Look what happened to my speedy book!

I wrote this for my younger brother’s class because I really wanted them to know all about our cat.

Emma

This blogpost is about a Year 4 child called Emma (pseudonym) and her information text journey.

This is Emma’s ‘speedy book’ which she wrote to use as plan for her more extended information text.

What I liked about using a ‘speedy book’ to plan is that I was able to jot down ideas, but it was almost like publishing because people from the younger classes got to read it.

Emma

Emma planned her information text using a planning strategy called ‘speedy books’. These are small A5 picture books which the children write for younger readers but also to help them organise their thoughts for their more extended pieces. Emma used her speedy book to help her write her final information text. She worked on her piece over the course of about six writing sessions before publishing it (see below).

As you can see, Emma extended and elaborated on what she wrote in her ‘speedy book’ You can also see how the speedy book helped keep her piece focused and cohesive.

How did she work?

As always, we examined mentor texts during our genre-study week. Inspired by one of the texts she found in the KS1 Genre-Booklet Information And Me Books, Emma decided to base her particular information text on her own cat.

Below is a snapshot of some other aspects of Emma’s journey through the writing process encompassing: idea generation, drafting, revising and editing. On these pages, she demonstrates strong feelings of: self-efficacy, agency and self-regulation as she manages her composition. I keep a record of every pupil conference, so I know I didn’t confer with her during this particular project. This is heartening as it indicates her confidence levels were high enough to take her idea all the way through to publication independently. This is great evidence for her writing portfolio.

What information did she add in?

As we read the final published version, we can see that there is a good deal of personal information about the relationship Emma has with her cat. In revealing this to her readers, she also allows us to infer that this might be true about cats’ behaviour in general (sleeping on her bed all night, waiting for her on the stairs to get home, hating water, enjoying playing outside with the other cats, going missing for a few days etc.). We learn more about cats from reading this piece than we did before but we also learn more about Emma too.

On her final page, she decides to share information more explicitly with her reader by sharing a list of items you would need to take care of a cat, and a second list of all the cat breeds that she knows.

Personally, I really enjoyed this style of non-fiction writing with the blend between the more generic and objective information about a topic and the bond that the author has with their chosen subject. As a class teacher, it also enables me to know my children as well as playing a key role in strengthening the writing community as we learn more from each other and about each other’s lives.

What else did I enjoy about this piece?

I really like the poem Emma included at the end of her text (see below). I’m pretty sure she is referencing Puss In Boots from Shrek based on the description, but I really like the way she just alludes to this and doesn’t name him. Instead, she prefers to refer to him as ‘that’ cat. I like to think the spelling of perfect as purfect’ is a deliberate pun although on her ‘trying things out’ page it is circled as a temporary spelling. However, as she took this piece through the editing process, it is perfectly possible that she found the correct spelling then decided to keep it. I’ll have to ask her.

Phoenix is a cat
She’s not like that cat
She doesn’t wear boots
She doesn’t have a sword or a hat
But that’s OK
She’s purfect the way she is.

I love the vibrancy and celebratory nature of the front cover. Who wouldn’t want to grab it from the shelf and read it? I appreciate the presence of the purple mouse toy which was referenced on page 4. There is further attention to detail with the pumpkins playing the role of the dots on the letter ‘i’ in the words Kitty and Pumpkin. The pattern on the word Kitty is like the fur of her calico cat even down to the distribution of the grey and orange fur (25% coverage) and the white fur (75% coverage). A sublime detail.

Publishing is such an important process for so many reasons, but what I especially like about it is the opportunity it creates for children to be illustrators. It actually opens up a whole new world of potential mini-lessons, especially when making mini-books, and allows children to incorporate their own observations to influence the design decisions they make. Illustrations are part of writing and are another tool we can use to help us share our meaning with our readers.

My favourite thing about this project was that we got to make a ‘speedy book’ first even though it was hard not to add in too much information!

Emma

Final thoughts

It is interesting that Emma already had a lot to say and was almost restricting herself during the planning process. Perhaps this aided her in the organisation and structure of her text and provided a framework for her when she did let her full draft pour out in the next session. What I think is important is that children now have an additional planning strategy in their repertoires and can use it independently when they see fit. And in doing so, they know that they will be producing two books for the price of one.

By Tobias Hayden

@TobiasHayden

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