Writing

Encouraging Intermediate Phase Learners to Write More

Course presented by Viv Kenyon Layout by Welma Odendaal

There is also a booklet on Writing with Children written for Foundation Phase teachers available from the PSP.

CONTENTS
Introduction Journals Process Writing Using Stories Writing Information Reports Planning and Assessment 1 4 12 18 26 32

INTRODUCTION
Why are teachers and parents so anxious for their children to be literate? Why should they learn to write? How can writing help us? What differences can writing make to our lives? At a series of PSP Intermediate Phase Language workshops, we focused on planning writing experiences for learners. Writing experiences that can help learners to develop confidence and a desire to communicate and write down their thoughts, feelings and ideas.

Writing for a purpose
 What kind of writing tasks do you give your learners to carry out?  When do you ask them to write?  Who reads their writing?  How does their writing fit into their lives?  How will it help them in the future? Writing needs to be meaningful. Children need opportunities to write for a ‘real’ purpose. Of course, they have to write as part of the curriculum. But sometimes the writing tasks we give our learners, have very little to do with their lives and experiences. All too often, we ask the children to write about things that aren’t very important to them. When this happens, learners seldom enjoy writing. But in classrooms where teachers create writing activities – using topics and issues that learners are interested in – learners have a very different attitude to writing. There also need to be times when they can write whatever they think or want to say.

What happens when learners leave school? When will they need to be able to write? What kinds of writing will they need to be able to do?

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Thinking about audience
 Who do your learners write for?  Is it usually for you, the teacher?  Who reads their writing?  Do they read each other’s writing?  Do they ever write for younger learners?

This booklet provides some ideas and suggestions of what a teacher in an Intermediate Phase classroom can do with her/his learners to encourage them to write, and to enjoy writing.

One very important thing a teacher needs to do is to write her/himself. And s/he needs to do this in front of learners, if s/he is serious about getting learners to write, and to write more. S/he also needs to read aloud what s/he has written.

The learners will be really interested in what you have to say, and how you say it! They also have an opportunity to observe an experienced writer writing. Doing this will encourage your learners to write more, themselves!

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Writing and reading
This series of workshops focused on writing. But writing and reading are ‘two sides of the same coin’. It’s like the idiom in isiXhosa, “isandla sihlamba esinye” – one hand washes the other. When we write, we read what we’ve written. Many teachers think of writing and reading as two quite distinct (separate) literacy activities. They plan a lesson around writing, or they plan a lesson around reading. But writing supports reading. When we encourage children to write about what they read, they think more about whatever they’re reading.

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Stories into books
There is another way in which writing can support reading. Teachers can get their learners to turn the stories they write into books. In some schools there are very few books that ‘draw’ children in and make them want to read. A smart strategy for a teacher is to look for and create writing topics that really interest her/his learners.

Drafts
If children are taught to write drafts, this will really help them develop their writing. When they re-work a piece of writing that they have written, they will be able to improve on it. They can take out any unnecessary parts. They can add more detail where they need to. They can choose better words or phrases. And of course, as they write and re-write, the children will be reading what they are writing and re-writing. In this way reading and writing work together.

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JOURNALS AND JOURNAL WRITING
What is a ‘Journal’?
A Journal is usually a book in which you write down your thoughts and ideas. It’s a private place where you can express your feelings. It’s somewhere you can write whenever you want or need to say something. And because a Journal is just for the person who writes in it, s/he can write in whatever way s/he wants. It’s a place to reflect on experiences. Both teachers and learners can benefit from writing regularly in a Journal.

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Why keep a Journal?
A Journal can provide you with a place to think. And because writing takes longer to do than speaking, you have time to think about your thoughts, feelings and ideas. Having time can help you work things out as you think and write. Writing in a Journal can provide a chance for us to ‘stand back’ and think, to reflect on what has happened. Writing in a Journal is a fantastic way to encourage and make space for thinking! This means that when you write in a Journal, you don’t have to worry about how neat your writing is. You don’t have to worry if you’ve spelt the words correctly. You don’t have to worry about whether you’ve written complete sentences. You can write whatever you like, and in whatever way you like. You can write with complete freedom. Your Journal is for you.

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“Writing in a Journal can provide a chance for us to ‘s tand back’ and think, to reflect …”

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If your learners write or draw something on a piece of paper, or find a picture or something else that is important to them, which they want to keep, encourage them to paste it into their Journal. The most important thing about these Journals is that learners can write and draw freely. They don’t need to worry about whether their spelling and grammar are correct, or whether their handwriting is neat. We’ve found that when we encourage learners to keep Journals we learn things about them that we wouldn’t know otherwise.

How can we get learners to keep Journals?
Many Primary School teachers all over the world get their learners to keep Journals. Even some Reception Class children are encouraged to keep Journals!! The children have a special book where they record their thoughts, their ideas and their feelings. Young children draw pictures. Older children draw and write. A small book is the best thing to start with. It’s not so intimidating. If your learners have a thick book, they may feel that they will never fill it. When they have filled one thin book, they can then decide whether or not they want a thicker book to continue writing in.

How can we find time for Journal writing?
We have to make time for Journal writing in the school day. But with all the different learning areas, and their demands, how can a teacher get her/his learners to keep Journals? How can s/he find the time? When you get your learners to write in their Journals, give them just a few minutes to write. Ask them to write something very, very quickly in just 5–10 minutes. Once they realise you won’t worry about their spelling, grammar and handwriting, they will write more and more quickly in this special book. They will begin to record their thoughts and feelings. It’s not so difficult to find 5 minutes at the beginning or end of a lesson. Your learners can also write in their journals when they have a few spare minutes at some point in the day – perhaps after completing a piece of work

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How do we respond to learners’ Journals?
What do we do with our learners’ Journals? If the children write whatever they think or like, how can we mark this writing? The answer is that we DON’T mark Journals. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t respond to what our learners write.

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Friends are very important, aren’t they, Gadija? I’m glad to read that you have a special friend. It’s good to have somebody that you can trust with a secret. What games do you and Aminah like to play? Do you also play together at weekends and in the holidays?
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So how do we do this? If you have a big class, it will be difficult to respond to what each child has written each time they write in their Journals. We have to think of creative and manageable ways to give our learners feedback. One possibility is to try to respond to each child’s Journal once every 3 or 4 weeks. You will need to read through all their entries. Then you can write in comments here and there, between the entries, or in the margin. Make sure that you write as though you are having a conversation with the writer. You can also ask your learners to swap Journals with a partner, and ask them to respond to what their partner has written. They can write down what they found interesting in what their partner wrote. Then they can write down a question – for example, what they would like to know more about. This will stimulate their partner to write more.

Make sure that you write as though you are having a conversation with the writer.

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Remind your learners that they may not ‘mark’ or ‘correct’ their partner’s writing. They can only say something positive about what has been written. And they need to write as though they’re having a conversation with the writer of the Journal.

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What can your learners write about in their Journals?
When you introduce your learners to writing in a Journal, you will probably need to ask them to write about something in particular. Here are some suggestions:  What did you see on your way to school?  Write about the things you like about your best friend.  Think about a time when you were very scared. What frightened you? What did you do? Write about it.

Remind your learners that they may not ‘mark’ or ‘correct’ their partner’s writing. They can only say something positive about what has been written.

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 Think about a time when you were very angry. What made you angry? Why? What did you do? What made you stop feeling angry? Do you still feel angry when you remember that incident? Write about your feelings.  Think of somebody you admire. What is it about that person that you admire? Why?  What are you thinking about – right now?  What can you hear as you sit in your classroom? Listen carefully. Write down what you think is making each sound.  How are you feeling today? Why are you feeling that way?  What you’re afraid of? Why?  What makes you laugh? Why?  What makes you angry? Why?  What makes you cry? Why?  What book are you reading at the moment? Write about one of the characters in the story and why you like or dislike that character.  What do you like to read most?  What makes your family special?  What do you want to be one day? Why? Who influenced you? In what ways?

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Teachers’ Journals
Why should teachers keep Journals? How can a teacher have time to record her/his thoughts, ideas and feelings? We have such busy lives and so many demands are made of us. How can we have time to write anything, anywhere? We barely have time to do the writing required of us.

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Journals can help us in our professional lives. They can provide a space for us to write down our thoughts, feelings and ideas about what is happening in our classes, as well as in our lives outside school. We can write down what we’re trying to do, what actually happens, and

In this way, we make time how we feel. and space to reflect on our practice as teachers and human beings. And this reflection has We used Journals in all our a positive effect on what we do Writing workshops to provoke in our classrooms.

thinking and reflection.

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PROCESS WRITING
What is ‘Process Writing’?
Process writing describes what happens when we write as writers write. This ‘process’ of writing, involves drafting, and editing, and redrafting, and more editing, until at last the writer is fairly satisfied with her/his composition. Poets, songwriters and writers all write in this way. It is important that we teach children how to write using the same process professionals use! When we write, there are two sides to the process: composition and transcription.  Composition is the process of getting ideas, choosing the right words, and the way we want to tell our ‘story’.  Transcription describes the actual process of putting the ideas and words down ‘on paper’, the actual physical process of writing. In other words, we transcribe our thoughts and ideas into letters and words. Transcription involves our handwriting, spelling and grammar.

One of the Assessment Standards for Language in the RNCS document focuses on the process of writing. Look at Assessment Standard LO (Gr) 4.5.

Thinking …

What does a writer do?
When a writer of books writes, the very first thing s/he does is to think of an idea. Then s/he begins to write. S/He doesn’t spend time learning spellings, or practising her/his handwriting. Frank Smith says that when he has an idea for a book, the next thing he thinks about is who he is writing for (in other words, the audience). Then he makes sure he has paper, different coloured pens and pencils, scissors, glue and sticky tape. Then he starts to write.

… writing
Frank Smith has written a great deal about the process of writing and the process of reading. He has written a book called Writing and the Writer. In that book he describes how he goes about writing a book. Also we need to illustrate this.

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First of all he writes down his ideas, just as they come. This is his first draft. Then he reads through what he has written to see how it ‘sounds’, and whether he’s happy with the order in which he’s put his ideas. He may choose to change the order of some of the paragraphs, or the order of some of the phrases in some of the sentences. Sometimes he takes a different coloured pen and makes arrows on the text to show how he wants to re-order these paragraphs or phrases. Or he may take some scissors, cut up the text and then stick the pieces together in a different order. He is preparing a new draft. Frank Smith follows this process until he feels ready to share his writing with a critical friend, or somebody he respects and trusts. He invites that person to comment on what he has written and how he has phrased his ideas. They may suggest re-ordering some parts. They may point out something that doesn’t make sense. When they return the draft to him, Frank Smith decides what changes he wishes to make, and he makes those changes. Then he produces the final piece of writing (or manuscript) to submit to his publisher.

Sometimes he takes a different coloured pen and makes arrows on the text to show how he wants to re-order these paragraphs or phrases. Or he may take some scissors, cut up the text and then stick the pieces together in a different order …

What happens in schools?
Why do teachers usually expect their learners to produce a final draft the first time they work on a piece of writing? Is this fair? When we do this, we are not giving our learners a chance to ‘behave like real writers’. When children have to produce the final draft the first time they write, it means that they have to worry about transcription as well as composition when they write. So they can’t devote all their thoughts to the content of what they’re writing. They can’t just think about composing. At present many teachers are concerned that “Kids can’t write at length”. They can only write short answers. Why is this? What can we do about it? We believe one reason children apparently struggle to write at length is that they worry more about transcription than about composition. When children do this, they often write less as they are nervous and afraid of making spelling mistakes. For this reason it’s useful to suggest that learners first focus on getting their ideas onto the page. Then, later on they can think about spelling, when they are satisfied with their ideas. We believe one reason children apparently struggle to write at length is that they worry more about transcription than about composition.

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Process Writing in an Intermediate Phase class
How can you get your children to write as writers do? How can you get them to ‘behave’ like writers? First of all you need to think about what you want your children to write about. When you are with your class, you could start off by sharing with your learners what writers do. If you tell them how a writer writes a book, this will give them a glimpse into the process of writing. Next, give them time to think and talk before they start to write. They need to think about what they would like to write. It’s a good idea to

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get your learners to work in groups. Each group could elect a ‘scribe’ to write down their ideas, or each one could make her/his own notes. Then they need time to write their first drafts. The amount of time they need will depend on their age and stage of writing. But you will also need to make it quite clear that when they write their first drafts, they should think mostly about the ideas they want to get down. They shouldn’t worry about their spelling, grammar, which language they write in, and how neat their writing is. They just need to write so that a partner can read what they have written.

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A partner reads what was written

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How can learners help one another?
Discuss with your learners how you want them to critically read and comment on one another’s writing. Give them some questions that they can ask to help their partner extend and develop her/his writing.  What did you mean when . . . . . . . . . . . . ?  Why did you choose to use this particular word?  I’m not quite clear about . . . . . . . . . . . ?

I have a big class. How can I help my learners to write, and to write more? How can I read through several drafts of each learner’s writing?

Well, there is something you can do. You can ask your children to edit one another’s drafts. This will also affect how your children write, because they won’t be writing for your eyes only. Their peers will also read what they are writing.

Explain to your learners that they should worry more about composition when they start writing. When they are ready to share their writing, they need to pay attention to their spelling, grammar and the legibility of their work.

Children are very observant. And they can be quite critical. We have found that they enjoy the opportunity to check and comment on one another’s writing. If your learners read and comment on a partner’s draft, and even on a second draft, when they submit their final drafts to you, they will be more ‘finished’. You will also discover more of what your learners can do, rather than what they can’t.

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Writing a Final Draft
When it comes to writing the final draft, explain to your learners that this is the time to ‘polish’ their writing, especially if they are going to show it to someone, put it up on the wall, or into a book in the book corner. Although they will learn this themselves, it will probably be easier if you make this clear. This will mean that they have to take trouble over the presentation, check their spelling and grammar, and make sure that they have expressed their ideas carefully and clearly.

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Final Draft

Ros en Ruan Die storie gaan oor Ros en Ruan. Ruan het in die VSA gaan bly. Ros het hom kom besoek. Toe sy by die deur aankom, was sy so op haar senuwees, dat sy sê: “What’s a nice dump like you doing in a boy like this?” Maar Ruan het geweet wat sy bedoel, en haar ’n stywe drukkie gegee. Ros het gevra: “Hoe gaan dit hier in die VSA?” “Dit gaan goed. Ek is jammer dat ek nie vir jou terug geskryf het nie,” sê hy. Toe vra hy vir Ros: “Sien jy jou pa gereeld?” “Nee,” sê sy. “Hy het Gauteng toe getrek.” Ruan het haar koeldrink en koeksisters aangebied. Sy het die koeldrink gemors.

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USING STORIES
Using Stories “ We dream in narrative, daydream in narrative, remember,
anticipate, hope, despair, believe, doubt, plan, revise, criticise, construct, gossip, learn, hate, and love by narrative. In order really to live, we make up stories about ourselves and others, about the personal as well as the social past and future.” (Hardy 1968:13) Barbara Hardy says, we all tell stories (narrate events in our lives), all the time, both to ourselves, as well as to others. It’s a way that we make sense of our world, our experiences and our feelings. Stories are a way of organising information. They help to develop the imagination, and they are a way to develop and extend language. Stories are also part of our cultural heritage.

Narrative is another word for the word ‘story’.

Using stories to get your learners writing
How can you use stories to get your learners writing? One way that works very well is to start off by giving your learners the beginning of a story.

Nonkungu and the Imbulu
Once upon a time there was a poor man and his wife. They had just one child, a daughter called Nonkungu. One day Nonkungu’s parents sent Nonkungu to stay with her Uncle Mtonyama. Uncle Mtonyama was a rich man. Nonkungu’s mother made Nonkungu a special skirt. And she gave her a beautiful necklace made of beads. Then very early one morning, Nonkungu left her parents and set off for her uncle’s home. On the way Nonkungu came to a stream with stepping-stones. On the other side of the stream there was a girl wearing rags. The young girl greeted Nonkungu and asked, “Where are you going?” “I’m going to visit my Uncle Mtonyama,” said Nonkungu. “Oh that’s good,” said the girl. “Mtonyama is my uncle, too. I’m also going to visit him. We can walk together.” When they had walked a little way, the girl in rags turned to Nonkungu and said, “Your skirt is so pretty. I wish I had a skirt like that. And I wish I had beautiful beads like yours. Please can I try them on?” Nonkungu was a good girl, and a kind girl. She didn’t really want to take off her pretty things, but she felt sad for the girl wearing rags. So she took off her skirt and her beads. The other girl took off her rags and gave them to Nonkungu. Then she put on Nonkungu’s pretty skirt and beautiful beads.

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The River that swept away Liars
Kwathi ke kaloku ngantsomi Chosi, chosi A certain master was on a journey with his servant. It was a long journey on horseback. As they were travelling across the country, the master saw a jackal crossing their path. The master remarked, “This jackal is quite big.” The servant replied, “Oh, Master, this is nothing compared to the one I saw yesterday!” “Is that so?” responded the master. “Oh yes. It was very, very big. In fact it was as big as an ox!” “As big as an ox?” questioned the master. “Yes, as big as an ox,” answered the servant. The master asked again, “You say ‘as big as an ox’?” “Yes, really. As big as an ox,” said the servant. The master did not utter a word and they continued on their way, without talking to each other, for about an hour. The servant noticed that his master was not happy and he didn’t know what was worrying him. So he asked the master what the matter was. The master told him that they would have to cross four rivers before they reached their destination. The last river was the biggest and the most dangerous of all the rivers. This river was allergic to liars, and no liar could escape its wrath. It swept liars there and then down to the deep blue sea. It never missed a liar, even if the liar was to use “umkhwenkwe” for washing. (People used this umkhwenkwe to bring them luck, and to give them power to conquer evil spirits.)

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Umlambo otshayela amaXoki
Inkosana nesicaka sayo babekhwele emahasheni beseluhambeni. Endleleni njalo, enquntsuza amahashe bengawaxheshanga, kungekho nancoko ingako kuba wawumkhulu umhlaba womahluko phakathi kwesicaka nenkosi yaso, kwasuka kwathi thapu impungutye ngaphaya kwetyholo, yanqumla indlela yaya kutshona kwelinye icala. “Kwowu, yankulu ke laa mpungutye!” yothuka yatsho inkosana. “Hayi, Nkosi, awubonabga nto kanti. Mna sendikhe ndabona impungutye enkulu kangangenkabi yenkomo!” satsho isicaka kubonakala ukuba sonelisekile. “Engangenkabi yenkomo? Yhu! Makube yayinkulu loo mpungutye ezweni!” “Inene, Nkosi yam, yiva ukuba ndikuxelela.” Emka wona amahashe kuba kakade ebengakhange apazanyiswe nayiloo mpungutye, ngapandle kokuthi xhungu nje umzuzwana abuye, athbathisa. Inkosana yabonakala ibambelela entloko kanye oku komntu okhumbule into. “Kukho into endilibele ukukuxelela yona singekesuki eBhotwe, kwaye ibalulekile ebantwini abaseluhambeni njengathi aba.” Yatsho inkosana kubonakala nangenkangeleko yayo ukuba iyangxengxeza. “Ingaba yintoni leyo, Nkosi yam?” sabuza isicaka simangalisiwe. “Apha ngaphambili kule ndlela sihamba ngayo kukho umlambo esiza kuwuwela. Ngumlambo odumileyo lowo kuba utshayela amaxoki,” yatsho inkosana. “Uthi lo mlanbo utshayela amaxoki? Uwatshayela kanjani, Nkosam?” sabuza isicaka simangalisiwe.

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Finding a story
First of all, you will need to find an appropriate stor y for your learners. Then you will need to decide how much of the story you are going to give them to read. The idea is to give them a small part of the story so that they have to think about what might have happened before, and what would be likely to follow. Then you need to make enough copies of the story beginning so that there is at least one copy between two learners.
The Snake who bit a girl

Once upon a time there was a Snake who bit a girl and the men of the village were very angry. So they chased him and they chased him, and they chased him all the way down to the river. Now, there was a Man in a boat, and the Snake said,‘Quick! Take me across to the other side.’ ‘What is your hurry?’ said the Man. ‘Never you mind! I’ll tell you afterwards,’ said the Snake. So the Man took him across the river. ‘Now tell, me, what was your hurry?’ said the Man. ‘Oh, me?’ said the Snake. ‘I bit a girl and the men were chasing me, and now I am going to bite you too.’ ‘Ah, you wouldn’t do that,’ said the Man. ‘I’ve just taken you across the river!’ ‘Oh yes, I would,’ said the Snake. ‘There are no good men, anywhere.’ ‘No good men? But there must be some good men.’ ‘Ah no! There are not,’ said the Snake. ‘If you don’t believe me, you go and ask that old Fig Tree over there.’ So the Man went to ask the Fig Tree.

Reading
Hand out the copies and ask your learners to read the extract. If you are working with younger learners you may feel that you should read the story beginning aloud to them. If you choose to do this, make sure that your learners follow your reading with their own copies.

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Raising Questions
Then ask your learners to work in pairs to quickly write down a list of questions that they have about the story beginning. Explain that you don’t want them to think of questions that test what they have read. You want them to think about what they would like to know more about. For example, in the story of “The Snake who bit the Girl” they could write down questions like this.

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These are some of the questions Grade 6 learners thought of when Marlene Rousseau gave them a different story beginning.

Encourage everybody to participate … sometimes the children that struggle with reading and writing think of some of the best possible answers.

Sharing and Thinking of Answers
Now get each pair to join up with another pair and tell your learners to share their questions. When they have read through each other’s questions, tell them to begin to think of, and to talk about, possible answers to some of their questions.

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Going Public
After about 10 minutes, stop your learners. We suggest you ‘conduct’ a class discussion. You will need some large sheets of paper and some kokis or fat crayons. Ask each group to give you one of their questions. When you have written up a question, ask the group what possible answers they have thought of. Encourage the other groups to think of other possible answers to this question. Get your learners to support their suggestions. They will probably have to refer to the passage to check for clues to the answer. This is an important part of the activity. Continue in this way. Try to get a question and possible answers from each group. Don’t just ask the children you can rely on to give you answers. Ask some of your shyer learners. Encourage everybody to participate. When we carried out this activity with Grade 5 learners, we found that some of the children that struggle with reading and writing thought of some of the best possible answers.

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Completing a story
Now get your learners to work with the partner they had for the first activity. Tell them that you want each pair to discuss and write down the rest of the stor y in their own way. Tell them you don’t want just a few sentences. You want proper stories! It’s a good idea to let them do this in a scribbler. If they work on recycled or rough paper, make sure that they write their names on each sheet they use. If your learners really work at this part of the task, it should take them at least half an hour. When they have completed their first draft, collect all the separate sheets of paper to keep them safe.

Try to get a question and possible answers from each group. Don’t just ask the children you can rely on to give you answers.

Edit and second draft
In a later language session, they can edit and improve on this draft, and write a second draft. They may also want to illustrate their writing. You could also get each pair to read their story to another pair, or even to the whole class. Reading publicly like this will help them to ‘hear’ how their writing sounds.

Final draft
When they write their final drafts, encourage them to write as neatly as they can. They could make decorative borders around the pages. Ask them to write their names clearly on their work. Then get your learners to help you put up their work on the classroom wall. Make a label with the title of the beginning of the story you used. Make sure that the arrangement of their work is attractive and draws visitors to the classroom to read it.

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If you carry out this strategy more than once, let your learners decide whether they would like to work with partners or whether they would like to work alone.

How to choose an appropriate story beginning
What makes a good story for your learners? This is quite personal.  First of all, you need to like any story you choose.  Then you also need to read through the story and decide whether the level of readability is appropriate for your learners. Will they be able to read the story beginning and understand what they read?  Is it interesting?  How long must the extract be? Is it long enough to give them enough information to work with?

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This last point is very important. If the story beginning isn’t long enough, there won’t be enough information for the learners to work with. When they try to think of questions, it will be difficult. And then they will find it hard to write.

What if nobody writes anything?
If you have a group of children who struggle with literacy skills, we suggest you work with them. Ask them questions about the extract; questions that will challenge them and make them think. Then write down their ideas. This is what Titi Ngubo did when we worked with her Grade 5s. In this way, the children who have barriers to learning were supported and able to participate fully in the activity.

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WRITING INFORMATION REPORTS
Primary school teachers have always asked their learners to write stories (narratives). But in recent years teachers in some parts of the world have focused on trying to help their learners to write in different styles, or genres. Some of the genres that these teachers focus on are shown below.

Information Report

Recount (describing an event)

DIFFERENT
Explanation Persuasion

Procedure (instructions) Narrative (stories) Discussion

GENRES

We know that books are written in different ways or styles, just as they are written for different purposes. We find recounts in biographies and history books. We find procedures in recipe books and instruction manuals. Narratives are stories. And Information Reports are usually found in science and geography books. When learners are writing, it is useful if they can record their ideas, thoughts, experiences, findings and learnings in an appropriate style. In our workshops we focused on Natural Sciences, so we worked with Information Reports.

Getting your learners to write Information Reports
One Way
It’s really valuable to try to plan to give learners a ‘multi-sensory’ experience. In other words, you want to encourage them to use as many of their senses as they possibly can to look carefully and think about the item or topic you chose. Think of something that your learners know well. Then try to find as many pictures as you can of that item. If you can actually bring in a real example, do that too. At the workshop, we focused on the Aloe Ferox, the fiery aloe. You could also focus on any plants or trees that grow in or around the school.

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First Draft
Ask your learners to think of the item or topic you have chosen, and then ask them to write down the first thing that they think of about this item (eg It has red flowers.). Next ask them to picture this item in their mind’s eye. Tell them to picture it in its usual setting or where it’s usually found. Then ask them to write down 3 things they know about this item. Then ask them to write a sentence that finishes off what they have written. This will result in the first draft of their writing.

Aloe Ferox, known as Bitteraalwyn, iKhala … in its natural habitat in the Cederberg (left), and on the Southern Cape coast.

Combining ideas …

Second Draft
When everybody has finished writing, ask them to share what they have written with one or two other people. Ask them to combine their ideas to produce a joint second draft. In this process, you are asking your learners to discuss, edit and re-draft. If the groups are small, everybody will have a chance to contribute to the second draft that their group produces.

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Third Draft
How can they improve what they have written? For the third draft, hand out several pictures of the item to each group. Ask your learners to study the pictures carefully. Then tell them to add any further details, or to make any changes to what they have written.

Pictures offer a chance for members of the group to share their knowledge. At the workshop some of the teachers knew about the bitter sap (juice) of Aloe leaves. The picture of a cut leaf oozing sap gave them a chance to share this information.

Final Draft
If you have been able to either bring in the ‘real thing’, or it is somewhere on the school premises, either show it to your learners, or take them to look at it. If you can, let them touch and really examine the item carefully.

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Now get your learners to read through their third draft and discuss what they have written. Do they want to add any more details? When they saw the ‘real thing’, did they notice or remember something else? If so, ask them to add this information to what they have already written.

Y Y Y Y Y

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At the workshop, we took the teachers outside to see some examples of Aloe Ferox growing at Edith Stephens. This was another way of gathering information or doing some research. We were able to actually touch an aloe. We could feel the spines along the edges of the fat succulent leaves. We could look more closely at what remained of some of the flowers, and at the seed-pods.

Finally, tell them you want them to produce a piece of writing which gives as much information as they can about the item they have been thinking about. Tell them you want them to do their very best. At this point they will need to think about their handwriting and their spelling and grammar. They have had plenty of time to think about the composing side of writing. Now is the time to think about the transcribing side. If you give your learners an experience like this, they will be able to tap into the knowledge and information they already possess. They will be able to use their imaginations, use their eyes to look at pictures, and possibly look at the ‘real thing’. They will have a truly ‘multi-sensory’ experience.

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Marlene tried this technique when she was teaching at a rural school last year. This is what she wrote:

who were the weakest readers in the Grade. The children went outside in pairs, chose a plant, bush or tree and then lay, sat and drew their thing. The drawings were beautiful! We gathered around each thing they had chosen, talked about it as a group, then they wrote their first drafts.”

“When I did this last year, I worked with a group of Grade 6s

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Other Ways
But this is not the only way to help your learners write information reports. You could also give them an example of a short text about a particular item. You could get them to read the text. Then you could ask them how the text has been written. What does the first sentence tell us? Next you could ask them about the rest of the text. How is it written? What does it tell them? How is the information ordered? And then finally, what can they tell you about the last sentence? You could also use several different short texts about the same item or topic. You could prepare some questions to guide your learners, and write these questions on card. Then you could ask your learners to work in groups to see how these information reports have been constructed. When you have unpacked how the text has been written, your learners will see how an information text is constructed. This will help them to know what kind of things they need to write down when they themselves write information reports. Encourage them to use their own words. They may wish to borrow phrases from the text they’ve read, but it’s much better if they compose their own sentences and use their own words. They will be more likely to remember the information.

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Try to make sure that you have some kind of ‘surprise’ for your learners. This will help to get and hold their interest. It will also provoke their thinking.

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PLANNING AND ASSESSMENT
How did we plan language experiences at workshops?
We spent some time at each workshop in this series thinking about planning and assessing literacy experiences. First, teachers experienced something for themselves (on the first afternoon of the workshop). The following afternoon we thought about how we could plan to carry out that experience with Intermediate Phase learners. The PSP wanted to develop something that would help teachers plan for a unit of language learning experiences that could last up to two weeks or more. So we adapted the PSP planning format for science lessons. Blank Planning sheets for educators to photocopy, follow on pages 34 and 35. Elaine Green from Disa Primary School tried out the first version of the lesson plan format and brought her completed plan to share with us. Her lesson plan follows on pages 36 and 37.

Planning a series of activities around a story (text)
These are the questions we asked ourselves when we planned how we could use a story with learners:  Which Learning Outcomes?
If you make a mind map on your planning form, do it in a way that works for you. Remember, you don’t have to fill up the form. Just note down what is useful for you.

 Which Assessment Standards? (LO1.1; LO2.4; L03.1; LO 4.3)  What activities? (telling a story, telling/writing the ending of a story, or about the characters, setting, plot, critical literacy)  What would be an appropriate Assessment Task? (What do you want to assess?)  How do the activities connect and lead logically to an Assessment Task? Then look at the RNCS document and ask yourself  What else can I include in this plan?  What other Assessment Standards does this topic touch?

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Planning for learners to write Information Reports
These are the steps we followed when we planned to get learners to write Information Reports:  What topic or stimulus will I use?  How shall I introduce this type of writing?  How can I assess it? What criteria will I use?  Will learners work in pairs or small groups? Ask yourself, “What do I want to assess?” Decide on the outcome that you want to assess. Then look at the Assessment Standards under that outcome. The Assessment Standards are there to guide you. They are a checklist to ensure you cover them all during the course of the year. Choose 1 or 2, and then plan an Assessment Task that fits. At the workshop, some good ideas were raised in group discussion. Sabelo Makubalo and Zuki Njimbana teach the same children at Sophakama. Sabelo teaches them English first additional language. Zuki teaches them isiXhosa. We talked about how the children they teach could go through the same process for both languages. But, as a teacher, you would expect a shorter piece of writing when children write in English, than when they write in isiXhosa.

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Adjust your pace according to needs of your learners. Ask them if you can move quickly through some information.

Plan and teach all the Assessment Standards. But DON’T assess them. Assess at the Learning Outcome level.

How long is a Learning Experience?
A Learning Experience can be one lesson, or it can last for a period of 2 weeks or more. It depends on the learners’ interest and how deeply and broadly you want to deal with the topic. Sabelo Makubalo made the point that if a learning experience is to last 2 weeks, there must be enough in the plan to challenge the learners, and to actually require that length of time. This is important. Sometimes a teacher finds that a topic is only long enough for one week. When we plan we need to make sure that there is enough work to interest and challenge learners. If we are going to spend 2 weeks getting children to experience writing Information Reports, they need lots of practise writing in this way. They need time to write several drafts. They need opportunities to work in groups. And they need to write about not just one topic, but about two or three.

Don’t try to assess everything you give your learners to do!

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DETAILED PLANNING FOR LANGUAGE LEARNING EXPERIENCE

Teacher ...................................................................... Grade .............................

Topic ......................................... Duration ............................................................

LO(s) ............................ Assessment Standard(s) ..............................

Texts (Stories, poems, instructions, notices, diagrams, graphs, maps, photographs and pictures, advertisements, etc)

Plan of the learning experience (introduction, contents, learning tasks, consolidation)
.............................................................................................................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................................................................................................. ..............................................................................................................................................................................................

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............................................................................................................................................................................................. ............................................................................................................................................................................................. ............................................................................................................................................................................................. ............................................................................................................................................................................................. ............................................................................................................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................................................................................................
Assesment tasks

Modes of communication for assessment tasks Speaking Acting out Reading Written work Drawing Making models

Assessor/s Evaluator/s Self Peer Educator Class panel Another educator

............................................................................................................................................................................................. ............................................................................................................................................................................................. ............................................................................................................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................................................................................................

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DETAILED PLANNING FOR LANGUAGE LEARNING EXPERIENCE

Mrs E.D. Green 7 G: Eng Teacher ...................................................................... Grade ............................. Myself 2 weeks (26 Jan–10 February) Topic ............................... Duration ......................................................................

1–5 7. 4.1 – 7. 4.4 LO(s) .................................................... Assessment Standard(s) ..........................
Listening Speaking worksheet Reading Eng. Viewing /(Editing) Writing Thinking & Reasoning (Logical sequence of paragraphs)
Focus: ORAL DISCUSSION

Giving information about yourself (descriptive comp.) Mindmap Brainstorming Editing - First Draft Fnal Draft

Learners give info about themselves ( PRODUCT) RAFT NAL D s FI write rner hs Lea grap ELF ra 3 pa - MYS

WRITING
FIRST DRA FT Editing

WORKSHEET - QUESTIONAIRE TOPIC - MYSELF PARAGRAPHING. (Sequence of para. INTRO / CONTENT / CONCLUSION

Plan of the learning experience (introduction, contents, learning tasks, consolidation)
.......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

INTRODUCTION: By Educator

.......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

ORAL DISCUSSION ON: We are unique

.......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

We are special - Each of us have our own thumb priunt - even twins have a different fingerprint.

.......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

.......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

CONTENT: ORAL DISCUSSION - Myself: Learners given an opportunity to talk about themselves - who they are / age / hobbies / Other things

.......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

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.............................................................................................................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................................................................................................. Assessment tasks

Assessing: Learners’ compositions (Final Draft) 1. Look at sequence of paragraphs 2. Look at content (info about themselves) 3. Look at Sp & Punctuation
Modes of communication for assessment tasks Assessor/s Evaluators

Speaking Acting out Reading Written work Drawing Making models Working for the environment

Self Peer Educator Class panel Another educator Outside expert

Reflection (Notes for future: What worked well? What could I do differently?) .............................................................................................................................................................................................. Discussion: Goals in Life! (What you would like to be) .............................................................................................................................................................................................. Discussion on: Careers – Career choices. Occupations. Choices that we make affect out ..............................................................................................................................................................................................
.............................................................................................................................................................................................. ..............................................................................................................................................................................................

future. What you would like to be and why?

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Academia
Hayley Ford Evan Petersen

Silulami Nkqezo NB William

Luleka
FNC Faas Nomakhosazana Memani FW Nofemela Phikolomzi Tofile

Olga N Mlanjeni Mandisa Mtyuda Ndileka Mxenge

Athwood
Doreen Alexander Gavin Katz

Siyazakhe
Rachelle Armontrille Ruby Gxula Phumla Kibido NA Plaatjie

Bonga
Ms LL Ndoni Ms NC Vanqa

Luzuko
Tony-Timothy Thobane Sindisa Tobi

Siyazingisa
Malibongwe Dlepu A Madubedube B Wambi

Chumisa
Grace Mtsiba Nomakhaya Nigiza Morgan Ntelezi Bukelwa Nxazonke

Lwazi
Ms T Gubayo Ms ND Maliti Mr V Somwahla

Sobambisana
Nomzamo Boqwana Penrose Kitty Thembisa Lubambo Vuyelwa Magitshini Mpho Mokomele Nondindi Stuurman

Disa
Elaine Green

Manenberg
Badronesa Abrahams Fuldilah Jacobs Christina Leite

Ekuthuleni
Nomakhosi Bomvana Nolulu Mayi

Masiphumelele
Nontle Bikitsha Lulama Gigi Mcoseleli Nyalambisa Xoliswa Qendwana Nozizwe Silimela

Sophakama
Thami Cekiso Sabelo Makubalo Lindelwa Matyebe Nosicelo Mkwambi Tamaria Mqulwana Thandeka Mvovo Zukiswa Njimbana

Entshona
Bukiwe Mafika-Mahobe Sibongile Piyose

Hopolang
PC Letuka Maxwell Mojakisane

Nomsa Mapongwana
Fundiswa Bala B Ntoyi Nositembiso Ralgana-Mjindi

Imbasa
Nontuthuzelo Giyose Nomarashiya Kili Sindiswa Magugwana Vuyelwa Ndunduzela

Thembaletu
Thanduxolo Mthalane Anele Zita

Ntwasahlobo
Xoliswa Njemla Bulelwa Sokufudumala

UMangaliso
Lydia Khuthuka Nomhle Mcoso

Isikhokelo
Doreen Donkrag Carol Guqa Nomsa Tomas

Qingqa
Amigo Z Bayile Mandisa Ntlabati

Vuyani
Nozuko Alam Chwayita Gobile Nokoxola Ndlwana-Poswa

Kuyasa
Nomsa Jack Sandile Jonase Zanele Maliti Ntshukumo Mbangata Khayalethu Menisi Manelisi Mhlauli Andile Mjambane Thabisa Mpulu Nolitha Ngqawana Nozibele Niki Bongani Somtsewu

Saambou
Angelo Valentine

Sakumlandela
VO Bingwa Ntombekaya Gwentshula Nompumelelo May Chriselda Mokomele

Weltevreden Valley
Patrick Dibakoane Busiswa Nomhle Giyose Loyiso P Ladlokova Kolekile Sokani Norah Nomalizo Zembetha

Samora Machel
Nobonile Koti Cikizwa Malgas Buyelwa Pani Nontsikelelo Zibi

Zimasa
Noluthando Magodla

Linge
Mteleleli France Nomva Malima Velile Tongo Nombulelo Tyandela

Siviwe
Sindiswa Mtabeko

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We would like to thank Ms Titi Ngubo and her learners at Linge Primary School in Nyanga, Cape Town for their help in trialling some of the activities in this booklet. We would also like to thank Marlene Rousseau and the teachers and children she has worked with in the Plettenberg Bay area.

Siyabulela
Nonyameko Gaika Nomthandazo Kona Nonceba Mafanya Nokuzola Mayekiso Phumla Mdemka

Litha
Monwabisi Bikakeni AM Mgijima Ms ZG (Titi) Ngubo

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