Author Archives: sixpixx

Blogs for the Week Ending 1st February 2014

Hello my Englishplanner blog. I know I have been ignoring you lately; I’ve been busy. I’ve been feeling a bit shell-shocked and weary: we have been through Ofsted; ‘Inadequate’ was splashed across the front page of the local paper; numbers of pupils on role has fallen and the hedge fund academy managers have moved in.
I’m starting to feel a little better and may soon get back my enthusiasm. Putting a little distance between myself and the job, especially engaging in a couple of MOOC courses, has helped me refocus. I feel I may be back on track soon.
Thanks for waiting for me.

The Echo Chamber

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The Spelling Bookmark

So simple and yet…… Well, actually, lets wait and see what the impact is.

  • Differentiated – Students develop from their own spelling errors
  • Self Managed – They take the initiative to find correct spelling and write down the words.
  • Collaborative – They ask others for help with accurate spelling





Personal target cards

I haven’t used it yet but it’s on the list for the coming week. When I mark their books, I shall be writing out cards. THIS POST IS EVIDENCE OF MY INTENTION.

An idea that I’ve adapted from Paula Waller at Sir Robert Woodard Academy in Lancing yesterday, whilst watching her Year 10 English lesson

Maybe better than targets in planners or in their books as they are physically on the table and therefore, difficult to ignore.

One target, one card but what to put on cards? And, what is the maximum number of cards a student should be dealing with? How often should the problem be witnessed before issuing an intervention card?

The rules on one side, examples on the other.

Teacher keeps a tally of who has which targets (cards). Set up thing in excel.

Examples – these are general. It would be easy, with a set of blank cards, to make them more specific for different students.

I will spell unadventurous words accurately (a spelling bookmark for dyslexics/weak spellers)
I will use a wider range of vocabulary
I will use full stops at the beginning of sentences
I will use full stops for proper nouns (names of people, places, months and days)
I will use full stops at the end of an idea.
I will use commas to break up details about an idea.
I will avoid comma splicing (using commas when I should use full stops).
I will use a wider range of punctuation (. , ? ! – () ; : …)
I will use speech marks accurately.
I will use colons and semi-colons accurately
I will read over my work to make sure I have expressed myself clearly.
I will use a wider range of sentence lengths (short and complex sentences)
I will use a wider range of sentence types (statement, exclamation, command, question)
I will vary the openings of my sentences (connectives, ly, ing and ed words)
I will start with a hook.
I will use TiPToP to organise my paragraphs.
I will use a variety of paragraph lengths.
I will use a topic sentence and develop detail (describe, explain, example) in my paragraphs.
I will make links across my paragraphs so my writing flows.

I will use the reading strategies to help me access a text independently (skim, scan, read backward and forwards, ask questions, predict, deduce, infer, synthesise).
I will think carefully about the question I am being asked and predict the answer.
I will base my point on the question I am being asked.
I will identify a relevant example, from the text, to support my point.
I will identify relevant examples, from different places in the text, to support my point.
I will explain how my example(s) support(s) the point I am making.
I will analyse my examples and link them to my point.
I will use semi-colons to show links in my ideas.
I will use complex sentences to show complex ideas about the text (start with despite, although, because etc)

New words

From Isabel Beck’s book Bringing Words to Life, give them the definition and let them play

Instead of saying: “Does anyone know what mimic means?” Say: “To mimic means to imitate someone but in a way that’s sometimes playful and often mean-spirited. Tell me an animal you could mimic easily [and insist they use mimic in the sentence?] Good, when might you get in trouble for mimicking? Good, when might it be ok to mimic someone? How is imitating someone different from mimicking them? Why might someone mimic their little brother or sister. Good, now write me a sentence about a gorilla in a zoo mimicking a person. Go.” Word play, using the word 10 times in various ways, is the way to master vocabulary,

Do Children want to learn?

The Guardian posed the question ‘Is the curriculum putting students off learning?’ which lead to ‘Do children want to learn?’

Isn’t it a condition of basic survival that we are created to learn? So, of course children want to learn but, should it be enough that we say ‘You need to know this’ and they sit down and learn it? Isn’t it our job to put them in a situation where they realise they NEED to learn something – other than to pass a test?

I’m new to expressing these ideas but… isn’t the process of learning and wanting to learn cyclic? We use something until we exhaust its possibilities and then we look for something more appropriate/sophisticated which we use until we exhaust it. If a replacement doesn’t exist, we have to be creative and invent it. For example, we use apps until they no longer satisfy our needs when we look for a new one. If the new one doesn’t exist, then (if we know how) we create it – and if we’re lucky, we’re quids-in.

Similarly with punctuation (got a problem mixing semi-colons and 12-year-olds at the moment), we use full stops capital letters until we can do joined up thinking then we need something more and the more our thinking becomes joined up, the broader our need of punctuation.

Maybe I think like this because I raised sons who were very selective and economical with their commitment to school work but quickly learned computer games, musical instruments and software, photography and graphics programs from Youtube, blogs and forums – and books. They needed to learn for a project they’d set themselves (nothing to do with school) – so they learned. And I’m sure this contributed to them becoming more literate young men – building on what teachers had started of course.

I will have to develop this idea further with more joined up thinking, but at the moment it meets my needs. And, although it exposes the limit of my ‘achievement’  in this area, I know where to find it when I feel ready to show ‘progress’.

If you got this far, thanks for reading.

APP WAF6 – Competitive Punctuation Points

How DO you get the ‘darlings’ to punctuate without the dispiriting ‘I’ll put it in when I’ve finished, Miss’?

In my experience, the stats that say boys don’t like to write is wrong. Speaking generally, they like to write IF they can write about something that interests them but, it seems they’re not too concerned about helping out the reader. They have something to say and they want to say it as quickly as possible – no time for distracting technicalities such as punctuation. However, adding a competitive element is always conducive to encouraging desired behaviour and for that, I am always on the lookout for good ideas.

Skimming through Twitter the other day, I came across this fab idea that is being promoted by @DeputyMitchell. And, although it was presented as a primary resource, I NEED it in my KS3 and KS4 classes – especially for encouraging those C/D borderline students who are just on the cusp of moving into using a variety of meaningful syntax.

It’s quick, it’s easy and more encouragingly, it generates winners. Also, on laminated sheets, they can be used over and again.

punctuation points

And futhermore, it generates conversation and uses numeracy.