English at South End Junior is an exciting opportunity for children to explore all genres of writing. Where possible, writing is linked to the topic being studied in Doorways and Pathways (topic based learning) so children can become completely immersed in improving their skills while writing their own versions of texts which are relevant to their learning journey. The teaching and learning of grammar is now thoroughly embedded in our English lessons with some additional discrete back-to-basics lessons being taught to address any misconceptions. We have recently invested in Talk4Writing because it enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally before reading and analysing it, and then writing their own version, building on 3 key stages: Imitation, Innovation and Application. The expectations of the new curriculum are high, with children not only able to read and write well but to also have a secure knowledge and understanding of formal grammar including the technical vocabulary.
Children complete a Cold Write, which is totally independent, at the beginning of a new genre so that teachers can assess what needs to be taught during a unit. Every child has a personal working wall added to their books for that chapter of learning which highlights where they ‘magpie’ interesting vocabulary and annotate key skills to then later apply to their own writing. At the end of the chapter, the children have the opportunity to complete a Hot Write which enables them to demonstrate what they have learned on their learning journey. They use their working wall to self-assess whether they have included all of the features and met their own learning goals.
The Writing Celebration Assembly occurs each half term and sees one child from each year group celebrated for a piece of writing. Similar to the VIP assembly, the children gather in the Plaza and celebrate the achievements of these four children who are rewarded with a special South End Writing Ambassador badge which they can wear in school. The writing is displayed in the Old Curiosity Shop’s window for everyone to see and the children are very proud to see their work being celebrated. The Old Curiosity Shop (our uniquely styled learning base) is also being used as a base for writing and all children have an opportunity to visit and be inspired to write. Artifacts from the Curiosity Shop also visit the classrooms and are displayed in class with writing prompts to enable children to write during early morning activities ensuring that writing is always a priority.
The Avenue is fantastic place to visit and enjoy a read: on the beach; in bed; on the train; in space or even in the potting shed. The children at South End read well and enjoy having the time to really immerse themselves in a good book. If we could encourage all parents to read with their children or listen to them read regularly, that would be great. Remember to complete the reading records too as it helps us know which books the children are enjoying and how they are getting on.
Accelerated Reader Accelerated Reader (AR) is a computer-based program that helps teachers to monitor children’s reading comprehension skills and guide reading choices to ensure children are reading books that support gradual progress, rightly recognising that reading is not solely about a child’s ability to decode words using phonic knowledge. Children will take home AR reading books and within their ZPD (zone of proximal development). You will know they are an AR book because they will have a coloured sticker on the spine with a decimal number written on, and a sticker inside the front cover with information such as the book level, interest level and quiz number. Of course, pupils can read books that are not an AR book but they will only be able to quiz on AR books and use the results of these quizzes to work towards a set target. The ZPD range is set for every child based in the result of the STAR reading quiz they sat in the previous term, which is re-sat five times a year. By reading books in this range, for at least 30 minutes every day in school plus extra at home, children should make optimum progress in reading. Childrens’ ZPD ranges and their points target can be found on the front page of their reading record and will be updated after each STAR quiz.
When starting on a new ZPD, children should begin by reading books at the lower end of the ZPD and gradually move through to the top end, being guided by their teacher and the results of the quizzes they complete. Recording the reading children complete at home in their reading record, ideally, at least five times a week, is strongly encouraged to parents/carers. When children feel they have completed a book, and do not need to re-read to fully understand it, they may quiz on the book in school as soon as possible. Quizzes should be taken within 48 hours of completing a book and any completed on a Friday evening, can be quizzed on Monday.
The Spelling Shed is a computer based programme that the children can use both in school and at home. It allows pupils to practise statutory spellings and set rules by playing a variety of different games and completing fun activities. Each pupil has their own individual log in, which they can use to play the games on iPads or laptops. The children are able to collect points for their efforts; they can then purchase new backgrounds and items for their avatars using these – making it personal to them. By practising their spellings at home, the children will become fluent and confident in their spelling abilities, allowing them to see gaps in their knowledge and understand any mistakes that they might make. Teachers are able to track the children’s progress and can then set future spelling lists based on gaps they may have, the children can even be given topic specific vocabulary to support their writing in both English and D&P lessons. The programme has already proven to be a hit with the children: they enjoy the exciting games and like to see their scores increasing, and their classes moving up the leader board. We appreciate your continued support with this at home, please continue to help your child/ren to practise their statutory spelling lists using this programme.
Abby Explorer Grammar
Following changes to spelling expectations in the New National Curriculum, we have made some changes to how we will learn spellings. Children are now required to learn a range of spelling patterns as well as ‘statutory spellings’