Friday, 5 December 2014

Help me, Twitter!

How do I help this child? (Year 5, came to me as a level 1c writer.)

This is his work, heavily assisted by an adult, in September this year:

Obviously all words were dictated to and spelt for him. That is half an hour's worth of work.

This is a piece of completely independent work he did today.

Yes, the spelling is awful (I have a suspicion he may be dyslexic, but I'm not expert). But he can read his own writing (which he couldn't in September). His stamina is also improving, and is starting to understand paragraphs. His handwriting has improved massively. He isn't always consistent with capital letters but does use them when he is reminded (I wanted this to be independent though so I left him to it).

For me, there is clear progression here. But I'm really struggling to be able to say he's working towards a 1b:

Do you think he's far off? What can I do to help him? I've tried so many things. Maybe I'm just being hard on myself because he clearly has improved since September. He is enjoying writing now, too, which he didn't before.

Any ideas??

(P.S. I do know it's not all about levels. I hate data. But you know what it's like...)

Find me on Twitter @Miss_RQT (previously @MissNQT)


  1. First thing to say is well done! Not only has his writing clearly improved since September, but you're also concerned enough about him to ask what you can do to help him out. If he's made it to Y5 as a 1c, then he's probably aware that he's 'not very good' at writing (compared to his classmates) and so why would he want to keep doing something that's going to knock his confidence each time you look over at his friends' books?

    It's hard to level a child from a couple of pieces of work. Seeing his day-to-day work gives you a much better picture of his ability and while he may not have moved a sub-level, he's clearly made progress.

    In terms of moving his writing forward; make sure he's reading! When he does read, make sure he's aware of the impact of the punctuation. If he's skipping past the punctuation, get him to say it aloud.

    Get him to type a piece of his writing into something like and listen back as the avatar blabbers through what he's written because there's very little punctuation. This can be a bit of a lightbulb moment!

    If you're focused on developing his writing, look over his spelling issues for now and focus on them at a separate time. If he fears spelling something incorrectly because he knows the 'dreaded green wiggly line' will appear, then he's less likely to give it a go. Have a system where he can show you if he's 'had a go' at using a trickier word by underlining with a dashed line, or something similar.

    Do some focused work with him on constructing sentences. Firstly, arrange the different elements of a sentence so that it makes sense (probably using cards) and then get him to punctuate it with CL and FS. Add a follow-up sentence and get him to read them both, saying "full stop".

    Support with Sentences ( is also a pretty useful site to use for identifying missing elements within sentences.

    Look at Alan Peat's exciting sentence types too, as they 'bundle' the required punctuation- something that some of my boy writers have loved. Start with the basics and push on when
    he's ready.

    Most importantly, he's now enjoying writing! If he's enjoying it then he'll start to want to do more of it and have an interest in trying out new things. Why not get him to blog some of his work and share it on twitter so that others can leave him comments and ways forward? He'll probably love having a real audience. The five sentence challenge (google it if you're not aware of it) could be the first step towards working on the one hundred word challenge.

    Ask some of the other teachers at your school too. They'll probably be able to name children who have been in a similar position and share what they did.

    Don't forget this is a marathon and not a race! He won't become a L5 writer overnight, but with time, you can have a massive impact on him and his writing. Will the world end if he doesn't make it to a 1b before Christmas? If he's a L3 writer by the end of the year, the fact that he hadn't made a sub-level in a term won't (or shouldn't be) an issue.

    Keep going, you're doing a great job!

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