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The Nuts and Bolts of Writing - Teaching SPaG effectively

The current curriculum and assessment processes place greater emphasis on the teaching of spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG) in the primary classroom. One of the most frequently asked questions is ‘how do I teach SPaG effectively?’ Like all new learning, the process of ‘teach, practise and apply’ applies equally to SPaG.

Posted on Tuesday 23rd June 2015

Teaching Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar effectively…

 Encouraging the development of grammar and punctuation skills to improve children's own writing.

TEACH the terminology:

  • Whether you teach discrete sessions or weave the objectives through other literacy teaching, consistent use of terminology is essential
  • Start with ensuring that teachers and teaching assistants have a good working knowledge of the SPaG content
  • Have a key objective for the week, e.g. use of conjunctions, can be very effective, teaching it discreetly on Monday and practising/applying the skill or knowledge throughout the week at every opportunity

Recent DfE research shows that contextualising grammar teaching within topics helps pupils make better links to their own writing.

 Encouraging the development of grammar and punctuation skills to improve children's own writing.

PRACTISE through investigation:

  • Effective learning is achieved through ‘doing’; the more games and investigations your pupils play, the more they will understand and retain
  • Try making a statement and ask pupils to prove whether it’s true or false e.g. fronted adverbials always need a comma after them
  • Ask pupils to see how many different conjunctions they can find in different text types
  • Experiment with the positioning of the subordinate clause within the sentence…but always discuss the effect of this on the reader

 Encouraging the development of grammar and punctuation skills to improve children's own writing.

APPLY at every opportunity:

  • Use teaching and learning across the curriculum to embed and focus SPaG
  • Find examples using guided reading; collect these and place them on a working wall
  • Include an element of SPaG in success criteria checklists and encourage editing at the point of writing
  • Create opportunities for pupils to stop and check their work after a period of 10 minutes of writing
  • Use self and peer assessment opportunities to further develop the visual discrimination needed to proof-read writing
  • Visual prompts, used as reminders

Finally, remember that like all new learning, constant revisiting helps to strengthen neural pathways and embed a deeper understanding within the pupils’ knowledge.

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With thanks to Jo Skelton for writing this post. Jo is an independent English consultant, specialising in bespoke support, training and development for primary schools. With over 16 years’ experience in the classroom and 8 years as a consultant, Jo is passionate about raising the achievement of all pupils and her work  includes supporting lower attaining pupils, closing the attainment gap and challenging higher attaining pupils.

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