Writing Across the School

Writing is an essential skill that can benefit students for the rest of their lives. Introducing and practicing writing with engaging activities in the classroom, can foster confidence and a lifelong love of writing. Writing helps children connect to the world around them, both on and off the page.

One of Wairakei Primary School Charter Goals in 2020 is “to have 90% of students Writing at the appropriate curriculum level”. The aim being to use our Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT) learning progressions for goal setting and assessment purposes. 

This year Wairakei Primary is engaging in the Ministry of Education Accelerated Literacy Learning Programme (ALL) to promote writing across the school. On a recent walk through the classrooms I was excited to see that there are many great examples of literacy learning happening in our school already.

A word wall is a collection of words which are displayed in large visible letters on a wall, bulletin board, or other display surface in a classroom. The word wall is designed to be an interactive tool for students and contains an array of topic specific inquiry words that can be used during writing and reading.

Three reasons to use word walls:   

  • They provide a permanent model for topic specific words.
  • They help students see patterns and relationships in words, thus building phonics and spelling skills.
  • They provide reference support for children during reading and writing activities.

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Goal setting is another important tool in the classroom writing programme. The main point of goal setting is to help students take achievable steps towards meeting a target. The student identifies their own literacy goals and the teacher supports the child with the steps it takes to meet their goal.  Collaborative writing projects, such as creating a class newspaper or book, enables students to achieve writing goals together.

My goal is to spell all the words on list 1-4 correctly. (Pippa)

Celebration - I will show Mum and Dad.

My goal is to learn to spell all the words on list 6 correctly. (Travis)

Celebration - I would like a party.

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Good writers criteria are used to support/scaffold the children in recognising the skills it takes to become a great writer and improve their writing. To engage students in the writing process, a writer's checklist supports students through each stage and serves as a reminder when they are creating a piece of writing independently.

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The writing process, complete with peer review and feedback, allows students to learn from each other. Creating these environments at a young age teaches students to both accept and deliver constructive criticism. Junior children can begin to self and peer assess their writing and identify next steps at a young age.

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Dialogue for the children using the visual checker.

Student 1 - “ What does this picture mean?”

Student 2 - It means have I used a capital letter. Here it is at the beginning of my sentence”. She circles the capital letter.

Student 1 - “What does this picture mean?”

Student 2 - It means have I stretched my words. Here is a word I have stretched “c-a-t”. She circles the word.

Student 1 - “What do you need to work on tomorrow?”.

Student 2 - “I need to leave finger spaces between all my words”.

Student 1 - “How do you know this?”

Student 2 - “I know this because I have not ticked it on my visual checker”.

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Through journals and personal story writing, children can discover their identities and work through real life problems. Our schools integrated inquiries also allow our students to write for a variety of purposes and audiences. Whether it be to entertain, inform or persuade students are always keen to share their writing with others.

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There are many classroom resources and tools that can be used to support writing in the classroom. In the junior school these include alphabet cards, sight word, and blend cards. In the middle and senior school these include dictionaries, thesaurus, punctuation cards, nouns, verbs, adjective, adverb cards as well as “Write that Essay” Sentence type models.

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As a parent, you will be able to  follow our journey as part of the ALL programme including modelling in the classroom by Colleen, our wonderful mentor and more examples of authentic writing during our “Phunky Physics” inquiry.

Keywords: Word walls, Good writers criteria, self and peer assessment, visual checkers, punctuation, nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, integrated inquiry, purpose, audience.

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