Sentence level starters

I’m not sure if it’s the way I teach, or the way the PNS framework sets out areas of study, but I find most of my Literacy lessons end up based on text level objectives. APP assessments on my class before Christmas confirmed my gut feeling that the area they really needed to develop was their sentence level and grammar skills.

I decided to borrow an idea I came across at Aldermoor Farm Primary School, where I spent my final PGCE placement. There every Literacy lesson started with a starter activity, much like a mental & oral starter in Maths, all based around sentence level work.

I went through the APP assessments and listed the ‘next steps’ that the children were not achieving, and devised a collection of short activities to hit these objectives. I find this kind of work hard to come up with ideas for, but the old Literacy strategy ‘Grammar for Writing’ resources are great for giving ideas for simple grammar activities.

This seems to have worked really well, with children often being observed implementing the skills from these starters in the rest of the lesson. One thing I have found a challenge is maintaining the pace of my lessons when including these activities. I think I just need to move away from the idea that they all have to ‘get it’ during the starter. I think instead I need to see it as an ongoing practice which we will repeat on future occasions, dripfeeding these sentence level skills.

A simple idea, but I have found it really valuable for making sure I cover the sentence level objectives in a rigorous way.





4 responses to “Sentence level starters”

  1. jan webb Avatar

    Great idea – I find the same and try to incorporate sentence level or word level starters regularly. Another local school has taken the grammar for writing units and treats them in a similar way to letters and sounds, so everyone is grouped according to their grammar-levels and has focussed grammar input every day.

    1. oliverquinlan Avatar

      I'm not sure I agree with setting like that, (especially in letters and sounds- it's meant to be whole class for a good reason!). However, regular input of grammar has to be beneficial.

  2. simon Avatar

    I have also found this effective. I really should do it more often! Another useful resources is the VCOP games booklet. Don't have a bibliographic reference but it has some good ideas for word and sentence games.

    1. oliverquinlan Avatar

      Thanks Simon I'll have a look for that.

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