Part 2- Influences and Effect Sizes on Writing

“Without data you are just another person with an opinion.”

W.Edwards Deming

Last term I reflected on the process of teaching writing. I wanted to be really clear of what I did so I stepped through the process of what I do. This piece of writing is a follow on of a reflection I carried out in March.



Effect Size

My year 4s sat the written asTTle test and I followed through the process of marking and moderating alongside their team. I compared my targeted group’s data with their historic data and could identify that the first term intervention made a difference. Hattie cautions when calculating an effect size and especially when using less that 30 students. He highlights the  usefulness of  ensuring that all students are tested and that scores from the same group of students are compared.

I have studied all the year 4 data. Currently we have 34 students over three classes. Of that number,  25 year year 4 students at our school have data carried over from last year into this year. Therefore we have 9 new year 4 students at our school. Of that 25 original group, 11 made progress of 1 sub level and 5 of that 11 worked with me. The ongoing challenge is sustainability. I believe that the students I worked with will continue to make progress and I know they will maintain what they have learnt with me.

Soon their class teachers will be contacting families as part of three way conversations and I will be part of this.

My learning about data from unpacking the process.

I believe it is really important for teachers to track the historic data and I have taught the team I am working with how to do this. They looked at the same period of testing results and compared them across 12 months. When teachers only look at their interim March data and compare it to their October data, this gives a lulled sense of achievement. I now know that the focus needs to shift from March to March data. Then a clearer picture of learning is formed. Like reading, there is definitely a summer slide happening in writing. I can see this when I look at the October data and compare it with March. The holiday slide can be slowed down and I have achieved this when I targeted a group of older children and gave them a school chromebook to write with over the holidays. I will write about that strategy next.

My other learning is to focus more on the oral language before writing. Sometimes I believe that as teachers we can be so focussed on written output that other literacies are pushed aside.

Just to recap with strategies I used that went well.

  • Start with the data. Show the children their results. Identify the gaps and plan strategies that will support the learner.
  • Provide language based experience and use common school events or shared experiences to write about.
  • Track how many words are written in a session and build a graph of the number over a week’s writing.
  • Craft, craft and recraft. Using SOLO Taxonomy highlight key words that can help lift writing.
  • Help the children reflect on what they have learnt about how to make their writing better.
  • Show the children their progress and celebrate writing milestones with families.


Where to next

This term I have reset a goal. By the end of term 2 I will video the process of using a SOLO Taxonomy Describe Map to make a difference to Learner Outcomes so this can be used as a resource to build teacher capability.

One thought on “Part 2- Influences and Effect Sizes on Writing

  1. “My other learning is to focus more on the oral language before writing.”
    I was very interested to read your article posted today Sonya, especially regarding the above observation based on assessment from March to March.

    As you know I am a qualified teacher and therefore approach my profession as an oral storyteller with an educator’s point of view. I have done research with the University of the West of Scotland with a class of 24 pupils to see if a completely oral approach prior to writing a story results in richer language when it comes to writing and whether it raises attainment and creativity. The results were stunning in that all pupils showed raised attainment with already high achieving writers creating work at alevel up from previously assessed and previously poor attainers created quite amazing, word rich, creative stories.

    So the process was that I told an oral story [connected to the area in which the project was based – about William Wallace who fought with the Scots in the Battle of Stirling Bridge against the English and won.]
    The pupils then drew a storyboard skeleton of it and then using that as an aid to memory told it orally to each other. We then explored the place, the character, the emotions experienced orally and then went to re-telling again. All processes were recorded on i-pads – no writing was engaged in at all.Only when the class had orally re-told the story havingworked on it over a period of weeks did they engage in writing.It culminated in seven of the pupils telling orally the story of William Wallace and the Battle of Stirling Bridge using their own words at the prestigious opening ceremony of the re-furbished Wallace Monument in Stirling which was just fabulous.

    The results were excellent and lasting. So it combined using technology which I’m not sure your school would have ie i-pads fro recording.

    I can email you the paper that was delivered on it [delivered orally of course] if you are interested.

    I have used this method in Primary schools in many places and have found this to be effective

    I’m just wondering if I could do Skype training in oral storytelling for your staff if we can work out the technology and funding – just a thought


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