Writing

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The Ancient Mariner’s Diary – two entries by Year 5 pupils

ZR-m, Year 5, January 2017

Entry 1 – After the ice splits and the ship sails to safety on the very day that the albatross is spotted for the first time

Fortunately we were so lucky. An albatross made its way towards us as we sped southwards on this harmful ocean. As it happened, we were being circled by tyrannous icebergs. If the albatross hadn’t come we would have been crushed to bits!   Do you know what? The albatross actually followed us. It ate our food and it played with us every day. It is like our guardian, protecting us from the horrors of the ocean. I wonder where it came from. Maybe God sent it to us. Hopefully it will not leave us until the end of our voyage and we will get to our destination safely.

Entry 2 – On the evening after the mariner has shot the albatross when all the sailors curse him for bringing them bad luck

Would you believe it: I shot the albatross with my crossbow! Unluckily the breeze stopped. All because I had caused so much trouble. I shouldn’t have shot the albatross. I am worried about the other mariners giving me cursing looks.   Hopefully God will forgive me for my outrageous mistake. The truth is that I feel really guilty about the whole situation. By the way, the mariners hung the albatross around my neck to make me feel ashamed.

HC-m, Year 5, January 2017

Entry 3 – When all the other sailors have died and he is alone on the ship, desperately lonely and experiencing life-in-death.

Friday 17th July 1781

Oh my God, they are all dead! First we were in the doldrums, then we had our drought, and now all one hundred and ninety-nine of the other mariners . . . dead! Each and every man who has such potential within them dropped down dead, staring at me! The Lord has taken those beautiful men. The slimy creatures of the world live on and I am one of them. I do not deserve to live. This is like a living death though. I am alone.

Entry 4 – The night of the day he met the wedding guest and got him to listen to his harrowing tale.

Wednesday 1st August 1781

My ghostly voyage is told. My burning heart is extinguished. My guilty burden is passed on. It was harrowing . . . now I am free.   I have, at last, told my tale to the wedding guest. I have been honest, free with my tongue. I have bared my soul, opened my heart.   And whilst he listened thou did not judge me. Thou art a true Christian who forgives the bad in others. It hath helped being in the kirk with the wedding guest and good people. The feeling of relief at telling my tale to him was overwhelming. The unburdening of my web of lies and guilt, unravelling as I spoke each word, was a blessed gift.   I can now sleep in peace. I pray to God to forgive me. I am free.

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They’ve Got Talent – independent writing, 20 minutes (Year 6, May 2014)

The act I shall review is quite an interesting one – a magician (dressed as a kangaroo) conjuring up objects before turning them to stone!  Strangely, one of the objects that appeared out of thin air was a spaniel.  Once it appeared, it barked twice – to the amusement of the audience – before instantly being frozen in rock; the judges were horrified.  They looked as if they had seen a ghost.

Ignoring the uproar of approval from the audience, the judges stopped the act; they did not want to see any more.  This was followed by a hail of questions.  Is the spaniel safe?  How would you improve the act?  But most importantly, why are you dressed as a kangaroo?  The audience shouted their disapproval of the judge’s criticism.  However, they decided unanimously that the act would not continue to the next round.  The following incident involved a can of drink, a member of the audience and several security officers.  The outcome was a slight bruise to one of the judge’s heads.

Subsequently, the magician left the stage.  Instantly, all the objects turned back into their original form.  It was pandemonium!  Evidently, spaniels, china plates and cats do not mix!  So, in the end, the judges let the magician through to the next round.  Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the act – and the incidents that occurred.

 

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Barnes Primary School became a ‘knowledge centre for the teaching of writing’  in September 2009. The school received £25,000 additional funding, with the expectation that this money would be used to work in partnership with other schools to develop high quality practice in the teaching of writing. The award was made to the school in recognition of the outstanding outcomes pupils at Barnes achieve by the time they leave the school and transfer to the secondary sector. During the 2009-10 academic year the school established partnerships with eight different schools. Over seventy practitioners attended a training course at our school and observed a writing lesson. The school retained its ‘knowledge centre’ status in 2010-11, receiveing £20,000, despite financial austerity within the public sector.  The Headteacher is regularly asked to lead professional development sessions at other schools on the teaching of writing and does so because he wants all schools to enable all pupils to become skilled writers and also to raise additional funds for the school. During the 2016-17 academic year our school is working closely with colleagues from Nelson Primary School in Whitton.

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So what do we do? What is our formula? We use a model that offers a high level of scaffolding of the writing experience. The complimentary processes of imitation and deconstruction are used. An overview of our approach is available on the link below:

Imitation and deconstruction

As part of our approach we provide children with words to use in their writing. We refer to these sheets of words to use as word mats, and children have these available at the point of composition. Giving pupils words or phrases to start sentences with really helps them to get started. Different sentence starters are provided according to the style of writing that is being taught.

Most common words in English – word mat

Sentence starters for Key Stage 1

Sentence starters for Key Stage 2

The writing tasks set relate to the texts that pupils study. Units of learning, with defined written outcomes, are created around high quality texts that are read and analysed in class. Most units last for two to three weeks and children engage in a range of preparatory activities based upon the book they are studying. We also ensure that pupils have frequent opportunities to write more independently, with limited support.

Handwriting  – We feel it is important to support children to develop neat, attractive and consistent handwriting. The development of an efficient, legible style assists pupils in all forms of written recording. We want to help children with layout, presentation and the way they organise themselves on paper. If success is achieved here they have pride in their written work, tend to be better at spelling and are more motivated to write. Getting the right habits established early on is key to future success. We appreciate that some children find this more difficult than others and will offer additional support or alternative ways of recording when necessary. 

Standards in handwriting are very high at our school. We use the Nelson handwriting scheme. Handwriting books are available for parents to order  from the school office.  As soon as pupils are able to orientate their letters correctly, they are taught how to join their letters. Short, focused handwriting sessions are taught on a regular basis. Handwriting has a high focus and a high status at our school. Early in the school year a house handwriting competition is held. Examples of exceptional written content, presented to a very high standard are abundant in framed work that is installed on both school sites. These raise the expectation for what is possible.

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Handwriting policy 

 Spelling

Standards of spelling have really improved at our school over the past few years. Pupils in Key Stage 1 and KeyStage 2 are given spellings to learn at home each week. They are also shown exactly how to learn them. Guidance about how to support your child with spelling, including some of the most common spelling patterns and the words that are most frequently spelt incorrectly (good ones to learn, as many are common words) is available by clicking the link below. Ideas for supporting children with spelling at home (the download takes a moment). The spelling programme for children:

Year 1

Year 2

Years 3 and 4

Years 5 and 6