
I do however have one suggestion that would make all of our lives so much easier. Please don’t put Book Band colours on your phonically decodable books. They do not relate to each other. If you can read words using sounds in phase 2 of Letters and Sounds, you can not read pink Book Band books. You can learn the pattern of the book and use the images but you can’t use phonic strategies to read (decode) the words. I am not arguing that we need only phonically decodable texts. We don’t but Book Bands and phonic levels do not go hand in hand. In fact they do not correlate at all!
This false use of Book Band colours on phonically decodable texts is confusing for all. As professionals we need to decide which type of text to use to teach children the next step in reading, phonically decodable texts or patterned texts (book banded books). Sometimes it looks like children are going backwards when we move between the two types of text and this can be distressing for parents and for those children who have realised what the colours stand for. In future please keep the two types of book separate with book bands used for patterned texts and phases only for phonically decodable texts. It would make our job so much easier.
December 23, 2011
We quite often visit Lyme Regis for a walk and a meander through the town stopping of course for a cup of tea and usually a cake. The landscaped gardens above the beach are one of my favourite places. This part of the coastline is fossil heaven and so there are lots of places to see fossils that have been discovered in the area. There are several children’s books based on Mary Anning and fossil hunting, my favourite being Stone Girl Bone Girl by Laurence Anholt.
But Lyme Regis is also one of those rare places nowadays that has an independent book shop and you know what that means! Today’s visit was no exception. I bought a wonderful little fold-up book of the skyline of London illustrated by Sarah McMenemy produced by Walker Books.
The book folds out to show the outline of the London skyline with text for each building that stretches into the sky. And because you never stop being a teacher, I thought that this would make a wonderful model for children to create their own version about the local environment or any environment that children are looking at. Anyone familiar with Paul Johnson’s work will be familiar with making folded paper books like this. I am very taken with the boat in the last picture on his site.
It would also be a great way to present the outcome of an author study by producing a book of the characters in the author’s book or settings or anything else that is a theme in the writing. The book has two different types of pop-up so it wouldn’t be too difficult to show children how to make them. You can also make the little box that the book fits in.
It is a long time since I last made a folded paper book so I am off to have a go. Here’s hoping that you are inspired to try something new/old/different this holiday. Happy Christmas everyone. See you in the New Year.
October 26, 2011
We are always on the lookout for new texts to include on our guided reading list. Just recently a new title from Jan Oke, one of the authors of the wonderful Naughty Bus, has recently published Major Glad, Major Dizzy.
The book is a visual treat with wonderful photography from Ian Nolan, and word play with fonts in the text.
The book tells the story of two wooden soldiers who slipped between the floorboards and there they stayed through war, nibbling mice and fire. Eventually they were discovered by a family, Jan Oke’s children in fact, and brought out into the light again to be played with. The naughty bus even makes a guest appearance towards the end of the book.
This book lends itself to the likes, dislikes, patterns and puzzles with plenty to talk about.
In fact, these toys were discovered when builder’s worked on Jan’s house. Census returns tell of two children, William and Amelia who lived in the house at the beginning of the 1870s. What a wonderful inspiration for a story.
I love the ending when Milly ‘posts’ the toys somewhere and one imagines to be found many years later again.