"Adding depth" to writing - any advic?(23 Posts)
Dd1 is in Y4. She loves math, science and reading. She does not like writing, and yesterday the teacher mentioned she needs to add more "depth".
Does anyone have any advice on what kind of things I can do with her at home to get her to write better? Her comprehension and verbal expression is advanced, but she just doesn't transfer it on paper...
She won't want to write stories, so I am looking for some other types of exercises, if they exist? Maybe something of the type - "here is a simple paragraph, make it more interesting, add adjectives..", etc?
Any advice from the collective wisdom of MN would be greatly appreciated!
Sorry no advice! My ds(yr3) sound exactly like your DD. I've had same comment from teachers since YR1.
Watching this thread with interest.
It's not very useful advice, is it? Is your dd meant to know what it means?
Things I've done with my ds in the past:
- he tells the story to me and I write it down, we work on 'super sentences' together (that is, embedded clauses, extended descriptions) and then he writes it up. Because his writing is slow he gets frustrated because his brain is working much faster than his hand. This allows it to be a more positive experience.
- writing with a special pen. He has a feather quill we bought in the Bank of England museum and I got some parchment-y style paper cheaply on Amazon
- writing the story as a letter or a diary, he started one about sailors in WW2 as letters home
- a family newspaper. We write it together (admittedly I assemble it in Word) and send it to grandparents and a few of my friends, he also likes to send it to his teacher. This has a range of features - a top story of the week (which might be 'we had really terrible thunderstorms last night'), a serialised story he is writing about a pig, and we take contributions from grandparents as well so the last one featured an article about gardening by my step-dad and one about the benefits of walking by my MIL.
What kind of stories are you reading together? The more vocabulary and sentence structure she hears the better (not that you can stop and deconstruct a passage in a book during bedtime story time!). Would she write a story if it was about her favourite book characters, like kind of fan fiction?
Why not try slow writing?
Basically each sentence has a rule eg. You must start with an adverb etc...
10 sentences make a paragraph-ish. But every sentence must be thought about to match the rule and flow with the other sentences. Google it, to get a better description. I would also use the Literacy Shed- they have great videos that can be used as a stimulus for writing.
We used to play a game where you add something to a simple sentence.
I had a dog.
I had a brown dog.
I had a brown dog who liked his ball.
I had a brown dog who liked catching his ball.
I had a brown dog who liked catching his enormous ball.....
Eventually I had a brown spotty dog, who barked very loudly, and who liked catching his enormous red ball and chewing it viciously.
I think it helped their writing as well, although I didn't start it with that in mind.
We also played the complicated word game, similar idea.
I had a dog.
I owned an Alsatian.
So you replace all words you can think of with a more complicated word.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
I am trying to play the long game, and in any case, it is next to impossible to get her to write a story, unless it is for homework. So, despite loving the 'family newspaper' idea - it would only lead to tears.
I hope that as she gets a bit older, and as prepping for 11+ ramps up in the next two years in her school she will put in a bit more effort. She does read a lot, and has high scores for comprehension, so it gives me a bit of hope...
I think I know where her problem originates - the purpose of a sentence for her is to convey information. And she doesn't see the need for more nuances, etc. She is only 8, and luckily, not yet concerned with the exams...
For now, I think I'll use her spelling words sentences as a way to make her think of writing more complex sentences.
I also found a Schofield and Sims English Skills workbook. Has anyone used it - is it any good?
What is the school advising you to do? What are her targets for writing and how are they ensuring she reaches them? The diagnosis of the problem is there but not the teaching to enable her to progress. What helpful comments are there in her books to help her progress? Anything? Or just a comment that she needs more depth? I would ask to see the teacher. I assume this is a prep school so ensure you get value for money!
Thank you. I am going to see the teacher again, and try to understand what they are doing + suggest I do. We only had 10 min at our parent-teacher meeting this week.
They don't have targets like in a state school and the only meaningful success measure is how the kids do at 11+. We barely see their books, but I'm sure the comments would say - "add more detail", "expand", etc.
So I am trying hard not to worry and trust the school to do their thing. But at the same time, don't want to do nothing.
the purpose of a sentence for her is to convey information. And she doesn't see the need for more nuances, etc.
I know plenty of adults who feel the same! I had to get a guy in my team to do a presentation once on a very dry topic - had to explain that a list of bullet points in the style of 'Fact 1: [x], Fact 2: [y]' was probably not going to work.
They do put a lot of emphasis on developing persuasive writing and presentation skills at school these days - I can see why but if you're more scientifically minded this does just seem like a complete waste of time. If she has books that she loves maybe talk about why she likes them - the excitement, the funny bits, the sad bits, and how the descriptive bits help us see the pictures in our minds that the author sees in his or hers.
The family newspaper is mostly factual, I wonder if she might prefer that? We did a review of the school play on the front page of one (completely objectively deciding it was a 5 star hit worthy of the West End of course).
Gosh - you've just described my DD! She's 9 and in Y5 now. We had the same issue and I would always ask her to add descriptive words, different words to add at the start/end of a sentence etc. It's been slow going but she is finally getting better (after years of not wanting to write). A good teacher helps too.
I wouldn't worry about it. It seems to be a common problem and I'm sure things will improve in time.
My DD also struggles with this. We identified part of her problem was not knowing where to start when faced with a blank page. We invested in some Storyworld cards, which have just the most amazing illustrations to start (and sustain) a story. Often we just look through them and 'talk' the story, discussing how our ideas differ and so on. DD has been inspired to start writing down her stories, with no pressure - it is definitely making her writing more adventurous.
My Ds is autistic and does t see the need for excess words either. Watching with interest for things that might help him too.
Use but don't over use a thesaurus to include more ambitious vocabulary.
Opening - problem - resolution ...
Mrz, if you are watching this thread still, I would like to ask you is it worth pushing child who thinks exactly same as,
"the purpose of a sentence for her is to convey information. And she doesn't see the need for more nuances, etc."
I think my ds's teacher thinks he can be better writer because he is good at other things, but I just think you cannot be good at everything. He enjoys writing but hates to be told to make it more interesting etc. I can push him as teacher says, but have to risk him hating writing completely.
I think children need to be taught that we use different writing styles for different purposes and that in reports we keep to the facts and write succinctly but for narrative we add detail for effect. We write for the reader so those features are needed to engage the reader to keep them interested.
Thank you MRZ.
OP, 'Jumpstart Storywriting', along with 'Jumpstart Literacy' by Pie Corbett was recommended by Geraniumred on the other thread. These looks quite good for extending.
A lot of the Pie Corbett writing games are available free on line so you don't need to buy the books.
Try www.talk4writing.co.uk (might be com) I was at his conference last week and he was really pushing his books.
I only came across pobble365.com this week and have used it with a year 4 G and T group - they really enjoyed it.
Thank you mrz!
We tried pobble today and he enjoyed it. Still, the sentences are minimal, but at least he wanted to have a go at it, and said he wanted to do it again.
I am so grad we have MN as always! So much inspirations!
Probable is the new name for Lend Me Your Literacy it's been around a while
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