Monday, October 14, 2013

The first piece of written work

Some of the work for the 11 plus students has started coming in and that includes their first piece of written work. This time it was under the title of "A day out with my family" making sure it was something they could write about that was well known to them as well as probably fresh in their minds, especially as the summer weather has held for so long.

So why do they have to write anything? What is the point of all this written work?

When we submit anything to a teacher or a potential employer, we are giving a taster of our skills and our interests; we are saying to the person who is about to read what we have written - this is me, and this is what I can do.

So a child is asked to write something which is about 500 words long, what is the marker looking for? 

Well we want to see what that child is capable of producing when asked. Can that child use punctuation well and can they use paragraphing techniques appropriately? Is there dialogue and has it been expressed correctly? Have they used a good selection of words and are those words used in context so they enhance the work rather than clumsily and detract from it? Is the content interesting such that the reader is really interested by the piece of writing, or does it show a child just going through the motions so as to satisfy the requirements? Is there a style which is obviously the child's? Has this work been 'developed' by an adult thus changing the work standard automatically? [ a parent's helping will distort the child's work and they will be 'caught out' when they have to produce that standard in a classroom or test situation].

So what am I looking for?

Exactly those parameters and as they develop, more and more of these skills will become apparent in their work. To encourage them, to them where the story really works and where it isn't quite so clear, and then let them sort it out. The temptation is to 'show' them how to improve on their work. As soon as that happens two outcomes occur; the work is no longer theirs and this can make them take less ownership of it, and secondly, they will never be able to write in the same way as you so the holes you corrected will show in their work elsewhere.
So tempting to help by doing, its natural as a parent to meant to do things for them, but there are times we need to sit on our hands, and this is when we can advise and then leave it to them to develop or not.

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