Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Few Questions

Over the last few days, I have received several questions from people who have actually read my blog. Firstly, I was surprised people are actually taking the time to read it and secondly I was even more amazed they wanted me to elaborate. This is why I decided today I would add the questions and my answers to my blog and hope that it helps.

I was wondering why John Jenkins suggested not using adverbs, do you know why that is?
From my own experience, if you take them out it does read better. Try it for yourself and see. Lots of adverbs and adjectives slow down the pace and actually jar the reader out of the action.

What I did, was look at some of the children's books I admire and enjoyed reading and found that adverbs and adjectives were used very sparsely and also got an idea of the type of strong verbs used to replace them.

What is wrong with repeatedly using words like suddenly, as kids like repetition?
I suspect it depends on the age you are writing for with repetition because if you are writing for 9+, repetition can get boring.

With the words mentioned I think using them once in the whole novel, but if they occur in every chapter or even every few paragraphs (as I noticed I was doing with the word 'suddenly', it does get a bit of a joke. My characters were in a permanent situation of shock.

However, if you were writing a picture book you would use repetition but I wouldn't thought any of the words listed would be needed. I suppose it is more about rhythm of the text than repetition.

Do you find it easier to write for adults or children?
I would not say one is easier than another. In fact, because the writing I do for adults is for the women's magazine market and articles for the local paper, it is probably very similar to writing for children in that you have to use every word with care and make it work for its place on the page. There is no room for flowery prose or to go off on a tangent about something else because I am working to a limited word length.

Can you tell me is there much paperwork to teach children aged 6-7, as I was thinking of doing a PGCE?
This is a difficult question, as it depends on the school and what subject specialism you take on within the school. I reckon the easy answer is probably, yes there is.

However, in typical teacher style and now I am putting my ex-deputy head hat on, I feel like I have to elaborate. You will have to do planning, long-term, mid-term and short-term.

The long-term planning is usually for whole year, it consists of a timetable of what will be covered when in every subject. There will be a whole school scheme of work with the long-term planning in and you will be expected to use this and follow it, but just to make things difficult you will also be expected to add your own mark to it.

The mid-term planning is what will be taught each term, outlining your objectives, teaching strategies and learning outcomes. Sometimes a good team would have these structured already. More often than not they haven't and they re-do them every year. Again, this depends where you work. Every school is different.

The short-term planning is your day-to-day teaching. Your worksheets, introduction and plenary and differentiation for individual children who may need help or have LSA's.. All of this should be written down. If you are away for any reason someone should be able to pick up the copies of your plans and just start teaching the lesson as it is all prepared and ready to go.

I haven't mentioned the marking, record keeping, and the reports. If you have special need children in your class you may need to do these every few weeks. Do not think teaching KS1 is less work than KS2 because they write less and so you have less marking, because this is definitely not true.

Now back to the specialism. Every primary teacher will be expected to coordinate throughout the school at least one subject. If you work in a small school this could be as many as five or six subjects. Each will need it owns scheme of work and organisation the coordinator has to manage, no matter what subjects you choose, or more than likely are allocated. And yes, it involves a lot of paper work. but, again this depends on what you make of it.

You could just sit on the subject and do nothing. The job is what you make it. Unfortunately, I could never do this but, know teachers who did and all I can say when the inspections came along they always failed.

How intensive is a PGCE?
In my opinion, doing a PGCE is like being thrown in the deep end of a swimming pool and someone shouting, "O.K. Now swim." I did a PGCE and loved it worked for me. It is intensive but I work well under pressure and I am a very organised person, which helps. About 10% of the course did not complete it. In your favour, all the mature students do tend to do well.

I have had students in my class and been a mentor for NQT's and the mature students tend to be much more determined to succeed and have more of an idea what is expected of them and are much better at working on their own initiative. These are important skills in being a teacher.

As you've probably noticed from my Blog about my writing habits and interests is that I flit around a bit. I'm what my great friend, Lynne Hackles, describes as a butterfly writer. This is because I get bored easily. Primary teaching is different every day. There is no time to get bored and that is why it suited me.

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