I have just acquired a new class and there are only seven students in it – lucky me! They are an intervention group of C/D borderline year 11s, and guess what? They don’t really like writing. As an English teacher this has created somewhat of a barrier towards the majority of the skills I am trying to get them to improve!
Racking my brain, old memory sticks and trawling the internet for ideas left me lost – how was I going to get these reluctant writers writing? And at a C grade?
Twitter, as always, had the answer.
An MFL teacher (@javier1974) posted a picture of his classroom window with writing all over it! This was my answer. This is what I had been looking for.
I rushed to my shed window to have a practice - I quickly discovered that whiteboard markers, highlighters and felt tips were not suitable tools for the job (I now have a slightly grumpy husband).
Liquid chalk pens however work a treat and now my classroom windows are covered! I got myself down to Makro pronto (they can also be found on eBay at a good price).
So, year 11 arrived through my classroom door last week aghast. “Where are our books Miss?” followed quickly by “What? We’re actually writing on the windows – won’t you get in trouble Miss?” (I wasn’t sure but risked it anyway!).
We started with some collaborative writing. They were each fighting for a pen – this was a good sign. The result? 15 minutes later I had a page – well a window – full of writing. Enough to mark. Enough to improve. I did a little dance.
The cynic in me says this is just a gimmick, a silly idea to be different for different sake. How is it really different to writing on sugar paper or in their book or on a mini white board? Well – it isn’t when you look at it like that.
So why did this work? It is simple – it is because it is different.
I wanted to write on the windows, it was fun, it felt rebellious, it is strangely calming, it looked cool (I even felt a bit cooler!). And for this simple reason students who hated writing suddenly produced this…
Today each student had a table (or two) each to expand and improve their writing skills – they knew this and were looking forward to it. And there is the sentence that makes writing on the windows and tables more than a gimmick…
My year 11s looked forward to writing.
Today, they produced this happily and without fuss… (and it was period 5!). “We do this in Science – it’s sound!” was the only reaction I got. Tonight I am a happy teacher.
I know lots of other teachers in school have been trying this out too… in Science, Geography and English to name but a few.
Email us your images/explanations of how you used this in your lessons and they can go on here too.
UPDATE: Sally, who has been getting students to write on the desks for a while now, has used writing on the windows to encourage students to respond to student questions. Students write questions on post its – if other students have an answer they can write it on the window (amazingly students suddenly found they had a lot more answers to share with each other). In the pictures you can see great learning dialogue and feedback between teacher and students.