- Physical exercise analogy: – it’s more effective to use heavy weights in small bursts than small weights throughout. Use a heavy-weight text.
- Context consideration: – unlike English, interventions don’t happen for the same pupils daily. Choose something with really excellent extracts – ‘The Wind Singer’ for scary suspense, ‘Varjak Paw’ to describe a character’s movement, ‘The Mouse and His Child’ for a portrait in character malevolence, ‘Sterkam Handshake’ for action etc etc. Or, better because you get the whole story from start to finish, choose a picture book.
- Literary language: – going back to the exercise analogy, literary language presents a greater demand, and will have greater effects, than different types of writing. So a picture book with literary language is the thing to go for – it’s all contained in one package with pictures supporting the words.
- Tiny steps: – don’t rely on the current English curriculum, it’s far too specific and way not specific enough at the same time. It headlights certain features of good writing while passing over others. Have your own progression. Give the stages their own names, or better, decide on them with the children – great, greater, even greater, most great.
- Read the book; write like the book: – that’s your lesson plan, by the way.
- Colour coding. Always works. For example, that comma up there above the writing line that we call an apostrophe? – there are two of those. A red one to show a letter’s missing, a yellow one to show ownership. Or, breaking sentences up into grammatical units of different colours (as seen in many places done really well).
- Feedback like you mean it. Critique their work as you would any other (adult) writers. But be nice (really nice – writing’s such a personal thing).
- Don’t ever say ‘even better if’. If someone said that to me after I’d spent an hour on a piece of writing I’d do a Gorka. (I actually wanted the one of him eating paper but you’ll have to go to the pinned tweet at the top of james Adomian’s twitter for that.)
- Don’t mention greater depth. Just don’t.