Using Writing Prompts
Hi all, this post is mainly about keeping myself accountable to my students and my staff. I have been on the Literacy bandwagon for quite a while now, and at the end of last term I had a look through one of my student’s books and it hit me—you are not practising what you preach!!!!
It was a blow to my teaching ego, but one that I needed to take. For many years now I have used the Super Six in my teaching, and when I changed schools two years ago, I continued to use it, but less and less. It became harder to get my students to do what I wanted them to, the behaviour of my students is often less than desirable, and I often find myself in the trap of doing what is essential and easy to get through a lesson. BUT this is not helping anyone, especially my students.
The school I currently work at, does not have a good record with Naplan (National Assessment Plan for Literacy and Numeracy) results, in fact the trend over the last few years is that from Year 7 to 9, the Literacy results have gone backwards, especially in writing. This really concerns me. At the beginning of this year I set about leading my staff through an analysis of our Naplan data, and we had all decided that a focus on writing was going to be our goal. But, as the year has worn on, and other things have cropped up, we have lost our focus, and even though we had agreed to do certain things, it had just not happened.
So back to the drawing board I went. I went through the research, found some interesting articles and shared them with my staff. These two by John Hattie are very interesting, discussing the ideas that Education can not just be about what looks pretty, but needs to get to the heart of what really matters for our students – Literacy.
I bought a whole heap of books, read them, marked pages, jotted down notes, and then came up with a way to start the process. Then I took the books into school and have made them available for my staff to read themselves.
So after all the research, and discussion with my staff, this little writing project was born. We decided, that because the school already had a policy where every student reads a book of their choosing for 10 minutes of the beginning of every lesson, everyday, that we would capitalise on this. So once a week, instead of reading, our students will write for 10 minutes. I know this sounds like a very small amount of time, but for my students, 10 minutes of writing is an eternity! (Which I found out the first couple of times I did this!) I should note, that I have been very deliberate about the time and what happens during the writing time. I have edited music in the following way—1 minute of African drums, 8 minutes of Instrumental Music, 1 minute of African drums. During this music the students are instructed to select and plan their writing while the drums are playing, they are to write for 8 minutes while the music is playing, then when they hear the drums again that is a signal to finish their sentence and pack up, ready for the rest of our normal lesson. To my surprise, this is working!!!! I have had very little resistance from the students, 95% are doing what is asked, the other 5% are struggling, but with help and persistence we will get there—they just need some more support.
The resources I am using for this writing program are below, click on the links to download for FREE!
I will check back with you with the results and progress of the students in about a month’s time.
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On Facebook there is a Video explaining how I have set up this little program with my Year 7 classes – pop on over and have a watch!
Julia from Jooya