What does our writing block look like? Let me give you an insight into how I structure our writing program to cater for the needs of my Year 2 son who is an intelligent and capable but reluctant, bare minimum kind of kid when it comes to writing.
Journal – We write a journal each week, currently we use the Caravanning with Kids one. I find that there is very limited writing space but I do really like that he records the day, date, month and location. We aim to complete this on Monday, Wednesday and Friday however, I will shuffle it around so that he is writing after an interesting event. The focus when writing a journal is on writing in past tense, sequencing in order of occurrence and being able to appropriately choose events that a reader would enjoy reading about.
Report writing – When the opportunity arises we write reports on places and animals we have visited or seen. When on Bruny Island we visited the Rookerie and watched Fairy Penguins come to the shore. To follow up on that we researched the Fairy Penguin and together planned a report and wrote it out. All in all it that takes a while for us working at a Year 2 level having to research and type is a slow, tedious process. We spent one day researching, another day planning a draft of the report and a third writing the report. When the report is finished we review it together.
Other text types – When I want to expose my son to a new text type I like to use the RIC Literacy book shown in the image. These books are great. If you don’t use or like your child using i-Pads then these are definitely a great option. At the moment I have been giving my son one comprehension a week to read and answer comprehension questions on, I have chosen out the ones that are persuasive texts because I want to focus on this text type and build up to writing persuasive texts. We will focus on persuasive texts for a number of weeks and build up to writing them too! Before any writing occurs we read and chat about the structure of this new text type and its purpose.
Grammar – We do formally do grammar each week using the Pearson book “Grammar Once a Week”. In addition to this I will make observations from our writing during the week which will guide what we do for grammar. I also refer to the National Curriculum Framework to guide what needs to be taught for grammar at a year 2 level.
Spelling – I usually develop a list of words based on words my son has spelt incorrectly in any of his writing. We use Spelling City on the laptop to practise his words. Membership is about $40 for a year and that allows you to use if for up to 5 family members and gives you access to over 40 games based on phonics, vocab, spelling and writing. Plug in your spelling words and the website will turn those words into games and help your child practise their spelling words. When we have access to the Internet we will use this resource and he really enjoys it.
Reading – Fortunately for me my son loves to read. On the road he has discovered the world of author Anh Do and consumed pretty much every book he has written to date! We always read to our kids before bed in a normal setting at home but have certainly struggled to maintain the same routines as home. We most definitely do read but we have to find different times to do it. I decided to read my son a large novel that would take us a while to get through and we could enjoy together (Harry Potter), when we finished the book we enjoyed watching the movie together and then writing some comparisons between the two. Now that we have finished that book I decided to get the next Harry Potter but download it on Audible so that he could listen to it at his leisure. He loves to use audio books at night time to wind down. We also have a subscription to the Sunshine Online app. A membership to Sunshine Online is $99 per year however, you only require one membership for your whole family and have access to books from a PM1 to a PM30 (which basically translates to suitable for first year of school till about Year 3 or 4). Sunshine Online is great value because it also includes loads of maths games too. I will download books from the Sunshine Online app on the i-Pad for my son to read. The great thing is once downloaded you can read them offline. They are also great because they have comprehension questions and activities at the end of each story. Truthfully though, reading is everywhere in our environment and we just need to give our children the chance to get involved. Read signs together, shopping lists, magazines, recipes, labels, directions or maps. Research interesting things together and show your children that you also like to read by reading yourself.
No doubt that sounds like a lot but we do work at these things over the course of a week and we are flexible. If something really interesting happens then I will most definitely try to find a way to link it in to our reading or writing.
If you have doubt as to whether or not your child is tracking where they should be then I would suggest checking out The Australian Curriculum webpage and looking at some of the work sample portfolios. To do so make sure you have selected English, the appropriate year level and then scroll down to the bottom of the page. This will show you a collection of work that is ‘expected’ by the end of that Year level. Don’t live by it, but if you aren’t sure whether your child is tracking where they should be then maybe this would be a good guide for you.
Well wishes to you along your journey of learning and exploration with your child. I hope I have instilled some confidence in you to try your hand at some programming of your own. If you are in a distance education setting then possibly some of these ideas are additional ways you can make your experiences truly meaningful to your child by adding in some report writing and additional research.