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Planning For Writing


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I have a large group in my year 1 class that are still working from the foundation stage profile. My TA has spent a lot of time supporting this group through their first term in year 1 but now I need to start aiming the support at other groups in my class. I am having difficulty planning for this group when the rest of the class is writing stories e.g. fairy tales. Has anyone got any suggestions or examples of planning that they think might help? I am trying to improve their independence this term and aim towards writing CVC words independendently.

 

Many thanks!

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Sounds like you're in the same position as me. It's so awkward when you have a large group who can't really work independently but only yourself and one TA to offer the support. People are always suggesting role play to me for my lower groups which drives me insane because I know they can't really do role play very constructively without support due to their lack of language/organisation/recall skills.

 

I'm lucky in that we have a 20 minute phonics session everyday with the whole school where we are all set into phase groups so these lower ability children go to phase 2 phonics and are learning the skills of spelling CVC words there. Do you have this? If not perhaps your TA could take that group of children out during something else and do focussed phonics with them seperately. Learning to write CVC words independently is a huge step for some children and I still don't really expect it of mine during independent work yet because they're at the stage where they don't even think about sounding out unless there is someone with them reminding them and doing it with them.

 

As you already know though it's important to spread the support around and teach them to be independent. Don't worry if the lower ability children aren't doing the most fantastic activity or even one linked to the main class objective every lesson. Their needs are very different if they were in reception they wouldn't necessarily be doing fairytales in the same way as year ones would so don't try to bend them to fit the lesson. I'm lucky in that I have continuous provision in my classroom so some lessons that's all my lower ability children do.

 

It's more important for them to learn to be independent and work at their level rather than following the year one curriculum. Think up some very simple activities that you know they can do independently like giving them pictures for CVC words and getting them to find the magnetic letters to spell the words or even just the first letter of the word - fit it to what you know they are capable of if they try hard. Challenge them to do 5 or 10 or whatever a realistic number might be before they come and tell you they're finished (to avoid interruptions whilst you work with ther groups). If you really want them to be independent it's important to at first be a little bit harsh. If they're used to having someone to help them then their first reaction will be instantly to say they can't do it and ask for help. Don't help them, keep emphasising that they must try and you don't mind if it's wrong and get them to work in pairs to support each other (but be careful one doesn't just sit back and let the other do all the work). I have been doing this since October half term and gradually it's paying dividends and my children's confidence to work alone has improved so much!

 

Sometimes you might be able to give them activities linked to fairy tales and don't forget they should have you or your TA supporting some of the time to push them on. One of my most successful activities with my lower group is getting them to draw story plans of what happened in the beginning, middle and end. If it's a story they know well they can even have a go independently.

 

Other independent activities linked to fairytales might be draw one character from the story who is good and one who is bad. Draw a scene from the book and label it (doesn't matter about spelling here, the important thing is that they mark make or write whatever letters they think appropriate). Describe a character to your partner and get them to guess who it is. Make a castle/cottage whatever is relevant to the story from construction. Also if you're lucky enough to have small world for fairy tales (or borrow from reception) then one of the lessons could be them retelling a fairy tale (or just playing) with this resource.

 

Also don't be afraid to give them independent writing activities occasionally even if all they do is make marks or write random letters. At first they might be very afraid to put pencil to paper without having an adult there to tell them what to write or help them write it so getting them to have the confidence to write anything down by themselves might be a really big step for them.

 

The main thing is don't worry if they get it completely wrong. I know I was so tempted to just go "well they can't do anything without support, better let them have it all the time" but it just doesn't work well. The main point if that at least they've had a go independently and are learning that they can do things without an adult there and building their confidence. Unless they develop that skill they will never learn to write or spell independently because they will always think they need an adult to do the work for them. It takes a lot of work to get them independent but once they are everything else comes on so much faster.

 

Once again I've managed to ramble on and write a huge essay. Apologies! I hope there is at least something of use in all that!

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Some good resources are the unifix cubes or lego cubes that have letters on them. They are great for word building independently and they are hands on and practical- great for the less able and reluctant writers.

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What sort of scaffolding are you gicing them..any prompt cards, phonic abc cards, learning wall?

Redbase :o

 

We have our tricky word wall and a sound wall, although the sounds are the phase three sounds as the majority of my class are on phase three. The lower ability children have individual ones now because they're coming to the end of phase two. These have the letter and pictures with the initial sound. They've only just got these so I can't say how useful they are for these particular children yet, but from previous experience I would hope they will be!

 

I don't give them any other sort of cards with other words on or anything. I took the decision that because as a class I'm weaning them off the "we can't spell anything, we need to copy things and we won't try sounding out" attitude that they developed last year these would be a step backwards rather than a useful aid. They don't seem to need them anyway, their sounding out and spelling is coming on really well and their confidence to 'have a go' and not worry about not being able to spell things is growing all the time. At this point for my class I think it's more important that they develop their skills and confidence at sounding out words rather than worrying about whether they are learning to spell topic related words properly.

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You could have some pictures from the story for them to sequence. They could possibly work with a partner and then orally retell the story. Picture from the story and word cards to match - obviously need to be simple, possibly using initial letters - eg. Mummy Bear, Daddy Bear, Baby Bear, Goldilocks.? Listening to fairy story on CD, using puppets to retell the story?

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