How to start…

I chose this as my first post, as I thought it was apt. As I’m sat here thinking how to start my first ‘post’ I realised I’m feeling exactly how thousands of children feel sat in a classroom being told to start writing.
Here’s how we feel…. amongst other things we feel pressure to get it right, confusion over what’s expected and the weird phenomenon of panic over a blank piece of paper.

I’ve found creative writing can often be a particular challenge for some children with Special Educational Needs. Often children have fantastic ideas for imaginative stories but lack the confidence to put pen to paper.

Understandably, this can often make creative writing very frustrating! A potentially exciting and engaging creative writing topic can switch some children off before they’ve even started.

How can we make creative writing accessible and enjoyable? With the drive on improving literacy across the curriculum this is no longer just a question for English teachers.
When teaching a year 7 class English I often used to go down the standard route of sentence starters, key words etc to try to encourage them to write creatively. But for some children this just doesn’t spark their imagination. I found it just gives them a way to get the task done and stay out of trouble – which is not the aim!
So here’s my first resource review. Through my home tutoring I came across ‘Story Starter Photo Cards’ from Crossbow Education. They are basically a big upgrade on what I was trying to do in my classroom with sentence starters. On the reverse of the card they have the standard sentence starters but the photograph on the front is what I’ve found to be the key to sparking imagination.

The photograph works as a prompt for the child’s story, gets them thinking about what could be happening in the picture. For children who find reading and writing challenging, these photographs seem to put them on a level playing field. They are not limited by their reading ability when faced with a photograph, instead they are given an opportunity to imagine.

Everyone interprets pictures differently and it’s incredible to see how many different stories can be written from the same picture. Once they’ve got ideas for their story, they can just turn over the card and use the words and sentence starters to help. Thumbs up from me!



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