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February is here!

Hi, well now February has arrived, and is it me, or does it seem decidedly colder? I’ll be wrapping up this week and hoping to avoid frosty mornings.

I have had a really busy week and been teaching Key Stage 1 pupils in one school and Year 3 and upper Key Stage 2 pupils in a completely different one. This is always great, as it means that I can try different things out and see if they really work. For example, I am continuing to work up in Nelson at Whitefield Infant School with my lovely Year 2 pupils and then I was able to use what I had worked with them on to inspire Year 3 pupils in Broadoak Primary School in Salford. I am then going to use the Year 3 pupil’s writing this week to show the younger pupils how to improve their own work.   You may remember that we have been focusing on a space topic and I have been using Simon Bartram’s text ‘The Man on the Moon‘. This week I wanted them to produce a more factual piece, so I used the next book in the series,The book

We read about how lonely the poor space explorer, Bob, would be on the Moon:

A page from the text

I asked the pupils to create the perfect pet for him after looking at the pet shop he visited in the book:

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We collected ideas about the strangest, sweetest, most wonderful pets they could think of (using superlatives) and then I asked them to help me think of why their attributes would be so perfect for Bob. We added our ideas to a very dodgy drawing that I had produced and I asked them how my information page could be improved. We chatted about the layout and the language:

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The Year 2 pupils then worked on their own pages with an emphasis on extending their descriptions using connectives and specific language:

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It was really interesting to see how the pupils thought about the creature’s attributes to write an appropriate description. This is their first draft and it is lovely to see them really using language to explain exactly what they mean:

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On Thursday, I showed the Year 3 pupils some of this work and explained what I had done with the Year 2 pupils and asked them to help me by creating really good models that I could use the following week. They loved the challenge!

First, I gave them gomitis to look at and to help generate as many ideas as possible:

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Following a similar structure to the Year 2 lesson, pupils then worked independently to produce their own page of information about a perfect pet:

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I encouraged the pupils to think about how to structure their ideas on the page, as this was something we agreed that the Year 2 pupils needed some help in:

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I also used a picture book with the Year 6 pupils I worked with on Friday morning, but this time it was the graphic novel version of ‘Coraline’ by Neil Gaiman:

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I began the lesson by exploring synonyms for look, as I needed them to have a bank of language to draw on when they were writing the narrative for the page of the book we were going to explore:

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We played games, such as if they were a detective which 5 verbs would they use. We acted out some of these words – PEEK!

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I then asked them if they knew the text ‘Coraline‘ and to discuss what they knew before we watched the trailer  (http://youtu.be/LO3n67BQvh0). I then showed them the page from the text where Coraline Jones has to make a decision about joining the new world – all she has to do is to sew the buttons on her eyes:

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I have used this text with able Year 5 and Year 6, but am very careful about the types of children I use it with. I have worked with this class regularly over the last year and we have been focusing on building tension and writing emotively to really challenge them. They worked in individually and in pairs to bring the scene to life, after discussing the power of using different types of sentences. Some practised on whiteboards, whilst others went straight to a written first draft:

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It was a very lively session, with lots of discussion about how to improve their writing to create a slow burn:

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There is an extension activity that I sometimes use, when I ask the pupils to think about the perfect buttons for them:

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I loved working with all the pupils this week and felt that warm glow when you work with children who just want to know how to improve their writing. MAGICAL!!

I hope you have a great week. Onwards and upwards.

Dawn

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