Planning a learning journey

Planning for learning – a road well travelled

Most schools have a long term plan of how the national curriculum will be delivered for each subject and in each year group. This could be cross-curricular topics, discrete subject teaching, specific teaching of specialised objectives in grammar and phonics or any combination of the above. When it comes to the unit of work, or weekly lesson planning stage, there is often less strategic direction; and with a new curriculum teachers can find themselves wondering how best to meet the needs of the children in their class.

 

When planning units of work for children it’s all too easy to lose focus on the purpose of the learning and slip into a planning frenzy led by fabulous activities and inspirational resources that you’ve found in a book/online/had in your cupboards for years. We’ve all done it, but does it really work? Grabbing the children’s attention is important, but when time is scarce and pressure is on us to reach attainment and progress targets we need to think carefully about the purposefulness of what we plan.  This is where planning through the metaphor of a journey can help focus our minds on the learning taking place and how each lesson works as a tiny step towards a final destination.Planning a learning journey

 

Map it out

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Modelled Writing

 

After questioning, modelling is one of the most useful pedagogical tools available to teachers. In this post we delve into our satchels and explore ways we can improve the modelling of writing; so that it is both fun and effective.

Playing silly teacher

Children love it when grown-ups get things wrong. This technique requires a little bit of amateur dramatics, in that you’ll need to over play your mistakes but it is worth the performance – if only to see the pride of the children in ‘catching you out’. Delight your Y1 class by forgetting full-stops, capital letters and finger-spaces; start all of your sentences in the same way in Y2; try joining all clauses with ‘and’ in Y3… The feedback you get from the class will give you a brilliant idea about their current levels of understanding.

Next steps

Use your assessment knowledge to help you target your modelled writing at the specific needs of your class. There’s no point modelling fronted adverbials when they’re still struggling to join clauses with a subordinating connective. It’s all about keeping it really simple and making sure that you model what you want to see in their next piece of independent work; and that what you’re doing will move them on as a writer.

Balancing the scales

Create a balance between creativity and secretarial skills. Children need to know about grammar and punctuation, without either their writing makes little sense. But modelled writing needs to be more than an explanation of technicalities. It also needs to explore creative language and literary techniques.

Words and Pictures

Most literacy units of work are inspired by texts. Rightly so. Good quality texts provide children with a model of ‘What A Good One Looks Like’ (WAGOLL) which can be used to compose their own texts. Pictures though, can also stimulate writing opportunities. We have lots here. Vary the types of pictures that you use so that sometimes you’re capturing a conversation, sometimes describing a scene and sometimes creating a character.

Finding the wood for the trees

Model what you want them to do. Being distracted by connectives, punctuation, vocabulary, openers, handwriting, powerful verbs, interesting adjectives and so on can confuse the purpose of your writing session. Focus your modelling on one objective. Make sure this is vocalised to the children, ensure it is part of their success criteria and try to park all those other on-going aspects of writing.

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Video from Primary English

Clips from two guided reading sessions in John Shelton Primary School in Coventry. Rachel is using two of the titles from The Mini Tales Pack with a year 5 and year 6 group of children whilst addressing some key reading objectives.

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