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How to use short burst writing to improve writing stamina

  • by: Sam Keys, Deputy Headteacher
  • On: 18, Feb 2022
38 min read

Sam Keys is Deputy Headteacher at a Primary School in Newcastle. As well as being the Deputy, Sam is also the SENCo and Year 6 teacher. He’s been using Pobble in his classroom for a few years now. Here, Sam shares how he uses the Pobble platform to inspire short burst writing and improve writing stamina.

I joined my school as Year 6 teacher and deputy head about four years ago. It's a really lovely school in the North East of England with a really diverse catchment. We've got a really high percentage of pupil premium children, English as an additional language (EAL) children and a high percentage of SEND children so it's quite a tricky context, but a brilliant place, a real melting pot of a school.

The reason we signed up to Pobble was that, like many schools, writing has been a real barrier. This was for all of the stereotypical reasons, the children weren't motivated to write, there was a trend between boys and girls progress and most children lacked stamina in writing. We were in a situation where we were making steady progress in reading, making steady progress in maths, but the writing was a little bit flat. I don't think there's any other way to put it, it really it was just a little bit flat. We needed something to kick start it and bring it to life, something to give it a bit of purpose and a bit of pizazz to inspire our kids.

Pobble really has done that for me and my pupils, and it's been a real success in our school!

I use Pobble on a day to day basis for short burst writing in school. Most often a lesson where I'm just doing a little bit of input, sharing some examples, and then the kids are having a go themselves. Here's how I structure my lesson for maximum impact:

When you head to the Pobble platform, there are reams and reams of really good examples of texts written by children. One of the things I find is that kids love seeing good examples of work written by other children their age. We call them what a good one looks like or WAGOLLs. The kids really analyse the writing and are more engaged with it. It's brilliant to put that in front of them and tell them you’re looking at a year six bit of work, especially when you know it's a great piece of writing. Some kids get a bit of a boost knowing that they can write to that sort of standard and others are saying whoa! That's quite impressive, I now need to up my game a little bit. 

Screenshot 2022-02-18 at 09.36.47A quick search of the writing bank and you'll find some really, really high-quality pieces and you can filter by age group. Once I've dived onto Pobble and find myself a really high-quality text that I’d like to share with my class, I use Pobble's lesson builder to create a short burst writing lesson and add it to my presentation. When I present this to the class, we're going to really go to town and discuss what's good, what's not good and what we would change.

Screenshot 2022-02-15 at 18.59.34I always include success criteria in my short burst lessons, these are really useful to ensure my class know what's expected of them. It also encourages them to challenge themselves and think carefully about how they structure their work. In Pobble's lesson builder, you can add a pre-made success criteria slide. This makes it really simple and you can add some prompts as well, to give the kids a hint. I like to create these with the kids in my class, so I often make these live in the lesson.

Screenshot 2022-02-15 at 19.15.59Once we've got some really good, success criteria and prompts to work on. I can easily add some images into my presentation to inspire that setting description. What's great about Pobble is it's got an extensive image bank of royalty-free images, you can search whatever you like and add it in so you're not breaching all those copyright rules that we’re often dodging left, right and centre. 

Screenshot 2022-02-15 at 19.19.16As you can see, really quickly I'm building up a high-quality, short burst writing stimulus. I usually add a lined paper slide in so I can get up on my board and do some modelling which is really important. At the school I’m in, we've got a high percentage of children with dyslexia, so having an accessibility colour option in presentations is really handy too. 

Screenshot 2022-02-15 at 19.23.08It’s a bit of a game-changer that I can quickly set up a presentation like this, pulling in a really good example of a bit of pupil work, I can even get the kids to comment on that work if I like. So there you go, really quick in a couple of minutes I've got a really high-quality resource.

Not only can I build up that slide show and present it on the whiteboard for my class to see, but I can also share that lesson easily with kids whether they’re in class on their Ipads or laptops or whatever tech you've got, or If they're at home, there's a link to it in a PDF form so they can still access the lesson.

Screenshot 2022-02-18 at 09.44.42When the kids have got that lesson, they can use pupil logins to view it. They log onto Pobble themselves and they can actually access any lesson that I've sent.

Screenshot 2022-02-15 at 19.30.49We've done our modelled writing in class and I've really shown off that high-quality standard that I'm expecting. They've looked at another chance piece of work that they've been inspired by or had a confidence boost by. We've got the success criteria down the side of the page, and they can see the picture up close and jump straight into their work. I love it. All the tools they require for that short burst writing activity are there, all in one place.

Screenshot 2022-02-15 at 19.35.21They can add their own work by either handwriting on paper and taking a photo or typing directly into Pobble. It's been brilliant to see the children's reaction to this option, they're not having to close the iPad that they were really excited about getting out and having to get their books out to write. Each child can work at their own pace and focus on the section of the lesson they’re on rather than having to flick back and forth on the smartboard between various slides. 

Screenshot 2022-02-15 at 19.44.33Once they’ve finished they can review, highlight, annotate and edit their own work using the self-assessment tools or peer assess, they can tell me before they've even submitted that work whether they've achieved the success criteria that they've been working on. I can clearly see that they've achieved the success criteria that I've introduced at the start of the lesson. It's had a great impact on my class. 

Pobble for us has given the kids a purpose to write. It's given that independent learning opportunity where the kids are reviewing their own work. It's not just a case of ‘I think I'm done Mr Keys, there you go.’ It's definitely improved the standard writing in our school and enabled us to show progress over time.

Why not have a go at creating your own short burst writing activity using the Pobble lesson builder and see the impact it has on the writing in your class!

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