April 15

Daily Writing

I am always investigating ways to increase the incidental writing that i can get my students to do. As they get older many students begin to dislike writing, I think this correlates with the time that writing changes from writing a few sentences (K-2) into writing ‘text types’ with paragraphs. Last year when I had an all boys class, I was faced with two thirds of the class being very ‘anti-writing’. I had to try to promote as much incidental, daily writing as possible.

I had used journal writing in the past, but found many students had ‘writers’ block’ when left to write their own thoughts. Journal writing topics are great, I found  a lot of ideas here.  I developed a journal writing topic that gave the students the content for their writing. I linked this to social skills, cultural events, class topics and student interest and made sure that a range of writing styles and genres were covered.

journal writing sample

To promote vocabulary, I used a ‘word of the day’ study and combined it with my journal writing.  I created templates for the journal writing.

Click here: journal writing to access the templates. (NB: They are Australian based. Some fonts may not load if you are opening this PDF on a MAC)

As I had an all boys class, I did a little bargaining. One of the Journal Writing tasks I substituted for Journal Drawing. I gave them a specific drawing task as they all loved drawing.

Click here: journal drawing to access my journal drawing template.  (NB: They are Australian based. Some fonts may not load if you are opening this PDF on a MAC)

journal drawing sample

This year I am back on a Co-Ed Class, and am continuing to use Journal Writing. I have added an Extension section, as I have a lot of fast finishers, and this can include the Journal drawing options. I have also created a handwriting activity to substitute for one of the Journal Writing tasks. This sheet gets stuck in our handwriting book not our journal, and the extension tasks continue our handwriting skills, with a social skills focus.

Journal Writing 2011

I try to do three journal writing/handwriting sessions a week with a word of the day. I don’t have my class on Tuesdays due to Assistant Principal commitments. Having only 3 a week gives me flexibility to move one around if changes occur, or if for some reason I’m not there!

August 7

Andy Griffiths rocks for older students

One of the best authors to read to older students (especially boys) is Andy Griffiths. I was introduced to his ‘Just’ Series way back in 1998 by a librarian I met on one of my prac teaching placements.

The series has become a firm favourite in my school library, was a secret weapon when casual teaching in London and guarantees whole class focus when I open one and start reading. Andy Griffiths writing style is extremely humorous, with enough quirky situations and toilet humour to engage reluctant readers. Just Stupid, Just Annoying and Just Tricking would have to be my favourites; stories of food fights in fancy restaurants, sealing up the shower cubicle to make a bath and swinging on the clothes line in the middle of the night.

His other books are equally as entertaining, including the ‘bum’ series, the ‘bad’ books and the ‘schooling around’ series. I had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Andy Griffiths speak at a children’s literature festival, and he explained how he would take a simple idea, such as being locked out of the house, and expanding it with a lot of what ifs… (that keep getting sillier and sillier) What if I was in my undies?  What if the girl I liked came past?  What if I fell in the mud?  What if dad got locked outside with me too?  In the mud? In his undies?   You get the picture.

If you are looking for something to entertain a class, or encourage a reluctant older reader, get yourself a copy of one of Andy Griffiths books.

July 12

Word Safari Spelling Game

Word Safari is a spelling game that has been developed by the website Room 108. Room 108 is a site for Primary school students and includes games, stories and teacher resources.

The great thing about Word Safari is that you can enter your own words, so it can be played with any spelling list and any grade level. Unlike some of the other sites that allow you to enter words, Word Safari creates an actual game, as opposed to an activity like a  find-a-word or hangman.

The aim is to move the little boy up and down, clicking on the letters you need to create your word. Click the wrong letter and you get a cross, when all the crosses are filled the game is over.  Also, if you hit a bird or other animal, one of your balloons pops. Pop all your balloons and the game is over.

I have used this game with students aged 6-12, and they all love it. Great for early finishers during a spelling lesson, as an online homework task, as a group task during literacy groups.

word safari