5 Top Tips for the classroom
- Empty the library! Every class should have a classroom library. Even the yr 7s. And it must have variety. Reluctant readers in upper primary need sophisticated picture books with gritty plots and themes. Books by authors like Shaun Tan, Gary Crew, John Marsden and Colin Thompson. Something they can pick up and read in one go with no shame attached. (And of course my sports books.)
- Every class should have a throne! A great, big chair that can be used for crowning princely achievers or for you to sit in while you read. (You've got to be comfortable and you should be 'with' your students so you can share.) And even Yr 7s need to be read to.
- As well as 'silent reading' try 'silent writing'. 10 minutes of unstructured, free writing time. There should be no rules, it shouldn't be assessed, and it should happen regularly with you modelling at your desk, (you'll love it as much as they do!) And the best time to do it is right after 'silent reading'. You'll find they often write in the same style as something they've just read and it will be like learning from the great masters! Sharing isn't compulsory, but try stopping some of them. And YOU need to share when you write something you are proud of too!
- Play writing games all the time. Lots of short, sharp activities are better than an hour where everyone writes one one topic like 'Pretend you are the tennis ball'. There are lots of fun games. (At my PDs there are anyway!) Games like write a conversation between four people where each character gets to use only 1,2,3 or 4 words.
- Don't expect kids to write more than 2 finished pieces of work per term. Firstly, they need 'thinking' time. Stories, like children, mature best when you aren't watching them too closely. Secondly, it is far better to look briefly but intensely at one aspect of writing at a time. Try getting kids to write only the best opening sentence to a story they can, and that's the whole activity for the day!