Learning through Writing, Grammar and Spelling at Thingwall Primary School
From the earliest days in school children are encouraged to see themselves as writers. The teacher’s role is one of a facilitator providing a model, support and material, and purposes for writing.
Children are encouraged to write for real purposes and to understand that purpose and intended audience will have a direct influence on the style and tone of writing.
The classroom environments are supportive with work banks and/or dictionaries and thesaurus available at all times. Children have access to a variety of writing tools and an assortment of paper to allow for the variety of writing demands they will meet. Writing materials are available in different areas of the classroom e.g. role pay areas in Early Years classrooms to reinforce the notion of writing for real purposes.
We follow a whole school genre map which ensures coverage from Reception to Year 6. Half termly children are assessed through an independent writing session called ‘Big Write’. We use resources from our Assertive Mentoring system to support planning and re-drafting.
Specific grammar lessons are taught weekly and followed up through writing lessons. We use the Assertive Mentoring ‘Grammar Hammer’ system which allows children time to develop their understanding of grammatical vocabulary and to regularly practise their skills. For more information on the expectations of grammatical knowledge please refer to the English Glossary attached.
When the children have completed the phonics stage of their learning (See phonics section), they progress to spelling. Specific spelling lessons are taught weekly using the Spelling Shed programme which develops knowledge through spelling investigations.
Children are taught:
- Common spelling patterns and rules.
- How complex words are constructed using common prefixes and suffixes.
- How words are altered to form plurals, abstract nouns etc.
- Strategies to help them develop as confident spellers.
- Exception to common rules to help them spell 'tricky words'.
- A range of strategies to help them remember unusual words.
Children in Years 1-6 are given weekly spelling lists to learn and activities to complete. Children will then be tested on these words weekly.
Here are some of the strategies that will help your child become a confident and accurate speller:
- sounding words out: breaking the word down into phonemes (e.g. c-a-t, sh-e-ll) – many words cannot be sounded out so other strategies are needed;
- dividing the word into syllables, say each syllable as they write the word (e.g. re-mem-ber);
- using the Look, say, cover, write, check strategy: look at the word and say it out aloud, then cover it, write it and check to see if it is correct. If not, highlight or underline the incorrect part and repeat the process;
- using mnemonics as an aid to memorising a tricky word (e.g. people: people eat orange peel like elephants; could: O U Lucky Duck);
- finding words within words (e.g. a rat in separate);
- making links between the meaning of words and their spelling (e.g. sign, signal, signature) – this strategy is used at a later stage than others;
- working out spelling rules for themselves – a later strategy;
- using a dictionary as soon as they know how to.
Encourage your child to have a go at spelling words they are unsure of. This will give them the opportunity to try out spelling strategies and to find those that they find useful.
Children are taught to form their handwriting in the style of the New Nelson Handwriting scheme. The emphasis is on clarity, legibility and flow so that a child’s thought is not hampered by an inability to write quickly and fluently.
Important areas to address are:
- A comfortable pencil hold/grip: An incorrect pencil grip can hamper flow and result in poor control of the writing implement.
- Position of paper/book: This depends on whether the child is left or right handed. The child should be seated in a balanced position facing the table. Right-handed children should have the paper turned at a slight angle to the left. (Left handed children to the right). The paper should be held in position securely by the non-writing hand.
- Pressure: A light and even pressure should be used in handwriting. Too heavy a pressure prevents fluid movement demanded in handwriting. (see Teacher’s Manual for remedial action).
- Style: Size, shape and fluency of letters.
Towards the end of Key Stage 2 children are not discouraged from developing their own style of handwriting provided it is clear, legible and fluid.
Reading is VERY IMPORTANT. Reading opens up the world of learning to our children.
In the long term our aim is to-
Develop a passion for reading to be able to read fluently for lifelong learning and for pleasure.
In order to support you as parents in making a positive difference regarding your child’s reading, Thingwall Primary School provides a wide range of reading materials for children to read from at home and within school.
Reading at Home and at Thingwall Primary School-A Partnership
We aim to ensure that the link between reading at home and school is positive. From FS2 up to Year 6, our children will be given or able to choose, from ability appropriate reading books.
We use the Bug Club reading scheme for our banded books, promoting a wide variety in both genre and style. Each child is given a reading record at the beginning of the year in which you as parents are positively encouraged to write when you hear your child read at home. As children progress through Thingwall Primary and become more independent in their reading, the role of the Parent is to support through more questioning to ensure your child is still understanding the text and the vocabulary being used. Recording in the reading record remains important through KS2 as a record of the frequency and variety of books read. Staff will also record individual reading and Guided Reading sessions here.
In addition, each class has a vibrant reading corner where children are encouraged to spend time reading for pleasure. Each day also has timetabled whole class reading time where teachers and teaching assistants will read to the whole class from books chosen from our literary spine.
Reading Book Schemes and how you can support-A Partnership
The Bug Club reading scheme has recently been updated and added to. It provides you as parents the opportunity to work through pre-selected reading ability texts with your child, whilst answering a range of questions to assess their comprehension of what they have read. ALL children have access to Bug Club materials and can use the exciting online materials whenever they choose. The Bug Club materials can be found via the link in our “Learning Zone”, on our school VLE page, using your child’s unique username and password to access the site.
VIPERS is an acronym to aid the recall of the 6 reading domains as part of the UK’s reading curriculum. They are the key areas which we feel children need to know and understand in order to improve their comprehension of texts. At Thingwall we use VIPERS throughout the curriculum in order to develop vocabulary, understanding and questioning.
VIPERS stands for
Sequence or Summarise
The 6 domains focus on the comprehension aspect of reading and not the mechanics: decoding, fluency, prosody etc. As such, VIPERS is not a reading scheme but rather a method of ensuring that teachers ask, and students are familiar with, a range of questions. They allow the teacher to track the type of questions asked and the children’s responses to these which allows for targeted questioning afterwards.