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The Pines School

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Writing

Our mission is to help all our children develop into thoughtful readers and creative writers and it is through the Talk for Writing approach that we believe we can achieve this. We have been using this approach through KS1 this year and have begun to use it in KS2. 

Through it’s multi-sensory and interactive teaching it enables children of all ages and abilities to learn to write a wide range of story/text types using various methods including:

  • listening to and learning texts and stories;
  • taking part in drama and role-play;
  • drawing and story mapping;
  • collecting words and language strategies
  • building their working knowledge of grammar.

At The Pines School we are very enthusiastic about this approach as it puts reading and talking at the heart of the writing curriculum. It has also proven to bring out the best in our children and the teachers who all journey together as writers through the Talk for Writing process. 

What exactly is it?

Talk for Writing is an innovative approach to teaching writing developed by the literacy specialist and writer Pie Corbett (http://www.piecorbett.org.uk/) . It uses high quality model texts to introduce the children to different story/text types which they then learn off by heart and scrutinise with a writer’s critical eye.

They learn the underlying structures and the process of planning using story maps. They also learn about the key strategies for creating interesting characters and settings and how to use a range of sentence types to create different effects including suspense or adventure.

Process

Talk for Writing has three key phases which work together to develop knowledge, confidence and independence in writing:

Imitation and immersion

Before we begin writing, the children complete a cold writing task - named this way because it is brand new and not something they are familiar with. It is a way of assessing what they can already do before we begin and helps the teachers to know how to support their learning moving forward.

Then we begin our Talk for Writing Unit with a ‘wow’ starter which fires up the creativity and imagination of the children before they immerse themselves in a high quality text, a model that will be used throughout the study. Some of our WOW starters recently have included:  discovering dinosaur eggs, witnessing CCTV footage of dragons roaming the school, winter nature walks with a pumpkin soup tasting and strange footprints in their classroom. 

During this phase the children learn a model text using actions and story maps. The key to success for the children is that they internalise the text type through repetition and rehearsal. This model of text is high quality and exposes the children to complex sentence structures and effective language.  They explore the structure of the narrative and investigate the different characters, settings and events. They also begin to look closely at the language used and the effect this has on the reader. We call this process ‘read as a reader’. The classroom becomes a dynamic, interactive resource filled with word ideas, sentence types and language tools collected by the children to use in their stories later.

Innovation

During this phase the teacher and the children begin to change aspects of the model text using their own ideas. They explore the text using different characters, settings or events and new ideas for descriptive language whilst sticking closely to the underlying structure.

It is during this phase that the children work using their toolkits. The toolkits, based on the features and ingredients of the model text, remind children of the different strategies they could use in their stories and helps them to see the progress they are making.

Invention

During the invent week the children plan and write their own story based on the text type they have been learning. They experiment with the ideas and begin to explore their own style of writing using sentence types from the model text.

We then round the whole sequence off with a hot writing task during which the children demonstrate what they have learnt through a completely independent piece of writing. It is wonderful to be able to look at their cold task and compare it with their hot task, to see the tremendous progress they have made in a short space of time.  

What is next?

In September 2018 we will be be starting a two year writing project, partnering with Talk for Writing and other schools in another county. This opportunity will enable all our staff to be robustly trained and be supported in developing this approach in our school. We are so excited to see how Talk for Writing will continue to transform our children's writing as well as working alongside other to develop our practice.