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Part 3 – Independent writing

Dictation enables children to write independently. Several examples are shown, as well as ideas for stimulating independent writing.

 

Part 3: Independent writing

 

In Step 3, the children learnt how to write sentences from dictation. These sentences used only those tricky words that had been taught and words that the children could write by listening for the sounds in the words. For example, the teacher might ask the children to write the sentence They are in the hot tub. [demonstration].

 

Once the tricky words in Step 4 have been taught, even more sentences for dictation become available. These sentences have been carefully chosen to use only the first 42 letter sounds and the tricky words in Steps 3 and 4. They are available for downloading in the usual way, either by scrolling down to the bottom of the screen in Step 4 or by going to the Resources section on the home page.

 

However, the ultimate goal is for the children to be able to write independently. In theory this is now possible: the children know one way of representing the main sounds of English and they know how to listen for the sounds in words and choose letters for those sounds. This enables them to create their own stories and write their own news: for example, a child might want to write My dad took us to the pictures [demonstration]. Not all the words will be correctly spelt – Mie dad tooc us to the pichers, for example – but they should be phonically sensible, and other people will be able to read the work.

 

This is extremely empowering and a fantastic way of learning how to write, as the children can put down what they want to say. Many of the children find this easy and are able to be creative and imaginative. It is just lovely being able to read what the children are thinking. This step-by-step teaching makes it achievable. [Children’s work displayed, showing what is typically achieved in the first year of learning to read and write, including writing that it based on the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill, Kipper stories, and animal topic work.]

 

Writing like this, I think, is just delightful. Three quarters of the children can usually do a few sentences after one year of synthetic phonics teaching. The other children will be a little slower to get started and will get to this stage a little later. So now let us look at the children at the end of their second year of synthetic phonics. This child [work shown] has written her news in sentences, you can see that there are more words spelt accurately, and it is beautifully neat as well. Here [two examples shown], the stories were developed by the whole class by looking at six pictures that illustrated a story but had been muddled up. Through discussion, the story evolved and the pictures were put in the correct order. The first sentence was written on the board to get the children going; they copied the sentence and then wrote the rest of the story by themselves. This type of re-telling of a story is usually easier than creating one completely from the children’s imagination.

 

I think it is quite amazing what can be achieved. It might be tempting to think that only the best examples are being shown, but here we have the work of the whole class [work displayed]. These children were in their second year at school and virtually all of them were six years old: none of them were seven. They had watched a television programme about the famous Greyfriar’s Bobby, a dog that was loving and faithful to his master. Once again the first sentence was written on the board and the children had to write that sentence and then finish off the story [samples shown and one read out aloud]. The vast majority of these very ordinary children have learnt not only how to write, but also how to do it neatly and in joined-up writing. This was achieved by teaching the children to hear the sounds in words, showing them how to write the letters linked to the sounds, and then practising the skills through dictation (starting with letter-sounds dictation and progressing to words and then sentences, just in the way that has been explained in Steps 1 to 3).

 

This is an incredibly successful way of teaching children to write.  The joined-up, neat handwriting takes a bit more effort. When teaching the children to join the letters, it is important to demonstrate how it is done. Most of the time you take the pencil from the end of one letter to the beginning of the next. [demonstration]. A bit more guidance is needed for words with the caterpillar /c/ formation in them. The caterpillar /c/ letters are: c a d o g q. By writing on special lines, like the ones shown, the children learn how to get the letters the same size, except for a few sticks going up and a few tails hanging down. So when the children write on normal lined paper they know they still have to make the letters the same size [demonstration]. There are different styles in handwriting, such as italic handwriting or joining with loops. It does not matter which style is chosen: that is a matter of personal preference. What really matters is that the handwriting should be neat, with accurate formation and correct proportions. I think we often underestimate young children. They are far more able than we realise, so long as they are shown exactly how to do it.

 

Accuracy in spelling improves gradually by reading many books, learning more advanced letter-sound knowledge, and by following a spelling programme. Spelling is more difficult than reading because the children have to remember which alternative spelling to use. For example, if a child wants to write the word name he or she listens for the sounds /n-ai-m/. The /n/ and /m/ are reliable, but the /ai/ sound can be written in many different ways, as has been explained before [demonstration].

 

The time for starting independent writing could be as soon as the first 42 letter sounds have been taught or it could be later, depending on how good the children are at writing words and sentences from dictation. Some teachers prefer to use dictation for longer, especially if many of the children have English as their second language. It is a matter of judgement and both ways work well.

  • Step 4 - Dictation Sentences

    These sentences have been carefully selected for dictation. They use the tricky words 1 - 40 and the first 42 letter sounds. They provide writing practice, as well as providing spelling practice of the tricky words taught in Step 4.

  • Step 4 - Letter Sounds

    The letter sounds taught in Step 4 are provided. They can be used as flash cards to help the children remember the sounds linked to the letters.

  • Step 4 - Letter Sounds - print letters

    The letter sounds taught in Step 4 are provided. They can be used as flash cards to help the children remember the sounds linked to the letters.

  • Step 4 - Word Bank

    The words from the Word Bank can be printed on coloured card, cut up and used for blending practice. As each new letter sound is taught then more words become available for blending.

  • Step 4 - Word bank - printed letters

    The words from the Word Bank can be printed on colored card, cut up and used for blending practice. As each new letter sound is taught then more words become available for blending.

  • Step 4 - Sentences

    These sentences only use the letter sounds taught in Steps 1- 4 and the tricky words 1 - 40. At this stage they are particularly useful for the children who need extra practice reading sentences that use the letter sounds and tricky words taught in Step 4.

  • Step 4 - Sentences - print letters

    These sentences only use the letter sounds taught in Steps 1- 4 and the tricky words 1 - 40. At this stage they are particularly useful for the children who need extra practice reading sentences that use the letter sounds and tricky words taught in Step 4.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - reading - b&w

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. They can be blended but give the wrong pronunciation. The children have to remember the correct pronunciation and learn the unusual letter-sound correspondences.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - reading - colour

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. They can be blended but give the wrong pronunciation. The children have to remember the correct pronunciation and learn the unusual letter-sound correspondences.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - reading - b&w - print letters

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. They can be blended but give the wrong pronunciation. The children have to remember the correct pronunciation and learn the unusual letter-sound correspondences.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - reading - color - print letters

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. They can be blended but give the wrong pronunciation. The children have to remember the correct pronunciation and learn the unusual letter-sound correspondences.

  • Step 4- Tricky Words - writing - b&w

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. The children have to learn the awkward part for spelling. These sheets allow the children to practise writing the tricky words, using the Look, Cover, Write & Check method.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - writing - colour

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. The children have to learn the awkward part for spelling. These sheets allow the children to practise writing the tricky words, using the Look, Cover, Write & Check method.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - writing - b&w - print letters

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. The children have to learn the awkward part for spelling. These sheets allow the children to practise writing the tricky words, using the Look, Cover, Write & Check method.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - writing - color - print letters

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. The children have to learn the awkward part for spelling. These sheets allow the children to practise writing the tricky words, using the Look, Cover, Write & Check method.

  • Step 4 - Dictation Sentences

    These sentences have been carefully selected for dictation. They use the tricky words 1 - 40 and the first 42 letter sounds. They provide writing practice, as well as providing spelling practice of the tricky words taught in Step 4.

  • Step 4 - Dictation Words

    These words have been carefully selected and use the alternative spellings taught in Step 4.