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 Post subject: boys and literacy
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:07 am 
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Hello,

Not sure what I'm asking here, perhaps for some advice/ reassurance. My DS's end of year report came back with a 4C for reading and a 2A for literacy. At the end of year 2 he had a 3 for reading and a 2A for literacy, so he clearly hasn't advanced at all. He brought home his literacy class book last week and there were lots of comments like 'excellent story plan. can't wait to read the story' and then the story would be 2 lines long or 'excellent opening paragraph, next time try to write a bit more'. At home, recently, we've been doing stories together. We'll plan it on one day, then write the beginning, middle and end on the following 3 consecutive days. Each day this can take up to about 45 mins. At school, they seem to structure everything differently with story mountains and staircases. And I do have to prompt DS a lot to get on with the writing; or about what will come next. Obviously, at school, they don't have time to do this for every child.

One story that we planned at home, and which he then had to write up at school over the course of a week, was especially commented upon in the report as 'particularly impressive' and demonstrated his 'incredible flair for writing' of which his teacher would like to see a lot more!

Can anyone advise how I can help him focus more in the class, so that he can get stuff down? He seems confident enough (now) writing stories at home, but says he gets put off when he sees the girl next to him moving onto her 4th sheet :shock: and he's only just completed a paragraph.

Sorry for the long ramble. I'm just upset and annoyed that he seems to have made zero progress this year. I don't want his confidence knocked further. :(

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 Post subject: Re: boys and literacy
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:29 am 
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fatbananas wrote:
Hello,

Not sure what I'm asking here, perhaps for some advice/ reassurance. My DS's end of year report came back with a 4C for reading and a 2A for literacy. At the end of year 2 he had a 3 for reading and a 2A for literacy, so he clearly hasn't advanced at all. He brought home his literacy class book last week and there were lots of comments like 'excellent story plan. can't wait to read the story' and then the story would be 2 lines long or 'excellent opening paragraph, next time try to write a bit more'. At home, recently, we've been doing stories together. We'll plan it on one day, then write the beginning, middle and end on the following 3 consecutive days. Each day this can take up to about 45 mins. At school, they seem to structure everything differently with story mountains and staircases. And I do have to prompt DS a lot to get on with the writing; or about what will come next. Obviously, at school, they don't have time to do this for every child.

One story that we planned at home, and which he then had to write up at school over the course of a week, was especially commented upon in the report as 'particularly impressive' and demonstrated his 'incredible flair for writing' of which his teacher would like to see a lot more!

Can anyone advise how I can help him focus more in the class, so that he can get stuff down? He seems confident enough (now) writing stories at home, but says he gets put off when he sees the girl next to him moving onto her 4th sheet :shock: and he's only just completed a paragraph.

Sorry for the long ramble. I'm just upset and annoyed that he seems to have made zero progress this year. I don't want his confidence knocked further. :(


What year is he in? When you say a 2a for literacy, do you mean for writing?


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 Post subject: Re: boys and literacy
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:48 am 
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I'm guessing year 3 as you are comparing with a year 2 result?

Fantastic reading result. If they assessed this with a written reading comprehension then he must be able to express himself at school somehow.

It seems to me that you are not seeing "no progress" but a mismatch between what he does at home and what he does at school.

Ideally you should be able to discuss this with school .......... in reality, I'm not sure how. But they must be thinking about it internally --- no progress is certainly not what they are aiming at in KS2!! So you could do worse than ask them what they are doing about his lack of progress and offer to show them more of what he does at home?

Maybe they could agree that he could finish writing tasks at home each week so that he gets the satisfaction of finishing things and they can see what he can really do? I'm really not sure that timing is critical. If he writes a good story does it matter if he does it in 5 minutes or 3 weeks? Authors are certainly not measured by their speed - although of course their earnings might reflect it.

I suspect that suddenly the focus of school literacy lessons is all going to change anyhow as this lot are going to have a new punctuation, grammar, spelling test at the end of year 6. Writing is going to be teacher assessed only at KS2.

So if you know he can write something OK at home then maybe don't stress about it? It sounds like you are giving far better input than school.


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 Post subject: Re: boys and literacy
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:58 am 
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I will resist getting too embroiled in this as I am sure you know my opinions well enough by now. :D

But... It is well known that children will perform differently when they are allowed to set their own tasks and agenda as they can at home (I assume you are not standing over him, choosing story topics etc) versus when they know the school is looking for good spelling, punctuation etc. Kids writing freely will usually be more creative, more imaginative and less accurate than at school. My own children's writing was used in some doctoral research and this was very clear- I never tried to guide or influence what they did at home and it was very clearly totally different from teacher-led tasks at school.

Eventually it will all come together. My advice (OK, mystery, it's predictable) is to lay off completely at home - just make sure there are interesting writing materials 'to hand'. Don't criticise, don't 'suggest improvements' and particularly don't try to correct the technicalities, just leave that to the school. If he enjoys writing, that is great - make sure you don't kill it! Then relax. He is only 7. My boys were writing for fun this weekend - they are 13 and 11 and had all of us, plus friends, in fits of laughter at the ironic stuff they had written. I am convinced this is partly because of the approach I took when they were younger.


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 Post subject: Re: boys and literacy
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 10:18 am 
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Thanks everyone for replying. :)

Mystery, thanks for, once again, giving such a thoughtful reply. I had heard about the new grammar/ punctuation tests but had no idea that KS2 writing was going to be teacher assessed. I think I need to go in and see his new literacy teacher early next year (not sure who it is yet) and mention some of the things you suggest like bringing work home; or whatever else they can suggest that will help. His current teacher is leaving. He commented about how DS didn't contribute much in class discussions. This is in stark contrast to every other subject with different teachers who all praised his have-a-go attitude. I feel he has really knocked DS's confidence and that makes me particularly cross!

Amber, I always value your input and perspective. It hasn't been too onerous getting DS to do stories. He actually now really enjoys it and I love to see the joy on his face when he comes up with a particularly clever plot twist or delicious phrase. I'm going to make up a little book of his stories, so he's got something concrete in front of him to feel proud of and 'like an author'. And thanks for the reassurance that it will all come together. The disconnect between what he does at school and what he does at home; the disconnect between his reading level and his writing level, makes me just pray that they catch up with each other at some point.

I do wonder, though, why he's getting so little down in the classroom. I'm wondering what the dynamic is like in there which stops him thinking clearly.

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 Post subject: Re: boys and literacy
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 10:26 am 
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You know what I am going to say! :wink:

Why are you 'getting him to do stories'?

I will stop there. :oops:


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 Post subject: Re: boys and literacy
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 10:29 am 
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At the risk of being shot down, I'm tempted to say "it's just a boy thing". My 2 DSs can't seem to get anything down on paper when they are at school. They are both bright, have extremely good vocabularies, enjoy reading etc, etc, but if they are set a writing task they seem (particularly the year 6 one) to get absolutely nothing down on paper. I'm kind of hoping it will all come together...


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 Post subject: Re: boys and literacy
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 10:37 am 
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I think it's too busy, too noisy, too rushed, and as Amber says, they are being forced to write about something they don't necessarily want to write about.

Then there's all the pressure to use "wow" words. I really don't remember being taught to write like that. We were taught the basic necessities at junior age. We enjoyed writing stories at home for homework - we had some very wide choices. Our "flowery" writing developed at senior school. We just enjoyed it at junior school. When we did write creatively at junior school we had a quiet room, our own desk, lots of time, and a pretty free choice of what to write I seem to remember. And no-one graded it - we just received appropriate praise along with some constructive criticism.

By contrast, my year 1 daughter has been stressed about writing at school from the start of year 1. She loved writing at home before that. She hates not finishing a story, and she hates having to write about a specific topic e.g. an alien, and she hates being forced to think up loads of adjectives (or maybe worse still take them from a list of "wow-words" because she's been placed in a grotty writing group because she doesn't finish things at school!) when she just wants to get her story idea down from beginning to end.

I wasn't really thinking that you would make him slave over finishing his school stories at home every week. But if he wanted to finish them then this would be very satisfying all round. It would also enable you to see that his 2a is probably not "lack of progress" but something else, which you might never put your finger on because you can't observe him at school, coming into play. It would also enable you to have a meaningful conversation with school about the home-school differences.

I agree with you Amber that none of it matters - particularly if his writing is developing over time despite what is not happening at school. However, some schools are very rigid in their groupings and they use these end of year levels to group the children next year, and determine the literacy tasks they are given the opportunity to carry out. It can become very self-defeating. Hopefully Fatbananas' school is not like that!


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 Post subject: Re: boys and literacy
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 10:46 am 
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:lol: Amber: because I'm not as secure and confident as you, and I see my little boy feeling bruised by yet again not finishing a story at school, and I want to help him. And, in fairness to me, and backing up your experience, we both find he CAN actually do it and CAN actually enjoy doing it! (But I do take your point ...)

Scary Mum: Have you seen some sort of progression, albeit perhaps slow, in the amount they get down on paper from year 3 to year 6?

Mystery: last week DS came home, despondent, because he'd written a story plan in one lesson, had had it handed back to him the following day because his story plan didn't contain enough of the 'fixed' vocab that his teacher wanted all the DC to include in their stories (and which my DS thought was 'boring'). So he had to write the whole story plan out again, putting in this 'fixed' vocab (which took most of that lesson) which meant he was a whole lesson behind everyone else with their story from the start. I was livid. My DS did then ask the teacher if he could bring the story home so that he could finish it off (DS said he was feeling desperate by this point) and the teacher assented, perhaps seeing he was on the edge of tears. He then happily finished it off that evening and it was bl***y good (if I'm aloud to say that!).

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 Post subject: Re: boys and literacy
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:00 am 
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Yep, sometimes I think I live in my own little world and our school is unique. It would seem not to be the case though Fatbananas (unless your son is in my DD1's class!!).

Hopefully our respective schools will leave off the creative writing soon and slave over punctuation ever day. Far from stifling creativity this will mean they'll come home desperate to write stories and, so long as we pretend we really would rather they got down to some serious playing TV watching, they will proceed to write their own flights of fancy, however they like, until the day of their O' level English when they will magically turn out composition after composition in marvellous prose.


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