Making the Grade... in Writing
The National Curriculum 2014 has brought about a revolution in how we assess children's writing. For so long we have been looking at grades and deciding whether one piece of writing is a 4b or a 4a, looking for the smallest of areas that will help each child to just cross the line into the next sub level. The thinking behind grading today lies with knowing each of the children in the context of a year group and what a child of that age is expected to be achieving. The focus has very much gone from attainment to progress. Is Child X making progress against themselves rather than against others in the cohort? But equally, is Child Y reaching their full potential? We talk of progress and attainment in terms of 'beginning,' 'developing,' 'embedding' and 'mastering.' Children are capable of exceeding or mastering their year group almost from the beginning of the year so there will be no harm in judging them against criteria for a child in the year or years above.
The Big Write... tips and tools!
Below I have included a document that I have used with my pupils in response to common errors made in the classroom- a quick resource that every child can have in class with them to support their learning when it comes to writing. Print on A3 for greater effect although the A4 version is more pocket-sized!
Pre-National Curriculum 2014
Uplevelling Our Sentences
Alan walked to the shops.
Alan walked to the shops because he needed some milk.
Alan walked to the nearby shops because he needed some semi-skimmed milk.
Level 3: begin with a simple sentence that consists of a proper noun (Alan), a verb (walked), a preposition (to) and a further noun (shop). Importantly, capital letters and full stops are present and correct. In the second example, a connective (because) has been added to link two simple sentences into a compound sentence. Finally, adjectives (nearby and semi-skimmed) are added to help describe the nouns (shop and milk).
Elderly Alan walked slowly to the nearby shops because he needed some semi-skimmed milk.
Happily, elderly Alan walked slowly to the nearby shops due to the fact that he needed some semi-skimmed milk.
Level 4: at the next level, Alan is described (elderly) to avoid the sentence beginning with a name. An adverb (slowly) is also added to describe the verb (walked). In the second example, an adverb (happily) is used as an opener and a comma follows. The connective is up-levelled (due to the fact) to avoid over-using the most basic of connectives expected at Level 3.
As a result of needing more semi-skimmed milk, elderly Alan walked slowly to the nearby shops.
Alan, who was an elderly man, happily and slowly walked to the nearby shops where he needed to buy some semi-skimmed milk.
Level 5: firstly, the sentence is reorganised to make use of a clear subordinating opener (as a result). In the final example, the opener is dropped to allow for a subordinate clause (who was an elderly man) in the middle of the complex sentence and to add extra information about Alan. The rest of the sentence is altered slightly from the original purely for the sentence to continue making sense.