One of my lovely Year 7s was astounded this week as I swiftly increased the amount of writing and emphasis on literacy I was putting into their lessons. He exclaimed, “Miss! It’s just like primary school!”
The only response I could give was, “Good…it’s only going to get better.” The meaning behind this was that I would no longer allow bullet points or short answers in their writing. Therefore, they had to reuse the writing and literacy skills they had built up over their time at primary school; which I will begin to develop on too.
On a serious note, I have been concerned with the statistic that children fall behind in literacy when they move up to high school and I could feel I was contributing to this statistic. To combat this, I observed a number of different Year 7 classes to see: what other levels of challenge and expectations other teachers had, how the pupils responded to this and how I could incorporate it into my own lessons. I saw that no other teachers would accept simple, unexplored answers and neither could I.
I did start small, introducing writing frames and bringing extended pieces of writing into the Red Zone where they were forced to take accountability of their own writing. The new marking policy also meant pupils were encouraged to correct their own work and we have incorporated dictionaries into all lessons. I feel like this worked as it was not until the third lesson of my increase in a literacy focus that the pupils clocked on.
High expectations of both myself and my pupils is now the core fuel of my lessons and I am looking forward to seeing how this improves the quality of their learning and work.
P.S: That Year 7 class have yet to discover that their next lesson will be entirely devoted to an extended piece of creative writing (structured of course), but luckily I am away that day!