NATE Classroom, Spring, 2009 by Phil Kendall During the four years in which I was chained to an oar on the slave-galley SS Sats Preparation, I very proudly developed a set of cards with pithy little writing ideas, whose purpose was to drive reluctant male writers onwards and upwards towards The Second Full Week in May. It was therefore with a mixture of horror and satisfaction that I learnt that Alan Peat had had the same idea in his Writing Exciting Sentences collection: horror that if Mr Peat had written this in 2002 it would have saved me a lot of work, satisfaction that our thinking was along similar lines. So what exactly do you get for your money? At first glance, it would seem, not a lot. The book is not long--74 pages (including nine blank pages)--and it is also devoid of colour. On the other hand, what you do get are ideas. 25 of them to be exact. Each 'sentence' ('useful writing constructions' would be more precise) is given a short, snappy title to make them memorable--for instance, All the Ws or Some; others. There follows some very useful examples of that sentence being used, followed by a fascinating explanation of how it works, its effect and even its history. There then follows a set of teaching tips--in some cases a full page of them, in others a couple of lines. Finally, there are some occasional extension activities. Reading the above, you would think that I'm less than convinced by the book. In actual fact, the reverse is true! In many ways, Writing Exciting Sentences is fantastic value for money, an absolute gold-mine of ideas and activities that will support the delivery of anyone's sentence level work for years to come. So, in the words of Simon Cowell (Educationlist), don't you just love the lavish production values? No. Should you write your name inside your copy the instant you buy it? Most definitely yes--because every single teacher of writing in your school will want to get their hands on it. SARAH THURSFIELD, HEADTEACHER, CHRIST CHURCH PRIMARY SCHOOL: At Christ Church CE Primary School, we decided there was a need for a whole-school, consistent approach to the teaching of literacy skills. We felt strongly that a progressive sentence based approach was a strategy we could adopt in the hope of having a positive impact upon children's ability as writers. Alan's book was just what we needed; he had done all of the hard work for us! The teachers were most appreciative of Alan's grammar tips (they even gained new knowledge). We've taught many of Alan's sentence types and all pupils, including boys; reluctant writers and those with special educational needs, quickly found success and were eager to build upon their newly developed skills. Thank you, Alan - we look forward to your next book! JON WESTWOOD - WYCHE PRIMARY SCHOOL, MALVERN When I first looked at the sentences in Alan's new book, I did assume that some of them would be beyond even Year 6, but after teaching them, I beg to differ. They work at all levels. When my underachieving kids are putting Extended similes and Ad, same ad sentences into their work and punctuating correctly, that's a job done! I thought they were fantastic, I loved teaching them. To be honest, it will change my teaching dramatically. This isn't lip-service, it truly will change how I teach the putting together of sentences to good effect in both fiction and non-fiction writing. Half of these sentences I'd never taught, but the scariest thing for me is that many, many kids will never see these sentences, and that's a crime! Thanks again.
About the Author
Alan Peat is the author of 18 publications on a wide range of subjects. His literacy books have been best sellers for both Nash Pollock Publishing and Questions Publishing. He is now director of his own publishing company, Creative Educational Press Ltd which publishes books by Alan and a range of other teachers/authors and illustrators. Alan is currently working on a wordless picture book and accompanying teaching materials, The Elves and the Shoemaker, 1897 as well as his first children's book The Magic Stone, both of which will be illustrated by John Harrold, who was the Rupert Bear artist for over thirty years. Alan has written for the Times Educational Supplement, Teaching Thinking Magazine and many other teaching journals. His practical ideas and approaches to raising literacy standards and motivating children to write have now been used in 22 countries. Alan draws on his experience as an LEA (Local Education Authority) Adviser with cross-phase responsibility for Literacy and Gifted and Talented provision, Head of a Museum and Gallery Service and Teaching and Learning Consultant for Blackburn LEA. Alan's own independent education consultancy 'Alan Peat Ltd' delivers whole school inset, conference based training and consultancy for schools and LEAs across the UK and Europe. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Alan is also a member of the National Association of Writers in Education (N.A.W.E.).