Every fortnight, one of our NQTs will write a reflective blog post focusing on issues raised in our professional development sessions. This is the third in the series, by our Geography NQT @GillianPerry8, on developing students independence in terms of literacy.
I knew this wouldn’t be an easy half term with getting to know pupils, policies and routines. There was a lot of information to process and many lessons to plan, so implementing anything other than behavioural routines, I thought could wait until the Christmas half term. So when @WellacreTL asked me to write this blog, I was surprised to reflect that I had implemented more than just behaviour management into my routine and had started to think about helping the pupils to become more independent with their work.
I did not want to focus this blog on a behavioural management routine, as I found that I am still trying to find routines that suit my style of teaching. Instead, I wanted to focus on how my pupils are progressing with becoming independent learners. Although, what I have implemented is still in its early stages, any advice or comments will be welcome to help make this work for the pupils. My focus is a little bugbear of mine regarding SPaG which probably started when I was at school.
Back in the days when I was at school, I used to receive feedback constantly about re-reading through my work and checking my grammar, spellings and punctuation. My reaction to this feedback was to do absolutely nothing as I didn’t know what to look for; I wrote this piece of writing and thought it was perfect before I even handed it in, never mind having to re-read what I had done and correct things I thought were right. To be honest, this carried on through my educational life, including three university degrees!
My family know I lack in confidence with spelling and I find that I always have an excuse to hide simple grammar mistakes at times. I may not be giving myself justice as I did pass my PGCE literacy the first time, taught English abroad and never really had a problem through university. Yet, my biggest problem was confidence in literacy that could have been easily avoided when I was at secondary school.
Anyway, my story gave me an idea to tackle this problem as I did find myself asking pupils to re-read and check their grammar when marking, yet the pupils were only correcting their spellings as they did not know where their punctuation and grammar errors were. If they are not told or shown how to do this, then I will constantly be wasting mine and their time.
During a lesson, I automatically came out with a 1, 2, 3 method in a panic as most pupils were finishing and others where way behind. So I said do the 1, 2, 3 check (spelling, punctuation and grammar), without anything to help them I found that this wasn’t being successful, they did not know what to look for. My PGCE year had not throw any suggestions or ideas my way, but the main advice that was helping me was, ‘show them what you want them to do’.
Instead of annotating their books with all the mistakes they are making, I decided to focus on students correcting their own mistakes before they hand their books in. I am in the process of making a desk mat for each year following a 1, 2, 3 checklist of the common mistakes that pupils are making (shown in the example for year 7). I wanted to make it bright, dyslexia friendly and with helpful hints of what to look out for in their writing.
I only wanted small points for each, otherwise it can become overpowering and deter them more from checking their work. With this in mind, I thought of making one for each year with different ‘common problems’ which can build on their literacy skills as they get used to looking for their common mistakes automatically. This way, I can work towards my main aim, which is to help them identify how they can look for errors and improve their work before I feed back to them.
Even though I have implemented this into their routine, it’s still a little early to see an impact. I have identified where I want to go with this and am determined to give the pupils more confidence and independence when checking over their work. Any feedback or ideas would be really useful – please leave a comment!