How do you get boys to write?
Get them to write in their own dialect! This is the approach Gillian Bell explores this week, as she tells us more about her Scots-based classroom activities.
At Dundonald we have been operating a one day whole school approach to teaching Scots language for the last 3 years which has instilled an interest and enthusiasm for Scots words from Nursery to P7. Pupils experience a wide range of activities that cover aspects of reading, writing, listening and talking and other curricular areas such as art and music are also enjoyed.
As a result of the success of this initiative we decided that the use of Scots language could be further extended for pupils in the upper school. Two books would be used as the core focus for a literacy topic: The Eijits for P6 and Hercules-Bampots and Heroes for P7. This year the P7 topic has proved to be particularly successful. The use of Scots language in the class engaged a wider number of pupils and it was observed that boys were more focused in writing and reading tasks than they had been in the past. They were able to build up confidence in using words that were familiar at home but not necessarily used in a school context and they were keen to use Scots words in poetry writing and in an extended writing piece. Pupils were able to write a Scots story of their own for younger children which they successfully shared with pupils in Primary 2 once they were completed. For a number of boys in the class this gave a real sense of achievement.
Since the implementation of this approach pupils have become more engaged in their writing and, in particular, are thinking about the vocabulary they are using. They have a working understanding of how vocabulary, both Scots and English, can enrich their work when given careful consideration. Their confidence with Scots language has also impacted on their approach to the Burns Competition and preparations for our Scots afternoon. More pupils took part in the Burns competition and pupils could identify words in ‘To a Haggis’ that they were familiar with, making the poem more accessible to them. (e.g. sonsie, puddin, airm, hurdies etc). For the Scots afternoon it has also been observed that pupils who have been reluctant to perform to a larger audience in the past have volunteered for a speaking part and indicated that this was because they have a better understanding of the words they are using in their performance.
We have found this a great platform for pupils to extend and improve their reading and writing and we would recommend having a go.
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