One of my colleagues, @sarahjpe, introduced me to the Flipped Classroom Modelled at a teaching and learning INSET and I was unsure how it would work initially, yet I was excited by its potential and decided to explore how I could use this to support the teaching of literacy and grammar skills.
So last term I set about establishing all the material I wanted my high ability Year 10 pupils to be able to access for a creative writing piece on Edmodo. Using the AQA mark scheme for creative writing controlled assessments, I established a few key aspects of writing that I wanted my pupils to be able to explore and manipulate:
- imagination and originality;
- sentence variety;
- punctuation variety;
- accuracy of SPaG;
- variation in vocabulary;
- understanding of tone;
- awareness of structure for effect, linked to paragraphing skills.
The BIG Question I then introduced my class to our BIG QUESTION as a focus for the project, designed using keywords from the assessment objectives and mark scheme: what makes a sophisticated and engaging piece of creative writing? The aim of the game being that pupils should work towards the higher band skills in their writing whilst focusing on technical accuracy and its manipulation.
To start with, we began with a class discussion and I asked pupils to identify key aspects in response to the big question and ideas consisted mainly of: a clear beginning, middle and end; an exciting/interesting plot; good characters; it makes you want to read on. These responses were shared via post-it notes on our learning wall so we could track our learning journey, see image top right.
Whilst these ideas were perfectly valid, they failed to address the intricacies of how we might achieve these goals and were lacking the focus required if pupils were to understand exactly how to fulfil the assessment objectives.
With this in mind, each week, there was a homework task attributed to one of the skills mentioned earlier (sentence variety etc.) and, with thanks to resources from @MrBruff and @literacylender, I uploaded videos and resources to inspire pupils’ thinking and to deliver the ‘teacher led’ aspect of pupils’ learning at home. Admittedly, this took some time, planning and preparation, but this was to be beneficial to the project and would save me a great deal of time later on. So, for homework, pupils watched videos and responded to my questions and to each other using the online sharing site Edmodo, @edmodo.
For example, for the first homework task pupils had to watch a video all about different sentence types and another about how to vary sentence openings for effect. The following lesson, I gave pupils a series of images to choose from and, in groups, pupils had to produce two creative and descriptive paragraphs about their chosen images, some of the results of this process can be seen on page 26 (see image in magazine).
Immediately, with very little input from me, I could see pupils engaging with the crux of how to develop and craft an engaging piece of writing through sentence variation; using simple and compound sentences, adverbial clauses, minor sentences and so on. I was impressed!
This was then followed up with lead learners in the classroom delivering a session to their peers about what they had learnt on Edmodo so I could ensure clarity of understanding amongst pupils and resolve any issues or uncertainties. Below, was a task designed by pupils to support understanding of simple, compound and complex sentences. The lead learners placed different types of sentences onto different coloured postit notes and asked the class to categorise them. They then showed the class how a piece of writing was most effective when these sentence types were varied by moving the postit notes around – this was all their own idea!
Proof-Reading, Peer Assessment & Purple Pens for Progress!
Once the lead learners had delivered their lessons and we had ensured a consistency of understanding as a class, this then allowed chance for the groups to work on the vital skills of proof-reading, editing and revising and their original paragraphs were peer assessed using green pens and improvements were then made using purple pens for progress. The process of writing and improving our writing was then clearly highlighted, below (see image in magazine).
This then allowed groups to produce best examples of creative writing, which in turn provided inspiration for their controlled assessment pieces.
Following this process pupils were asked once again to focus on the BIG QUESTION: what makes a sophisticated and engaging piece of creative writing? However, this time, pupils’ responses…
This is an extract from the March 2015 Edition of UKEdMagazine. Freely read the Online Version by Clicking here.
Nicola Snelling has been teaching for six years and is currently Assistant Curriculum Leader of English with responsibility for KS4 and literacy across the curriculum at a Catholic secondary school in the North West of England.