Book reviews - revision guides Schofield and Sims page 2

Schofield & Sims is a leading educational publisher, providing books that teachers, parents and tutors can trust for use at the primary level. All their books can be purchased through their website. Their books have been updated to take account of the new (2014) curriculum and the revised SATS tests.

WriteWell

"Comprising eleven pupil books and one accompanying teacher's handbook, Schofield & Sims WriteWell is a complete course designed to guide children from their first steps in mark-making towards the development of secure, fluent and comfortable joined handwriting that can be adapted for a range of purposes." A selection of free online resources is also available from the Schofield & Sims website.

WriteWell Teacher's Handbook, Ages 4-11

This book is an valuable adjunct to the WriteWell Pupils' Books, ensuring full benefit is gained from them. Teaching handwriting is a complex process which requires children to be at the right developmental stage before they can assimilate each skill. It requires the simultaneous use of cognitive, physical and perceptual skills, and speed of developing these skills varies from child to child. WriteWell splits learning into manageable modules, offering the flexibility to select the appropriate book for your child's needs; the pupil books do indicate the academic year but also work by concept so parents and teachers can choose the correct stage for every individual. Young writers can then move through the programme at their own pace as their handwriting skills flourish - a highly personalised approach that ensures a confident foundation for every child. The Handbook includes:

  • an extended Introduction that provides essential background information and guidance for improving the teaching of handwriting
  • a Curriculum chart to explain coverage within each Stage
  • a detailed Scope and sequence chart that allows you to navigate the pupil books at a glance
  • Teacher's notes accompanying each Stage to clarify the key issues at each level of development
  • Comprehensive Letter formation charts and Joining charts that break down the mechanics of writing and describe in detail the steps needed to achieve the correct formation, as well as how to combat common difficulties
  • Assessment and Intervention resources to help you monitor progress and provide detailed feedback. 

Four aspects are covered - Shape, Space, size and sitting on the line; Stringing together and slant, and Speed and style. All these follow a comprehensive introduction full of practical advice and guidance. The spiral binding makes the bok easy to use, and the layout is clear, with good use of boxes, sections and colour. There are plenty of examples too. An excellent introduction to the series of books and a practical book in its own right.

WriteWell 1: Patterning, Early Years Foundation Stage, Ages 4-5

Each pupil book provides: 15 units, together with a child-friendly introduction and at least one longer WriteWell challenge task focused practise activities that gradually increase in difficulty activities that encourage children to use handwriting in a realistic context. In WriteWell 1: Patterning, children will learn to draw a range of shapes and patterns as preparation for learning to form the letters of the alphabet. This is based on Stage 1 Shape and it's good to see a wide range of shapes and patterns for children to copy, gradually increasing in complexity; the patterns are usefully described too. WriteWell 2: First Letters, Early Years Foundation Stage, Ages 4-5children will learn to write some of the letters of the alphabet. The remaining letters are covered in WriteWell 3: More Letters, Early Years Foundation Stage, Ages 4-5. It's excellent to see the gradual progression, with plenty of practice offered before moving on to the next step; two books of letters enables this and gives children the satisfaction of moving through the books.

WriteWell 4: Capital Letters and Numbers, Year 1, Ages 5-6​

Continuing the logical and gradual progression, capital letters and numbers are organised into related groups to promote correct formation. First of all, letters are divided into families, for revision and this is followed by capitals, with straight lines, curves and so on. Then numbers are introduced. The clear spaced out pages offer opportunities to Try it, Practice it, Apply it, ensuring principles are thoroughly embedded. Pupils move on to Stage 2 with WriteWell 5: Letter Size and Position, Year 1, Ages 5-6, which uses handwriting lines to teach relative letter size - this is a really vital step and one so many children struggle with, so the good amount of experience given here is excellent. Children also learn to position and space writing on the baseline and spacing between words. A big step forward is joining, which again is thoroughly covered, with two books available for progression - WriteWell 6: First Joining, Year 2, Ages 6-7and WriteWell 7: More Joining, Year 2, Ages 6-7. The different types of joins are clearly differentiated, and again there are lots of opportunities for children to reinforce those skills on the clear uncluttered pages which also feature small black and white illustrations.

WriteWell 8: Confident Joining, Year 3, Ages 7-8

children will learn how to write the more challenging joins, including those involving the letters r, s and f. Some of the exercises, as it the case through the series, increase children's vocabulary as they are asked, for example, to think of appropriate adjectives to match words - this is a useful extra feature. This book, together with WriteWell 9: Fluency, Year 4, Ages 8-9, complete Stage 3. In Book 9, children start by fine-tuning their joined style to ensure it is comfortable and efficient. They then practise writing with greater consistency. There are plenty of longer writing exercises which help children to build up their concentration and ensure good habits are maintained. The last two books are Stage 4 Speed and Style. In WriteWell 10: Speed, Year 5, Ages 9-10 children will learn how to main legibility at speed by experimenting with changes to their joined style and completing timed activities. The topics given for children to write about are interesting and relevant, and will help with creative writing skills. The final book is WriteWell 11: Style, Year 6, Ages 10-11encourages children to develop their personal style by experimenting with various lettering styles and practising writing for different purposes. It's easy to think that we don't need to continue to teach handwriting on into KS2, but there is a real need for books at this stage, to build on a good foundation and to ensure good habits are continued.  This is an excellent series, the workbooks perfectly complemented by the Teachers' Guide. Used separately or together, children will gain a really thorough grounding that will stand them in good stead. On a practical note, the good quality paper is strong to write on and does allow for rubbing out. The presentation is clear, the explanations good and the progression well handled.

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