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Friday, 11 October 2013

Friday books and Reading buddies

As we approach the end of the first half term I have been reflecting about the most successful things I have introduced to year 2 this year so far. The first one has to be without doubt Reading Buddies, which are basically a box full of cuddly toys provided by myself and my T.A. The children get to choose a reading buddy when they are reading independently. This along with a whiteboard reading stamina count down has worked beautifully. The children actually say 'Yes' whenever independent reading is mentioned and they are now up to 10 minutes of independent reading stamina, which if you knew my class would definitely amaze you!

The reading stamina countdown can be downloaded from the link below:

Whiteboard files

My next most successful new initiative has been the introduction of our Friday books. This is an idea which I got from Pinterest. Basically it is a book into which the children write a letter every Friday to their adult at home telling them all of the things they have been doing that week. I had to model letter writing and they so far taking to it amazingly well. The idea is then that the adult writes a letter back to their child in reply and it becomes a dialogue between adult and child. It also prevents those conversations all of you parents will be familiar with:

 'What have you done in school today?' adult
 'Nothing' child

The letters are not marked by me at all, their main purpose is a way of improving their writing skills whilst communicating with their parents/adults at home.The only input from me is a list on the board, prompted by them of all the thing we have done in school that week. They are encouraged to keep to correct letter layout but other than that it is completely independent. The discussion about what we have done in school also acts as a mini assessment of what they have remembered and also for future reference what they have enjoyed the most.

Friday  books were launched the first week of term and the parents informed in more detail about them during our 'Meet the teacher' session. The books go out on a Friday, complete with the children's letters and should be returned with a response from the parent on the following Wednesday. Whilst the children are not over excited about writing the letters they clearly love reading their adults responses. If any of the children's adults have not replied, which sadly has happened quite a few times, I usually write them a response which they also enjoy.

So if you want a relatively painless way of improving writing give them a go. I think they would work equally well from year 2 to 6, with differentiation by outcome obviously. I think that they will also be a lovely thing for the children to keep and look back on in years to come.

If you do give them a try please let me know.