RECAP - As I have previously written, Pie Corbett's system of 'Immerse, Imitate, Innovate' when planning for writing, is one of my favourite approaches. For me as a teacher, it makes complete sense (although not the only approach - one size doesn't fit all, remember!) To present my interpretation of what he means, I am going to explain the unit of work I planned, provide photos to illustrate what the children did, and I'm hoping you'll see the learning journey they went on in the process - each set of photos shows the work of one child, across the entire process, in order.
After the Immersion, I needed my children to Imitate; within safe and specific boundaries, model what it is to be successful in what we are learning. Remember, I was looking for my children to start using expanded noun phrases and commas appropriately.
Equally, when we read another piece (that I had also written) that was extremely repetitive with the sentence openers (and showed even less reason to require a comma, making all the sentences the same length, although used expanded noun phrases) the class had lots of ideas of how to include some variety (and the resulting punctuation requirements).
Essentially, we repeated the same pattern twice in order to imitate success;
- Find and collect examples of what we were looking for.
- Identify examples where 'what we are looking for' doesn't exist.
- Apply what we have learnt and improve the poor example we have found.
The first round was all about the noun phrases, and the second was trying to find ways to include commas (most often by extending the sentence with extra clauses, thus making the writing more engaging for the reader and therefore, more successful).
I put the success of this down to the fact that, on each occasion, the learners only had one thing to think about. Again, I previously wrote about how some classrooms see learners too often trying to create a completed piece of writing with no build up, using (for example) 5 different features, none of which have actually been taught to the children; they're expected to have gained enough knowledge of those 5 different aspects from the 10 minute modelled writing their teacher did, that had no relevance to the writing they worked hard on yesterday or the unrelated writing they will do tomorrow; this odd idea that 'having lots done' is good, with little consideration for how much the children have gained, understood or could use again by themselves; instead, giving them a worrying experience that promotes them to over-rely (polite word for copy) on the teacher's example because they have no knowledge of their own. A signal of faults in the system, not a reflection of the teacher.
Through the method we used here, the children experienced applying 2 different aspects in depth (using everything they had learnt in the days previous), not needing to worry about the other, more secretarial qualities, because they had been taken care of on this occasion. Consequently, they also had 2 pieces of writing to be proud of and even more examples to draw upon when it came to the Innovation stage!
To be continued...