Parents’ Voice:

Writing

Handwriting at Pashley Down

In Early Years the children start their handwriting lessons with mark making. We focus on gross motor skills (developing the muscles in the whole body) and then develop into fine motor skills (the hand and pencil grip muscles). The sessions could be with chalk on the playground, painting, mark making in the mud with sticks or with sand and shaving foam in the classroom. Children have a range of pens, pencils and tools to write with to encourage experimentation and enthusiasm. As they mature we focus on pencil grip, sitting position and the correct formation of lower case letters.

In Year 1 and 2 we have recently introduced cursive handwriting sessions. These happen daily in each class and focus on a new letter every day, linked to the letter families. The children love the quiet and calm sessions as they practise and learn to form letters correctly, then progress onto joining letters and entire sentences!

The result of our new scheme has dramatically changed our handwriting and the children are so proud of themselves, “I love handwriting because now my writing looks neat and like a grown ups.” “Now I love my handwriting and I want to write and write more for my teacher to see.”

Grammar

Grammar is most effective when taught in the context of reading and writing; either in the context of the linguistic demands of a particular genre or the writing needs of a child. We take a pragmatic approach to the teaching of grammar and believe effective grammar teaching takes place in meaningful contexts.

Playing with words, investigations, puns, jokes, and rhymes can all enrich and inform grammatical knowledge and understanding and develop a genuine interest in how language works.

SPAG starter/ games

Teachers encourage children to play with language through short games based on children’s needs (AFL) and also areas of the National Curriculum to be covered by the year group. Teachers use the appropriate meta-language when talking about writing ensuring children learn the appropriate terms.

Timetables and planning will show evidence of games/ AFL focus on spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Spelling and Grammar focus of the week are evident in Year 2 classroom displays.

Spelling

 We want our pupils to become fluent and effective writers; and we believe accurate spelling is a means to that end. Competent spellers need to spend less time and energy in thinking about spelling to enable them to channel their time and energy into the skills of composition, sentence structure and precise word choice.

A balanced spelling programme includes five main components:

  • understanding the principles underpinning word construction (phonemic, morphemic and etymological);
  • recognising how (and how far) these principles apply to each word, in order to learn to spell words;
  • practising and assessing spelling;
  • applying spelling strategies and proofreading;
  • building pupils’ self-images as spellers

A good spelling programme gradually builds pupils’ spelling vocabulary by introducing patterns or conventions and continually practising those already introduced. Experience has confirmed that short, lively, focused sessions are more enjoyable and effective than an occasional skills session.

Spelling strategies need to be taught explicitly and applied to high-frequency words, cross-curricular words and individual pupils’ words. Proofreading should be taught during shared and guided writing sessions and links should be made to the teaching of handwriting.

Year Two follow Letters and Sounds Phase 6 (see phonics page) Children are taught spelling discretely 3x a week following the planning. They have a spelling wall in the classroom that reflects the spellings the class are focusing on (in reaction to marking)

 

End of Year Goals for Writing at Pashley

We have developed our own assessment system at Pashley in line with our belief that all children should be given the right to excellent literacy skills early on preparing them for life. We closely track children’s writing development from the minute they join us, supporting children who are behind to catch up with their peers. Teachers track children’s writing development using the trajectory below:

Early Years Foundation Stage

Children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.

Year 1 Writing Assessment End of Year Expectation

Child writes independently using the correct form and familiar structures they have internalised from shared texts. They are increasingly independent and confident but still need support with extending and developing writing. Child is able to write grammatically accurate simple sentences with capital letters, full stops, question marks and exclamation marks, ‘and’ and ‘because’ extend some sentences. Spelling is phonetically plausible with evidence of phase 5 graphemes, non-compliance words for year 1 are spelt accurately.  Letters are formed in the correct direction, starting and finishing in the right place.

Year 2 Writing Assessment End of Year Expectation

Child can shape writing in familiar genres drawing on their experience of reading. They are able to write with independence and use nouns and noun phrases to specify and describe. Writing from a variety of genres the child shows an awareness of the audience. Writing is engaging and creative. Child is able to write sentences that contain commas in a list, apostrophes for singular possession and contraction. There is evidence of a range of sentences types used for effect. Spelling is phonetically plausible with evidence of phase 6 suffixes and most non-compliance words for year 2 being spelt accurately.