Recently we have introduced a few new strategies to improve the vocabulary and the writing for the children we work with. Firstly, we started with “Word of the Week”. This is a different word that we would teach the children each week. Following an inset day, we discussed that words fitted into three groups.
- Words that they already know e.g. watch, house, quietly
- The bit to focus on – I’ll come back to this in a minute
- Words that they will probably only remember when in the zone and thinking about it e.g. photosynthesis, chunking
The decision was made to focus on the group 2 words. So far we have had words such as: friendship, emotion and perspective. We spend 2-3 minutes each day looking at the word, saying it, spelling it, putting it into sentences etc and it is helping to improve vocabulary and the children’s writing.
Following this, we thought about making a bigger impact in our year group. I have been following Alan Peat for a while now and I am a big fan of his books. The one that I used a lot last year talked about different sentence types and he has recently released a follow-up. Both of the books contain a variety of different sentences and in class, we are picking one a week to focus on. In future weeks, I hope to let the children choose the focus sentence.
We started with BOYS sentences and these contained But Or Yet So. This helped to teach the children about connecting ideas together in different ways (not just with “and”). Last week though, we had huge success with the sentence of three with action as suggested by Pie Corbett, author of Jumpstart Literacy and Jumpstart Storymaking. This works like a 3 item list with commas but has more detail and describes actions.
We were writing the story of Bear and Hare from the John Lewis advert and there’s a great bit where the animals are decorating the tree. This is where most children put the sentence to great use. Here are some examples:
The hedgehog walked over, picked up the decoration and gave it to the squirrel to put on the tree. Carefully, the deer reached down, picked up the bauble and hung it on the nearest branch.
Our aim is to choose a different sentence type each week and teach how it can be used, altered and adapted to suit the need. So far, it has given the children the chance to explore sentences and experiment with their writing.