English and EYFS-KS1 Lead Gayle Berry, used the Diary of a Killer Cat unit with her Year 2 class. The class has 28 children, 11 boys and 17 girls. There are 7 SEND children and they are all boys, one being an EHCP child.
How did you use the Read in to Writing unit with your class and why did you choose it?
We used the Diary of a KIller Cat unit every day except when guided reading groups were taking place. Some elements we had already covered e.g. science elements so we didn’t use these. The children love animals and a humour in stories so this linked perfectly. It was also a chapter book that they could access which gave them confidence.
How have you implemented the lesson plans? What has been successful? Have you adjusted activities to suit your class at all?
I used the lesson plans everyday but went through the lesson plan and decided on the key parts I wanted to include as some of them were quite lengthy. I used the main elements and adapted according to the class and individual needs as some of the children are working at Foundation Stage level. The PowerPoints were helpful that they displayed pictures from the book so you could discuss them as a class, I also used these as a support for the lower ability children and altered the sessions accordingly for these.
Is the resource flexible? How?
I found the resource flexible. It would be ideal to have more images etc related to the book. I liked how the resources included were editable so I could adapt them to fit the needs of my class. I also adapted the lessons to what areas my class needed more focus or guidance on.
In your opinion, what are the benefits of exploring a whole book rather than shorter extracts?
They felt very ‘grown up’ with a chapter book so this was perfect.
Pupil engagement and development - How did your pupils respond to such an in-depth study of a book in terms of their enjoyment and engagement?
The children loved the book and the humour in the book. They were eager to read on and loved reading the other books by the author about the Killer Cat.
How effective was the Read in to Writing approach in improving reading skills? Please give specific examples
The children were very engaged in the reading. We had a book between two and read independently and alongside myself. They were eager to read on! It aided in developing fluency when reading.
How effective was the Read in to Writing approach in improving writing skills? Please give specific examples
I extended and added further writing opportunities throughout the unit. Some of these were short writing activities that were maybe suggested to be done on a whiteboard but I like the children to complete in books.
How effective was the Read in to Writing approach in helping to improve grammar and vocabulary? Did you find it effective to develop these skills in context?
I found it effective for improving vocabulary as the book included lots of complex vocabulary that was new to the children, especially because the book was written a long time ago. The editing lessons were useful to improve the children’s grammar but think it would be useful to include a specific lesson each week in the unit on grammar but linked to the text. I was cautious that I was missing a key lesson by focusing on grammar.
What is the impact of using the resource in your class/school - how have you used the resource to improve progression and achievement?
There was a high engagement level with the book and they really wanted to know what would happen next in the story and in the sequels to the book. The way that vocabulary is introduced and referred to really helps with understanding and then use of vocabulary in own writing.
Do you have any tips for other teachers using this Read in to Writing unit?
Look through and highlight vocabulary and teach this ; itaids understanding of the text further. Have resources ready to supplement e.g. rabbit soft toy, cat non fiction books, other stories about cats, other books by same author, author profile.
Learn more about Diary of a Killer Cat and the Read in to Writing teaching unit around the book here.