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Y6 literacy coverage - help?!

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     I am just about to start a new job at a new school teaching a mixed Y5/6 class. (I have previously taught Y4/5).

     While I am massively aware of my Y5's, it's my Y6's I am most concerned about - they made no progress last year, I have been told the data on them is totally unreliable and they are a weak group (lowest being a 2a, highest a 3b - all are capeable of reaching level 4 and I have 3 to aim at level 5...)

     Previous teacher was an NQT who, by their own admission, was in over their heads and told to get last years Y6 cohort through SATS, which to be fair they did and did well. However, this was at the expense of Y5 (who are now my Y6's). Obviously I don't want to do the same and let the Y5's down but I do really need to haul the Y6's up considerably.

     For the 1st 2 weeks back I have planned a different piece of writing each day for the fist 5 days, followed by SATS papers for Y6 so that I have a baseline to go on (all books etc went home so I have little to no evidence to go on) so by the end of the second week I will have a pretty broad idea of where all the children are, what the gaps are and how to move them on and I do realise this may alter the coverage needed for the year BUT I am also trying to sort out a longer term plan to ensure everything that needs covering gets covered for both Y5 and Y6.

     The head is also newish to the schoolso things like rolling programs and schemes of work are not yet in place and no-one seems to be able to fill me in on last years coverage so I pretty much have a clean slate to work from.

     My question therefore is: What are the key units to get covered this year (from the suggested Y5 and 6 units)? And can anyone point me in the direction of any other useful materials?

     Many, many thanks!

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    I was in this position last year but being in Wales didn't have the pressure of SATS. What I did was cover every writing genre for 2 weeks. This took us up to Feb half term. I levelled loads of their work as we went through to build up a stack of evidence.  I also made it explicitly clear, using posters and sheets in their books, what they had to do to reach the desired level. I marked their writing during each lesson as much as I could and gave lots of oral feedback for improvement.

    I also allowed thm to choose their own context for most of the genre we covered in writing, this kept them interested and I think, produced some good work.

    I read 1:1 with the lowest readers every day as they came in through the door, even if I was 'listening' to 3 of them at a time, at least they were reading.

    I recorded all drama or oral presentation activities that we did in the afternoons through topic work as oracy counts for 1/3 of their level.

     It was intense for me and the kids but they responded well. They knew (because I told them quite bluntly) that their English wasn't up to scratch and they worked hard to acheive those level descriptor statements.

    The result?  100% level 4 or above. 2 children level 6.  However, the group weren't particulaly weak, just seriously underacheiving due to a weak teacher.

    Good luck, it can be done.

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     Thank you so much for your reply - really helpful and encouraging to know you made so much progress. Looking at this group, yes there are some very weak kids but actually I think there are some very lazy ones and some quite able ones too - they've just been pretty much ignored for the last year so not suprising they are where they are. The school is/was (just had a satisfactory Ofsted) in special measures due to previous head and new head seems wonderful and has turned the school around in the 6 months they've been there so I really do feel for the kids as their education to date has not been the best :( Makes me all the more determined that they will have a great Y6 and make lots of progress so that they not only enjoy their learning but are set up as best they can for secondary school this time next year.

     

    Do you have a MTP or something I could take a look at just to see how you mapped out the genres? My email is roobear@live.co.uk

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    I will send you a message but I didn't have a medium term plan as such as I was constantly assessing what they could and couldn't do and adjusting what I taught accordingly. My brief was 'can you please sort that class out?' and the plans that the school already had in place kind of went out of the window.
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    Remember that the framework is not statutory, you don't even need to look at it if you don't want to. And with a mixed year class in your position I probably wouldn't. I didn't when I had a mixed 5/6 class and I wasn't in the situation you are.

    Look at the NC and see what level 3 and level 4 means for reading, writing and maths. Teach the whole class that, with a bit of extension for your possible level 5s. Don't fret about who is year 5 and who is year 6, just teach them all the next steps from where they are.

    If your year 6 do a KS2 paper then let your year 5s do it as well. It is for levels 3-5, so perfectly suitable for year 5 as much as year 6.

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    I have taught Y5/6 for 4 years now and would totally agree with minnieminx. Use the NC and try, if possible, to link your literacy in with your topics. Many of my more able Y5s will be grouped with Y6's, not grouped by their age - but by ability. Any practice papers I give to the whole class too.

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    Make sure you check the requirements for KS2 SATs this year as well. This summer the children will be asked to do a Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar test in place of the writing test (more info on the DFE website). The pilot of using teacher assessment for writing is likely to become statutory. This is to try and ensure we are teaching children to write independently rather than just teaching to the test (though of course we will now all be tempted into teaching to the SPAG test instead.......) There are sample SPAG questions on the DFE site.... but don't get spooked by the level 6 ones!

    Hope to help.

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    Drop the genres; drop them now. All you need is a good balance of non fiction and fiction. Personally, I'd start with basic descriptive writing so you can really boost their vocab and sentence structure, and then move to something straightforward and non fiction such as biographies where you can concentrate upon text structure and linking paragraphs. By then you'll have a hook as to what next they need and teach it accordingly. Have high expectations, keep lots of evidence of their starting points and progress, and treat them as if they are one class (ignore year groups) - differentiate by their abilities. You'll be grand!
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     Thank you all for the suggestion - it has put my mind at ease somewhat!!

     Fortunately I am used to mixed age and ability classes as this is what I have taught for the last 3 years (usually with a massive spread e.g. P levels to top end level 5) so I'm not too concerned about the differentiation. I have always taught to ability not age so I plan on continuing to do so but with carefully planned guided work and entry and exit teaching to accomodate the additional needsof Y6 and target the gaps quickly!

     I love the suggestions of big writes and regular short writing tasks and think I can incorporate this into my guided reading carousel with lots of peer assessment and mentoring opportunities to start getting the children to recognise where/how to improve and pick up on the obvious mistakes. With the new SPAG tests coming in I'm hoping to incorporate this into the carousel too so could have shared activities like finding adverbial phrases, subordinating clauses, improve a sentence by developing it through use of complex punctuation - my thinking is I could teach/review some of these skills during target time and alternate(?) guided reading sessions and then see if they can apply it to writing and assessing their own writing??

    With respect to the coverage... Hopefully by the end of the first 2 weeks I will have a really good idea of strengths and weaknesses, gaps etc. so can make sure coverage reflects this but I am now fairly sure I have to initially ignore the units and go from what the children need and what the NC objectives state - then link that to topic work through a appropriate genre and texts (and then I can link this back to the units if needed). I think that will work and if anything should ensure they revisit genres more than once as most topics lend themselves to the different non-fiction text type (and my personal view of narrative is that it should be a platform for them to produce wonderfully imaginative and creative pieces of work rather than to learn specifically about different genres and authors...).

     Happy to take further suggestions though :)

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