I recently delivered some SPaG training (Spelling, punctuation and grammar) for both NQTs and experienced staff, which was all too necessary due to the fact that in the UK the KS2 SPaG test has changed AGAIN to include far more complex objectives. In fact, as a child of the 70s grammar was something of a mystery to me…I seem to remember school was somewhere I enjoyed going to play, sing and make things. Recently I find myself constantly have to ‘up-skill’ just so I can keep teachers updated.
I am becoming more concerned that instead of us teaching grammar and punctuation to allow children to write more effectively we are simply preparing them for tests. This is really rather unavoidable when the subjunctive is on the list of things to learn….!!!!! So instead of delighting in the beauty of the language and playing and experimenting with words and phrases grammar can become dull, dry and time to turn off.
Some of the ideas I shared in my training sessions are, hopefully, a way to shake things up and embed and excite.
Would you pass your SATs in 2016?
Go on, try it. The staff were shocked. Especially those who do not teach the top end of KS2.
When it comes to spelling make it multi-sensory. I have a box full of pipe-cleaners, glitter trays, play-dough, silver foil…anything that can be used to make or feel words. Repetition is also key.
- Create a rainbow (use a different colour for each letter)
- Drill across the page
- Fill the page
- Beat the clock
Always make the children say the letter name or sound as they write it out. Find words in words, emphasise it Wed -nes – day…use magnetic letters. The more active the more effective.
Alan Peat’s Word Games is really useful.
Try ‘Teachers pay Teachers’ for some fantastic word investigation mats. They are free and created by Jen Bengel.
What about creating a display were children can place their spellings in the box that reflects their knowledge of the words….over the week they should gradually all move into the green zone!
I always find that the Babcock Consultants’ website has really good ideas for what spellings to teach, when to teach them and how. They also have links to old National Strategy resources such as Spelling Bank, that are really useful.
As a school we use Alan Peat’s ‘Exciting Sentences’ app and books. They are fantastically simple sentence types to introduce throughout school. It ensures that year after year there is consistency in language used to describe sentence types and that there is progress across the key stages. If you ever get chance to attend any of Alan’s training grab it with both hands. The man is hugely relevant and is a brilliant presenter.
There are Alan Peat sentence type posters on TES and videos on Youtube. His punctuation app is brilliant too.
I love using film extracts as a stimulus to model sentences. I always use The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to support teaching quest myths. I have used this clip for fronted adverbial sentences…’Gently cradling the ring, Bilbo wept.’
Again, I highly recommend using The Literacy Shed for hundreds of fantastic film clips.
Pobble is another fantastic resource that has daily grammar activities to go with exciting pictures. The story ideas are brilliant for writing too.
Grammar Puss for Parents has lovely explanations to support home learning, with some super activities.
The one above addresses the past progressive verb form.
I like to use music wherever possible…
This is a fun figurative language song.
Lots of songs have figurative language in them the fun is getting the children to listen and spot it! The one above contains hyperbole.
I also enjoy using TESSpag. This resource costs £9.99 for a year and has loads of interactive quizzes (great for up-skilling adults as it goes right up to Secondary level), plus explanatory powerpoints.
On the theme of tough concepts this is the best way I have found to explain the subjunctive. Basically, Skee-Lo got it wrong but Beyonce got it right…it should be ‘If I were…’ not ‘If I was…’!!!
The most important points I want to make are that grammar should be embedded and it should be exciting and playful…Enjoy!!