Sky and WWF have launched an exciting rainforest themed competition to find budding ‘young reporters’ as part of an initiative called I Love Amazon Week. Pupils are being asked to write or produce a short video news report on why they think the Amazon is amazing.
The Young Reporters Competition, which is being supported by Sky News presenter Charlotte Hawkins, is part of Sky Rainforest Rescue - a partnership between Sky and WWF which aims to help save one billion trees in the Amazon rainforest.
Budding young writers get their pens at the ready as this year’s National Young Writers’ Awards has launched. The competition, organised by Explore Learning is now in its fifth year and will be judged by best-selling author, Cressida Cowell, writer of the world famous How To Train Your Dragon series, which inspired the hugely successful DreamWorks movie.
Children aged 5 to 14 from all over the country will be invited to write a 500 word short story on this year’s theme – “Around the World”. The competition launches on Monday 15th April and the closing date is Monday 3rd June. It is absolutely free to enter via www.explorelearning.co.uk/youngwriters or picking up an entry form from your local Explore Learning centre and the winner will be awarded with their prize of a trip to Disneyland Paris for their whole family – and £500 worth of books for their school – presented by Cressida Cowell in June.
For the past 5/6 years, my school has been using Big Writing in literacy to provide a focused time for children to write. As time has passed we have moulded our approach to include other useful aspects of literacy. We now tend to use our Big Writing session as a final piece to a particular text type focus, unless it is an assessed piece and has to be a standalone lesson. Often we use a Big Writing lesson at the start of a text type to assess what the children already know or can remember from previous years. This is a great way of informing future planning. For example, if you were covering 'Instructions' and few children used imperative verbs, this would inform you to focus on this in your planning.
After a year or so of using Big Writing, I started to think about the whole writing process. It was advised that during the next Big Writing session children should be given time to read back on their work, look at the comments and, as a class, decide on some “goal scorers.” This is a good way of revising, but I felt it wasn't enough; also, if it was a whole week or two later, the activity is long forgotten by the children. I am sure if you ask any author they will always say that the revising and editing part of writing is possibly the most important. But how can we teach this and instil a reflective approach in children? Timed writing sessions don’t provide this quality time to reflect on your writing. It led me to make a resource which I have found invaluable ever since.
As my role this year involves me teaching across the whole school using a class set of iPads, I feel it is important to really experiment to see how using the iPads can impact across the curriculum and not just within ICT. Consequently, with the Year 5 cohort, I put together a project linking literacy with football. I decided to do this project for two reasons: (1) to see whether using the topic of football can engage the more reluctant boy writers in the class, and (2) to see how well linking digital media and speaking and listening can impact on the children's writing.
As I was working with the classes once a week, the lessons ran over a half term. However, it was the lesson the children looked forward to each week as they were completely enthralled and engaged due to the activities involving speaking and listening whilst using the iPads. I have found that the children's confidence and willingness to write after having the quality time to discuss ideas and experiment leading up to a finished piece of writing had a massive impact on the final product.
In recent literacy lessons I have been exploring the potential of the iPad to motivate children to write for different purposes. One ongoing target in our school is the emphasis on boys’ writing, so the theme here is going to be how one app has been used to encourage boys to write with confidence, in an appropriate style, and with a strong level of knowledge.
Having collaborated with David Andrews on the controllable vehicle project, it struck me how confident and knowledgable the children were in terms of speaking about their work, and this clarity and depth had a direct and hugely positive impact on the children’s writing. I wanted to see if using a popular gaming app would be able to make an impact on the writing of the children I teach.
As the end of this academic year draws ever nearer, our GCSE pupils may be in need of a little guidance in preparation for their forthcoming English exams. I can remember being unsure how best to revise for English when I was at school. It is not always as simple as learning facts and regurgitating them in order. Once you know that poem or that story, what do you do with that information? Once you have the names of all of the writing types and their language features under your belt, what do you do with them? Having spent the last year teaching pupils how to use SOLO effectively, I am now using SOLO as a tool to help them revise. I will share as many ideas as possible over the next few days including: reading, writing, contemporary texts, poetry and finally some in class, last minute revision ideas. I hope you find it useful.
Letters, newspaper reports, arguments, recounts, sets of instructions, stories and much, much more. Children are writing every day, but who gets to read their finished pieces?
Today’s learners have at their fingertips the opportunity to not only write for a genuinely global audience, but also to be the audience for somebody else’s work. Take a look at some of the exciting ways that your children can find a real audience for their work every day.
It's well known that many school children fear the ‘blank sheet of paper’ when asked to write about a particular topic. How to start, what tone to use, who is the audience, what purpose does this writing serve. The result is trepidation about writing, particularly by reluctant writers and often by boys.
How do we help children to feel more positively about writing and how can we provide interesting and inspiring stimulus for writing? One effective way is to create an authentic ‘event’ which the whole school is involved in. Perhaps an alien has landed in the school grounds, or the World Cup has been found hidden behind a tree in the playing fields. Use a few props to make the find look authentic and involve the whole school by asking all pupils to spend the day investigating the discovery and writing about it. Asking the children to write newspaper articles is a good way of providing an instant audience for their writing and having made the discovery in school makes the piece of writing incredibly relevant.
The education discussions, in the online space, are filled with efforts to find the appropriate role for technology in the classroom. No longer are desktop and laptop computers the main focus; it is the new "kids" on the block, such as the iPhone, iPod and iPad, that have moved the discussion ahead at warp speed. Mobile devices, no matter how excellent, are not an answer onto themselves -- they have to fit into the holistic concept of a teaching system. In response, teachers are literally grappling with these new platforms vis a vis teaching and their integration into the classroom.
Teachers understand the need to have a coherent structure within which mobile technology is incorporated. Therefore, in addition to technology discussions, there are new theories and paradigms on how best to teach students. Or, from the students' perspective, which teaching methods best align with how they actually (naturally) learn. Unlike a computer diagnostic program, students cannot provide teachers with a printout of what works best. There is enough history, however, using real world data, to deduce what has worked and what has not worked.