Friday, 1 September 2017

Year 9's writing across curriculum areas.

After our local MP Simon O'Connor visited our students, I wanted to continue the momentum by getting my year 9 social studies class to 'SLOG' (SOLO + Blog) about his visit.  I had my year 9's period 5 on Friday afternoon and I felt they needed more time to develop their blog without feeling pressured or hurried.  I asked their English teacher Ms Latu, if they could work on completing their blogs during her class (which was after mine) and she was happy to let them work on them.  She offered to help them by checking spelling, punctuation and grammar which was really helpful.

At the start of the class, I reminded my students about the importance of 'slogging' and how they would be rewarded with dojo points if they worked well.  I then shared a document with them using the familiar 'summary strategy' that they had been using over the last copy of weeks and asked them to reflect about Simon's visit.  We firstly brainstormed as a class and I was surprised about how much information students had remembered from the visit and how keen students were to give their answers.  I wrote the brainstorm on the board around the SOLO activity which implicitly showed them that we were at the multi-structural stage of SOLO.   Students then picked 20 important words related to Simon O'Connors life and from there the 8 MOST important words that they would use in a summary.  They were also given access to photos from the visit to support their writing.

The start of the brainstorm 

When the bell went students continued with their writing.  Their English teacher arrived and I left.
I went on to check the work that they'd shared with me at the end of the day, and saw that most of the students had completed their writing to a high merit/excellence standard which I was really pleased about. 

Examples of student work

What I found useful was to complete the writing reflection immediately after Simon O'Connor had visited as students could still remember and relate to him.  He was a real person in the real context of their learning about the government and they felt a connection with him and therefore felt a connection to their writing.  I had told students that if they managed to blog, I would share it with him.  

I also saw how engaged the students were knowing that two of their teachers were checking the one piece of writing and I wondered if this was what it was like in a modern learning environment where two or more teachers shared the learning space?  I would like to look into developing this kind of learning context next term and will aim at collaborating with one or two of their teachers on a topic for writing.  Overall, I think the lesson went well and students are becoming more confident and capable writers. 

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