On the 13/11/14 we were fortunate to have David Didau visiting to share his thoughts on the Secret of Literacy.
David shared his philosophy on literacy and reminded us not to make assumptions on what students knew; just because “we” can do things implicitly doesn’t mean “they” can. We need to share those skills, techniques, methods, habits, call them what you will, with students explicitly so they can practice and ultimately master them. I felt this made great sense, not just for literacy, but for everything we do, cracking the concepts for them so they can access the knowledge they need.
A huge numbers of ideas were shared but one that really excited me, that I could instantaneously drop into my practice, was Slow Writing. Don’t be fooled by the name, it’s about carefully crafting writing rather than rushing to get the task done.
Students are asked to write about something in five sentences. I have already used this with Parables, geographical processes and historical ideas. Each sentence has a specific rule which must be followed, for example.
1st sentence: Must be a question.
2nd sentence: Must be exactly 5 words.
3rd sentence: Must use an illustrating phrase. (I have these on the wall so students aren’t confused.)
4th sentence: Must be 16 words exactly.
5th sentence: Must start with the word “Therefore”.
There are a lot of additional nuances and ways to develop this technique on the link at the bottom.
Most students got straight into it whilst trialling this, some needed a little more support, but they were all desperate to share what they had written and there was an increased focus on the way they wrote. The initial student feedback was that most found it a challenging way to write, but an enjoyable challenge. The quality of the writing which I have seen so far in the trial pleases me as it not only covered the content effectively but also showed more flare and complexity.
To support those who have found it challenging I have taken to joining in on the whiteboard to model how I construct sentences and explicitly talk through my thinking processes.
This has been well received by my classes and some students have already thanked me for making the process clearer to them.
Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE
This is just my dilution of Slow Writing so I provide a link to the @learningspy blog here… http://www.learningspy.co.uk/english-gcse/how-to-improve-writing/