They're glossy! They're bright! They come with CD-Rom! As with all Folens products, Write Time is lavishly packaged to appeal to teacher and pupil - a cynic might make reference to fur coats and the absence of foundation garments, but that would not be entirely fair. Promoted as high-interest non-fiction starters for developing skills in reading and writing, the work cards can be used individually or by small groups with adult support. The idea is to show good models of writing based on media texts and thereby "help children read, understand and write fluently about the world in which they live". Good models for writing are a vital starting point for children's own work and teachers generally don't have time to seek them out, hence the labour-saving appeal of this resource.
These are very good models: 80 cards drawing on a wide range of topics guaranteed to enthuse - what child could resist giant squid, Star Wars, Shrek and R L Stine? On the reverse of each card are suggestions for follow-up activities, which are too often uninspiring. The "writer's tips", however, are excellent - to the point and enlightening. For example, direct quotations "make an article more interesting. They can also show readers what someone who has really been in a tornado, or studied them, knows. That convinces!"
Each pack includes an "integral CD-Rom" containing additional support sheets, which can be printed out, an assessment file with one sheet for each of the four types of writing and three sheets which pointlessly list the other titles available. The "pupil notebook" sheets are useful aides-memoire for what constitutes good writing in each genre, although some of the advice ("try to learn to type") is banal. The worksheets are better.
The "supplementary CD-Rom" is basically a version of the glossy cards, so you can make unlimited extra copies of the cards, print them as colour overhead transparencies, or use them with an electronic whiteboard or multimedia projector. Also included are five basic templates in Word format for children to make their own cards - or for teachers to custom-build new ones in their spare time (cue hollow laughter).
One-and-a-half cheers, then, for some basic cross-pollination between ICT and literacy, and well chosen models of top quality writing.
Kevin Harcombe is head of Redlands Primary School, Fareham, Hampshire.