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Reluctant writers? 10 top tips to help primary pupils write poetry

The Guardian – Kate Williams

“Poetry is a mysterious concept to many children and when you ask students to pen a poem, less confident writers can freeze up. So start with a big dollop of reassurance. Tell them there’s no right or wrong in poetry, as long as it makes you go “Wow!” List all the fun things you can do with a poem – such as sing it, set it to a beat, put it in a picture, inside a card, round the walls in giant letters, on the stage in a performance – to sweep away the mystery. Inspire students by showing some crazy shape poems and suggesting they re-write theirs in shapes afterwards, or read a funny or spooky verse.”(more)

Report: Writing Skill a ‘Gatekeeper’ and ‘Ticket to Work’

Education News – Kristin Decarr

“A new study from the College Board discovered that writing is considered to be a “threshold skill” for hiring and promotions among eight million people in the United States today. The survey, “Writing: A Ticket to Work, Or a Ticket Out,” revealed that employers put billions of dollars into the correction of writing deficiencies each year. Survey findings uncovered 50% of responding companies reporting that writing is taken into consideration when hiring professional employees. “In most cases, writing ability could be your ticket in…or it could be your ticket out,” said one respondent. In addition, respondents routinely wrote in that applicants with poor writing skills are typically not hired. Those that do receive an opportunity with a company usually do not last long enough to be considered for a promotion.”(more)

How to teach … handwriting

The Guardian – Zofia Niemtus

“Is there any point in learning to write with a pen or pencil in 2016? Of course there is. Yes, the rise of the machines means that we are probably more likely to use the notebook function on our phones than to hold an actual notebook in our hands. And yes, this may mean that we are at risk of losing the ability to write legibly. But are paper and pen dead? Not for your pupils, who will have to sit at least some of their exams using them. So how can you help your classes to master this vital skill?.”(more)

Helping Students Find “Voice” in Their Writing

Education World – Keith Lambert

“Elementary teachers set the foundation for the work. Middle school teachers begin to build the framework to master structure. High school teachers work to support students to go beyond frameworks and truly discover their personality on the page. Each of these steps are critical to an emerging writer’s journey to finding their voice. But voice is a tough battle to fight. We all know what it looks like when a student is stuck to a rote structure. That robotic voice and stiff flow, as a student does their best to replicate writing formats they have been taught to follow step-by-step. We know that’s not them; not writing that comes from the heart. It’s a student completing a task to please their teacher. But how do we encourage students to explore their own writing style when they are still struggling with internalizing the basics of organization and writer’s purpose? Today, Education World examines teaching the elusive “voice”: ways to explore it with students, some strategies for teaching it, as well as some helpful resources to extend the work.”(more)

Almost half of English school students failing to make the grade, says report

The Guardian – Staff Writer

“Almost half of all students at certain stages of education in England are still not achieving expected standards of success, a report has found. About 43% of children are not leaving primary school having reached adequate levels of reading, writing and maths, according to analysis from the thinktank CentreForum and research body Education DataLab. This level is set at achieving a 4b grade – sometimes referred to as a “good” level 4 – or higher in the three key subjects at the end of key stage 2, which usually lasts from the ages of seven to 11. Forty-four per cent of pupils finishing secondary school are not achieving the national standard of five A* to C in GCSEs, the report finds. But the level of attainment has risen over the course of the past decade, the report adds, recommending a higher “new benchmark standard” to which pupils can be held.”(more)

Kids grasp words as symbols before learning to read

ScienceNews – BRUCE BOWER

“Preschoolers read a lot into writing before they know how to read. Youngsters befuddled by printed squiggles on the pages of a storybook nonetheless understand that a written word, unlike a drawing, stands for a specific spoken word, say psychologist Rebecca Treiman of Washington University in St. Louis and her colleagues. Children as young as 3 can be tested for a budding understanding of writing’s symbolic meaning, the researchers conclude January 6 in Child Development. “Our results show that young children have surprisingly advanced knowledge about the fundamental properties of writing,” Treiman says. “This knowledge isn’t explicitly taught to children but probably gained through early exposure to print from sources such as books and computers.” Preschoolers who are regularly read to have an advantage in learning that written words have specific meanings, suspects psychologist Roberta Golinkoff of the University of Delaware in Newark.”(more)