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Monday, 3 February 2014

Boxing Clever with year 2

As a school we have recently invested in some 'Alan Peat' training in a bid to improve our writing scores. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the training but was fortunate to have feedback from the rest of the KS1 staff in a recent meeting.

One of the things that stood out to them and me was Boxing Clever, which for those of you who haven't come across Alan Peat before is outlined below in the words of the man himself as explained on his website:

In an Early Years context, and throughout the Infants, a great deal of the fundamental understanding of what a story is, is gained through hearing a broad range of stories read. Many of these will be formulaic and will assist in introducing book-language and structure. A range of activities can be used to augment the central role of story reading in developing narrative awareness. The approaches outlined in this article are helpful in easing the transition from reading to writing. One method of helping Infant aged pupils to grasp the linear nature of a typical story is 'The Story From Boxes' game. In order to play this narrative game with pupils seven boxes are needed. These are labelled as follows:

  1. Who?
  2. Where?
  3. Where next?
  4. Things that go wrong (problems)
  5. Who helps?
  6. Where last?
  7. Feelings. 
As our topic this half term is Katie Morag and we have read four Katie Morag books so far, this I felt lent itself beautifully to Boxing Clever.

I began by putting pictures, kindly photocopied by my T.A., from Katie Morag and the Two Grandmothers into each box, discussing the choices as we went along. This served as an ideal introduction to story structure which the children enjoyed.

For the next book, Katie Morag and the Tiresome Ted, I asked the children to suggest which pictures they wanted to go into each box which resulted in lots of interesting discussion and enabled the children to be actively involved in the process.

Finally I put a Katie Morag book onto each table, with the pupils roughly sorted into reading groups, and gave them 7 post it notes with the headings from the boxes on. They were then set the task of putting the post it notes onto the pages they felt matched each heading best. Obviously this led initially to a bit of fussing but once they settled it actually resulted in some great discussion.
Each group then shared and justified their choices with the rest of the class. 

The top reading group were extended further by having the challenge of a book we hadn't read together. This meant they had to read it as a group and then place the post it notes themselves. It was quite a challenge so I decided to give them a chance to revisit the story tomorrow before presenting their ideas to the class. I will also read the book to the class afterwards to see if the rest of the class agree with or can predict their choices.

I am pleased with the results so far and do feel it is helping the children get to grips with story structure. The final proof of their understanding will come with their final task, which is over the rest of the week, to rewrite their favourite Katie Morag story containing all of the key story structure elements. Their story will be made into a mini book with their own illustrations.

I will let you know how it goes.