When I was at school, I always hated it when the teacher told me to check my work. I was one of those annoying, high-ability children who knew that he was in the top reading group, top maths group and top English group (I left primary school in 1998, after which ‘literacy’ and ‘numeracy’ became the norm!). I had the attitude that I didn’t need to check my work, because I knew it was right. It was a waste of my time to re-read my writing or to check my calculations. I preferred to spend that time staring into space.
This week, I found myself giving my class a
minor lecture stimulating, rousing and inspiring talk on the importance of checking work after completing it. I rattled on about how it was important to check calculations and to re-read writing. I told them about how it is easy to make mistakes while writing long pieces of work and how these mistakes are often only noticed upon re-reading.
One battle that I am currently fighting with my class is against the page-long, unpunctuated sentence. They are a creative bunch who are very eager to get lots of information down on paper, but they don’t think about what they’re going to write before they put pen to paper. Therefore, I have introduced the following process to them, which they should go through before writing each sentence:
Think it! (Compose the sentence in your head)
Say it! (Say it to yourself)
Like it? (Does the sentence make sense? Is this the best way of saying what you want to say?)
Write it! (Get it down quickly before you forget it!)
A quick Google search tells me that there are a lot of variations to this phrase, but this is the version I like best. Many of the other versions don’t include the ‘like it?’ section. I feel this is an important part of the process, as it allows the children to quickly reflect on their sentence and gives them the opportunity to go back to square one if necessary.
I must confess that I stole this idea from the teacher who mentored me in my first GTP placement last year. There, I used it with a Year 3 class, but it is equally applicable to Year 5.
I have created a wall display for this process, which I am going to get up on my wall tomorrow. If you would like a copy, just click here and it should open. That is in A4 size, but I’m going to enlarge mine to A3 size. Hopefully it will remind my class that sentences shouldn’t be a page long!
Now I just need to work on getting them to check their work. I wonder if any of my high-ability children are thinking the same thoughts that went through my head when I was their age.