Subject Leader – Miss June Lowther
At Selside, we believe that writing and communication are key life skills. Literacy is at the heart of all children’s learning. Writing enables children both to communicate with others effectively for a variety of purposes and to examine their own and others’ experiences, feelings and ideas, giving these orders and meaning. Writing is central to children’s intellectual, emotional and social development, it has an essential role across the curriculum and helps pupils’ learning to be coherent and progressive. Writing has meaningful links to other subjects such as Science, History, Geography and Art and Design.
At Selside want our children to build a storehouse of stories and internalise key model texts so that they are able to draw on both in their writing. We aim to engage and immerse children in the rich language of quality texts, providing them with ideas and possibilities so that their writing is increasingly imaginative and independent.
‘Talk for Writing is based on the thinking and creative processes involved in ‘being a writer’, including knowing how to generate and develop ideas; drawing on a breadth of reading; and understanding how to draft, refine and improve writing’. Pie Corbett
We support our children to understand the underpinning pattern of different stories and structure of texts so that they can plan their own much more easily and through explicitly exploring how writers create different effects on their readers our children understand and can select tools to use creatively and confidently in their own writing. Grammar is taught in the context of the unit linked to the toolkit.
We want every child to become a better speaker, listener, reader, writer and thinker, to move forward, be successful, make progress and most importantly we want every child to love their books and love their writing.
We use a Talk for Writing approach. It places the learner, through formative assessment, at the heart of the planning, teaching and learning process. The Talk for Writing process moves from imitation through innovation into independent application. The imitation stage is centre around getting the children to learn a text orally which enables a child to internalise language patterns, grammar features and vocabulary. The children are then taken on a journey from imitation to innovation to independent application. It helps children become better speakers, listeners, readers, writers and thinkers with an understanding of a variety of texts and genres.
We have created a whole school overview* that details our quality stories, model texts, as well as the story types** or genre and toolkits*** that we are teaching. This takes into account mixed age classes and ensures that children revisit and add to their knowledge cumulatively within and across the years. Over a year we teach a fiction and non-fiction unit each half term as well as additional poetry units so that children experience a range of writing. Each text type is taught as a unit.
In non-fiction writing we ensure there are opportunities for children to independently apply the knowledge and skills that have been taught discreetly in English across the curriculum in other subject areas.
Imitation A creative hook* is used to set the context for our unit and engage children in the story/text. This may be a picture, film clip, experience, set up.
Children internalise the model text and map the story so that they can hear, see and say the story/text confidently, deepening their understanding of it through play and drama.
In Reading as a reader we explore key vocabulary in the model and develop comprehension through reading the model text and other similar texts ( extracts and snippets from our Reading Spine book)
In Reading as a writer we co construct a boxed-up planner and writing toolkit with the children.
We also model some short-burst writing and the children write a short piece based on what we are teaching. This allows them to practise using the language features we are teaching before writing a longer story or text.
Children have a ‘magpie book’ (writing journal) where they keep useful words, ideas, tips etc. and they use this as reference point and reminder when they’re writing.
Innovation Once children have internalised the model text and language patterns they now change them to create something new (generative grammar)
We model different levels of innovations through planning and shared writing from simple substitutions e.g. changing settings and characters to more ambitious additions e.g. more description and dialogue and further alterations. Innovation is at an appropriate level for the class and illustrates to children how to move further away from the model. We might challenge our higher achieving writers to adapt the structure e.g. to include flashbacks. This supports children to make changes in their own stories and to write with increasing independence.
Teachers use shared writing to scaffold support model these changes to write a new class text bit by bit over a few days. Following shared writing children work in guided groups and independently to write their own text so that everyone has their own new story/text.
**Key Story Types
***Toolkits for the story features
Independent Application – The Hot task *
Children now write independently applying what has been learned over the unit to write their own story/text. A powerful stimulus may get the writing going again and we may show children another similar text to broaden their frame of reference. Drawing on illustrations and extracts from our Reading Spine books allows children to see how other writers tackle different stories and how they use the story tools.
This writing is then assessed and the progress from cold to hot task is logged and discussed.
Formative assessment drives the unit and our initial ‘cold task’ assessment allows us to set targets for the whole class, groups and individuals. This focuses teaching and learning throughout the unit so that children know what they need to try hard at, everyone moves forward and there is visible progress from the cold to hot task in the books. In non-fiction children can apply what has been taught in English in other subject areas
Teachers develop a writer’s toolkit with the children for each genre of writing which has a set of ‘Success Criteria’. These are based on the typical required features for a genre of writing to be successful as an example of that genre. Success Criteria are displayed on each class’ learning walls and referred to throughout the writing process to move the child’s writing on and provide progression
Enrichment and Capital Culture
Above all, our ultimate aim is for children to develop a love of writing, and to take this into their adult lives, both as a necessary life skill and as a means of simply enjoying the art of being creative with words. Our core values are golden threads throughout all our teaching and learning. We approach every area of the curriculum with this in mind. This includes Writing which has awe and wonder within it that should be shared constantly with the pupils to encourage them to develop a love of writing. Our Writing curriculum not only develops our pupils educationally, but we plan in experiences to develop our children’s cultural capital such as:
-Real life audiences (Parish magazine, letters to parents/charities, Posters)
We want our Pupils to become writers who have: