Sunday, 30 September 2007

Year Five and Six Comprehension - Annotating - Monday, 1st October

We know that annotating is one of the key skills you can use to help you understand a comprehension passage, by labeling the main ideas, supportive details and/or evidence that leads the reader to a conclusion about the text. Make sure you annotate your texts!

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Year Six Homework - Friday, 30th September - Writing a longer description

L.O. To revise planning a longer description and to revise the key descriptive techniques

Read about longer descriptions by clicking here.

Task: Write a longer description (at least one side of A4) of a ship caught in a storm. Think about the five senses, colours, metaphor and simile, movement and details!

Get in the mood by watching this video:

Have a fab weekend - and don't forget to complete your haiku for Monday!

Keep it up, Falcons girls!

Your teachers are so proud of your efforts this term! Continue to work hard in English - you're beginning to write some great stuff!

You can look forward to some exciting announcements on this blog in the next few weeks - all from FSG, West London's most dynamic, creative prep school!

Year Six homework - Essay conclusions - Thursday 27th September

The final paragraph - the conclusion - should close the discussion by presenting the reader with your point of view. The conclusion is where you finally state, in a short and to-the-point manner, the answers to any question you have been discussing. You should do this by summing up the points from both sides that you agreed with.

Make it perfectly clear where you stand, even if that is somewhere in the middle.

In a discursive essay, this is your chance to persuade your readers to agree with your point of view, and to impress yourself upon them as a writer and thinker.

Try beginning the conclusion with a short starter like "in conclusion," "to conclude," "in summary," and "to sum up.":

In conclusion, I believe that children should not be forced to wear school uniform

Homework: Write your essay on the following title: 'Modern Art is Rubbish - my five-year-old could do that' Discuss.

You must write at least a side of A4. Everything written should be a full paragraph -no bullet points in the essay itself, please.

Year Three - Creative Writing Homework - Playscripts

L.O. To understand that dialogue (talking in stories) is more interesting if the characters argue or disagree

Next week we are going to film a playscript on digital video!

Your task is to complete your 'Count Olaf - Babysitter' playscript! Remember to include conflict in your playscript!

Feeling clever? Try to come up with an 'unfortunate'- the word 'unfortunate', you probably know, here means 'horrible' or 'likely to make your Mother feel faint' - ending for your playscript.

Year Six - Comparison Poetry - Haiku Week

L.O. To revise the structure of a haiku. To write poetry including metaphor and simile

Traditional Japanese haiku had a total of seventeen syllables divided into three clumps (or lines:

five syllables
seven syllables
five syllables

Haiku teaches the power of observation and the importance of editing. Don't just write the first thing that comes into your head - play with the words! You know you've done a good job of editing when the version with the fewest words makes the strongest impression.

Write three haikus between now and next Monday. The haiku should be on the general topic of summer. Think about the weather, nature and what farmers will be doing during the summer months. Remember to try and include some comparisons.

We'll redraft in class, and select a poem to read at our Harvest assembly!

Click here to read lots of brilliant haiku.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Year 4 Creative Writing - Goal-Impediment-Solution Planning

L.O. To understand that story plans should be based around the main character having a problem

In class we wrote a plan based the title 'Escape!'

I want you to brainstorm and plan two more titles. You can complete your brainstorm on a rough piece of paper; plan on the sheets provided in class.

The titles are:

The Robbery! and The Race

Don't forget the 'fab four' Golden rules! You can revise what we learnt about planning, and learn even more, by clicking here.

Year 6 Comprehension - Monday 24th September

L.O. To revise annotation techniques

Please complete the 2003-4 11+ paper about Ged, the young wizard.

Remember to annotate the passage before you begin!

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Year Six Weekend Homework (22nd-23rd September)

Don't the weeks just fly by, eh? There are two parts to your weekend homework:

1. Complete paper two in your verbal reasoning book. Who can get 100%? Don't worry if any of the questions baffle you - we'll discuss all the 'tricky ones' next week!

2. Finish your 'Based on a picture story'. You must write 1 1/2 sides - and please make sure you've 'set the scene' at the beginning of the story. Use the five senses, colours, light and figurative language. Click here to learn more about writing a description of a location in a story.

Have a great weekend - oh, and you may be interested to know that William Nicholson (the 'Wind on Fire' series) and Garth Nix (author of the 'Old Kingdom' series) will be at Waterstones in Piccardilly on Saturday from 1-2.30 p.m.

Year Six Spellings - Thursday 20th September Root Words

What are root words?
A root word is a word that has nothing added at the beginning or the end. It stands on its own as a word, it has a meaning. New words can be made from root words by adding beginnings (prefixes) and endings (suffixes).

A root word is a real word and you make new words from it by adding prefixes and suffixes.

For example, clear is a root word. By adding prefixes and suffixes you can make these new words:

unclear, clearly, cleared.

All of these words have grown from their root word. They share parts of the same spelling and they are linked in terms of meaning. They are known as a word family.

Root words are helpful because:

1. You can use a root word to help you with other spellings.
2. If you recognise the root of a word when you are reading it can help you to work out what the word is and what it means.
3. There are spelling rules for adding suffixes and prefixes to root words. To find out more visit the BBC Skillswise Suffixes and Prefixes pages by clicking here.

Your spelling test will be on the root words spellings. Enjoy.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Year 3 Homework - Including Stage Directions in a Playscript

L.O. To include stage directions in a playscript

In class, we enjoyed the plays we wrote last week, and began to plan the 'penguin astronaut' plays we're going to write for homework.

Your homework task is to write this playscript. Your challenge is to include some stage directions, like this:

MR HITCHEN: (Frowning) Don't forget to include stage directions!

GIRL: (Crossing fingers behind her back) I won't!

Feeling clever? Try to include some nice long speeches - who can include the longest speech, I wonder? Don't forget to check your full stops!

We'll peform your scripts next week, and we'll begin to write the scripts we're going to record on video!

Yr 5 Prose Style - The Listing Comma

L.O. To revise the use of the listing comma

Today, we revised how you can use movement to help you learn punctuation. Did you enjoy our kung-fu punctuation battle?

We also revised the use of the comma in lists, and saw how this works when we add adjectives.

For homework, please (i) create five more lists, like we did in class, adding a new, interesting adjective each time

(ii)Teach Mum/Dad/Nanny the 'kung fu' punctuation moves. See how they get on with listing commas!

You should also have a go at the game here.

Yr 6 Prose Style: The Comma before Connectives. Tuesday, 18th September

L.O. To revise the use of the listing comma
To understand that we place a comma before a connective

Do remember that you mustn't use commas where you should use a full-stop. If the words could stand alone as a proper sentence then you need to put a full-stop or a joining word ('and', 'but' etc) in, and not a comma. Another name for these 'joining words' is connectives.

There is a secret to getting commas in the right place: the connective. We use a connective to joing together two sentences that might otherwise stand on their own. For instance, 'Mr Hitchen thinks he is cool' is a sentence. As is, 'He looked stupid trying to dance.' It is when you join these two sentences together that you need a connective. Join the two sentences together and you get this: 'Mr Hitchen is a criminal mastermind, but he looked stupid trying to dance.' Do you notice where I put the comma? That's right - before the connective.

(Strictly speaking, we don't generally put a comma in front of because.)

Click here to have a go at a fun comma game!

Please complete the 'compound sentences' and 'run on' sentences worksheets. Please write the answers in your book, not on the worksheet. Ta!

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Year 4 Creative Writing - Story Maps

L.O. To plan a story using a story map

In class we looked at creating a story map for a quest story. You created a story map featuring a location and two challenges.
Tolkein created story maps before he wrote 'The Hobbit'!

Your homework is to (1) finish the map and (2) write this story up. Aim to write between 1 side and 1 1/2 sides of A4. Complete the homework in your book.

Yr 6 Discursive Writing - 18th September

L.O. To write a discursive essay with an introduction that explains what the essay will consider

In class we studied introductions. Remember, when you introduce people you tell the other person something about them, e.g. "Bob, meet Sally. She's in my class at school." An essay introduction tells the reader something about what they're going to read.

Feeling clever? The best introductions should grab the reader's attention and give her an idea of the essay's focus.

You could begin with a surprising fact. (This information must be true!) If you use a piece of startling information, you should follow it with a sentence or two of elaboration.

Another way to begin is with an anecdote. An anecdote is a story that illustrates a point. Just make sure that the anecdote is relevant to the title!
Be sure your anecdote is short, to the point, and relevant to your topic.

The easiest way to begin is tell the reader what they're about to learn.

Homework: Write a full essay, of four paragraphs (introduction; 'pros'; 'cons'; conclusion)for one of the titles you planned last week (you can find last week's homework by clicking the option on the right side of the page). Remember, try to grab the reader's attention in your introduction!

Year Five Comprehension - Recounts - 17th Sept.

L.O. To understand the structure of a recount
To understand the importance of quoting to prove answers

In class we studied a sports recount. Your homework is to complete the sports recount comprehension.

Year Six Comprehension - Monday 17th

L.O. To revise annotating a passage with question numbers

In class we looked at how important it is to annotate the passage before attempting a comprehension. The first annotation strategy we've revised is to jot question numbers against the part of the passage we'll need to quote.

Don't forget to quote when writing your answers! It is not enough just to give a line reference!

Your homework is very simple - complete the 11+ paper, after first annotating the passage.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Fun Stuff!

Get excited! The movie of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights is coming soon. You can visit Philip Pullman's website by clicking here.

Year Six Weekend Homework - 14th-16th September

There are three parts to your weekend homework:

1. Complete two 'advanced' brainstorms (as we tried out in class) based on the following titles:

The Magic Box
Write a story beginning with the sentence: "I always knew she couldn't be trusted"
The Birthday
Write a story ending with the line: "All's well that ends well."
The Other Side of the Bridge

Please brainstorm in your creative writing book. You may find it helpful to turn your book sideways, so you can spread across the width of the page.

Not sure about planning stories based on a sentence? Click here to learn how!

Feeling clever? Try to be distinctive. Click here to learn more.

2. Complete the Non-verbal pack. Remember, we're learning to take a methodical approach to non-verbal reasoning. You must remember to work systematically, going from left to right, eliminating the answers which you think are wrong. Don’t hesitate to use a pencil to make notes or cross out the options which are wrong. Drawing lines and arrows can help with matching meanings of words or finding the next in a sequence of symbols.

3. Redraft your timed writing story based on the comments I've made.
Feeling clever? Try to include at least one sentence using the listing comma.

Enjoy your weekend! Oh, and start nagging your parents to take you to see this:

Year 5 Creative Writing - September 14th

L.O. To include shown feelings within a story

Last week you wrote about two pilots stranded deep in Nazi Germany. You focused on using 'shown feelings' to make your readers care about your characters.

In our reading session we enjoyed the opening of The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier, the story about how the Balicki family are torn apart by the Germans from their home in Warsaw, Poland, in 1940, and how they succeed in reuniting themselves in Switzerland at the end of the war.

In the extract, we saw how Joseph Balicki was sent to a prison camp for turning a picture of Hitler so it faced the wall - luckily, he manages to escape from his Nazi prison.

You are going to write a story entitled 'The Escape', based on the video I shot this summer in the famous Alcatraz prison. Watch carefully. How would you escape from a cell like this?

In class we brainstormed some ideas. Write up the story for homework, focussing on including shown feelings. Need to revise what I mean by 'shown feelings'? Then click here.

(The Escape is a title that comes up time and again in 11+ exams. Click here for some more titles you can expect to come across.)

Feeling clever? Try giving a guard in your story a distinctive voice. Learn more by clicking here.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Devil's Advocate!

Many 11+ papers include a discursive essay title like 'The Pros and Cons of Mobile Phones'. To answer these questions you need to be able to see both sides of the argument.

Here are two games to help you develop the skills needed to write super discussions. Learn to hold your own in interviews when the Headmistress of St. Cake's challenges you to justify your opinions!

Devil's Advocate.
Ask someone at home to make a statement that is clearly incorrect, e.g. 'The world is flat'; 'Boys should be able to boss their sisters around, because boys are superior to girls'; 'There are monsters under your bed'.

Now comes the challenge - you have two minutes to come up with arguments in favour
of the incorrect statement. When the two minutes are up your job is to convince your parents!

This game will hone your skills in terms of expressing yourself in a reasoned argument.

Even Stephens
Learn to see things from both sides! Take two chairs. One chair is 'for' (you could stick a post-it on it saying 'pro'), the other 'against'.

When you are sat in the 'for' chair you have to make arguments for the proposition, i.e. 'Reasons why girls should wear school uniform'; you have to make arguments against when you are sat in the chair marked against, i.e. 'Reasons why girls shouldn't have to wear uniform.'

The challenge? For two minutes, you must jump from one chair to the other, making a new point every time you sit down!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Year 5 homework - Commas (Shi!)

Complete the listing comma exercises in your green book
... and make sure you know the 'kung fu' punctuation moves for next week's battle!

Monday, 10 September 2007

Year 5 Recounts

Recounts are ‘true stories’. The purpose of a recount is to retell events, e.g.
 schooltrips
 events from history
 sporting events

A piece about 'what I did in my holidays' would be a recount.

Language features:
- Recounts are written in the past tense.
- They can be written in the first or the third person
1st person It is happening to the person writing the recount i.e. I went to the park.
3rd person. An observer is telling it. Tom went to the park, there he saw a pond.

- The connectives in a recount are often: Next, then, after that.
- Recounts focus on what an individual or a group of people were doing.

We're going to focus on writing recounts of sporting events.

Your homework: Play a board game/game of cards with someone at home for ten minutes. As you play, make notes about what you are both doing.

 Now create a timeline
 Then break it into paragraphs on your planning sheet

We'll begin to write up this plan in your Non-fiction lesson next week!

Year 5 and 6 Spelling - Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check

Please have a go at the look, say, cover, write, check game we saw in class. Click here to be taken straight to it.

Spellings - Year 5

Your words are the 'Science vocab' words given to you by Mrs Mannan in the yellow folder. Test next Thursday.

Spellings - Year 6
Your words are some common 'silly errors' that have come up in your writing over the last week!

Beautiful (remember the 'u'!)
Despair ('des', not 'dis'!)

Tomorrow, in our Fiction work, we'll be thinking about planning. Please re-read the section on 'conflict by clicking here

A little something for your journals, Year Six

Try to collect story triggers - incidents, noises of ideas that get scenes going. Here are some to get you started:

a phone rings
a door bell rings
a letter is dropped on the mat
a car breaks down
a gunshot rings out

Can you think of any more?

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Year Four Creative Writing - Brainstorming

This half-term we are going to focus on planning stories.

The best thing you can do over the course of the next few weeks is to read the ideas and planning sections at To start off, read the section on brainstorming by clicking here.

Watch these videos to revise the technique we learnt in class!

Part 2:

Now you have a go! Create a brainstorm for each of the following titles:

1. The Escape
2. The Holiday
3. Fire!

Remember to think about:
Why? (What is their problem?)

(Note: You may find it easier to turn your book sideways on and create a landscape brainstorm)

Year Three Creative Writing Homework - Simple Playscripts

L.O. To understand the layout of a simple playscript.

First, watch these videos:

Part 1

Part 2

Now read about laying out playscripts by clicking here.

Done that? You're ready to write your playscript - write an argument between a cat and a dog, remembering to use capitals for names, colons on the margin line and to miss a line between speakers. Aim for between 3/4 and a side of A4 paper.

Feeling clever? Try to include a long speech (four or five lines long.)

Good luck - and have fun writing!

Year Six Non-fiction Homework - Wednesday

We are going to working on discursive writing - an essay where you discuss both sides of an argument (an essay where you present a sinlge point-of-view is a persuasive essay).

In class, we looked at both sides of the question 'Should children be allowed to carry mobile phones?' In the discursive essay you are expected to give a balanced view before coming to a conclusion that generally supports on side or the other. So after you have done your introduction you should proceed to give your reasons in support, i.e. reasons why children should have mobile phones. Generally you would give two or three reasons. Then you would consider arguments supporting the other side, using phrases such as ‘however, a contrary view is that… some people would argue that’

The structure of these essays looks like this:

1. Introduction - What are you discussing?
2. Pros- What are the arguments 'for' mobile phones/school uniforms/early bedtimes, etc?
3. Cons - What are the arguments against?
(4. Feeling clever? You can plan a fourth paragraph where you give counter-arguments)
5. Conclusion - what do you think?

Your task is to write three full plans. Remember to brainstorm some ideas first before you begin to plan.Plan carefully, because we'll start to write up one of these essays next week

Plan any three of the following questions:

1. Children should not be forced to wear school uniform. Discuss
2. 'Zoos are cruel' - discuss
3. What are the pros and cons of single-sex education?
4. The Pros and Cons of Compulsory School Homework
5. 'Girls are better than boys.' Discuss.

Fun stuff - whatever you do, don't make your argument resemble this one:

P.S. Don't forget we've got our spelling test tomorrow!

Year Six Prose Style Homework - Tuesday

There are two parts to your prose style (your use of punctuation and grammar - learn more about prose style by clicking here) homework.

1. Learn the 'Kung-fu' punctuation moves! We'll have a battle next week!

2. Complete the listing comma exercises.

Bald Worm says: "Vary your use of punctuation and your reader will love your stories!"

Year Six homework - Monday

Click here and read the section on journal tasks.

Then have a go at any two of the ten suggested journal tasks. Spend about ten minutes on each task.

Remember, writers are always on the look out for new story 'sparks'!

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Meet Michelle Paver

Fantasy author Michelle Paver will be signing books and reading from the fourth in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Series, Outkast, at Waterstone's in Putney's Exchange Centre on Wednesday 26th September at 7pm (you'll need to ask Mum to secure you tickets in advance, at £3 each)

You can visit Michelle's website by clicking here (It is well worth reading the interview with her, where she chats about why she loves writing)

Best of all, if you have itunes you can download for free Ian Mckellen (Gandalf in 'Lord of the Rings') reading the first in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, Wolf Brother - put it on your ipod, it is excellent for long car journeys or a trip on the tube!

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Year Five Fiction Homework

L.O. To revise the use of shown feelings alongside dialogue

In class we revised shown feelings, using our drama skills to demonstrate how our character's are feeling.

For homework, you are going to write a discussion (a dialogue - direct speech with shown feelings, not a story with description. Click here to learn more about dialogue) between two WWII Allied pilots who have crashed, and find themselves lost in Nazi Germany!

Watch this video to see the planes they were flying:

(Not essential, but if you are interested to know more click here to be led to an animation on a BBC site which tells you all about the battle in the skies during WWII.)

Before you start writing, you must click here and revise shown feelings!

Write about 3/4 of a side. Think about what pilots would say to one another, and show how they're feeling. Hint: why not make one of your pilots a little braver than his friend?

Clever-clogs: Include some thoughts that contrast with what your characters are saying. Click here to learn about contrasting thoughts.

Oh, and don't forget to indent your direct speech, and punctuate it carefully.

Enjoy your writing! We'll share our dialogues on Monday. Enjoy the weekend!

Year Six Weekend Homework

Your weekend homework is as follows:

1. Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check your spellings ready for our test next week. Try some of the other spelling strategies in the post below if you're finding some of the words tricky.

2. Rewrite your 'Uninvited Guest' story from Timed Writing. Please click here to read about how to rewrite before you start! Remember, rewriting is about improving a story, not just copying out again!

Remember that in an exam your stories will quite possibly be marked by someone who looks like the woman in the picture above! She may make a judgement based on her overall impression, but some older teachers might work differently, allocating 20% of marks for spelling, 105 for handwriting, etc. (I think this is wrong - Shakespeare had terrible handwriting, and was 'well dodgy' at spelling', but he was still a genius - but I won't be marking your exam paper). These Grumpy Examiners would be looking at the following areas:

Content (Is the story fun or moving? Is the plot simple? Is is based around conflict? Is there an exciting opening and a dramatic conclusion?)
Style (Have you included description, dialogue and lots of shown feelings?)
Spelling and vocabulary (Did you use imaginative adjectives and powerful verbs?)
Punctuation and Grammar (Did you use any commas? Any brackets? Did you use the apostrophe correctly?)
Relevance to the title(You can learn about relevance by clicking here)

Remember that the most important thing is to write an exciting story, full of shown feelings. Do your best with everything else, and you're sure to impress!

Enjoy redrafting your 'Uninivited Guest' story, and if you have time click here to learn all about 'getting ideas', which we'll be revising on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Year 5 Spellings 6th September

Remember to look, say,cover, write, check all of your words. You can learn more about spelling strategies lower down the page.

This week's words are all connected with World War II, your History topic this term.

The test is next Thursday!

Don't know what some of these words mean? Click here to learn more!

Anne Frank
Air raid
Billeting officer (note: two 'l's')
Bomb damage
Churchill, Winston
Government (don't forget the 'n')
Hitler, Adolph
Home front
Mussolini, Benito
Nazi Party
Ration books
Soldier (sol-d-ier)
Stalin, Joseph
Vichy France

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Yr 6 Victorians

Year Six are studying the Victorian period. Please click here to learn more and play some fun games at a fab BBC site.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Parts of Speech Rhyme

Rhymes, songs and dances are great ways to help you remember important but dull information. Imagine I tell you to revise the parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, etc.). Sounds boring, doesn't it?

Well, how about learning it like this...

Bald Worm's challenge: Invent your own version of this clapping rhyme. You can use the same rhythm, or invent your own. To be super clever, try adding 'prepositions'!

Spelling Strategies

Spelling matters. Here are four super strategies to help you learn your spellings:

Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check

There are five steps to learning your spellings:
1. Look at the word you’re trying to spell
2. Say it out loud
3. Cover up the word so you can’t see it
4. Write the word yourself
5. Check your attempt – did you get it right?

I’d advise you to look, say, cover, write, check your weekly spelling words – and any words you’ve spelt incorrectly in your work – five times, remembering to ‘look, say and cover’ every time.

A mnemonic is a rhyme, sentence or picture that helps you remember something. Here is one of the most famous spelling mnemonics. In order to remember that the word “cemetery” is spelled with three e's, for example, imagine Rose Tyler screaming 'e-e-e' as a Dalek jumps out at her.

One of the most common mistakes I read is confusing hear/here, as in the sentence ‘I live hear.’ As simple way to remember the difference is to remember ‘You HEAR with your EAR.’

Say ‘Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants’ to help you remember how to spell ‘because’!

Repeating A Rat In The House May Eat The Ice Cream will help you remember how to spell ‘arithmetic’

Use first letter of each word ‘Never Eat Crisps, Eat Salad Sandwiches, And Remain Young’ to spell necessary, as this video will show you:

Try coming up with your own mnemonics to help you with tricky spellings!

Breaking Down a Word
Breaking down long words into their syllables is a great way to remember them. Here is a long word – punctuation. I can break it down into its syllables –

Punc – tu – ation

When I write it, I will say to myself ‘punc...tu...ation’.

Spelling Raps
Another cool strategy is to invent a sentence with another word that contains the same problem letters:

Tell that mosquito to quit biting me

The use of ‘quit’ in the sentence reminds us that there is a ‘quit’ in mosquito

Got the idea? Why not try inventing a rap to help you remember these tricky spellings?

Secret Pronunciations
I remember sitting a spelling test and being really annoyed because I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to spell ‘government.’ The problem with ‘government’ is that we tend to pronounce it ‘goverment’ – missing out the ‘n’.

There are other words which are easier to spell if you say (or pronounce) it incorrectly. We say ‘choclate’. To spell it correctly, try saying ‘choc – o – late’ under your breath!

This is really important for words with 'silent letters' like knife. Try pronouncing it 'k - nife', or write a little song, like this:

What strategies do you use to learn your spellings? Add your ideas by clicking on 'comment' below!