VCOP in the Secondary School

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A 30-45min workshop I recently delivered to introduce Ros Wilson's VCOP strategy to subject teachers struggling with encouraging & coaching their students into writing effectively. We each created a VCOP pyramid around the topic of the Amish and discussed ways it could be applied across various subjects and year groups. For further resources around this topic: http://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/VCOP-in-the-Secondary-School-CPL-CPD-6182657/

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VCOP in the Secondary School

  1. 1. Matt Grant, 2012 www.HumansNotRobots.co.ukSimple VCOP in theSecondary School Supporting extended writing across the curriculum
  2. 2. In the name of simplicity…
  3. 3. Meet the AmishThe Amish are a Christian group who live in America, mainly inPennsylvania. They originally came from Germany and have become famousfor the old-fashioned way they live.The Amish have decided to be separate from the rest of the world. Theywear plain clothes and refuse to use new technology.They live and work on community farms. They have large families of up toeight children. They run their own schools on the farms so that theirchildren grow up as Amish. They only teach English, Maths and the Bible.They avoid using petrol vehicles or electrical equipment. Instead they usea cart and horse. And they have to work extra hours to grow crops ontheir land and look after their animals.In the evenings and on their days of rest, the Amish will meet togetherto sing hymns, read the Bible and say prayers. They do not use alcohol,tobacco or caffeine. They avoid supermarkets, shopping centres,nightclubs and other places they think might harm their way of life.
  4. 4. A Day with the AmishTask - Write a postcard home about your day with the Amish community in Pennsylvania…but..1. don’t use any word with more than two syllables2. don’t use punctuation3. only use the connectives ‘and’ and ‘then’4. only use the openers “I” and “They”
  5. 5. How did that make you feel? How might we support students in that situation?
  6. 6. Introducing VCOP…
  7. 7. What?• VCOP is a primary writing strategy, designed by Ros Wilson, as part of the ‘Big Writing’ initiative.• It provides a simple straightforward way of supporting students with structuring writing.• It provides an effective way of boosting vocabulary for writing.• It has a substantial evidence base proving its effectiveness.
  8. 8. Why?1. To increase the range of vocabulary a student knows – and to encourage them to use ambitious vocabulary.2. To coach students in joining their ideas, phrases and sentences through use of connectives.3. To provide an ‘in’ for students who suffer writers block by building up a bank of sentence openers.4. To maintain consistent use of punctuation, and increase the range of punctuation where possible.
  9. 9. and now the How? bit…
  10. 10. Step 1 – Get a template…Draw a four part table on the board…orCreate a four part table on a piece of paper…orDownload a four-part pyramid template…(google  ‘VCOP pyramid’)
  11. 11. Step 2 – Start with your vocab…Provide the students with the target words in context –i.e. in a film, in a new article, during a practical activity.Then• Record these as a whole group.Or•Coach students in recording them in their books.
  12. 12. Amish plain way of life religious separate lifestyle electricity dress codeagriculture conservative isolationist V
  13. 13. Step 2 – Build up your openers and connectives…Give students two highlighters and use a modeltext – get them to spot connectives and openers.The class can be divided into groups andassigned this as a task.and/orProvide students with 2 – 3 target openers youwant to specifically develop – and model themwith examples…
  14. 14. My Travel Diary – 12.02.12 – Holi DaySlowly, I woke up with the sun in my eyes. It was the day I hadbeen waiting for. Smiling, I thought about the photos I had seen ofit. I was also nervous because I had never been anywhere like thisbefore.After breakfast, I walked to the main square excitedly but nobodyhad gathered yet. I strolled to market in order to pass the time on.Lazily, I wandered around the vibrant market stalls.Later I returned to the square and it had changed incredibly. Tomy surprise, it was full of people. The people were dressed inbrightly coloured robes and had friendly faces.Blinking in the sun, I looked at all the petite coloured bags inpeople’s hands. Suddenly, bang! The colours were being thrown at aterrific speed with cries of laughter.
  15. 15. My Travel Diary – 12.02.12 – Holi DaySlowly, I woke up with the sun in my eyes. It was the day I hadbeen waiting for. Smiling, I thought about the photos I had seen ofit. I was also nervous because I had never been anywhere like thisbefore.After breakfast, I walked to the main square excitedly but nobodyhad gathered yet. I strolled to market in order to pass the time on.Lazily, I wandered around the vibrant market stalls.Later, I returned to the square and it had changed incredibly. Tomy surprise, it was full of people. The people were dressed inbrightly coloured robes with friendly faces.An hour passed and I waited patiently. Blinking in the sun, I lookedat all the petite coloured bags in people’s hands. Suddenly, bang!The paint bombs were being thrown at a terrific speed as cries oflaughter filled the air. It was the best day of my life.
  16. 16. and then with alongside but althoughbecause so as to in order to C
  17. 17. I It TheySlowly, Quickly, Quietly,Blinking, Smiling, Sweating, O
  18. 18. Step 3 – Revise and model punctuation…Provide students with some unpunctuated sentences.Model the impact of reading without them.and/orProvide a puzzle or game starter around punctuation(a vast range of these can be found online).and/orTarget one punctuation mark – model it and set areward for it being consistently used.
  19. 19. .CAPS ,? ! “ …” P
  20. 20. A Day with the Amish – Part 2Task - Write a postcard home about your day with the Amish community in Pennsylvania…but..1. don’t use any word with more than two syllables2. don’t use punctuation3. only use the connectives ‘and’ and ‘then’4. only use the openers “I” and “They” …+ anything from the pyramid!
  21. 21. Next Steps…Discuss in pairs…1. How you will take this forward within your own subject?2. What writing activities might you cover?3. How might you fill in the template? What words and phrases?
  22. 22. Making it a bit more complex…
  23. 23. extra stimulus & motivation…Consider using:• A comfier room• Special pens – comfier pens• Special paper – pastel-coloured paper• Off-site visits• Guest speakers• Background music (instrumental)• Treats – a drink or fruit etc.• Laptops / ICT to ‘copy-up’
  24. 24. Building automaticity… A clock or timer should be visible to all students, ideally marked in 10min intervals.1. “You have had 10 minutes. Count how many new vocab words have you used?”2. “You have had 20 minutes. How many connective words have you used?”3. “You have had 30 minutes. Look at your openers. Have you opened with…’ly’ words, ’ing’ words?”4. “You have 5 minutes left. Check your punctuation.”
  25. 25. Encouraging self and peer assessment…Have I …..V•Used ambitious vocabulary?•Checked that I have not used a word twice? (unless foreffect)•Used a thesaurus to find interesting and ambitioussynonyms and antonyms?•Used a spellchecker or dictionary to check spellings?C•Used connectives to link two simple sentences together?•Used connectives to link my paragraphs?•Used connectives to create complex sentences in orderto make my writing more interesting?O•Started a sentence with a key phrase?•Started a sentence with a “ly” word?•Started a sentence with an “ing” word?P•Used full stops and capital letters?•Used a range of punctuation marks•[. , ? ! “ ” ( ) - ; : ‘ …] correctly?•Used speech marks around spoken words or quotes?
  26. 26. Any questions?Further reading… Strategies for Immediate Impact on Writing Standards (The Aubergine Book) – by Ros Wilson
  27. 27. For more on the VCOP idea and related resources, please visit: www.andrelleducation.co.uk/about-us/our-consultants/ros-wilson/ For further resources or to contact the author of this presentation, please visit: www.HumansNotRobots.co.ukCopyright , Matt Grant, 2012All rights reserved. Permission to present this material and distribute freely for non-commercial purposes is granted,provided this copyright notice and those in the slides remain intact and is included in the distribution. If you modify thiswork, please note where you have modified it, as I want neither credit nor responsibility for your work.Modification for the purpose of taking credit for my work or otherwise circumventing the spirit of this license is notallowed, and will be considered a copyright violation.Any suggestions and corrections are appreciated and may be incorporated into future versions of this work, andcredited as appropriate.If you believe I have infringed copyright, please contact me via the above website and I will promptly credit , amend orremove the material in question.

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