Children at Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School Mosman have been improving their writing by speaking.
A yearly public speaking competition, watching the news and clear expectations have all encouraged students to better understand how they can create more engaging writing pieces using persuasive language and a broad vocabulary.
Earlier this year, staff and students presented their progress at a day writing workshop for parents, which modelled the way children were using clear expectations to advance results.
‘The writing workshops were really a culmination of a two-year goal that we’ve had in professional development for the teachers and learning for the children,’ said Principal Julie Caldwell.
‘We showed parents the link between speaking, reading and writing, and how that ability to speak well is linked to reading a lot, and is linked to writing well too.’
Students from all three stages presented speeches for parents designed to demonstrate the highest standard of achievement for children in their year.
Year 6 student Henry Burton presented his speech on how rejection creates success. He and his classmates have also been using feedback, including that their writing may not currently meet grade requirements, to create goals that help them improve.
‘We got introduced to what’s called a Bump it Up wall,’ Henry said. ‘So we have a below grade level, at grade level and an above grade level writing piece, and then we compare our work to each phase. We’re able to see what we can try to improve on.’
‘You want to put yourself at the highest level, but sometimes you’re not there, and it shows great maturity to put yourself in the middle.’
‘You’ve always got to think that it’s constructive criticism, and it’s always to make you better not worse.’
From this point, Ms Caldwell explained, students are able to set concrete objectives that will help them move forward from whatever starting point they’re currently at, which could be as simple as using full stops or adding capital letters at the beginning of a sentence.
‘The goals are quite incremental,’ Ms Caldwell said. “Each class will have had a different group of success criteria, aimed around that middle of the grade, and then they’ll be shown ‘well if I’ve achieved that then these are the next steps to success’.’