Note: As you will see by the dates in the photos, this entry has been a long time in the making. It is written out of overwhelming pride in my learners; I am so pleased with what they achieved in such a short space of time and I have been really looking forward to sharing it with you.
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, throughout the whole process, in order.
So, the children had read countless versions that I had written, experienced applying their learning surrounding expanded noun phrases and the uses of commas (required through varying our openers), and we were nearing the end of term. Needless to say, I was nervous about what this last stage would produce; had I wasted the last 2 weeks of learning time?
S T R E T C H I N G I T O U T
I explained to the children that our lives are fast paced; we are constantly on the move. When we give our own anecdotes, we only ever give the actions, the movements. And, unfortunately, their writing is often the same. However, the most popular books are the ones that transport the reader somewhere. If the author only relies on actions, everything will be happening in a blank space by a stick person with a name; the reader's imagination would have very little to use. The most successful authors make use of the expanded noun phrases and the senses to bring the world on the page alive. They can even control your breathing with their punctuation. Like this. See?
The final stage is fairly obvious. I gave the children a blank plan and an entire lesson.
They were well rehearsed in articulating what was expected of them; the qualities that would make their writing more engaging, with a real focus on the effect on the reader.
In conclusion, I was so pleased with what my learners had achieved in just a couple of weeks. From the first piece of writing, to the last attempt at their chapter, I saw a real improvement in both content and stamina. For my class, this approach really helped; it was sensible, engaging and step-wise, leading from an enjoyable text involving lots of discussion and opportunity to imagine.
The children were given time to think and space to share as they came up with their ideas and I tried hard to help them achieve. While these objectives will need constant revision (especially as they are designed to be mastered across 2 years) I really feel like they have made strong gains against their starting points so far! Next time we tackle narrative, I imagine expanded noun phrases will need a refresher, but my big focus will be dialogue. I am aiming to continue to drip-feed existing and new punctuation through my next non-fiction, always adding transferrable tools for them to choose from.
Without question, the best bit is their own realisation at how much better their writing became. Doing the writing at the start, and a piece with the same brief at the end, was the perfect way for the children to see improvement.
A great confidence builder and positive promotion of writing!