Yr6 Grammar Test

Whilst I couldn’t agree more with Pie Corbett’s response to the new curriculum and Alan Peat’s letter about the new grammar, punctuation and spelling test, I am a pragmatist and  have to deal with the fact that we have the test.

We have been running briefings for schools about the test and as a result of them have devised a few more resources.  The first one is an overview of the grammar terminology and when children should be familiar with it.  It obviously can not be down to Yr6 to learn and use it all – we need to share that responsibility out across the school. So we have drawn up a chart which details the vocabulary that we think children should be familiar with and able to use in each year group.  We do  want to make it clear that this is not the first time the children will have come across the term or played around with the idea.  For instance children in Yr2 start to play around with complex sentences but they do not need to be able to use that terminology until Yr5.  To see the overview click here.  There is a downloadable version below the chart.

Linked to each year group are videos that explore the subject knowledge that teachers need to teach each aspect of grammar.  These take the form of videos, links to Think Writing and examples of texts  which  offer the opportunity to teach that aspect of grammar.

Finally we asked Yr6 teachers to go through the test and draw up a list of challenges that children might face.  Having done this we then asked them to come up with some strategies that they could use with children to help ensure that they do the best that they can when they sit down to take the test.  These ideas are linked in the Yr6 column.

If you have any comments about our grammar pages, please do complete our very short survey (about 3 questions) and enter into the draw to receive a copy of our publications Think Reading and Think Writing.


Flat Life

I have never really been sure about how to use the animation  Flat Life, first seen on the BFI Story Shorts 2 dvd.  However, today I think I might have found an outcome for the film.

Through the post I received my own copy of Building Stories by Chris Ware – a book that is definitely not for children – and fell in love with it.  It has a lot of things that I like; beautiful visuals, tactile appeal, an unusual structure, a very appealing front cover/box and a range of text types but all in graphics.  Many thanks @literacyadviser for the tweet about this book.

The ‘book’ comes in a beautiful cardboard box and consists of 14 different types of book/booklet/poster/newspaper and so on. I think it is like Black and White by David Macaulay on steroids.





 I haven’t started to read them in detail yet.  I am just scanning my way through everything to  sort out how it works and what order I should read them in.  I understand from the reviews that it is probably best to read them in order.  What I do know is that the book tells the story of inhabitants of a block of flats and it is this that reminded me of Flat Life.  It seems to me that the children could create booklets about the characters in Flat Life, using the animation as a starting point and through a series of drama/role play activities, develop the characters and their lives further.  They could then tell these in graphic form either by drawing or by using some form of comic creater – Comic Life springs to mind.

It also reminds me of the book 99 Ways to Tell a Story by Matt Madden.  99 different styles of comic telling the same story.

What have you seen this half-term that has caused you to make new links?

Author Study – Animator Study

lotte 1I have written before about the the authors that would be great to study in the authors and texts block that Yr6 have. Now I want to increase the variety or range of  suitable authors by adding an animator to the list of suitable authors – Lotte Reiniger.

Lotte Reiniger lived from 1899 – 1981 and in that time produced a great body of work in silhouette animation, something that is very accessible to children.  She also concentrated on traditional stories such as Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk.  I particularly like the animations that she created for the Post Office.

One of the best videos is The Art of Lotte Reiniger because it shows so clearly the process she goes through to animate which would be great to share with children.  There may be a use for those obsolete OHPs in this type of animation as well!

The characters are rounded and archetypal and and the sound tracks generally consist of music and voice over, again something that it is possible for children to emulate.

There are several books that are illustrated through silhouette illustrations, lottedvdmost notably Jan Pienkowski.  I think his fairy tales book would be a fantastic to include in this unit because fairy tales were such a huge part of Lotte Reiniger’s work.

Lotte Reiniger’s work can be seen on our YouTube channel, on Daily  Motion and can be purchased on DVD from the BF!.

I am in the process of writing a teaching sequence based on this unit of work and Lotte Reiniger and will share it when it is ready.