Writing about an archaeological dig and devising a museum guide
These examples of Daniel's writing come from a whole-class unit of work based on a series of archaeological digs set up in the outside area. The 'dig' was an extended cross-curricular unit of work that gave rise to reading and writing a range of information texts.
The video provides a glimpse of the children at work in the dig. Daniel finds a commemorative coin and with the help of his teacher, reads the inscription on it, before going on to write an archaeological report on his find. The class had previously examined different types of report formats and were encouraged to choose one that suited their purpose best. Daniel works confidently and independently to organise his ideas, having chosen to make use of a report form from a real-life excavation.
His two teachers talk about how Daniel set about the report writing and, later, about the decisions he took in devising a museum guide for the class exhibits.
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- Daniel uses brief words and phrases suitable for the purpose of reporting a 'find', together with short simple sentences that make up a question and answer pattern, e.g. 'guess why…because'. These provide evidence of effective sentence variation, and past and present tense are varied appropriately (AF5 L3 b3).
- Clause structure is grammatically correct. The one very long sentence has only a final full stop and lacks a question mark (not quite AF6 L2 b2).
- Daniel designed and structured his report to organise his ideas in a logical manner (AF3 L3 b1 and b3).
- The report has a clear internal structure, moving from general classificatory information to some specific details about the object and the site (AF4 L3 b1).
- As Daniel created his work, he edited it, making decisions about what information to select and how to write it down. He writes in role as a (child) archaeologist, conveying his interest in what he's found out about the coin (AF1 L3 b1 and b3).
- Daniel shows he can select and adapt the main features of a reporting format, e.g. he initially wrote 'name' and 'recorder', before realising that these were the same, and chose 'recorder'. Similarly, he changed 'any more information' to 'comments on finds' as being more suitable to his purpose. Both choices suggest that he is seeking an appropriately formal style (AF2 L3 b1, b2 and b3).
- Words chosen reflect the subject area of archaeology, e.g. 'fragment', 'decorations', 'texture', 'rigid' (AF7 L3 b2).
- Simple high-frequency words correct, and phonetically plausible attempts at words with diagraphs and double letters, e.g. 'found', 'badge', 'says', 'guess', 'Burke's' (AF8 L2 b1 and b2).
- Letters are clearly formed and shaped, with some two-letter graphemes joined. However, some inconsistent use of capital letters and mixing of upper and lower case within words (Handwriting L2 b1).
The writing followed a whole-class discussion of a range of leaflets promoting different attractions. Children could choose to adopt or adapt ideas from any of these, and Daniel had clear ideas about what would work best for him.
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The video shows Daniel writing parts of his museum guide, interspersed with his teacher's reflections on the activity.
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- Daniel's choice of succinct phrases ('open the door on archaeology') and single words as captions is appropriate for the museum guide. Daniel's generally accurate use of bullet points in lists indicates additional knowledge of punctuation (AF6 L2 b3).
- The overall structure of the two-sided guide is coherent, with ideas grouped in sections, e.g. starting with general details about coins, then listing foreign and British coins. The use of headings, highlighted text boxes and a map helps to present material clearly (AF3 L3 b1 and AF4 L3 b1).
- The guide is imaginatively composed, containing a range of the information relevant to visiting the museum, although the amount of detail is not balanced across sections (AF1 L3 b1).
- The purpose is clear, drawing on the main features of several models that Daniel considered. The style is informative and persuasive, e.g. 'use the ticket below to bring the family' and 'get in free' indicate attention to reader (AF2 L3 b1, b2 and b3).
- Word choices are simple but relevant, showing influences from the work on archaeology (AF7 L2 b1 and b2).
- Daniel used different spelling strategies, consulting a reference text for a word he could not sound out: 'archaeology', and using phonic strategies to spell both common grammatical ('below') and content ('use', 'foreign', 'keys', 'ticket') words (AF8 L2 b1 and b2).
- Letters are clearly formed and shaped, with some two-letter graphemes joined (Handwriting L2 b1 and b2).
Writing about a German coin
Daniel wrote a contribution to the class museum display, describing a German coin he found. The writing was self-initiated.
- Despite some variation in sentence openers, Daniel uses similarly structured clauses throughout this text, with 'because' and 'but' used to extend ideas ('lots of silver because the colour…was silver', 'but my coin has some ladies on it', 'but it was not green'). These usages show that Daniel does not fully understand the difference between coordinating and subordinating clauses (AF5 L2 b1 and b2, rather than AF5 L3 b1 and b2). Some inconsistency on the use of tense (AF5 L3 b3).
- Clause structure is grammatically correct, but some sentences are over-extended, lacking accurate use of full stops and capital letters (AF6 L2 b1, but not quite AF6 L2 b2).
- The description is a loosely organised series of observations and comments on the coin, without a clear introduction or conclusion (AF3 L2 b1).
- Within the description, connections between ideas are made through repeated nouns ('coin', 'German', 'silver') and pronouns ('it', 'my'). Content is not obviously grouped (AF4 L2 b1).
- Information about the coin is somewhat circular, and relies on the final assertion 'it looks very very interesting' to convey a viewpoint (AF1 L2 b1 and b3).
- The basic descriptive purpose of the writing is not wholly clear. Some details are given about the origins, material and appearance of the coin, but these could be more explicitly signalled for the reader (AF2 L2 b1 and b2).
- Vocabulary is mostly simple and often speech-like, e.g. 'the lady was just standing there'; just enough to say what the coin is like (AF7 L2 b1).
- Spelling is mostly correct with some phonetically plausible attempts at inflected endings, e.g. the plural form of 'ladies', and vowel digraphs 'whole', 'writing', 'colour' (AF8 L2 b1 and b2).
- Letters are clearly formed and shaped, with some two-letter graphemes joined (Handwriting L2 b1).