Picture this: you have led a Year 3 class on a unit of learning around myths and legends. At this stage they have not yet had the learning experience of changing a section of a story and so, as they have really engaged with this story you’ve scaffolded their knowledge on and they have understood, you figure now is as good a time as any to provide the opportunity to rewrite their own short ending.
Examples are modelled, story structure is highlighted and, as a class, you have identified the section of the story they will change. As all the children have shown they have a good understanding of the story, you decide to give all the children a chance to write their own, individual ending, providing TA support to those who need it.
In this class, there is a boy who, whilst they are quiet, they show great ability in Literacy. Their reading and composition of writing is excellent from previous assessments.
During the planning stage of the children’s endings, all the class are excitedly plotting how their characters are going to be at the end of the story. They have all planned or have almost planned the end. You circulate the room, whilst trying to teach and check all children are progressing, to find this quiet boy who had only done a small amount of their plan. You are surprised to find this and so your mind reaches the only obvious explanation – they’ve been doing something else. You ask them for a good explanation as to why they are much further behind than the rest of the class. This child looks back at you and sincerely states ‘I was just trying to think of my best ideas.’
What a response! What do you say to that? I’m sure many of you have come across this phenomenon before; a child who is trying to think for themselves in order to create their best piece if work.
Now, what’s interesting to consider here is this question – would you have accepted this response if a child who is known more for disrupting their fellow peers gave it to you? Maybe, maybe not.
As a trainee teacher, I couldn’t help but feel aware that I needed to show progression from the lesson. Was it a good thing that the child wanted to think of his best ideas? Surely! But could those good ideas be assessed if not recorded in some way?
In future it’ll be important to consider other ways the children’s progress can be assessed other than by means of a written format. I was told in this same placement that I was required to have evidence of every lesson I taught in the children’s books. In some ways I felt this was limiting in my practice as I would always need to set time aside for a statement to be written in their books or some sort of small activity that might not flow as well in the lesson. In my own practice I will need to consider how I will ensure progression will be achieved, evidenced in an effective way.
Easier said than done I’m sure, but it will be an ongoing journey.