reflection on using a writing stimulus

I used an ‘alien invasion’ scenario with my children towards the end of our literacy unit on newspapers, to give them an event to report on. It seemed to make a big impact on them at the time and I was interested to see how this was reflected in their writing.

We had made a shared plan and I modelled how to write the article (just keeping it to four paragraphs). I used some success criteria I my teacher mentor had generated when I taught this unit on my second student placement to help define my writing. I had observed my colleague’s modelled write in a KS1 class and saw how she skillfully worked through her success criteria, dealing with each one in each sentence she wrote. I tried to apply the same method, and I felt much more confident with the process and what I had written than the first time I tried to model. I have published the children’s articles on our class blog. Many have got all the features we talked about, and I can see where they picked up my modelled writing (using the same time connective that I did, or perhaps changing it to a time connective of their own).

So, what will I keep the same?

  • Thinking through not what I will write, but the success criteria and how I can apply them in different parts of the writing I model. This was really valuable and much better than just writing myself a dummy copy the night before. I could never remember what I had written and referring to notes didn’t work or feel authentic as a way of showing the children how I work as a writer.
  • Using a writing stimulus was brilliant and I’ll definitely do that again.

What will I change?

  • I realised when marking their initial drafts that I hadn’t included writing in the third person as a success criteria. The children were so involved in the story because it had happened to them, much of their writing was in the first person.
  • Generating success criteria with the children. I need to work on my skills for knowing what success criteria I want to have included, but generating them with the children before we write. Less control for me, so that will take some practice, but ultimately I can see that the children will understand and apply them better than ones I impose.

Practice makes perfect and the children will get a chance to apply these skills again when I ask them to write a newspaper report when the Vikings come to visit us for our next theme after half term! This will give me another chance to practice too 😉



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