Non-fiction

English Year 6 Autumn Instructions and Explanations

Reading and writing instructions and explanations

Read and write instructions and explanations, exploring register, punctuating bullet points and adding parentheses. Write explanations based on the children's own interests.

We recommend that you start with the core unit, the heart of this English block of study. This introduces key textual material and sets the tone for any further units you wish to teach. These can be selected on the basis of the needs of your class – look at the green icons to identify the unit’s particular focus: SPAG, Composition or Comprehension. Whichever units you choose, we suggest teaching them in order, as there is a built-in progression indicated by the numbering.

‘UNIT PLAN’ gives you a text version of all parts of the unit to use in your school planning documentation. ‘DOWNLOAD ALL FILES’ gives you that unit plan plus all of the associated documents.

Core
Unit 1 Core: Introducing instructions and explanations
(suggested as 4 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
-- Use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas.
-- Maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments.
-- Participate in discussions.

Word Reading
None for this unit

Comprehension
-- Identifying how language, structure and presentation contribute to meaning.
-- Discuss and evaluate how authors use language.
-- Identify and discuss themes and conventions in and across a wide range of writing.
-- Summarise the main ideas drawn from more than one paragraph, identifying key details to support the main ideas.

 

Transcription
None for this unit

Composition
-- Select the appropriate form and use other similar writing as models for their own.
-- Select appropriate grammar and vocabulary, understanding how such choices can change and enhance meaning.
-- Assess the effectiveness of their own and others’ writing.
-- Perform their own compositions so that meaning is clear.

Grammar
None for this unit

You Will Need

Optional texts
Until I Met Dudley by Roger McGough and Chris Riddell

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Talk and write notes about how to make toast. Look together at the features of instruction writing and search for these features in a set of online instructions.
Activity
Explore five different sets of instructions about making toast, looking at the features which are present in each one. Talk about which of these was most effective and discuss whether it is helpful when instructions use imaginative language.

Day 2 Teaching
Ask children to speculate about why toast turns brown. Read and compare two explanations of the Maillard Reaction and look together at the features of explanation writing.
Activity
Read three sets of explanation about the Maillard Reaction, looking in particular at the decisions that the writer has made and the effect these have had. Compare these written explanations with video explanations.

Day 3 Teaching
Read an extract from Until I met Dudley by Roger McGough and Chris Riddell. Compare the two types of explanation in the book and look at examples of the features of explanation writing.
Activity
Annotate an extract from the book to show its language and organisational features. Talk about the use of illustrations. Compare these written explanations with a video explanation.

Day 4 Teaching
Read and analyse one sentence from Until I met Dudley by Roger McGough and Chris Riddell, seeing how it coordinates a description of five different events.
Activity
Write further ‘fanciful descriptions’ using the analysed sentence as a model and examining the use of language in other examples from the book.

SPAG
Unit 2 SPaG: More complicated punctuation
(suggested as 3 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
None for this unit

Word Reading
None for this unit

Comprehension
-- Continue to read and discuss an increasingly wide range of non-fiction, reference books or textbooks.

Transcription
None for this unit

 

Composition
-- Propose changes to vocabulary, grammar and punctuation to enhance effects and clarify meaning.

Grammar
-- Use semicolons, colons or dashes to mark boundaries between independent clauses.
-- Punctuate bullet points to list information.
-- Use a colon to introduce a list and use semi-colons within lists.
-- Understand how hyphens can be used to avoid ambiguity.

You Will Need

Presentations
SPaG Punctuation presentation

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Watch a video and then read an explanation about the Flutag competiton. Discuss the punctuation used in the explanation then use the presentation to teach about using semi-colons, colons and dashes between clauses, finding examples from the Flutag explanation.
Activity
Add punctuation to sentences to show independent clauses. Write similar sentences about a Flutag design. Read non-fiction books, searching for further examples.

Day 2 Teaching
Read the Rules of Participation for Flutag and speculate about how colons and semi-colons are being used. Use the presentation to teach about colons and semi-colons in lists and then model-write a sentence which is similar to the original.
Activity
Write sentences that list some of the rules for further competitions, using colons and semi-colons. Search non-fiction books for further examples of this use of punctuation. Learn about bullet-points and evaluate this method of presentation.

Day 3 Teaching
Read ambiguous headlines about unusual competitions. Use the presentation to teach about the use of hyphens to avoid ambiguity and see how this could be applied to the headlines.
Activity
Add hyphens to ambiguous sentences about unusual competitions. Collect further examples of this unit’s punctuation from non-fiction books and discuss these, revisiting learning by using the presentation slides.

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

SPaG Punctuation Presentation
Children learn how to use the more complex punctuation marks: semi-colons, colons, dashes and hyphens correctly. They consider when it is appropriate to use each one.

Comprehension
Unit 3 Comprehension: Evaluating instructions and explanations
(suggested as 4 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
-- Articulate/justify answers, arguments and opinions.
-- Listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers.
-- Participate in discussions.
-- Maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments.

Word Reading
None for this unit

Comprehension
-- Continue to read and discuss an increasingly wide range of non-fiction.
-- Identify how language, structure and presentation contribute to meaning.
-- Discuss and evaluate how authors use language, including figurative language, considering the impact on the reader.

 


-- Explain and discuss their understanding of what they have read.
-- Summarise the main ideas drawn from more than one paragraph, identifying key details to support the main ideas.

Transcription
None for this unit

Composition
-- Identify the audience for and purpose of the writing, selecting the appropriate form and using other similar writing as models for their own.

Grammar
None for this unit

You Will Need

Texts
All the texts for this unit are included within the resources.

It is VERY important that teachers check all YouTube clips for suitability for their particular Y6 class. Some will be fine with one group of children and not okay with others. Hamilton Trust leaves the responsibility for the decision to show or not show a particular clip firmly with the teacher. DO NOT SHOW any clips in this unit without having first watched them.

Websites
How to do Happy Feet dance from www.YouTube.com
Happy Feet dance from www.howcast.com
Stephen Biesty - Illustrator from www.stephenbiesty.co.uk
How to do the Cat Daddy Hip Hop Dance from www.howcast.com
Up Goer Five from https://xkcd.com
How the Apollo Spacecraft works from www.YouTube.com
Saturn V by Stephen Biesty from www.robotspacebrain.com
A Short History of Nearly Everything summary from www.YouTube.com

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read a transcript of a dance instruction video and talk about its register and other features. Compare this with more formally written instructions and with the video itself.
Activity
Write instructions based on another dance video. Experiment with different levels of formality. Watch and evaluate further online instruction videos.

Day 2 Teaching
Explore the Thing Explainer explanation of the Saturn V rocket. Compare this explanation with an online video and with a Stephen Biesty cross-section.
Activity
Look in detail at the text that accompanies the Stephen Biesty cross-section. Talk about the use of language in this text, exploring the use of comparisons, descriptive language, measurements and stories in explanations.

Day 3 Teaching
Compare and evaluate two explanations of atoms by Bill Bryson, one from his book ‘A Short History of Nearly everything’ and one from the simplified version of that book.
Activity
Make further comparisons between explanations about atoms from the two books. Discuss the use of graphics in particular.

Day 4 Teaching
Recap learning about Instruction and Explanation texts by looking at some bad examples of each.
Activity
Work in small groups to read and discuss sets of instruction and explanation texts, identifying features, evaluating and making comparisons.

SPAG
Unit 4 SPaG: Cohesive devices and layout devices
(suggested as 3 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
-- Maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments.

Word Reading
None for this unit

Comprehension
-- Retrieve, record and present information from non- fiction.
-- Identify how language, structure and presentation contribute to meaning.

Transcription
None for this unit

 

Composition
-- Use a wide range of devices to build cohesion within and across paragraphs.
-- Select appropriate grammar, understanding how such choices can change and enhance meaning.
-- Assess the effectiveness of their own and others’ writing.
-- Use further organisational and presentational devices to structure text and to guide the reader.

Grammar
-- Use further cohesive devices such as grammatical connections and adverbials.
-- Use ellipsis and layout devices [for example, headings, sub-headings, columns, bullets, or tables, to structure text].

You Will Need

Optional texts
New York City Through Time by Richard Platt
A World of Information by James Brown and Richard Platt
A range of non-fiction information books for children to look at.

Presentations
SPaG Cohesive Devices PowerPoint

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Find out about author Richard Platt and use the presentation to learn about the process that he uses to write a non-fiction book.
Activity
Sort captions from a non-fiction book by Richard Platt into headings as the first stage of creating a cohesive text.

Day 2 Teaching
Read the captions sorted from Day 1 and compare these with a properly written paragraph by Richard Platt. Learn about Cohesive Devices from the presentation and model how these could be used to make a paragraph from the captions.
Activity
Write cohesive paragraphs from the captions, choosing and using cohesive devices. Compare and discuss the choices that have been made.

Day 3 Teaching
Look at elements of layout design and search for these in a wide range of non-fiction books.
Activity
Use a design brief to consider and decide how to lay out the paragraphs written on Day 2. Finish by looking at and discussing other books that Richard Platt has written.

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

Cohesive Devices Presentation
Children learn about how explanation texts can be designed and laid out to be cohesive and effective. They study five devices to aid cohesion: determiners and pronouns, conjunctions, adverbials, repetition and ellipsis.

Composition
Unit 5 Composition: Planning and writing explanations about performance
(suggested as 4 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
-- Give well-structured explanations.
-- Speak audibly and fluently.
-- Participate in presentations.
-- Gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listeners.
-- Select/use appropriate registers for effective communication.

Word Reading
None for this unit

Comprehension
None for this unit

Transcription
None for this unit

Composition
-- Plan writing by selecting the appropriate form and using other writing as models.
-- Note and develop initial ideas.

 


-- Use further organisational and presentational devices to structure the text and guide the reader.
-- Select appropriate grammar and vocabulary, understanding how such choices can change/ enhance meaning.
-- Assess the effectiveness of their own and others’ writing.
-- Propose changes to vocabulary, grammar and punctuation.
-- Proof-read for spelling and punctuation errors.
-- Perform their own compositions, using appropriate intonation, volume, and movement so that meaning is clear.

Grammar
-- Use semi-colons, colons or dashes to mark boundaries between independent clauses.

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Discuss the idea of explaining performance: why some individuals and groups win while others lose. Think of current examples together. Watch and discuss Strictly Come Dancing judges explaining their judgments, noticing features of explanations.
Activity
Role play being Strictly Come Dancing judges, watching two new performances and preparing a judgement and explanation. Perform these role-plays.

Day 2 Teaching
Read an explanation of the success of a school football team. Notice the features of this writing and recap some of the learning from other units in this block.
Activity
Begin to plan and draft an explanation based on their own interests explaining why a performance is leading to success or failure. Work with a partner to make suggestions about this writing.

Day 3 Teaching
Display and discuss a strong piece of writing from Day 2. Discuss improvements that could be made and re-visit learning from Units 2 and 4.
Activity
Children complete their drafts. They evaluate a partner’s writing and suggest improvements, acting on the feedback that they are given.

Day 4 Teaching
Discuss the features of a successful presentation and watch a short video demonstrating some of these. Make a class-list of tips for great presentations.
Activity
Prepare presentations of the explanations written on Day 2 and 3 and make these in groups of four to six. Evaluate these performances together.