In this article, I consider how to provide evidence for the grammatical requirements of the national curriculum whilst offering children authentic purposes for their writing. Read ahead for ideas and a link to my new FREE resource Embedding Grammar by Writing for Different Purposes and Audiences.
Not so long ago I worked with some experienced and skilled Y6 teachers. They were the kind of teachers who get great results and ensure that their pupils have great learning experiences on the way but they were having a few problems. They needed to find evidence of key grammatical objectives for the ITAF (Interim Assessment Framework) but they were struggling to find it within the written tasks they had given their pupils.
Quite unsurprisingly, one of the objectives they were challenged by was ‘using passive and modal verbs mostly appropriately’ (KS2 ITAF p.4)/‘Use of the passive to affect the presentation of information in a sentence’ (NC Appendix 2 p.68). Experienced teachers know teaching the passive voice for the Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation test is fairly straightforward. Knowing when and where pupils will use it purposefully and for the appropriate audience is quite another thing and this was the problem for the Y6 teachers I was working with. They were providing children with sets of Success Criteria which included the passive voice and then looking for them to include it in their work. Cue problem one: the success criteria were so prescriptive that they were influencing the independence of the work (I’ll leave that problem there). Problem two: the children were squeezing the passive voice into texts where it just didn’t fit, such as stories with awkward passive structures. Problem three: the teachers were creating ever more writing opportunities, which created more work and stress for them and the children.