In April 2012 I was asked to create a specialised literacy lesson that would be delivered to our lowest ability year 7 students. Essentially they would have 4 lessons of English a week, one named literacy and this would try and top up some of their basic skills.
At the time I was an NQT, keen as a bean, and relished the idea of being ‘in-charge’ of something all my own. With no particular experience in literacy (although a better than average grammar knowledge thanks to TEFL) I jumped straight in, writing 30 odd lessons that would “transform” these left behind ones.
It was hard to find resources and ideas that weren’t aimed at younger children, and one year on, I think this is still one of my greatest annoyances. There is a huge gap between a year 6 kid and a year 7, I should know – I have my own. A year 6 kid will still follow instructions, will put their hand up (even at home), and will still play imaginary games. A year 7 kid will slam doors, change outfits 4 times before going out and will only communicate via technology. Although this perhaps tells you more about bringing up girls.
My saving graces in terms of thinking and planning were:
Pinterest – if you haven’t discovered Pinterest yet, I suggest you check it out. You can follow me here – http://pinterest.com/englishlulu/boards/
Hot Fudge Monday – a fantastically fun and sassy activity book based around sentence structure and parts of speech. It’s pretty American, so I have needed to do some tweaking but I would recommend this to every literacy teacher out there.
Unjournalling – another American book and a Language Arts idea. 10 – 15 mins of every lesson spent writing based on an idea, a picture or a prompt. See below for a 10 min free write story written by one of my literacy students.
A little bit of unjournalling – the prompt was this picture and sentence starter (thanks to http://pinterest.com/elaseminars/50-story-starters/ for the inspiration).
Although Olivia suspected that something was living under her bed, she never had proof until the night of her eighth birthday, when a pair of hairy, hideous, revolting hands slid out stretching its fingers towards her. Screaming, petrified Olivia froze. Waiting for her dad to save her.
Bursting in, slamming the door he crept in, with caution he looked around as he reached for his Colt 1911. Aiming and without hesitation, he fired two rounds.
The hands slithered back under Olivia’s bed, she pounced into her dad’s arms and cried out, “we need to leave daddy.”
“Okay,” he replied softly.
Scared for his family, Olivia’s father decided to ensure the creature could never threaten them again. They would leave but not until it was destroyed. With calm confidence he poured petrol around the lower floor of his cursed home, and without looking back, he threw a lighted match into the darkness.
“Wow” said Olivia, looking out of her new bedroom window, “I can see the ocean!” She squealed with delight.
Later than night, Olivia crawled into her new bedroom, looking around her new room with pleasure. No more terror. But she couldn’t sleep, she was so excited for her new home and her new life. She crept down to the kitchen to fetch a glass of water. Sneakily, she stole a biscuit from the new cookie jar. Sighing with happiness, she crawled back into her bed.
Olivia’s father finished unpacking his work stuff and turned the downstairs lights off. Before going to his room, he poked his head into Olivia’s bedroom to check on her. Her bed was empty.
Reinventing the wheel…
So, why am I sharing of all this today?
Well because today I am going to reinvent that wheel. Last year I had energy and enthusiasm. Now (thankfully) I still have those, but I also have a little bit more knowledge, a little bit more experience and a little more of an idea about what these kids need.
So September will bring another new batch of year 7s, another scheme of work and I hope some more fun.
If you are interested in having a copy of my new upcycled scheme of work (or even the old one) let me know.