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My job over the hols apart from resting with the family is to see how I can figure out implementing the ditties and storybooks from RWI. I have introduced the letters last term, and loved the way the children can so easily pick them up with the association with a picture and phrase to remind you how to write them. But I am scared to do the ditties as I'm worried my children will loose interest. We do quite a bit of writing in our class but it is always in the context of our topic work to try and motivate them, or to write labels for our displays. I can't see the point of making them writing a ditty which is of no relevence to them whatsoever when they could be learning just as much by eg: writing a list of toppings which they will then read to put on their pizza, writing an angel speech bubble which they will then sing and dance to with shakers made in class, writing a treasure hunt clue to be placed around the school in hunt for sweeties, writing a list for Santa to be taken home and posted as necessary, writing a greetings card to give to family etc etc! And we have lovely reading books in our class already - so do I really need to use the RWI ones: do they have anything extra to offer? I know everyone is busy at the mo but would appreciate your advice!
Hi pli - it's always difficult to start using a different resource, or doing something differently - particularly when we are already happy and successful with what we are doing.
I suggest that you don't need to stop doing all the fabulous writing and creative things that you have described - but in many of those activities, you don't guarantee that the children already 'know' enough alphabetic code to manage the activities well enough independently.
In effect, you are calling upon your incidental phonics teaching perhaps more widely than your structured, systematic phonics teaching.
The ditty books are simply based on structured reading and writing which matches, more or less, what you have already introduced to the children step by step. They are 'controlled' texts and 'structured' writing opportunities.
In effect, you need to look upon them as serving a different purpose from all the creative writing examples you describe.
Another form of writing is 'play-writing' or 'free writing' where children try out writing for themselves. This is fine too.
But if we don't provide controlled and structured reading and writing, there will be at least some children who may not get enough practice with more limited letters and sounds so that they can consolidate their alphabetic code knowledge and three core skills of blending, segmenting and handwriting.
If I was in your circumstances and had been asked to try out the ditty books, I would do just that - try them out - and see how you get on. It might be that you get a handle on when you want to use them (for example, for overlearning, in small groups, or whole class, for revision, for teaching). Also, read up on Ruth's advice for how best to use them and then see how you get on.
Certainly don't abandon your other activities and see them as part of the wider picture.
Hi! we have the same "holiday project". I have to introduce RWI at an Infant school next term. Have been on training ,now need to pass onto other staff. Help! Any ideas or suggestions?
I started using the ditties and reading books last year and followed the instructions given in the handbook. I didn't try to mix it or incorporate the sessions with the other, more creative writing that takes place in the classroom. I saw RWI as serving a different purpose, as Debbie Hep said, I saw it as a controlled, structured session that enabled all children to be taught the sounds and letter formation skills etc. I did not do additional reading books - I felt that sufficient time was spent during the session on reading. To be honest, having previously heard the children read on a one-to-one basis four times a week, I expected reading levels to drop and was reluctant to take on the RWI programme but the levels have not dropped at all.
Thank you so much everybody that's really helpful advice. I panicked thinking I'll have to give up my creative writing but I'll look at it as something separate and keep plugging away at the phonics with the ditties etc - thank you! and Happy Christmas and God bless to everybody xxxxxxx
Hello pli can I be cheeky and ask a couple of questions too? I was impressed with the range of writing you have done and I need to develop more creative writing opportunities within my setting. I'm probably looking at this from the other side as I've focused more on the RWI and group work and would like to know how you did the lovely writing tasks you described (where do you include them in your provision/day?)
thanks in advance Ly7
Hiya Ly7! To be honest at the beginning of the year I do tend to sit at the writing table/area more than I ought to, and say the words slowly to help them here the sounds, a bit old style. I could kind of get away with it, being in a private school, but when Ofsted came in a few weeks ago I got slated for being too adult directed. I still put out creative writing once a week, but try to leave the children a bit more to their own devises at it, which works OK for some of them now they know nearly all their letters. Anyhow I feel a bit miffed as to why I shouldn't be allowed to help them whenever I want to, but it is fun to see what they can do on their own and we do have some bright kids, (though plenty not so bright too! and 2/3 rds boys overall in the school - perhaps parents are more pushy for their boys or think they won't work in state schools...!) So I just put it on a table like I might have playdough out on one table, with an interesting activity sheet for them to write on and often nice felt tip pens instead of grotty colouring pencils. If I had a bigger home corner it'd be nice to put the writing in their more often, though I do sometimes like if the home corner is a holiday cottage put little postcards in their with pencils, or if the home corner was a Christmas living room put cards with metallic pens etc. I do still tend to help them quite a bit, say when we were doing the treasure hunt clues it is a bit like doing RWI ditties / holding a sentence in a way, as I said they all have to start with the word 'Look' and talked about how to write that word, then expected them to be able to write 'in' themselves, or gave them help with 'under', then I had 'the' flashcards on the table, and helped them to sound out the last word. Something like that needed a lot of help as when we hid them around the school we had to be able to read them! But something like a wish list of presents/letter to Santa they could just get on with, but I asked them what they had written afterwards, wrote each word ontop on theirs in small green writing, photocopied it and sent it home to give parents some shopping tips! For the treasure hunt clues we used post it notes and for the present lists we used A4 paper with a pretty border (if you're not allowed to used Sparklebox could just make something on computer with clipart).
I still hold fim to the idea that if children are excited about their writing / see a real purpose in it, they will be more likely to want to learn to write, which I guess is the way I was trained. Also my son had Aspergers so I had to work really hard to make learning fun for him when I had my just over 8 year career break!
We do labels / captions for displays which again is Letters and Sounds and holding a sentence in a way. When we were learning about hills we made a nice display of show and tell photos, my photos, internet photos, and pictures of the kids making hills in the sand tray, including loads of types of hills, eg volcanoes, castle mounts, sand dunes at the beach and in the desert, cliffs, ski slopes... (think I've exhausted the list!) Then we made up a riddle, imagining we were standing at the top of one of these types of hills and looking at the view. So all the children had to start by writing 'I can see...' (the hold a sentence part, adult to talk about how to write these words first). Then the children imagine, after work during the week looking at and comparing the hill photos under the guise of KUW, (or watching the iceland eruption on utube? etc), what they might see from the top of one of these hills, it could be a hill they have experienced or not. The next word they would sound out with me or by themselves or if it was very tricky I would give it to them to copy. So they might say 'I can see smok and larv' or 'I can see a ship and bot' or 'I can see clowds'. We would read them to eachother or other classes and guess!
We do a main topic over the term or half term, then little weekly topics withing it, eg this half term we will do 'Hills and Holes' so holes = caves and igloos; we had diaries in tents and had to write polar explorer entries eg 'I am cod', we found pictures of artic animals on google images to label etc. I know this is PSRN but when we had a bear cave one of the activities the children always begged to do again, was putting those little fat round pancakes in the home corner with squeezy honey bottles, paper plates and school dinner knives. They had to cut their pancakes into as many pieces as they could, count the pieces and click the number on the interactive hundred square on smart board, and see who has the winner. Obviously this one needed an adult to keep an eye on the goings on!
If you would like any more creative writing ideas let me know and I will willingly contribute!
Thank you so much that's fantastic!!! You've given me some really good ideas Merry Christmas to you too
I love your creative writing ideas, I am also in an independent school and we think our inspection may be in january as the inspectors have contacted the school regarding accomadation in the area. Do you have any axciting ideas relating to traditinal tales, one of my favourite ones is making porridge and going for a walk while it cools, and then it has disappeared!. I also use RWI but have never had the proper training but I do introduce the ditties this trem, the children love the partner work.Do you send home reading books everyday? I currently don't but have been told that I have to in January, which other books do you sendf home ? I apologise for all these questions but you do feel isolated in a private school and we are stuck in the middle trying to keep everyone happy. Thank you
Sorry for late reply to above post - I gave myself a lovely break over the Christmas hols, and will have to pay now with some late nights I fear!! It's probably a bit late now but an idea which springs to mind relating to Goldilocks and the 3 bears could be to put out some A3 sugar paper if available, and get the children to make posters to stick on the outside wall of Goldilocks role play home corner to tell Goldilocks that she is not welcome ie 'Don't come in!' 'No!' 'Not allowed in here!' or 'Don't eat our porridge!' Let them write with felt tip pens and give them blue tack to stick up their posters. My kids at home love writing no entry signs on their doors to the opposite sex, so hopefully it should work! Personally I don't think it matters if nobody except them can read them - they only need to stay up for a day or 2...
Last year I had 22 in my class so we sent home 3 books a week. Now I have a smaller class I have enough books for them to take 1 a day. My children's state infant school sent one a day, chosen by the children out of colour coded boxes, and I always feel in a fee paying school we should be seen to be providing at least as good an education as state schools.
Keep in touch! xx
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