(Ironically it’s taken me a few days to actually sit down and write this post)!
One of the best things I’m finding about being on supply, particularly this two week stint I was requested personally for in one class, is that, given the school have confidence in me and I’m not expected to do all the workload of the regular class teacher, this has given me a great opportunity to try a few things out. It is also the first time I don’t have a mentor around which also feels a little liberating!
One approach I’ve had the opportunity to test drive is ‘Slow Writing‘. For those who aren’t aware, this is a website which randomly generates a certain condition for every sentence the children write. An example would be ‘Sentence Two must contain a simile’ or ‘Sentence Five must have some alliteration’ etc. The content was provided by David Didau and the resource was designed by David Riley.
Up to the point I decided to introduce this method of writing, the Year 3 class I’d been working with had studied a text, created freeze frames of the story, discussed different endings of narratives and designed their own ending to the story. My plan was for them to them write their ending. I felt this would be the perfect opportunity to try this out!
At first, as you might expect for their age and previous experiences of writing, there was a little confusion as this had not been witnessed before. However, very quickly, the entire class got the idea. They were to write their own ending but really think about the content of their writing. Each sentence had thought put into it as well as a good writing technique.
Points to consider
Downsides? I would pick out one. However, this downside will have emerged from my implementation of the approach and resource rather than a fault with the approach itself. So rather than a downside it’s a point to consider, and one I did anticipate and try to support. As I looked through the pieces of writing I found that some children, mainly those who struggled in writing, ended up writing an ending that did not make much sense. To counter this potential issue, I had asked the teaching assistant to support their writing process on their table. However, as is the case on most primary schools, something came up which meant she could not help. The children’s annual reports needed a comment from each child, which had not been done as the class teacher had been away for several weeks. So in this post I am unable to say whether this would have helped or not. Despite this, the children’s writing was probably still of a higher quality in terms of content, rather than cohesion.
Yet to be convinced? Let’s hear from the experts; the children themselves:
“It helped me have something good in every sentence.” – Year 3 child.
“Instead of zooming through, it gave me the time to think.” – Year 3 child.
“It was easy because it gave me ideas for good writing.” – Year 3 child. I was particularly pleased with the latter quote because it came from a child who is usually a struggle to get a writing activity from – they composed a great ending to the story we studied.
I think that Slow Writing is definitely an approach I will be looking to take into my own classroom. It will be necessary to provide learning experience around creating coherent, flowing writing first I think so that the criteria of the resource does not confuse some of the struggling writers – however it is important to note that it got them all willing and motivated to write in the first place!
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