Practical and simple strategies to improve your pupils’ writing.
You’ve prepped and practised writing with your class since the beginning of the school year. Now it’s time to begin honing those skills for the upcoming SATs. Here are a few practical and simple strategies to improve your pupils’ writing.
- Make your classroom a literacy rich environment. Give your pupils access to a huge variety of resources: provide a choice of everyday literacy materials such as recipes, menus, signs and maps. Expose them to varying genres such as magazines, books on tape and word games like Boggle. And, have literacy-based resources wherever possible: displays and writing tools around the class.
- Liven things up a bit. If writing is becoming a drag, make it fun. Let them practice their writing as usual, but brighten it up. Let’s face it, school pencils are boring! Provide bright colours, funky pencils or even scented or glitter pens to do their practice questions.
- Provide an audience. Share their work outside the classroom. Celebrate it in assemblies, with parents, on social media or go one step further and share it with people around the world on Pobble. An audience for their writing gets them thinking about content, as well as presentation.
- Make writing revision fun! Obviously you’ll be providing plenty of opportunities for practice, but can you make it more enjoyable? Think quizzes, writing raps and mock questions on a subject they love. Find out what it is that the children want to write about to fire their enthusiasm for writing. Minecraft or Pokémon, anyone?
- Give and receive feedback. Peer assessment is empowering and gives pride in learning. Pobble offers specific support for pupils to put together positive and constructive feedback. Try it out!
- Write outside of lesson times. Promote a culture of writing in the classroom with a dedicated writing station with a wide variety of mark making instruments, different sizes/colours of paper and envelopes. If any of your pupils wants to write, they’ll have an area prepared with all the tools they need.
- Go back to basics. Start with the essential building blocks that need to be in place to write with ease and fluency. Re-learn the most important grammar rules, build strong sentences, and focus on construction and mechanics. Bad handwriting habits are easily picked up, but a pencil grip refresher can help to improve handwriting.
- Encourage magpie-ing, brainstorming and note taking. Revising sentences and errors is all part of the writing process. Children need to understand that the perfect sentence takes time and thought to construct.
- Healthy competition in the classroom. Elect a weekly SATs superstar and give the winner a special prize or role in the classroom (a VIP chair, cushion or cape works well). Have the children vote for their most hardworking peers each week. They’ll strive to up their revision game!
- Take a class break half-way through a piece of writing. Some children can write too much and get carried away, others trail off and get stuck. Take some time to pause, read things through, discuss and refocus on the end goal. Encourage the kids to make this a habit and implement it during the SATs.
- Discuss a variety of purposes for the writing process. Are you writing to describe, to narrate, to inform, or to persuade? Ensure they have a clear understanding of why and when to use each style. You can find thousands of real-life examples and model texts on Pobble.
- Let your class see you write or, even better, write with them! Seeing their teacher joining them in the work emphasises that writing is a worthwhile activity. Respond to and praise their writing as you go.
- Use technology to improve literacy. Can they write an email to someone, read a story on the computer or practise their spelling on the iPad? Typing out their writing and using the spell check highlights errors in a new way and gives the opportunity to self-assess.
- Encourage parental involvement in the lead up to SATs. Consider holding a meeting to discuss strategies and tips for parents, or send out a leaflet outlining ideas. Parental involvement will reinforce your message of the importance of good writing. Incentivise free writing at home and school: practice makes perfect!
- Create word walls around your classroom. Consider several areas to collect useful vocabulary such as adjectives and adverbs or synonyms. This allows the children to select an alternative word to use in their writing. In the weeks before SATs give plenty of opportunity to add to, and magpie from the word walls before they’re covered up before the tests.