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Copying From Whiteboards To Learn To Write In Literacy?


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I was just wondering what people's opinions of getting children to tell an adult what they want to write, then the adult writing it, then the child copying it from a whiteboard were? Do you think it is a good way of helping children learn to write? Would you say it is something that could be used all the time/on occasion/not at all?

 

I'm just wondering because I don't like using it personally, I want the children to sound out words and write down the sounds they hear themselves, however it is fairly obvious to me that this "I write, you copy" technique is used by many many teachers for their lower ability children in year one (eg. the ones who can't yet write recognisable words/sentences) so I am starting to wonder whether it is as bad as I had thought? If my TA takes a group out I have to specifically and in minute detail tell her what I want to do other than writing it for them and getting them to copy, otherwise this is what she does.

 

I'm not convinced of it's value because I used to work in a school where about 3 children in the class refused to write anything unless they copied it from a whiteboard because they knew they couldn't write 'properly'!

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I agree with you, I would never get children to copy off a whiteboard. I personally cannot see any benefit from this. I get my lower ability children to mark make and ascribe meaning to their marks, once they are confident with this I try to get them to say the word and hear the initial sound, they can then copy that intitial sound from a phonic card. I

 

f the learning objective is more about creative writing or writing for a particular purpose e.g. writing a letter then I might get them to come up with their ideas/what they want to write and I would scribe for them, getting them to help chop up the words and hear the sounds. I use this to model good writing skills but only do it occasionally. I think it is much more important that children feel confident to make marks no matter what their ability, and they should be praised for it.

 

I'll be interested to hear what others think. KST

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Very occasionally in a guided writing session when I am working with the children I might scribe a tricky word for them in the way you describe but usually I would want them to find the words themselves from the writing aids they use.

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I might use "look, say, cover, write, check as a strategy and as Susan says in guided work that would also be a way to explore a pattern of spelling or a tricky word but wholesale copying serves no purpose in my book.

Especially if the child has no conservation skills for their communication and immediately forgets what they said!!!

I might at a pinch call it handwriting practice.

 

Cx

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It teaches the child to make the same "pattern" with a pencil... they may realise it is words or they may not. Usually they can't read what the adult has written and they have forgotten what they wanted to write anyway.

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Thanks everyone! All these replies are confirming what I thought about it not having any value. I make my children sound out words themselves or look at our 'tricky word wall' which has words like he, she, go, said etc. At the beginning of the yeazr I had a constant stream of interuptions from children wanting me to spell things for them (obviously how things worked last year for them!), but that is gradually stopping as they realise that they can sound it out for themselves and I'm hopeful that by the end of this half term they will all be out of the habit and will hopefully feel confident enough about their spelling to be independent writers.

 

For my lower ability children who are still only just sounding out CVC words in their phonics sessions I try to get them to hear the initial and end sound where possible and hopefully one in the middle and write down what they hear. To me it's not about whether it looks nice in their books it's about them writing down what they think is right and being praised for having a go and supported to make it just a little bit better next time. Just before Christmas I helped them sound out a sentence and got several of them writing 'gdn' for garden which was a huge step forward!

 

It's such a relief to hear that that people are agreeing about the whole copying thing, I was beginning to think I was approaching it from the wrong direction entirely.

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Kariana, I felt the same as you too.

I feel that some of my chn aren't confident writers because other adults write what they want to say and the children copy it. Trying to change it though. How do you differentiate your adult focussed writing activities for all ability groups? We are trying to come up with better ways to 'push' our lower ability group.

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I have 5 groups in my class, the top two are confident writers so they can usually get on with things themselves unless I'm specifically working with them to extend their writing.

 

My middle group is very small and made up of four children who should be able to write sentences (and can when they try!), but have to be really pushed and worked closely with to ensure they don't descend into gibberish and miss words out. I'm going to start a new way of working with these when we return on monday (after our week of snow days!). When I'm focusing on that group I'll ask them to come up with the sentence, we'll then count the words in the sentence and I'll give them a strip of paper either cut up or marked out with that many spaces, the children will then have to write one word per space which will hopefully encourage them to sound out each word individually, not miss words out and also not run words together which is what they do at the moment.

 

I'm thinking of also starting this with my fourth group as well and seeing how they get on with it.

 

For my very bottom group who are mostly on phase two phonics (it's a year one class) and who find it difficult to apply their phonics in the literacy lesson I do a lot of verbal work with them. Instead of guided writing we might do a guided talking session, or perhaps come up with ideas with me scribing the work on a whiteboard (not for them to copy though!). If I'm doing a session where I really want to get them writing then I usually differentiate by expecting them to write a lot less and a lot more simply. We might verbally go for the good descriptive language and extending sentences but then when it comes to writing things down we keep it simple. For me the key is that it shouldn't be taking them ages and become laborious otherwise they'll get bored because it takes them a long time to write anything down.

 

Since there are six of them I usually keep my focus on perhaps three of them in one guided session when it comes to the actual writing whilst leaving the others to mark make their sentence having talked about the importance of chopping up and sounding out words etc. to the whole group (they don't do it right without support but at least they are thinking about it and perhaps having a go even if none of the right sounds get written down). For the three I'm focusing on I try to go through the sentence they want to write more intensively really encouraging them to sound out each word and write down the letters that they hear. It's perhaps not the best because it means only three get the intensive writing help when we do an adult focussed session but with limited time available it's the only way I can do it, plus it helps the others to learn to write without me supporting them all the time. This term I'm also going to introduce some letter formation cards with pictures on so that they can locate letters themselves from the initial sound of the picture and hopefully look how to form it properly rather than always saying "what's a y?" or whatever so that they can be more independent. I think if they have to look it up for themselves they are more likely to memorise it because they know they have to make the effort rather than me or the TA doing it for them!

 

 

As a more specific example we recently read Oliver's Vegetables and since all the children were fascinated with the garden we read more garden stories and went on to write our own story about a garden. We made plans for our story using a template I'd drawn where the children had to draw or make notes about what would happen at the beginning, middle and end. Over the next few days the top three groups wrote their whole story (although the middle group were a bit indecipherable in places) whilst the bottom two groups only wrote one sentence for the beginning of their story. I think for this particular activity my fourth group wrote whatever sentence they wanted because they'd all done individual story plans and they all had to verbally tell their story to an adult from their story plan as well. None of the sentences were at all readable from this group by the way, there was just the odd initial sound that was correct) but the important thing was they thought they had written something down that was readable and could talk about their story.

 

For my bottom group we worked together on a whole group story plan and then all sounded out and wrote the same sentence. ("I found a garden") They are all extremely low ability children and have difficulty verbalising let alone writing anything down so they need that support of coming up with collective ideas with an adult to guide their thinking. I certainly wouldn't ever be making them write anything down if I wasn't confident they were still going to remember afterwards what they were writing about which I think sometimes happens with copying. They copy down this fabulous sentence, half of which the adult has 'fed' them anyway and by the time they have finished they have no idea what it was they were writing in the first place because they never really had ownership of the sentence.

 

Ugh just looked back at what I've written, sorry for the huge essay! I'm sure there's lots of ways what I'm doing could be improved, but I am seeing improvements in the children's writing and confidence so hopefully I'm at least doing something right!

Edited by Guest
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Kariana, That's really useful and very similar to what I do with the Y1s in my class. How many groups do you get through guided writing each day/ week? Is it just you or a TA that works with them?

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Kariana, That's really useful and very similar to what I do with the Y1s in my class. How many groups do you get through guided writing each day/ week? Is it just you or a TA that works with them?

 

It varies really depending on the activity. Before Christmas I did a guided group everyday in literacy and my TA did a guided group too (although it's never quite how I wanted it done because she tends to revert back to how the other previous teacher did things either through habit or because she thinks it's 'better' because that's how it's always been done in the school). The problem was though that because I have lots of low ability children who need someone sitting with them if they are to do anything at all (especially in practical or role play activities) it would end up that I wasn't seeing every group each week. Sometimes one group would only have had a guided session with the TA whilst another group would have one with the TA and two with me because they needed more support and I didn't think it was working well because I know that they get more out of the guided work when I'm with them rather than the TA. Not that she isn't good but like I said before she reverts to old habits easily!

 

I'm trialing a new timetable next week to hopefully solve this. I'm going to have two days where I just do literacy all morning because this will mean only one starter and one plenary thus opening up more time for guided work. Hopefully in this way I'll be able to work with my higher ability children at the start of the lesson, then leave them to get on with their work whilst I see another two groups for guided work. With my TA working the same way we should be able to run 12 guided sessions a week in literacy rather than the 10 we were having before and we have continuous provision in place for those who aren't doing guided work. I don't know if it's going to work but once the children get used to it I'm hoping it will run smoothly.

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just a quick note, we have these talking buttons from tts, the children pick them up and record what they want to say and they use it when we are writing, they are super x x x

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I worked for a year as a TA in a Reception class. We used to write in their books in a yellow felt and they would trace over. Then they progressed to copying form a whiteboard, before finally graduating to writing for themselves. The best (worst) part about it all was that the decision to move the child on to the next stage was made solely on the neatness of their handwriting, and not at all on their phonic ability/ spelling/ ability to think of a sentence. Crazy.

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Used to do copy writing years ago and somehow the children learnt to write! :o

 

However, I wouldn't dream of doing it now as children are able to use their phonic knowledge (with support) to write without copying. With the lower ability we focus on the initial sounds and they use phonic abc cards to help with recognition and formation. The other groups also use these cards(differentiated for more able) and the literacy learning wall to support them. During guided writing I find myself helping each child to hear the sounds and it is usually very hard work intensive, but so worth it as it builds confidence and keeps their interest and writing going.

 

Redbase xD

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I agree Redbase. How do you show your differentiation for each ability in your plannng...this is something we are developing at the min instead of showing lower ability to copy write!! How often do you do adult focussed writing activities with your children?

 

Really interesting post :o

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I agree Redbase. How do you show your differentiation for each ability in your plannng...this is something we are developing at the min instead of showing lower ability to copy write!! How often do you do adult focussed writing activities with your children?

 

Really interesting post :o

 

We put what we would be expecting each group to achieve...at present...AA-long vowel phonemes ee oo, A cvc words BA initial sounds.

We do guided write once a week, one of 4 jobs rotated over 2 days. It is fairly hairy at the moment as so many need help but find as they get the help this increases their confidence no end. I tend to sit myself next to most needy 2 in group and keep encouraging them and reading out their sentence so that they remember what they want to write. During the course of the session the others will call out the word they are on. I explain that while I am working with one child the others have to wait..they listen to what I am doing (sounding out the letters) and often look for the letter on their own card even though they are waiting for my help with a different word. Hence they are involved and on task throughout most of the session. Also they help each other and I encourage that.....just writing about it brings my stress levels up but as I said before it is well worth it as once the children get the idea of the writing process they become a lot less dependent.

 

What do you do for your guided writing?

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