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Partnering for Success

It was wonderful to see so many parents support our project to improve outcomes in student writing by attending the Writing Seminar with Dr Ian Hunter last Tuesday. We often say that we partner with parents in the education of their sons, and this evening was a very good example of the partnership at its finest.

The aim of the evening was to build parent awareness of the sorts of things we are targeting in the College, to ensure a common understanding and language around learning which can benefit boys. Ian focussed on two key elements in his presentation, ‘building fluency by varying sentence structures’ and
‘getting started’.

Building Fluency

There are 5 key sentences the College is focussing on to build fluency:
1. The Short Sentence – 5 words or less
a. The economy plummeted.
b. It was a devastating loss.

2. The W-Start Sentence
a. When the Depression hit, few were prepared.
b. While the team was strong defensively, from an offensive perspective, little was offered.

3. The Adverbial Start Sentence
a. Importantly, the Nazi party grew in popularity as the economy worsened.
b. Significantly, there was little evidence offered to prove the point.

4. The Em-Dash Sentence (long dashes)
a. The Ferari – fast, elegant, expensive – stalled at the lights.
b. The boy – innocent, cheeky, curious – stood defeated.

5. The Explore the Subject Sentence – the most economical way to demonstrate knowledge of a topic:
a. The Second World War, beginning in 1939 and ending in 1945, resulted in a devastating loss of lives.
b. The Germans, who had early success with their blitzkrieg strategy, were ultimately defeated by poor leadership and strategy.

Using these sentences and others in combination can build fluency across a student’s work.

Getting Started

Here, the College is building student understanding of the Multi-Purpose Introduction. The Multi-Purpose Introduction has 5 key elements:
1. A neutral sentence
a. Hemingway’s ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ is a novel filled with hidden meaning.

2. Context sentences (2-3)
a. Set in Cuba in the 1940s, the novel deals with the struggle between an old fisherman, Santiago, and a giant marlin. Hemingway’s skill for characterisation, as well as his talent for symbolism, resulted in a Pulitzer prize for fiction.

3. Argument sentence
a. This essay will argue that Hemingway’s clever use of symbolism lifts the theme of freedom to the forefront of the novel.

4. Sum up – 12 words or less
a. Hemingway delivers a powerful account of a man’s place in the world.

Teachers across the College will continue to reinforce these techniques in their teaching. The aim is for measurable and meaningful improvement over time. You can view Ian’s presentation notes on the College App.

Kath Little, Dean of Learning