Tragedy-Hits by sdaferv

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									English Department Improving your written work at key stage 3 Have you ever tried really hard at a piece of writing: your handwriting’s lovely, you’ve done your best with spelling and punctuation, but your English teacher still doesn’t think your work would get the level you want for Key Stage 3 teacher assessment? Frustrating, isn’t it? What should you do? The first thing to do is to read the comments your teacher has written on your work. Then, talk to your teacher – be prepared to spend a little time, outside lessons if necessary, while they explain what you could do to improve it. The National Curriculum Level descriptions are very general. You can see them below. They are written to describe your achievement across a range of work and not just one particular piece. This is one reason we don’t put a level on one individual piece of work. Another reason is that educational research has found that if you put a number and a comment on a piece of work, most students only look at the number! We feel it is the comment that will tell you how to improve your work and that is much more important. English teachers are used to working with the levels and can show you points about your work which you need to change or develop in order to get the overall standard of your work to the next level. There are also features of particular types (genres) of writing that you can improve. In order to explain how we might assess different types of writing, the English Department is going to produce a series of examples which will be available to you on the student centre and the website. If you have a parent, older sister or brother, cousin or friend who could help you go through the work in this pack, that might be easier and more fun. You will be doing work like this in your English lessons and spending a bit of time on this at home could improve your work a lot.

General points

How do English teachers assess your work?
When English teachers are assessing a piece of writing, they are taking many different aspects of it into consideration. They will ask the following questions. Is the style of writing appropriate for the task? Is it accurate? Is the meaning clear? Does it hold the reader’s interest?

Different types of writing have different types of conventions (‘rules’) so they will also be checking whether your writing fits in with these conventions.

Series One: News Stories
You are often asked to write a news story in Years 7 and 8 reporting an event that happens in a class reader. Your teacher is generally looking for you to show a good understanding of the story and the characters. They are also looking to see if you can write a clear explanation and start to use some of the conventions (see below) that real journalists use when writing news stories. Remember the best way to understand how to do that is to read lots of news stories yourself. You might find that Metro or a local paper such as the East London Advertiser is a good place to start. Try reading at least one news story every week. This might be on the general news pages or on the sports pages. Read the whole story. If possible, read it aloud to someone else and talk about what happened and what you think about it. In Year 9 you will do a newspaper unit. In this unit, you will develop your ability to write clearly, but you will also be looking at the difference between fact and opinion, looking at bias and comparing the ways in which different types of newspapers report stories. Now you need read more newpapers, notice the difference between news stories, feature articles and editorials (opinion pieces). You should regularly look at how the same story is treated by a range of different papers e.g. The Mirror, The Sun, The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph. You will find a range of newspapers in the school library or your local public library.

Here is a story from a real newspaper:

Here are some of the conventions often used for writing a good news story . How well does the story above fit them?

The structure (the way the story is organised) 1) the most important thing that happened (include brief information on who? when? where?) 2) other results 3) background detail of how it happened 4) eye witness accounts 5) other relevant comments (police, colleagues, family etc) 6) future implications

The style 1) Use short clear paragraphs to get the information across 2) Vary sentence structure so that it doesn’t sound too repetitive 3) Use powerful vocabulary (be aware whether this implies a point of view) 4) Do not use ‘I’ or ‘We’ in the main account 5) Do not use opinion or comment directly (this is used in opinion pieces: feature articles or editorials not news stories) 6) Do not use slang or informal language in the main account 7) Eye witness comments should be inside speech marks and are not affected by rules 4,5 and 6, but make sure all the comments relevant to the story. Reporters would cut out anything that wasn’t relevant.

8) Use punctuation carefully, particularly capital letters, full stops, question marks and commas. Notice that most paragraphs in a news story are only two or three sentences long.

National Curriculum English AT3 Writing Level Descriptions
The National Curriculum level descriptions are designed to describe pupils’ performance over a range of work and it is hard to apply them to a single piece. It should also be remembered that assessment is a balancing act: pupils might be stronger in some areas than others. Two pieces of work which are judged to be Level 5 might look quite different from each other: one might be lively and imaginative using vocabulary in an interesting way, but the grammar, punctuation and spelling might not be consistently accurate; another might be accurate, but unadventurous and dull, or inappropriate for the task.

(Insert National Curriculum English AT3 Writing Level descriptions)

So here are some examples of news stories with commentaries and indications of the National Curriculum Level that might be considered when assessing that candidate’s work.

Example 1

Footballer Car Crash Story
The famous footballer Henry, 22 years old was collided yesarday in the car crash whil he was coming from the big match in Liverpool on his way to London. The best player in the Arsenal team who scored a 5 goals in the last two matches that the team had. The car crash were at night while the road was quite empty so most of the cars was in a high speed when a young lady couldn’t see well in the dark so she gets in car who was in front of her and that was the footballer’s car. The car crash haven’t any fire or anythink like that when everyone was OK even the youg lady, but that caused a very importent think to Henry and that was stopping him for playing for two years because of this foot. We had a enterview. We’ll lose a very good player like Henry.

Henry his mum was really upset about in and she was crying in the hospital who were full of people that like Henry and wish him to get well soon.

Example 1 (Commentary) This is an excellent achievement for a pupil who has not been learning English for very long. It shows a growing awareness of the vocabulary and structures of formal and informal English.

This pupil follows the basic structure of a news story beginning with the main facts, but the account of what happened becomes too long and muddled. Points about too many different things are contained in the same sentence e.g. the sentence beginning ‘The car crash were at night….’.

In addition there are problems about getting the right formal tone consistently and there are a number of grammar and spelling errors. This piece of work would be assessed at Level 3

To go up a level, this writer needs to read more newspaper articles of this type, getting used to the difference between formal and informal language. He also needs to work on grammar and spelling.

Example 2

Footballers Crash
David Beckham, 29, was driving in his car on 16th January at 8 o clock when his Ferrari slid under a huge Mercedes lorry in the motorway. “I was driving quickly because I never ever drive slowly for some reason when suddenly out of nowhere came a massive lorry in the motorway and my car slid under it and suddenly, I saw a large patch of blood in front of me then as I could encounter a complete darkness when I woke up I found myself in a huge room that is practically all white and my head was bandaged. It took me a couple of seconds to realise where I was then suddenly a smiling doctor emerged into my room and said “ How are you today David I am pleased to tell you that you were really lucky to get out of that accident alive” He paused to catch his breath. Then continued “and you will be leaving hospital in 4 weeks time.”

After 4 weeks has passed it seemed like a year finally I was back home surrounded by my beloved happy family who missed me for 4 whole weeks.”

Example 2 (Commentary) This would make a really good fictional story: it creates a strong main character and has lots of good vocabulary, description and dramatic action. It might well get a Level 5 if the task had been to do that. As it is, it is hard to award it a level at all, but Level 4 would probably be the most that could be considered.

To go up a level this pupil needs to read more news stories and notice how they are written. She could also practise summarising skills: reading texts and picking out the main facts as well as putting facts in order of importance.

Example 3

Tragedy Hits
Yesterday, a famous premier footballer was involved in a fatal accident M3 motorway at 12 a.m.

Zidan, 25, was driving in a blue Aston Martin DB9 towards M25 when he had his accident. A drunk truck driver was heading West when he swerved into the footballer’s lane colliding with the Aston Martin. Trooper Campbell, 35, was coming from a Reefside Club where he had 5 pints of lager.

The accident caused a lot of damage to the footballer but the truck driver escaped with only cuts and bruises. Zidan was screaming with pain as the firefighters tried to get his leg out of the scrunched up Aston.

Eye witnesses told us “ The accident happened in a flash. The truck was swooshing down the lane at top speed when it swerved at the sight of the car. Bam! The accident was over!” The exhausted firefighter who tried to get Zidan out of the fatal accident commented “His leg was stuck between the seat of the vehicle and the steering, his leg would have to be amputated in order to get him out. We gained permission from his mother as his fiancée was out of town.” Mrs Zidini, 45, was devastated at the sight of her son. She fainted immediately. She was rushed to hospital and treatment has been commenced. His coach told us “ He just scored his winning goal against Arsenal and was off to celebrate but now I fear about his career. I hope he will get better because the team and I will miss him dearly. I send my condolence to his mother.”

His precious career is at stake. The question on everybody’s lips is “Will our precious Zidan ever play footie again after his accident?”

Example 3 (Commentary)
This story is much clearer. It follows the guidelines well starting with the most serious result, giving plenty of background detail and eye witness comment. The sentences are clearly constructed and varied. Much of the vocabulary ‘swerved’, ‘collided’, ‘amputated’, ‘devastated’ etc. is appropriately sophisticated and dramatic. This holds the reader’s interest and conveys the meaning clearly. There are, however, a few errors of tense and vocabulary and the ending is not appropriate to the task. This could be considered a strong Level 6 This pupil will progress rapidly to Level 7 through reading more examples of news stories and general reading to improve her precision in using vocabulary and appropriate tone.

Example 4

4 Killed Giles Harvey, a former Eton pupil was one and a half times over the limit when he was involved in a head on crash while he was racing his BMW sports car. He was one of four killed in the accident when he was driving at 100mph in a 30mph speed zone. He died together with his brother Oliver Harvey who was in his last year at Eton. An inquest was told yesterday that an elderly couple Ronald and Constance Beale who were in the car that Giles hit were also killed as their car was moved back 80 yards by the massive impact. After crashing into the Beales’ car they spun out of control and crashed into a shop window before bursting into flames. The boys could only be identified by their dental records. There were many witnesses to the crash. Colin Beech said “I was coming up to a bend for the village of Cookham when, all of a sudden, there were two cars overtaking me side by side.” Afterwards the grand-daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Beale said “He chose to drink. He chose to drive, my grandparents had no choice. They’re dead.” Mr Bedford, a coroner said that he had no doubt that if Giles were alive he would have been convicted for death by dangerous driving.

Example 4 (Commentary)
This pupil’s article is well structured and makes effective use of a range of journalistic conventions. The opening sentence is concise and incorporates subordinate clauses to combine the facts about the accident while including some eye-catching details ('was one and a half times over the limit when he was involved in a head on crash while he was racing his BMW sports car’). The overall structure of the article is effective. Each paragraph has a topic, often highlighted by a keyword or phrase ('An inquest was told... After crashing the Beale's car’). A particular strength in the article's organisation is the way in which it rounds off with the coroner's comment about Giles being found guilty if he had survived. However, the information is not always grouped together effectively; a sentence that ends one paragraph (There were many witnesses to the crash') would have been better leading the eyewitness account that follows. This pupil has also successfully selected and presented information to influence the reader without openly stating her point of view. The quotation from the victims' granddaughter, although weakened by uncertainties about punctuation, conveys feelings with good use of repetition ('chose' and 'choice').Throughout the report the pupil has selected vocabulary to interest the reader in the drama of the accident while inviting condemnation of the boy's stupidity in driving when drunk ('spun out of control and crashed... before bursting into flames'). Overall, this pupil has good control of a suitably formal style, using a range of clauses to coordinate information and focus the reader's attention on key points ('an elderly couple... were also killed... After crashing onto the Beale's car'). Her use of verb tenses is subtle ('could only be identified by', 'if Giles were alive').She has partial, but not full, control of a range of punctuation; for example, she has often marked the opening of a parenthesis with a comma but has not always marked the end ('Mr Bedford, a coroner said that...'). The granddaughter's comments are linked by comma splices, using commas where there should be full stops. This writing would be assessed at level 7 in writing. To further develop her writing, this pupil needs to: • learn how to use commas accurately and effectively • check that all her paragraphs contain sufficient detail and that the content is linked.

Do-It-Yourself Assessment Now look at the article titled ‘Death at Speed’. Could you assess it like a professional? Using the other examples as models, decide:  How well does it follow a news story format?  What other comments could you make about the kind of words it uses?  Does the tone sound convincing?  Has the pupil used paragraphing and punctuation effectively?  Are there any spelling mistakes?  What National Curriculum Level would you give it? You can annotate it using IT (with Microsoft Word Insert/Comment) or by hand. There will be a small prize for every entry. Give your entries to Ms. Sparkes in Room 109.

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