Putting pen to paper and delivering something of meaning is often a challenge for school kids but at Virginia Primary School one class is loving the written word so much their efforts are catching the eye of staff and students across the school.
Cathy Lock’s Year 6/7 class’ last major piece of writing was a personal recount of sports day, which was held in April.
“The students’ writing was very descriptive, full of personal comment and reflection and interesting to read,” Mrs Lock said.
“They are really putting a lot of thought into what sort of events merit recounting and how the manner of retelling makes all the difference to whether the audience finds the writing entertaining.”
The class has also written narratives and expositions this term and is looking forward to tackling explanations in science with a focus on natural disasters.
“Students will be writing causal explanations; detailing what causes the change from one state to another and factorial and consequential explanations, explaining the effects and outcomes of natural disasters,” Mrs Lock said.
“Later we will also be looking at poetry and the way poets use language to create emotional responses.”
VPS principal Ilia Tsoutouras said the examples of student writing, as printed in short here by The Echo, was amazing.
“Some students in Mrs Lock’s class have demonstrated a real flair for writing,” Mr Tsoutouras said.
“They most certainly caught my eye.
“There is some very intentional teaching and learning happening within the classroom.
“Students are really clear on what creates quality writing as the teacher provides them with learning intentions and success criteria, she also provides each student with targeted, individual feedback to support them in the writing process.”
For many of the students in Mrs Lock’s Room 14, English is their second language, almost half, 42 per cent in fact.
“Nhi arrived in Australia in 2015 and her ability to read and write English is amazing and continues to improve,” Mrs Lock explained.
“She is an avid reader and always has her nose in a book.
“Most of the students are from a Vietnamese background, but there are a couple who are from Cambodia.”
Writing every day is something Mrs Lock aims to encourage her students to do.
She also places a great emphasis on reading and the connection between reading and writing.
“Sharing quality examples of students’ writing with the class, as well as teacher modelling has really inspired the students to make their writing interesting and engaging to read,” she said.
“I really emphasise the importance of reading and how reading will help development in all learning areas: writing, spelling, maths, science.
“We measure the amount of words we read through the Scholastic Learning Zone and, as a class we have nearly read 5.5 million words so far this year.
“I think this is very impressive.”
Extracts of VPS Year 6/7 recount writing about the school’s sports day
“The car lot was filled with dozens of cars, students, children and parents wearing different colours to support their team or favourite team. Oh!!! How fabulous! I forgot to wear a yellow shirt to school.
Never mind. I don’t have any. The school was filled with many people in multiple colours; they were streaming out to the big oval. To me, the people looked like bugs that were crawling on a flower that is full of honey.
I saw Chloe and Carla, I hurried up to join them. The bell rang alarmingly in my ears, I knew that my tortured day had begun.”
“It all passed so quickly we were already onto sprints. I stood in line wishing to excel. Gazing at my opponents with a competitive glare in my eyes the temptation to run was lingering in my mind. “Go!” was boomed from one end of the track to the other, I ran with all my might.
Finally I took over and won by a mile. My heart was pounding as I waited for my ribbon I read it aloud ‘first’. A sigh of relief caught my breath that’s one event over. Our class gathered all the points from the races and returned the final count to the score keepers. Off to the next activity.”
“I was up. I was the next student in line. I sighed with worry. My feet stood firmly on the cool, green grass. The wind blew in my hair. My eyes focused on the hurdle in front of the fire pit. One foot stepped forward, then the other. My legs sped up and I flew like a butterfly or leapt like a frog, well I wasn’t sure.
My feet crashed on the soft, pale sand. I stared back at my feet. I breathed heavily, worrying what the length of my jump was. Ms Lock called out. I was astonished. I was the 4th or 5th person to jump the furthest in my class! I raced to my mum, I told her my length of my jump. She was so proud of me.”
“All of a sudden we were looking straight ready to jump over the hurdles. When Mrs Lock said go the first person ran and started jumping like an athletic champion. When he got back it was my turn.
I ran and started to jump. I made it past a couple, then bang, I knocked one over. I thought to myself this is bad. One of my friends came up and fixed it for me but started to run back and crash!
I ran straight into him. I kept running trying to make up time but we also lost that. Then we all grabbed our water bottles and headed to the next event.”
“At the end of the day when we were all tired and exhausted, the time we had all been waiting for was finally here. The announcement of the winner for the 2017 sports day ceremony. The last digits of our final scores were written on the board. Our team’s number ended with a 9. Para’s ended with a 2 and Light a 7. The team who came third had a score of…9.
I knew that was our team. It was really disappointing to have come last when we tried so hard, but all the same we had a lot of fun. The team who came second had a score of …7. Light. That only left Para, who won with a score of …2. I was really annoyed because I had planned the scores so that Gawler would win, Light would come second and Para would come last by 100. Oh well.
The day was exciting and enjoyable for everyone. It was really a win, win, win for all the teams as we all had so much fun.”