As part of my role as the Integration Manager at Holden Lane High School I was asked to develop a nurture group system which increased core literacy whist addressing the behaviour, social and emotional development (BSED) of the students. In the following blog I have outlined how we addressed the core literacy requirements. This blog gives a historical perspective (2006).
I created a progression map (see figure 1) which visualised the literacy requirements of the nurture groups and created an assessment matrix which was used to level all student work. The progression map an assessment matrix can be downloaded from here.
One of the key issues which we faced as a team was the students exposure to reading and writing. To tackle this we introduced read for comprehension using small blocks of text, about half a page. Any more then this the students where unable to retain the information and engage with the learning activity. To support the students speaking and writing skills I created a range of wall displays which was integrated into the learning process. For example, when supporting the students during the writing stage we ask the student to speak their sentence. Then we compared their sentence with the sentences on the wall display which helped the student to visual and restructure their sentence (up level their work). Below are examples of the wall displays which we used and were language accessible to our students. These became a critical component within the assessment framework. We also developed the students ability to level each over work and suggest were improvements can be made.
- Jim was scared but Linda was not.
- Jim was scared of the water but Linda was not.
- Jim was scared of the water but his girlfriend Linda was not.
- Jim was scared of the fast flowing water but his girlfriend Linda was not.
- Jim was scared of the fast flowing water but his girlfriend Linda was laughing as they paddled down the rapids.
- We know that Romeo loved Juliet.
- We know that Romeo fell in love with Juliet at first sight.
- The book describes how Romeo falls in love with Juliet at first sight.
- Shakespeare describes how Romeo falls in love with Juliet at first sight, in act one scene five.
- Romeo falls in love with Juliet at first sight and we know this as Romeo said “did my heart love till now… I never saw true beauty till this night,” act one scene five.
- The man casted a dark shadow.
- The man casted a dark, evil shadow over the boy’s body.
- The man casted a dark, evil shadow over the boy’s body, which layed face down.
- The man casted a dark, evil shadow over the boy’s body, which layed face down in the alley.
- The man casted a dark, evil shadow over the boy’s body, which laid face down, twisted and distorted in the damp alley.
We also used inspirational sentences which were linked to the classroom, allowing the student to conceptualise the meaning.
- As the light radiated through the window, rainbow coloured beams were projected across the room creating an explosion of colour on the wall.
- The glorious sunset burnt the night sky to remind us that wars are not confined to the battlefront; they are also destroyers of cities.
- The whiteboard was sparkling in the sunlight, like a star in the night sky.
- The yellow walls of the classroom were like large sunflowers, reflecting the children’s energy as a mirror reflects an image.
Once we had established the core literacy skills we started to integrate mini projects as learning activities. I have outlined two projects below.
1) Design an Actionman boat
This project consumed one full term and the students fully engaged with it due to its kinaesthetic nature. The students used the class time to undertake research and write their reports. As the test day grow near we asked the students to bring photos of their craft into school, allowing the other students to evaluate how successful the craft will be. This also allowed us to check that the students had started to create the craft.
- You need to build a boat or a raft.
- Made from recyclable materials.
- Support an Action-Man.
- Research into boats and hull shapes.
- Design Ideas.
- Final Idea.
- Build and test boat or raft.
- Evaluate your project.
Example of wall display sentences. These are based on what happened during the testing of the craft.
- Kristy’s boat tipped over but Liam’s boat did not.
- Kristy’s boat tipped backward but Liam’s boat stayed balanced.
- Kristy’s boat tipped backwards as the actionman was sitting at the back of the boat but Liam’s boat stayed balanced.
- Kristy’s boat tipped backwards as the actionman was sitting at the back of the boat but Liam’s boat stayed balanced because his boat had a large deck.
- Kristy’s boat tipped backwards as the actionman was sitting at the back of the boat but Liam’s boat stayed balanced so the actionman did not get wet; as his boat had a large deck.
2) Love Story
The second project was an extended pace of writing, which can be downloaded here. We wanted this project to promote parent engagement with their child’s learning and to use it at parents evening. To make this work I had to contact all the parents numerous times throughout the project life. Critically, during parents evening I compared this writing with the baseline writing activity which the student completed prior to starting the nurture group. Although the parents were very proud of their child’s work they were expressing how positive they feel about supporting their child during the project.
Nurture Group Evaluation
The one year evaluation was very positive and can be downloaded from here. It was clear that the initial concept was successful and delivered the core literacy skills as required. However, two key weaknesses were highlighted a) lack of numeracy skills and b) smaller then expected grains in behavioural, social and emotional skills (BSED).