I began writing this on a facebook thread and then decided to devote a blog post to it.
If you’re anything like me you get to this time of year and begin to panic about your children entering year one and whether they’ll be academically ready for the jump. I see lots of writing being posted around various facebook sites, and think crikey I’m not sure my children would write at that standard consistently without Suppprt. Of course I have a handful of children who are exceeding, I also have a little sprinkling of children who are emerging. Of course I have because children come to me at very different starting points both physically and academically.
What we do instill in our children is a love and a real WANT to write! This hasn’t happened over night, it has taken hard slog, persistence and a few tears (Yep that’s just from me!!)
We have massively raised the profile of writing… So how have we done it?
First of all we got rid of the writing table? WHAT? I hear you shout!
I observed who was going into the area, and what they were doing. It tended to be a small group of girls, who write and colour the same things each day. I knew as long as I provided them with the resources they needed they would write anywhere. It was my lower ability boys and middle ability girls that weren’t choosing to write. We did lots of chatting both as adults and talked to the children and came up with lots of ideas to help raise the profile. Here are the things we’ve trialed (some were more successful than others!)
We filled copious amounts of Pringles tubes with lots of lovely mark making tools
We left out lining paper in each area
Mark making tools very easily accessible
Each child has a balloon with their name on it hanging on a washing line, every time they do a piece of writing (however long or short) they add a paper chain piece to their balloon. This is a fab way for adults in the setting to see which children are writing/mark making independently and those who need a little more support.
We also make a BIG deal about celebrating our writing. If children would like to share their work they pop it on my chair and at the end of each session we play “Celebrate” https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3GwjfUFyY6M (but have changed the lyrics to “Celebrate good writing today!”) my colleagues who walk past think we’re barking but the kids love it, and that’s the main thing!
If you were to ask any of my children where they could write they’d tell you “ANYWHERE!”
During our focus writing time the children are grouped weekly by ability. The groups are very fluid and children are placed according to their next steps in writing. The group decide together WHAT they want to write, WHO they want to write for WHAT they want to write with (crayons, chalk, felt tips, pens, water and paint brush, wands, kungfu sticks!) WHAT they want to write on (plain paper, coloured, template, paper cut into a shape, lining paper, A3, Tarmac etc etc)
(We use this sheet to evidence what children have written so we can keep a record of genre. I have taken children’s names out for obvious reasons) The notes section is great when it comes to report writing.
I create an ethos within my classroom where EVERY MARK MATTERS! I want my children to have a love of writing that comes from within, I want them to WANT to write because they love it, not just because a grown up has told them! So far so good! I feel a tingly warm fuzzy feeling when I see my gorgeous gaggle led on their tummies writing on clip boards! Please don’t think I am some miracle worker, believe me it has been work in progress but I am delighted in saying that all of the things we’ve tweaked have had a huge impact on giving out children a love of writing x