Category: Reading


I created this A3 colour poster after reading Chapter 1 of Comprehension Connections. I wanted to share what I had read with Trish and Bob while, at the same time, making something that would be useful to me and others. If you would like one of these printed on nice glossy paper, let me know:

When talking with the Year 6 Team recently about proofreading, editor’s marks and marking children’s writing in general I brought up the idea of “the edge of knowing”. This something I picked up from a workshop with either Kath Murdoch or Kathy Short.

The idea behind “the edge of knowing” is that, when marking student work, teachers focus only on one or two elements that the student is almost doing. For example, say a student is starting to include dialogue in their writing but does not use speech marks to show that it is dialogue, then the teacher should mark that and maybe one or two other things – maximum! They should then use that as an opportunity to work with that student, and maybe others who are doing something similar.

Not only is this approach much more empowering for students who may be turned off writing by the constant appearance of a page full of corrections, it is also much more time-effective and focused way for teachers to formatively assess student work.

Do you use an “edge of knowing” approach when marking writing?

Could you see how this approach may be helpful in your practice?

Image by Vadim Balakin

Have you often felt that some of the best PD happens when teachers read something and then have a chat about it?

We have two teacher’s literature circles (should we call them TLCs or would that be too cheesy?) starting up at the moment – see this posting – and it would be wonderful if we could get many more happening. It really could be a good way to get the knowledge contained in these books to spread amongst us all!

Our resident wealth of knowledge on language publications, Trish, recommends the books in this slideshow:

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Please make a comment if:

  • You have read one of these books, would recommend it and why
  • You are interested in forming a TLC in order to read one of them

Here’s a visual that explains how to set them up and suggests how to run it:

This video contains two clips from reading conferences in 4NB. By involving the students in assessing their own work using the Writing Continuum, Nicky has empowered these two students to think about and discuss who they are as writers. The second clip shows that teachers often need to help students to make the connections between what they would normally say about their writing and the language of the writing continuum.

There is a question at the end of the video. It would be wonderful to hear about your approaches to getting students really involved in the assessment of their writing…

Many of the most powerful things that are being done in the school are happening because groups of teachers have read a book that has informed and guided their practice. It is wonderful when things bubble up this way, rather than being supplanted from above.

To continue this trend, I have started up two literature circles with two different professional publications.I think this might be a way that we can spread the powerful effect that these books can have in a way that is manageable by very busy teachers!

We will follow this format:

  • Form the group
  • The first person will read the first chapter and decide what they will share (this could be powerful quotes, new systems, resources or fresh ideas)
  • The group will meet briefly (20-30 minutes?) to find out about the first chapter and to pass the book on to the second person
  • Continue this way to complete the book

Bob, Trish and I are reading Comprehension Connections:

Glenn, Nicky, Adrian, Rachel and I will be reading Bonnie Campbell-Hill’s Developmental Continuums:

Please let me know if you would like to recommend a book to be read in this way.

Something exciting happened this week. James Forsythe, from Phuket International Academy, has been reading the 6SS Class Blog. He noticed some similarities between what our 6SS have been thinking about and what his Grade 3/Year4 class have been thinking about. Both classes have been looking at wisdom and trying to understand what it means. He showed this posting from the 6SS blog to his students and used the 6SS students thinking to take his students’ conversations further:

Read the comments to see how the students’ thinking develops and to see where James adds his students’ thinking to the conversation.

James then sent through some photos to show the process he took his students through to arrive at their interpretations of what wisdom is.

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This kind of cross-pollination of thinking using a blog doesn’t happen that often, but it’s great when it does. Has it happened to you? I am always happy to help people work on their blogs to make them work better as learning tools.

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EY2MI students are taking a book home to read with their parents at the moment. It is a very special book because they wrote it!

Using themselves as the main characters, familiar things like clothing and colours and repeating patterns this book not only empowers these students to feel like authors but they are also able to read what it says. Brilliant!

Which conceptual understandings is Ruby working towards here?

This is Elmarie’s class blog. She has embedded a Wallwisher page as a way of collecting her students’ thinking. She is asking parents to speak to their children about school and get them to tell them what they enjoyed most about school this week. Then, the parents “post a sticky” on the wall to share what their kids said. How cool is that?

Reading in 6GD

Glenn has put together this video to show what reading looks like in 6GD. Watch and enjoy.

Could you create something similar? Would you like to? If so, let me know and I can come and help you use the new version of MovieMaker (it’s much better than it used to be!).

Kids are kids, and many adults are kids too. One of the things that struck me when I spent some time down in Early Years was the power of play in learning, and particularly the power of role-play. Early years classrooms have dress-ups and role-play areas where the kids can immerse themselves in the contexts of their units of inquiry. Teachers may, during a unit about transport and travel, create a travel agency where the students buy and sell flights, bus journeys and ferry crossings. Why do we stop doing these things as our students get older?

I decided to ask my students to start collecting clothes and props so we can have a role-play area too, I decided to make drama a regular part of what we do in the classroom, I decided to give my students more opportunities to develop their ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes though acting. The students have responded really well to this.

I’ll video some of the role-plays that we put together this year and share them on this blog.