As my students and I prepare for the upcoming CA1, the writing portion is taking a back seat in the next few weeks. After which my P6s will begin weekly oral training and testing as well as Composition and SW.

This week’s post looks at the difference in writing between a P5 student and a P6 student. I gave my P5 and P6 classes the same theme two weeks ago which was on a Dangerous Situation. Pictures were : An ambulance/ A house on fire / A park.

Most of them chose to write on a fire while I had one of my P6 students write on a child being left alone in a park and nearly led away by a stranger. I thought it was an interesting take on the theme and while it was a little short (2 and a half pages), it was still well-written and thus became the Model Composition for my classes that week.

But for today’s post I am going to talk about the differences in writing between a P5 and P6 student.

This is still the first quarter of the school year and bearing in mind all the new and somewhat complicated components in the P5 English Paper 2 that students will have to practice before the CA1, writing may not be in the forefront in schools (has it ever been?).

Students need to be introduced to Situational Writing and the correct way (CAP- Context, Audience, Purpose) to write formal and informal letters/emails/reports.

They will also need to be able to writer lengthier more descriptive compositions as they make the leap from P4 to P5, 20 marks to 40 marks.

Here are ways that I encourage my P5 students to stretch themselves and the differences in the two compositions.

1) Planning
I ask for more detailed planning. Character development. Description of setting. Suspense. Humor.

2) Helping Words/Phrases
I provide them with phrases to describe their theme, which they need to file away or copy in their exercise books to be reused in the future.

My P5 students have more help in this than my P6 ones as my P6s obviously have had more practice writing with me and in school.

3) Twists
If a student’s story is too simple in the Planning stage, I will give possible scenarios that can make the story more descriptive and lengthier. Below is an example: My P5 student wrote about how her mother’s dress got caught on a hook while they were escaping from the fire.

By now, my P6 students know that a twist needs to be added in order to make their stories more interesting especially if the theme and pictures given generate fewer exciting ideas.

4) Theme
The theme should be mentioned often in terms of description, dialogue or characters’ actions.

The theme of danger is evident in both my P5 and P6 students’ compositions but the P6 compo starts almost immediately with the theme, lending an air of suspense and urgency right from the start, whereas the P5 one slowly builds it up. This will improve over time and practice.

5) Grammatical mistakes and sentence structures
Grammatical mistakes are still an issue at this stage and my goal is to reduce that as much as possible before the start of the P6 year.

I have had quite a bit of success in this area but can get stuck if my student communicates largely in another language besides English at home and doesn’t read widely.

For the P5 composition below, the length of the composition was not an issue as my student loves to write! I corrected tenses mistakes and added conjunctions to make a few sentences more complex. Whereas for the P6 compo, there was hardly any grammar or structure mistakes to correct, which should be the goal now.

So, if you are a P5 student or parent of a P5 child, who has issues with composition writing, don’t despair. With regular practice and some patience and help, they will bridge the gap of P4 to P5 soon enough.


P5 A Dangerous Situation


“Yay!  It’s movie night!”  I yelled.  Every Friday, my family and I would either watch a comedy or a family movie.  But that night, we were watching the latest movie, Inside Out.

Once our family had settled down to watch the movie, all the lights in the house blinked once and suddenly went off.  We were in complete darkness. My sister started whimpering in fear as she was scared of the dark.  I could feel my heart beating faster too but being the eldest, I held my tongue.  My mother said in soothing voice, “Don’t worry Esther, Daddy will go and find some candles in the kitchen.”

Using his hands, Dad felt his way to the kitchen and grabbed some candles and a lighter to light the candles.  To reassure my sister, we decided to have fun making shadow puppets.  By then, we were all in a relaxed mood. Mother decided to open the window to ventilate the room, when suddenly a gust of wind blew and knocked the candles down onto a stack of newspaper.  The newspapers burst into flames.  My mother and sister screamed and ran to the door, hurriedly trying to unlock it.  The flames crept nearer and nearer as my father and I tried to douse it with water but to no avail.  I could see the frantic look in my parents’ eyes and knew  that we were in deep trouble.

The door finally opened and my mother and sister dashed out of the house.  Unfortunately, my mother’s long dress was caught in a hook that we had hung in our house.  My mother tugged frantically at her dress  but it was still stuck. Dad ran over to help mum.  I too ran over to help my mother.

The flames were closing in on us when suddenly my dad yelled, “Where’s Esther?”  I handed her to one of our neighbour’s.  They must have heard all the noise we were making,”  my mother replied.

At last, my father unhooked my mother’s dress.  All three of us ran out of the house just in the nick of time. Tears were  streaming down my mother’s face and my sister was sobbing and clinging on to me.  The firemen had successfully put out the fire and we were all taken to the hospital to check for burns.

What a dangerous situation!


P6 A Dangerous Situation

“Come on!” Catherine whined as Lily stepped into the kitchen hands full of ingredients, sending her a death glare.

“Be patient and come help!” Lily ordered as Catherine let out a groan. The rest of the girls started preparing the ingredient, and kitchen equipment. The five girls had planned a playdate just before school started and wanted to try their first attempt at cooking in Lily’s rustic kitchen. Lily had just moved into her beautiful new wooden house. Lily’s mom was currently shopping but trusted them not to do anything reckless.
 

Faced with a huge wok and an open wood fire, the five girls stared blankly at the ingredients, obviously at a loss as to what to do. 
“Brenda! Where’s the recipe and instructions?” Catherine snapped impatiently. 

“One minute!” Brenda apologised as she scrolled down her phone for the online recipes. 

“Hey guys!” Lily shrieked as the wok started smoking impatiently. Colour drained from the girls’ faces.

Acting on instinct, Lily took a step forward and poured oil into the sizzling wok before jumping away as the oil emitted a hissing sound. Shouts of “Put in water!” and more sensible cries of “No! No!” reverberated in the small kitchen, “Put in the ingredients first!”

“Quiet! It says here that we should put in a cup of water…”  Brenda read off from her phone as everyone quietened down. All of them watched with bated breaths. With knitted eyebrows, Brenda reached out for the cups of water with a shaking hand. Brenda threw a water into the wok and dashed backwards as fast as she could go.

“Szz….”  Immediately, the sizzling oil broke the silence as hot oil started flying out of the wok, earning a few screams and yelps from the girls. “Ow! Hot!” Catherine winced in pain as the hot oil stung her. The wok started spluttering as the oil began to splutter out of the wok, landing onto the store. The rest of them started shoving each other, trying to get away from the burning wok.

One of the girls accidentally knocked over the opened bottle of oil which splashed straight into the pit of the fire. Before any of the girls could move an inch, the flames burst forth from under the wok and latched on to the roll of kitchen paper nearby. Within seconds, the curtain at the side window was ablaze. Before long, the entire kitchen burst into flames. The girls mouth’s hung agape in shock and terror. Red fiery tongues of fire flicked towards the girls, rapidly searching for fresh fuel!

Shrieking in terror, all of them sprinted away, dodging charred slabs of cement that were raining down on them, missing them by a whisker. 

“Brenda call for help now!” Trish hollered before dragging Lily out, who was paralysed with fear and shock. However, chaos still had not unleashed its finale. More flames began to engulf the kitchen as the girl’s screams got louder. As the group was escaping, a burning wooden plank from the ceiling dropped down separating the group. 

“Brenda, Lily, go call for help!” Catherine yelled, unaware of the growing monster behind her.  “Crack” She spun around, eyes widened in shock. They were trapped! Heat radiated through the air, threatening to burn the girl’s skin. Fear slashed before they just as the fire got closer, the wooden plank was smashed open with a resounding crash as wood and splinters flew everywhere, hurting them at times. 

Just when the girls believed that their short existence on this earth would be ending, a fireman stood in front of them, arms outstretched, pulling the girls to safety, one at a time. The girls managed to get out in time just to see the house crumble into bits. It took weeks to sort out the mess that had ensued from the girls’ reckless behaviour.

From then on, none of them ever tried cooking, just in case they were stuck in another dangerous situation.