Discover how Teaching Packs member, Annabella, has been using the resources in our popular writing packs to teach her students online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I am a Maltese citizen who is an Assistant Head in a Primary Church School. I spent 16 years of teaching in the same school, and I started my seventh year as an Assistant Head in the academic year, 2020-2021. I missed teaching a lot, and so I also give private tuition at home. I have found the Teaching Packs website fabulous, and I have also told my school staff about it. Many have become members and are making use of the excellent resources.
This year, as all of us know, has been quite extraordinary with COVID-19, and my private tuition, like all schools around the world, has ended up being delivered online through Teams. As an Assistant Head, I feel proud of this online teaching experience as it has helped me realise what it entails and I can therefore support my staff more in the months to come, considering that we as Maltese are going through the second wave of the virus; a wave which is much worse than our first way back in March and April.
During my online teaching with the Grade 5 students (who moved into Grade 6 in September), I am making very good use of the following packs:
- The Narrative Writing Pack
- The Instruction Writing Pack
- The Explanation Writing Pack
- The Persuasive Writing Pack
- The Recount Writing Pack
- The Report Writing Pack
- The Newspaper Reports Pack
- The Letter Writing Pack
I have compiled resources from these packs into a single PDF for my students to download and make good use of during their creative writing homework.
The Benchmark Exam English components for our Grade 6 pupils in Malta are as follows:
The first task consists of a short text or a small number of short texts of about 300 words such as dialogues, conversations, announcements, monologues, instructions, directions, descriptions, and news bulletins (including weather reports). The second task is about 500 words long and consists of a monologue, dialogue or conversation.
Students listen to recordings of both texts twice and answer related questions. These may require them to write words or numbers in gaps; mark a statement as True or False; underline, circle, or tick the correct answer; match; complete grids with information; and label pictures or simple diagrams.
In the Speaking component, there are eight sets of texts. Students are assessed in pairs, and each student works on four speaking tasks.
- The first is the Warmer which is not assessed. The second is an interview and each student will be asked questions on one topic.
- The third and fourth tasks consist of two of the following: Compare and Contrast; Inverted Interview; Single Picture; Picture Story; or Thematic Picture.
The reading component comprises two parts: The first part consists of one of the following texts: a diagram or picture or set of pictures with some text; simple timetables and schedules; short texts such as notices, signs, posters, instructions, directions, advertisements, blurbs, and messages. Students are asked to carry out writing, matching, labelling and other comprehension tasks based on the text.
The second part consists of a text, fiction or non-fiction, of approximately 500 words. The text is split up into sections with questions set on each section. Questions are also set on the whole text. Students are asked to answer a range of comprehension questions, and knowledge about language is also assessed. For the constructed response questions, answers need not be in full, but they need to show comprehension.
There is a short writing task (10%) and a long writing task (20%). Conventions of spelling, punctuation, and grammar apply in both writing tasks and are assessed accordingly. The pre-writing task (the plan) is not assessed for accuracy.
The short writing task requires students to write between 50 and 60 words on one of the following: a note / message; an informal email; an invitation; a notice; an advertisement; a short dialogue; instructions; directions; or a short paragraph about a topic.
Students choose one of two writing tasks. Both writing tasks are of the same text type (for example, a short dialogue) but will consist of two content areas (such as a dialogue about a missed school outing or a dialogue about planning to meet for sports practice).
The long writing task requires students to write between 140 and 200 words on one of the following: an informal letter; a write-up of an event; an article; or a short story for the school magazine or a similar publication intended for young students.
This is where I make great use of the Teaching Packs about writing. Apart from sending the compiled PDF of the writing genres in the syllabus, I also use it to explain the writing task I will be giving them, to show them how best to go about the writing genre. I do this by sharing my screen through the share screen option in Microsoft Teams.
I can say that these writing packs have helped me a great deal in my teaching the different writing genres, but I must say that they have also helped my students immensely in their writing. I have seen improvement and I will share my experience with my school staff. This way, the students attending our school will succeed in their writing.
For more information about Malta’s Benchmark Exams can be found here, along with Benchmark Past Papers.
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