Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Young Writers 5

I took my A'levels in the baking hot summer of 1977 and I remember feeling really miserable that I was having to revise when the sun was shining and the neighbours were out dancing in the street. Oh yes, they were literally dancing in the street because it was the Queen's Silver Jubilee and everyone went slightly crazy. Well, they did where I lived - for example, Mr.Broadhams and his son painted the kerb stones red white and blue. It was still there ten years later.

There seems to me to be something mean spirited about the timing of exams. Enter the evil fairy "Are you enjoying the sunshine? The blossom and the birdsong? Lovely isn't it? Well, now you have to do a test. Mwa-ha-ha-ha!"

SATs are coming up for Year 6 and I'm always on the lookout for ways to make the task of revision more interesting. Just before the Easter break we made folding books with tips and mnemonics to help with editing. True to form they took the idea and ran with it.

Examples shown are by Kate, Ruby, Hugo, Emille, Sofia, Eileen, Margaux and Syd

Saturday, 3 April 2010

East 1 Writing Project - Thames River Walk

Photograph: Eimear Daly ©2010

I am working with the East 1 Schools Partnership on an exciting writing project. Involving ten schools and sixty pupils, the project aims to inspire students to write by first immersing them in the rich cultural diversity that the city has to offer. Last week we met for the second of three experience days which found us walking by the Thames from Tower Bridge to the London Eye and coming back to the Tower of London by boat.

Students used post-it notes to record their observations, thoughts and feelings through the day and these were added to a frieze of the river made the following day using a giant roll of blue paper, pupils' drawings and photographer, Eimear Daly's wonderful photographs.

This is an ambitious project and, it seems to me, a unique one - yet from it a very useful model for creative writing is emerging. As a teacher and a writer I'm keen to nurture the desire to imagine and create as well as help young people develop the skills they need to communicate effectively.

There never seems enough time in class lessons to inspire the writing AND teach the nuts and bolts stuff of good grammar and punctuation. Could this kind of rich experience with a follow-up day of shared writing be transferred to a weekly or fortnightly experience in every primary classroom? I think it could and should. With a third day being devoted to editing skills where work is prepared for sharing with a wider audience.