It’s tough for inner-city schools like mine, with high numbers of EAL students (70% to be precise), to find solutions to encourage children to write. Increasing attainment in writing at the same time is even tougher. But here at St Peter’s we’ve done just that.
Back in 2014, I was lucky enough to meet Henry Smith, a teacher at a neighbouring school. We built up a good relationship as fellow English teachers. Henry offered to show me a new website he and some colleagues had been working on. Pobble.com aimed to make writing exciting by sharing children’s writing with a worldwide audience.
Fast track to 2017 and we are heading into our fourth year of being a Pobble school. The Pobble values are fully integrated into our school community and we’ve seen a huge increase in writing attainment across school. Each week we select children to be our published authors, these are not chosen specifically, they can be children that have done an exceptional piece of work or that need a boost of confidence with their writing. We ensure that across the school year all pupils are published. And then we celebrate our newly published authors across school!
Sharing our pupils’ writing on the Pobble site allows it to be seen by a wider audience and allows our wider school community to get involved. For example, we have school governors who regularly log on to read and comment on our school’s work. This is fundamental to increasing the children’s writing confidence. We find that sharing writing on the Pobble platform is a fantastic way to celebrate writing, and engage our reluctant writers, especially the boys.
A few words then about Pobble 365. It’s an excellent resource, that we adapt in our own way and use across school. We use the images and accompanying questions for inference activities using the OWI strategy. The children are asked what they observe (O), what they wonder (W) and what they infer (I). They observe details in the image, ask questions and then use their schema and evidence from the picture to infer what is not directly obvious yet still relevant.
The children find these activities really engaging and the Pobble 365 images really inspire great writing. It’s so valuable to have an excellent resource that we can customise to fit the needs of our writers in school.
John Robertson is a Senior Leader and Year 6 Teacher at St Peter’s Church of England Primary School in Leeds.