Pax – Week 5

Word Meaning in Context: A Whiteboard Strategy

by Jen Jones

We are very excited to have Jen Jones create a video for our collaboration to promote word meaning in context.  This is one area often identified needing further work in our reading assessments.

Thank you Jen. 🙂

Thundercake Lesson Plan

Hello Literacy – Blog

Hello Literacy  – Facebook

Pax & BFG – Week 6

Narrative Story Graph – 

(Seven Steps to Writing Success)

What are the Seven Steps?

‘The Seven Steps is a unique system that chunks writing into seven main techniques.

1 Plan for Success
2 Sizzling Starts
3 Tightening Tension
4 Dynamic Dialogue
5 Show, Don’t Tell
6 Ban the Boring
7 Exciting Endings
The chunking concept is modelled on the way we learn sport. Take tennis for instance.

First we learn the individual skills – forehand, backhand, serve, volley and smash.
Then we practise the skills over and over until they go into ‘muscle memory’.
Finally we put the skills together to play a game.
Yet in schools we often ask students to ‘write a story’ – in other words play the whole ‘tennis match’. Hence they struggle.

The Seven Steps program works for ALL text types – Narrative, Persuasive, Recount and Informational.’

by Jen McVeity

Have a look at the completed narrative story graphs.

Download the Narrative Story Graph template (PDF 432KB) 

Now see if you can map Pax or BFG as a class on the story graph.


Pax – Week 4

Character Hot Seating


You have been reading Pax for a few weeks now and have learnt more about him and some of the other characters in the book. In a classroom students often have different opinions on why or what motivates a character to do and act a certain way. This activity allows you to form opinions about a character.


1. In pairs choose a character you would like to ask specific questions to.

2. Create a list of 5-10 questions.

3. Have one child at the front of the room sit in a chair.

4. This child assumes the identity of one of the characters from the text.

5. The class then asks the character questions.

6. The child in the seat answers questions in character.

Pax – Week 3


by Viki Allen

I was introduced to the idea of Lipograms when I went to a conference, something I’ll admit I had never heard of.

A lipogram is a constraint that is used when writing and can often be developed as a task for deepening the challenge for higher attainers.  The concept is very simple: a piece of writing is produced in which a particular letter is omitted. The example we worked on during the course (and I tried out with my class on return to school) was of Humpty Dumpty, rewritten without the use of the letter a.


Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again


Humpty Dumpty rested on the structure

Humpty Dumpty tumbled off the structure

Every one of the King’s horses, followed by every one of the Kings’s men

Couldn’t return Humpty to his previous condition. 

When I asked Alan for a suggestion of activity for the GRA, he suggested that we try writing lipograms for a section of the text, and to enhance this further, to read the version we have written alongside the printed original in order to see where changes have been made.

It has also been suggested that we video or audio record these reading and share them so that children can hear different accents/voices from around the world.  This could be done using Write About This.

Here’s an example that I used with my class (differentiated to accommodate the ability of my students).


(The quality of these pictures is better if you click on them)

I was first introduced to Lipograms when I was fortunate enough to travel to Manchester for a conference on ‘Developing writing in the Modern Classroom’ led by Alan Peat and Lee Parkinson. Over the last 18 months these two have had a significant impact on the teaching of a range of subjects through their innovative use of a combinationof high and low tech strategies to engage learners.

Lee Parkinson’s blog is inspirational for anyone wanting to use iPads and digital technology to raise standards.  I have used many of his ideas over the last two school years to great effect and would highly recommend reading his blog.

Alan Peat is a former teacher, now a writer and speaker who has written a number of books and successful apps to develop the use of literacy skills.  I first came across him through Twitter and was introduced to his ‘Exciting Sentences’ which I introduced to my school and have been embedded in our practice for over a year. You can find out more about them from his website.


Viki Allen, Tollgate School, Eastbourne, UK