Penny Slater serves up a postscript to her earlier blog on modelling shifts in formality.

You may recall my blog from February 2016 (A Model of Formality) when I offered a lesson/resource suggestion based on securing shifts in formality. It was a phrase that back then, we were just beginning to get our heads around. Now, thanks to the collective endeavour of the teaching profession (those teachers and advisors who have had to work tirelessly to interpret the sometimes  obscure meaning of some of the ITAF statements, such as my colleague has done here, here and here), I think that we all feel a little more comfortable with what a ‘shift’ looks like.

Having just returned from the school where I first worked with the teacher to generate the Varmints lesson plan, I was thrilled to see the writing that the children had produced as a result of this jointly planned session. Simply reading the outcomes told me that they had enjoyed the immersive writing challenge.

Drudling 1

drudling 2

It is clear also that they found the scaffolding support of the writing model incredibly useful. The two samples show where the children have ‘hugged’ the original model text – nothing wrong there! When tackling such a challenging writing task, I would want and encourage my children to magpie at will. It is also clear however, that the children have experimented with the tone and style of the writing, with each child recording a different Drudgling principle at the point where the indecisive Drudgling recalls the ‘promise’ that he made at his initiation. There are many other examples of deviation from the model. Bravo children!

Clearly, the next step would be to encourage further independence: indeed, the children went on to write more pieces inspired by the Varmints text that required elements of both formal and informal writing. Perhaps these I will share, on their behalf, at a later date.

It is important to stress that the teacher and I recognised that in some respects the writing that the children produced was not perfect (how dull would that be?). There were occasional errors and areas for development, as we would expect in writing from 11 year-olds. But, all in all, the teacher was pleased – and I agreed that she should be. The children had risen to the challenge admirably, and by all accounts, they had smiled whilst doing so. What more could we ask for!

For now, I thought it might be useful, in the last remaining week or so before assessments for writing are submitted, to provide you with a WAGOLL for this writing task, as it may just help your children to see how other Y6 children rose to the challenge, and in turn, inspire them to do the same.

With thanks once again to Kelly (Y6 teacher) and Andrew (Subject Leader) at Leavesden Green Primary School, Hertfordshire,