After a challenging year, Griffin Teaching’s Hayley Hobbs explains why she and her team decided to set up a club dedicated to strengthening and improving children’s writing skills
Why did you decide to set up The Writing Club? My first head teacher was passionate about writing and taught me a series of practical strategies to improve and extend children’s writing. Using her methods the children in my class improved so much that I was commended by Ofsted and the senior management team shared my children’s books with the staff as the model of good practice. From a gentle bit of handwriting intervention to showcasing the work of Shakespeare and Kafka, I’m just absolutely hooked on teaching writing. Living my best life.
How has the past year affected writing skills? Parents have told me that their children’s writing suffered more than any other aspect of learning as a result of lockdown. Teachers were unable to access the books to mark them and this led to a dip in the quality and quantity of work produced. Having spoken to a number of parents it is technical detail and confidence they are anxious about. Most feel that their children still possess the imagination and ideas, but struggle with fear of the blank page and accuracy.
What age group is The Writing Club aimed at? There are three clubs which are loosely aimed at age-groups, but we place children in the right club for their own specific needs. The Mini club is aimed at 7 to 9 year olds, the Standard club is aimed at 10 to 11 year olds and the Higher-level club is aimed at secondary school children as a guide.
Which areas can it help your child to improve? The marking is always positive, specific to the individual and detailed. Tight records allow us to refer back to previous attainment to encourage progression. Handwriting improves first, along with general respect for the task and attention to detail. Sentence structure, vocabulary and punctuation are all addressed directly. Our Higher-level skills include the introduction of figurative language – we’ve done some wonderful work on introducing a semantic field – and punctuation precision.
How is the club structured? All children need is a pen and lined paper. There is a quick zoom teaching session (with various options a week for each club) where the short task is taught live. The sessions are hugely fun and children ask questions as if in the classroom. A lively presentation is shared on screen along with key vocabulary and supporting material. No printing up is needed – the lesson is set up on the website with all resources if your child prefers not to attend the live session. Feedback is uploaded as a quick snap from a phone and detailed video feedback is emailed to parents on Fridays.
How can you help a child build their writing confidence as a parent? Be consistently positive – even the weakest work has plenty to praise if you look hard enough. Choose a tiny element your child can improve upon and only focus on that until it is fixed. Then move on to another and you will find these tiny steps become quick wins and over a couple of weeks you will start to see real change.
Find out more about The Writing Club at griffinteaching.com/the-writing-club
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