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English writing
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Author:  Walthams [ Fri Jul 28, 2017 10:26 am ]
Post subject:  English writing

Could you please help me understand what kind of writing is expected in case of a title worded in this way: "Write about a time when you were particularly excited/nervous/disappointed, etc. What happened?" Does this title suggest that a story is expected, or a description?

How about this one: "Write about a famous person." Or "Write about a delapidated building." Would it be regarded relevant if a child wrote a story involving a delapidated building, or about meeting a famous person, or does it clearly need to be a description?

Author:  yoyo123 [ Fri Jul 28, 2017 10:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: English writing

The first one, I would think they are looking for a recount, with strong description.
Second factual. Third, could involve a story, but again I would go for a strong descriptive piece, perhaps building up suspense as you neared the building, not just physical description, but also how it made the writer feel, the sounds smell etc. Maybe something about its former use, why us it now dilapidated etc. As with all writing, vary sentence structure, use good descriptive language and chuck in a few ambitious bits of punctuation.

Author:  Walthams [ Sat Jul 29, 2017 11:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: English writing

Thank you for your advice yoyo123.

I am also wandering about the following. My dd is often "influenced" by the passage from the reading comprehension when she does her creative writing - she will frequently insert some phrases that appeared in the comprehension passage into her own piece of creative writing, especially if they are thematically related. Is that something:
A) that should be encouraged,
B)acceptable but not advised,
C)or would that be regarded as 'copying' and should be completely avoided?

Will she get marks for nice vocabulary if the words or expressions she uses in her writing are borrowed from the comprehension passage?

Author:  piggys [ Sun Jul 30, 2017 6:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: English writing

I would urge your dd not to lift phrases from the comprehension extract; one of the purposes of the composition is to reveal your own language skills and your ability to independently write accurate, lucid and descriptive prose. Copying phrases from the original might create the impression that she is not able to do this.

Author:  Ros82 [ Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: English writing

Examiners and teachers are not after a best selling author type of story. They are simply wishing to gauge the grammar and writing techniques the child knows and can usefully employ.

Take a ‘birthday’ as a choice of title. Examiners can only mark the techniques they can spot (the quality of story is not so important). A birthday essay, for example, might include -

Ting, ting ting. (Onomatpoeia)
My alarm clock nudged me awake at 7.00am. (Time of day and personification)
Birds outside my widow chattered to each other in the dawn chorus (Personification)
“I’m a year older,” I whispered excitedly to myself (Dialogue)
After brushing my teeth and washing I slipped on my soft slippers (Alliteration)
I lazily sauntered downstairs to breakfast (powerfully descriptive verbs - never just walk or go)

Continue the story adding a short sentence or two. Add in some smells (perhaps from a vase of flowers or breakfast cooking), include some sounds, perhaps also buttery tastes at breakfast. (Describe your scenes using all your senses.)

Carefully open birthday cards and smile in reaction to some of the kind messages.

Open some presents and describe the range of colourful wrapping papers - silver, gold, bright crimson, turquoise with tinsel bows (try to avoid simple colours). “What might be in the next beautifully wrapped box? (Ask a question.) One gift might be ‘light as a feather’ (Simile)

Shake with excitement. Squeal with delight. Most importantly cram in every technique you know into a short few paragraphs.

And so on, and so on. (Repetition typically gains marks.)

Check out BBC 500 words for age appropriate essay examples and Creative Writing Magic Money Cards or some other flash card systems for grammar tips.

Don’t worry too much. Keep the stories simple and straightforward then show off with the grammar and techniques.

Author:  piggys [ Tue Aug 01, 2017 5:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: English writing

Ros82 wrote:
Examiners and teachers are not after a best selling author type of story. They are simply wishing to gauge the grammar and writing techniques the child knows and can usefully employ.

Take a ‘birthday’ as a choice of title. Examiners can only mark the techniques they can spot (the quality of story is not so important). A birthday essay, for example, might include -

Ting, ting ting. (Onomatpoeia)
My alarm clock nudged me awake at 7.00am. (Time of day and personification)
Birds outside my widow chattered to each other in the dawn chorus (Personification)
“I’m a year older,” I whispered excitedly to myself (Dialogue)
After brushing my teeth and washing I slipped on my soft slippers (Alliteration)
I lazily sauntered downstairs to breakfast (powerfully descriptive verbs - never just walk or go)

Continue the story adding a short sentence or two. Add in some smells (perhaps from a vase of flowers or breakfast cooking), include some sounds, perhaps also buttery tastes at breakfast. (Describe your scenes using all your senses.)

Carefully open birthday cards and smile in reaction to some of the kind messages.

Open some presents and describe the range of colourful wrapping papers - silver, gold, bright crimson, turquoise with tinsel bows (try to avoid simple colours). “What might be in the next beautifully wrapped box? (Ask a question.) One gift might be ‘light as a feather’ (Simile)

Shake with excitement. Squeal with delight. Most importantly cram in every technique you know into a short few paragraphs.

And so on, and so on. (Repetition typically gains marks.)

Check out BBC 500 words for age appropriate essay examples and Creative Writing Magic Money Cards or some other flash card systems for grammar tips.

Don’t worry too much. Keep the stories simple and straightforward then show off with the grammar and techniques.


I completely disagree with this advice I'm afraid; it is NOT a good idea to "cram every technique you know into a few short paragraphs". This leads to lumpen, contrived and often ridiculously overblown prose which screams 'over-tutored' and does NOT read well. One of the things examiners and markers look for is how and when to express something in a particular way. Five similes and three alliterated adjectives will make examiners switch right off. Please DO NOT hyperbolise your writing in this way :shock:

Sorry Ros82 but I feel very strongly about this. That example of prose you provided is terrible - for exactly the reasons I have just given.

No offence intended but it is serious advice. If your dc is being advised to force thousands of 'language techniques' ( vile expression) into every sentence they write the markers will know the child is over-tutored. Writing like this is never good. It is laboured, clunky, unimaginative and completely derivative. Some tutors get their students to learn chunks of stuff parrot fashion, merely to be regurgitated at a later date with a few minor alterations to fit a composition task. :(

Author:  Ros82 [ Tue Aug 01, 2017 6:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: English writing

Piggys - You made a fair point to avoid cramming every technique. I would agree. Some of the BBC 500 words essays come close to teetering off balance because of this. However, many pupils are frequently so focused on the subject of a writing task that they forget to display even a modest fraction of their skills with language. This is a real risk. Perhaps pupils would be better cautioned not to forget to consider using what they have been taught. Remembering to include an example of a metaphor, simile or personification, where appropriate, would typically gain marks. Pupils cannot be credited with knowing how to use these if they have not employed them in their text.

Author:  piggys [ Tue Aug 01, 2017 9:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: English writing

And if they cantilever them into their writing
come what may, which appears to be your advice, they won't be credited either.

Author:  Ros82 [ Tue Aug 01, 2017 9:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: English writing

The key phrase was 'where appropriate'.

Author:  Stokers [ Tue Aug 01, 2017 9:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: English writing

I'm with piggys on this one - when DS sat the DAO exam, he got a perfect score (25/25) for the creative writing element. They invited me in to read his piece and stated explicitly that he recieved this mark because his piece was a completely natural follow on from the extract - he had understood the dynamics of the relationships, was using the same language, etc. There was no mention of literary techniques and there were certainly spelling and grammar mistakes. So, I would focus on getting your child to appreciate the unique quality of pieces of writing and how they can continue that, rather than worrying unduly about a check list of required techniques. As a teacher of my DD once said (when she was focusing too hard on cramming in techniques at the expense of quality of writing), sometimes grass can just be green!

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