School Blogs

Lexical invasion

28th February 2015

This morning, I had every intention of teaching French to Year 3, continuing on our current topic of pets, with the aim of achieving the ultimate goal of children being able to say which pets they have at home, using the vocabulary they have learned to date coupled with the set phrase j’ai…. I became, however, somewhat distracted; a tendency, it seems, to which both adults and children alike are prone. I hasten to add, however, that such a tendency is a rare occurrence and only happens in exceptional circumstances.What distracted me was not a knock at the door nor, as one might expect in this digital age, the beep of a text message or an urgent e-mail. In front of me, were 6 story books, written and produced by children in Year 3, all with colourful illustrations to entice the reader and bound in ribbon at one side. I wanted to see more. One book in particular attracted my attention, ‘ Stinkbomb’s invasion ‘. The front cover depicted a human like character, clad in futuristic attire, worthy of a film set. Who is Stinkbomb? Why does he want to invade and, more importantly, are we at risk of invasion here, at Wandsworth Prep?Stinkbomb, it seems, is a man with a mission. He hails from a far-away planet and, by all accounts, brings with him some unusual traits, some of which might be considered rather unsociable to us earthly beings. First and foremost, Stinkbomb, as his name suggests, is a tad odorous. Odorous might not be a strong enough adjective, but one needs to be mindful of one’s audience when writing and, at times, sacrifice candidness in favour of tact.Whilst Stinkbomb may appear, at first glance, to embody very admirable qualities such as humility and selflessness, upon probing a little further, the reader discovers that he is a man of principle with some rather stout beliefs. He is courageous, determined and plucky; his story is not for the faint-hearted reader. Stinkbomb has many followers, charismatic enthusiasts, each and every one of them adherents to his cause. Stinkbomb will invade, accompanied by a foul-smelling trail of magic dust and gases leaving us humans with no option but to seek shelter and recoil with terror.I wonder, had the need not been identified by the class teacher to ensure children used compelling language in their story writing, if I might have remained a little more focused at the start of the French lesson and begun with a game of vocabulary snap, as planned.The new National Curriculum for 2014 places emphasis on teaching children to develop as writers, which involves increasing their competence as well as teaching them to enhance the effectiveness of what they write. My professional judgement, is that Year 3 are very close to achieving this objective.Bridget SaulHeadteacher