So often, we ask children to 'check their work'. We may even give them a little ticklist of what to tick: full stops at the end of sentences, capital letters for names , check spellings. These are great to help the children to focus and to check for 'silly mistakes', if they know how to correct them. But what if they don't?
There's a difference between checking and learning.
I have heard a lot about editing stations. I was keen to try them but wanted to ensure that they were not a lesson-long ticklist, but an actual way to learn how to improve writing.
I am still toying around with it. So far, I have tried it a few times and they have worked very successfully. I now want to refine them to really get the most out of them So, here's how I have been using them:
After writing the first draft, we have a lesson of Editing Stations. The children are already in 6 teams of 4. On each table, I put an activity and the resources needed. The children begin at their own table, where they usually feel most comfortable and get going the quickest. I set a timer for 7 or 8 minutes. When the timer goes off, they put the table back as they found it (an important step) then move to the next one with ONLY their book.
By far the best thing I thing I've learnt was a bit of an accident! After the lesson, I put the editing station papers on display on the wall. I found that the children asked me could they 'do an editing station' after they'd finished their next piece of writing! I now display them all and have hung some from the wall in plastic wallets, so they can take them to their tables.
As you can see, some of mine and hand-written. However, the 4 printed ones are below to download for free and get you started (file below the pics). In addition to these, I sometimes have a 'next step spot', where they check their next step from their previous piece of writing.
Here is what I think makes great editing stations:
So, there you have it. My experience so far of editing stations. I'd love to hear from you if you have a go, so please do leave a comment to let me know how it went, if you have any advice, if you've done them any other way... ideas always welcome! I'll do another post when I have a bit more experience of them and I'll try to get some pics of them 'in action', so you can see the impact it's had on writing. Enjoy!
Okay, I don’t want to excite anyone here, but I have found the three BEST ways to demonstrate the Greater Depth objectives! Seriously. They’re amazing.
I took over my Year 6 class at Easter, after their teacher left. I had them in Years 4 and 5 so was the natural choice, but it hasn’t exactly been easy! As well as last-minute preparations for the NC Tests (forever to be known as SATs, regardless of their name change), we’re being moderated for writing. Our school has only been open for 4 years and this cohort will be our first ever Year 6 group, so we knew we would be. So, I have had to pull out all of my tricks to get the evidence I need! Most pieces easily demonstrate the Working Towards and Working at Expected Standard objectives, but it’s bloody tough to find ways to actually show the three Greater Depth ones. So, without further ado, here are the very best ways to show off those tricky targets. All 3 ideas can easily demonstrate all GD objectives.
1. A Witness Statement
I’m not going to go into too much detail here about the many creative and imaginative ways to hook the children into this one: set up a crime scene, link to a recent event, use a video stimulus, get some drama going on… you get the idea. For our piece, I used another awesome Literacy Shed video, The Black Hole. (Blog to come on this set of lessons).
Structure:Introduction: formal, present tense, something along the lines of ‘The following is a true and accurate record of the oral statement given by___, regarding ______.’
Main body: informal, past tense, recount of events. Use a couple of colloquialisms, opinions, question tags and contractions, e.g. ‘Oh I know I shouldn’t have; I couldn’t resist. We all give in to temptation sometimes, don’t we?’. Avoid actual grammatical errors, even if deliberate. Note the semi-colon cheekily slipped in for good measure.
Conclusion: formal, modal verbs, say what’s going to happen to the document – a good chance to show off passive voice and even a colon, e.g. ‘This statement may be used in evidence. Copies are to be sent to the witness, the investigating officer and any legal representatives involved in the case. All information on this document is private and confidential: information must not be shared.’
2. Explanation Myth
I didn’t even do this activity with a view to exemplifying Greater Depth, but it was great for it! So, by explanation myth, I mean a myth that gives an origin or reason for something, usual a natural phenomenon. We first read the myth of Typhon, the volcano monster, which explains why Mount Etna is a volcano. After that, we looked at some pictures and videos of the aurora borealis / Northern Lights. You could easily use tornados, earthquakes, the wind… Each child then thought of a 5-point story, using their hands remember it (no writing). For those of you who haven’t done this before, they use their fingers and each finger represents a part of the story:
The oral retelling is important for myths, so I really wanted to focus on that first. I had the children tell their story to their shoulder partner (sat next to them). Next, each child told the story they had just heard to their face partner (sat opposite them), focussing on embellishing the story. It’s best to tell them in advance that they are doing this – remember, the point is to get them to listen, not to catch them out for not doing.
We then wrote the myths independently. They understood that they were very welcome to steal from the stories they’d heard (each child should now have 3 stories: their own, the one they heard from their shoulder partner and the one they heard from their face partner).
Structure:Introduction: present tense, talk about the natural phenomenon seen today: ‘For centuries, travellers have marvelled at the mysterious lights that illuminate the night sky over Norway. There are many stories, legends and myths surrounding them, but only this one is the truth.’
Main body: past tense, their myth. Lots of opportunity to showcase expanded noun phrases atmosphere when describing the settings; adverbs and dialogue for the adventure and characters and it’s always good to throw in a king of the gods or ruler of the underworld who speaks very formally and uses the passive voice (e.g. ‘Who dares to enter my domain? Only terror comes to those who trespass in this realm!’ Include an informal character and…boom! Shifts in formality!
Conclusion: present, bring us back to the present to round up: ‘Now you are one of the few who know the truth about this wonder of nature’ and so on.
Here’s an example of a full myth. However, this child isn’t really aiming for Greater Depth, so please forgive some spelling and punctuation errors. What I love, is the ‘rising tides raise all ships’ effect here: she has included the Greater Depth features because she’s heard children talking about them. Awesome attitude!
3. Public Service Announcement
Okay, I have saved the best ’til last. This one is the creme-de-la-creme of Greater Depth pieces and if you only have chance to do one, this is it. This could be about anything at all and is just a slant on an information text or a guide. In fact, a travel guide has similar structure and some of the benefits but isn’t quite as effective, in my opinion. I did this as more of our project on Literacy Shed’s The Black Hole. So, check out the GD on this bad boy:
StructureIntroduction: present tense, formal, some passive, say what is happening and why you’re writing the report: ‘There have been many sightings of…. In the event of ….. this guide should be carefully followed.’
I really hope that these ideas are helpful to at least some of you. I would LOVE to hear how you got on, so please comment below if you try any!
Hi! I'm Mrs P: passionate primary school teacher!