Thursday, 23 May 2013

Two is Better Than One

My plans are to explore collaboration in writing latter this term or next, but I did get a little taster for it this week. Our goal for a task was to use a variety of sentence lengths (they tend to write a lot of short sentences) and I let the kids do this in pairs. I asked them to come up with three sentences to make a paragraph. They also had to do this verbally as apposed to writing it all down, which they did do latter in the lesson. 

We haven't done it for while and the kids seemed to really enjoy it. Their was some great conversation going on as they worked together to create what they thought was a good paragraph. I then asked them to share their paragraph to another group and allowed the other group to be critical. The result of this was more good debate and collaboration which culminated in paragraphs that had a variety of sentence lengths.

I wonder how this would work for a whole piece of writing for something like a narrative? I'll give them a chance to this for sure.

Digital Skills and Writing

Teaching in a 1:1 device environment brings its own challenges and one of those that really influences boys writing is digital competency. This year I have a mixed year level class, so therefore have a group of kids that have been learning in a digital environment for a year, as well as a group of kids who are new to the environment.

It is very hard not to think back to the learning and the skills my class had in term four last year and expect the same at the beginning of the new year. Big mistake on my part. How can I expect my year five boys to produce quality pieces of work when they don't have the digital literacy to do so just yet. It's really hard for them to think solely about their writing when they are also just discovering the ins and outs of their netbooks and Google Docs. 

On the flip side it is great that my year six kids are flying and they were able to come back to school and get straight into it. All is not lost with my year fives though, scrolling through their blog posts I notice that the quantity and quality of their writing is improving from the beginning of the year as their digital literacy improves.

My Plan for the Classroom

This term to give my research some structure I have planned my term as you can see above. I didn't want to add to many variables at once otherwise it will be harder to tell what influences writing and why. It also makes it more manageable in the classroom environment.

My key variables that I am planning to compare this term are the noise of the environment the boys write in, and how having choice influence on the quality of writing. So as you can see above each week I will change a variable and see what happens. I will also latter in the term compare writing samples for five boys across the term.

Next term or maybe latter this term I am going to also focus on collaboration, competition, feedback/feedforward and sharing medium to see how these variables impact on their writing.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013


The past two weeks I have been enforcing a very strict silent time for 20 minutes at the beginning of writing time. This is not the easiest thing to do considering our class is an open learning environment with 90 kids and three teachers. It can get quite noisy!

We normally have quiet time but this has been more test conditions. I didn't feel that good enforcing it at the beginning because I value collaboration but after seeing how productive the kids are I started to feel less uncomfortable. The kids were all very engaged and in their own writing worlds.

After twenty minutes two kids said they were finished and others started to stir so I called them back to the mat and asked them what they thought of the silent time. Of the 26 kids only two said they didn't like it, one because he wanted to talk to his mates and the other because 20 minutes wasn't long enough. The rest said they really liked it because they could focus on their work without any distractions.

I sent them off after this to carry on or to start editing their work with a buddy and most of them went back to their spot and ignored the others around them. I am waiting for them to publish their work now so that I can see how well they have done.

Next week I am not going to enforce the silent time as I want to see how productive they are without my help. I will post some of their work to compare productivity and quality in each environment shortly.