Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Year Six Fiction - Including character descriptions

On Monday, we revised character descriptions, focussing on 'zooming in', colour and the use of similes to describe a character. Revise that work by clicking here.

Today we revised including these character descriptions in the first 15 lines of a short story. Revise our work on story structure by clicking here.

Task: Write the first 1/2 page of a story entitled 'Halloween'. Follow our story structure. Finish the first 1/2 page with a character description.

Feeling clever? Use all three of the commas we've studied (listing, joining and abverb-starter) and include a bracket in the first seven lines!

Feeling really clever? Try to include personification when you set the scene.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Year 5 Non-fiction - The Devil's Advocate

We are going to learning how to write discursive essays - essays where you discuss two or more sides of an argument.

Some children find this hard, because they only want to argue for what they believe in. The game 'The Devil's Advocate' can help you learn to see both sides!

In class, we made arguments for statements that were plainly wrong, such as 'Boys are much more clever girls.' We had five minutes to construct an argument that supported these incorrect statements.

Your homework: Think of a statement that is clearly wrong, e.g. 'Children should eat McDonalds every night.' Brainstorm some ideas to support that argument, and then write 1/2 side of your book, making your case in full sentences, or as a bullet point list.

The cleverest people can make strong arguments for any idea - even one they may personally disagree with!

Year Six punctuation work: Writing a 'Bracket' rap!

VideoJug: How To Use Parentheses And Square Brackets

We are going to be learning about the trickiest comma - the bracketing commma. To understand the bracketing comma we need to be sure we know how to use brackets correctly.

Task: Write 'The bracket rap'. Last half-term we wrote a tune for 'The comma song'. This time, you are going to write both the words and the tune! We know that using sound and movement can help us learn tricky facts. You are going to write a 'bracket rap' to help you remember how to use this tricky beast.

Remember to use rhyme and rhythm in your bracket rap!

Include the following six 'brackets facts' in your rap:

Brackets are used in written work to enclose an aside or an afterthought, or to add information or ideas which are not essential.

1. Brackets are used when you add something to your writing.
My pal Snozzy (who has red hair) is an Everton supporter.

2. The sentence should be complete, even if the contents of brackets are removed.

There are several ways of beginning to write an essay (all of them equally helpful) and it depends on writers which they prefer.

Remove the brackets and the sentence is still complete: There are several ways of beginning to write an essay and it depends on writers which they prefer

The suggestion that his secretary, Sally (now his wife), was a criminal genius seriously upset Bob.

The parenthesis now his wife can be removed from the sentences without damaging its meaning.

3. When brackets are used at the end of a sentence, the full stop falls outside the bracket (like this one).

4. The writing inside brackets should be as short as possible, so as not to interrupt the flow of the sentence.

5. You should only use brackets occasionally. If you use them too frequently, they create a choppy effect.

6. Brackets are often used to enclose dates:

James Dean (1931-1955) died tragically in a car crash, at the tender
age of twenty-four.

Oh, and if you've ever wondered why we need punctation, watch this:

Monday, 29 October 2007

Year 4 Creative Writing - Exciting Opening Lines

Look through your books at home/in the library, and find five brilliant opening lines (to either books or chapters), that use exciting direct speech. Bring the books into class next week!

Learn more about what makes for an exciting opening line by clicking here.

Before next week's lesson, please read this here, about the next 'ingredient' in a story.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Invasion Plan from 1805!

This is a drawing depicting France invading England, created in 1805 (that's over two hundred years ago). What a brilliant piece of imaginative drawing! Can you see how the artist thought France could sneak past the English Navy?

Drawing and doodling is a great way to plan imaginative stories. You can learn more in the 'journals' section at

FUN TASK: Create your own 'invasion plan'!

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Clever-clogs technique (and optional homework): Aftermath

You've probably been revising the use of suspense and action at What? You haven't? Go to and I'll see you when you're ready!

Okay! You now know that when we write a short story in an 11+ exam that it normally is structured something like this:

Exciting opening
Set the scene
Describe one of the characters
More feelings and speech as you write the middle of the story

One clever technique is to build suspense, but then cut to what happened a few minutes later, missing out the action. Study this example:

I saw the Gorilla was smiling. I knew him well enough to know that smile: a fuereal omen, as bloodthirsty as a vampire once again preparing for the kill, but without passion and without hunger, simply doing his job. My head filled with silent panic. Think! I told myself. Think!

Suddenly, the Gorilla leapt for my brother...


"He never stood a chance."

Bones. My brothers bones were lying all over the floor. The doctor's eyes, gleaming in the torchlight, were observing me with a kind of quizzical intensity, as if he were trying to read inside me. I do not know how, but I had survived.

Do you see how this trick is a little like a non-linear story? You miss the action, and 'fast forward' a few minutes to after the action. For a car chase, you might describe being chased, and then cut to a description of a mangled wreck, cutting out the description of the crash.

OPTIONAL HOMEWORK TASK: Plan and write a story based on the fantastic 'gorilla mask' bank raid picture above. Build suspense, but then cut to the aftermath, missing out the action scene.

Don't forget to listen to the latest comprehension podcast, and check out the Falcons School wikipedia page!

And finally, a special message from the Grumpy Examiner:

"I do hope you haven't left your holiday homework to the last minute, or else!"

Friday, 26 October 2007

The Falcons School on Wikipedia!

You've probably used Wikipedia, the web-based encyclopedia, one of the top ten most-visited websites worldwide.
Wikipedia's articles are written collaboratively by volunteers around the world - and the exciting news is that someone out there saw fit to create a 'The Falcons School for Girls' page! This means anyone who 'Googles' the school, or looks us up through Wikipedia itself, will have the chance to learn all about us!

Click on the link in the 'essential links' column to read the page!

P.S. Three cheers to 'The Fish' for doing such a fantastic job with the revisions! Hurrah!

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Podcast Episode 2 now online!

Ever wondered how Miss Granger got so clever? J.K Rowling has revealed that, "Hermione was a devote of Bald Worm's comprehension podcasts! She'd actually struggled in spells comprehension lessions until Bald Worm told her how useful it was to annotate her work. Once she'd listened to the podcast a few times there was no stopping her!"

The second of Bald Worm's 'How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Comprehension' podcasts is now avaliable to download from the podcast site (just click on the link on the side bar to be taken straight to the site)! This week you can learn all about how to annotate an 11+ comprehension passage.

You can listen to the podcast on the site by clicking on the grey 'play' button, or subscribe via itunes (just click on the purple 'subscribe' button, and it will be downloaded directly into your itunes 'podcasts' folder), and listen on your ipod!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Optional Homework Tasks - Using Connectives in a Discursive Essay

Connectives are important tools for structuring your essays. You can use them in all your writing (including History, Geography, Science, Music etc.). These are simple connectives:




my first point is to suggest...,

my second point is....,


in conclusion

These connectives can be used to pull your arguments together:

in such a way,
as we have seen,
an example of this is when...
in the light of this evidence, it could be suggested...
a key point to draw from this is...

Now for the clever-clogs part. Use these connectives to creates contrasts and suggest other points-of-view (counter-arguments):

in contrast,
critics of this plan have argued...
opponents to this viewpoint say...

Optional homework task: Write an essay on the following topic: 'Children should be seen and not heard.' Discuss' The challenge? Try to use at least seven of the connectives above!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Cool stuff!

Andy Warhol, eat your heart out!

Monday, 15 October 2007

Big News part 2 - The Bald Worm Comprehension Podcast!

(Fanfare sounds!) Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the Falcons School for Girls is proud to announce the first FSG podcast!

A podcast is a radio show you can listen to on your computer, or download onto your ipod via itunes.

Click on the podcast link in the side bar to enjoy the first episode of Bald Worm's 'How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Comprehension!' - then leave a comment on the blog!

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Big News!

Mrs Mannan has created her own science blog! Visit by clicking on the link in the blog roll. You'll find useful links, videos and science facts.

Don't forget to leave a comment for Mrs Mannan, thanking her for creating a brilliant site that I know will help encourage your love of Science.

Your New Comprehension Teacher

Bob Dylan is one of the greatest rock singers of all time, and a brilliant writer. He is also an extremely good friend of mine (he often comes round to play on my Playstation), so when I asked him to make a new video for the blog, reminding Falcons girls of the key comprehension skills, he was only too happy to help. Click below to see what he has to say about 11+ comprehension exams!

WARNING: The end of the video includes an advert for Bob Dylan's new greatest hits album. Don't bother to buy it - your Dad has almost certainly already got seven copies in his cd collection.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Fun Stuff!

Year Six loved the Dogtanian & Three Muskahounds video (not!), so here is a special treat, all the way from the 1980s (when there were no iPods, mobile phones were the size of bricks and the Falcons didn't even exist!):

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Year 6 (and 5) Optional Holiday Homework

As you know, we've set four compulsory homework tasks:
 Read at least two books (or one five-hundred page book). See for a full list of recommended titles.

 Paper 4 in the Bond Assessment Verbal Reasoning book.Don't forget to check your answers!

 Plan and write a discursive essay – with an introduction, both sides of the argument, and a conclusion which states the writer’s opinion (1½ side of A4) – on the following title: “‘Size Zero’ Models Set a Terrible Example to Young Girls”. Discuss.

 Plan and write a long description (1 side of A4) for the following title: Imagine you are sitting in a train passing through the countryside. Describe what you can see, using all of the other senses, and any other descriptive skills to enliven your writing. Revise how to plan longer descriptions by clicking here.

There are also six optional tasks. Complete them in any order!

Optional task number 1: Dialogue.
Read about dialogue by clicking here, and revise using distinctive voices by clicking here.

Write a conversation between a Doctor and an anxious patient. The challenge? The doctor must have a French accent...and the patient speak in American slang.

Optional task number 2: Using thoughts and Questions about the Character
Click here to read about thoughts and questions about a character.

Task. Write a conversation between a Martian alien and a human. The problem is the Martian doesn't speak English (He speaks like this: "Gibble blab zip"), so you'll need to use thoughts and questions about the character to show the reader what they are trying to say to each other.

Optional task number 3: Prose Style Games
There are some brilliant interactive games at BBC Skillswise that will improve your punctuation and grammar. You can find them by clicking here. Try three or four of the games, and a quiz or two, too!

Optional task number 3: Action
Revise your action skills by clicking here.

Then watch this:

Your task is to describe the sword fight that takes place 24 seconds into this video. Aim to write 10-12 lines, using all of our action skills.

Optional task 5: Character description
Use google to find images of Victorian ladies and gentlmen. Then click here to revise writing character descriptions.

Write descriptions of a Victorian lord and his family, including servants. Write 3-4 lines per character description.

This video will also give you some ideas:

Optional Task 6: Multiple perspectives
Click here to learn more about writing from two different points-of-view. Your task is to write the story of an accident - first from the point-of-view of the victim, and then from the point-of-view of the person causing the accident.

Want More?
More? I like your enthusiasm! Next half-term we will be focussing on the following:
- Writing in the style of Charles Dickens
- Action
- Suspense
- Persuasive essays
- Formal writing
- Including brackets, semi-colons, colons and dashes in all our writing
- The bracketing comma
- Revision of annotation techniques in comprehension

Go to to revise some of these subjects, and keep your eyes on the blog during the holiday - you'll be seeing some new videos that will eventually form part of the next step in the Falcons IT revolution - Bald Worm's How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Comprehension.

I will also be adding further optional activities, some more advanced writing tips, and videos of my cat murdering small rodents and then being sick on the carpet because he's swallowed them whole!

Have a relaxing break, and we look forward to seeing you for our run-in to 11+ on Monday, 29th October!

Monday, 8 October 2007

Year 5 and Six - The Comma Song

Don't forget that tomorrow we'll hear your version of the comma song - so remember to bring your instrument. We'll be videoing the results, and posting them on the school intranet so other classes can enjoy your mastery of melody.

Remember, use songs to help you learn 'dull' or tricky information!

Year Four - Comic Strip plans

You have a choice:

Draw two more comic strip plans, based on the titles from St. Cake's school (remember to brainstorm first, and keep it simple)

or, create a computer-art comic strip plan, like the one above.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Year Six - Timed Writing, and a word about the difference between 'real life' and stories

L.O. To open a story with an exciting first line (ii) To include at least one sentence with an adverb + comma

Type or write up in your best handwriting your 'Girl with a gun' story, improving it as you go.

Before you print it out, make sure you've included a comma before conjunctions.

Note: In 'real life', guns are horrible, terrible things that ruin lives. The worst thing that has happened in London in the last ten years is the number of guns on the street.

However, in stories, a 'gun' - or a vampire, a robot or a mad sheep on the loose in the middle of a wedding' - equals danger, excitement and, most importantly, conflict. The brilliant French film director, Jean-Luc Godard, famously wrote that 'all you need for a movie is a girl and a gun', and this is true of extremely short stories.

Through fiction, we can enjoy adventures we'd never dream of doing in 'real life'.

I would never break into a neighbour's house and steal their silver cutlery, but it sure is fun to write about!

Year Five Diary - The Blitz

A diary is...

Written in the first person
Recounts significant events in a person's life
In chronological order
Includes feelings and emotions
Can include fact and opinion
Contains the date

Your homework is as follows:

1. Finish the first draft of your Blitz diary.

2. Write it up - either type or handwritten. Try to 'age' the paper so it looks old!

Feeling clever? Think about your use of commas!

Use this video to help you include lots of feelings:

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Year 6 Homework - Adverbs

Please reread the 'What are Adverbs?' sheet

Attempt the adverbs worksheets (you can complete this work on the worksheets)

You will also enjoy the quiz you'll find here.

Year 5 Spellings - Silent Letters

Your spellings this week all contain silent letters!

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:

Click here to play a cool silent letters 'space invaders' game

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Yr 6 Punctuation - Learning the Comma Song

There are five main ways to use a comma, punctuation fans! Learn to use all five and you'll be a Kung-Fu Punctuation Grand Master, like this guy:

Warning: Being handy with a comma does not give you the power to punch through planks of wood with your bare hands!

The five main types of comma are:

1. The Listing Comma

This little fellow is the first comma you learn about. He seperates items in lists, like this: Mr Hitchen is handsome, charming, witty and brilliant. (Note: no comma before the 'and')

2. In Direct Speech

People always forget about this tricky one. You use it like this:

"Hello," said Bob.
"I see you have a comma there," replied Sally.
"Yes, you always use a comma just before you close direct speech," said Bob.
"Unless you are asking a question, no?" said Sally.
"Or an exclamation mark!" laughed Bob.

3. The Joining Comma

A conjunction - 'and', 'but', 'or' - joins clauses together. You should always use a comma before a connective, like this:

I like Shrewsbury Town, but Bob thinks they are rubbish.

4. After an adverbial start

An adverb is an 'ly' word. It is a description of an action that you add to a verbs, like 'slowly','extremely' and 'unexpectedly'. You use a comma when you start a sentence with an adverb, e.g. Slowly, Bob ate his plate of cabbage.

You are going to revise the first four uses of the comma by writing some music to accompany the Comma Song.

Learn the words
Write a tune to go with it (you can use any instruments you like, and base your song on one you already know)
You'll perform it next Tuesday - and we'll video them, too!

You also need to complete a revision exercise - the compound sentences questions.

And the fifth use of the comma? We'll save that till last - the bracketing comma!

Year 3 - Dialogue

Here is the video you've all been waiting for!

Year Five Recounts

You are going to write a recount of your trip to Flatford Mill

When writing recounts you should:
• Focus on individuals ie use the words, I or we
• Use words which indicate when (eg after lunch) and where the events took place (eg in the shed)
• Write in the past tense eg had, visited
• Use action words eg helped

Write five paragraphs:
1. Orientation (the introduction)
2. Monday
3. Tuesday
4. Wednesday
5. Conclusion – did you enjoy it?

Here's an example introduction:

Last Monday saw the famous Year Five from the Falcons School for Girls set off on their second residential trip in six months, to Flatford Mill. We loaded our heaving cases onto the coach (mine was so big that Miss Spurling said it looked like I had packed for a month), and set off on the long journey. I was sat by Hermione, who spent the entire journey trying to have a go on my PSP.

Monday, 1 October 2007

September Poll - Which book are you most looking forward to reading this Autumn term?

The votes have been counted...and the book that readers of 'Bald Worm Squeks To The Nation' are most looking forward to reading is Charlie Higson's James Bond: Hurricane Gold. Who says girls only want to read books about fluffy kittens?

Falcons Girls are passionate readers of all sorts of books. What do you want to read next?

As Hurricane Gold was the winner, here's a little video to celebrate. Enjoy!

Year 4 Homework

Write a story based on the plan you wrote in class. You can remind yourself of the skills to use when planning from a sentence by clicking here.

Aim to write between 1 side and a side-and-a-half of A4. Don't forget to begin with the sentence you planned from!

Like dragons? Watch this: