Here at St Luke’s, our approach to writing is based on Talk for Writing (T4W) which is an approach that supports children to explore, through talk, the thinking and creative processes involved in being a writer. It is embedded at every phase of the teaching sequence which is structured to include teacher talk, supported pupil talk and independent pupil talk. We believe that Talk for Writing is an approach that goes beyond the development of children’s general speaking and listening skills – it allows children to explore the processes involved in being a writer, and extends oral rehearsal so that it becomes a draft for their written pieces. The approach supports the children to move from talk into writing.
Grammar is taught in context throughout all T4W units using the T4W grammar progression document. From EYFS onwards, teachers use the correct technical vocabulary in their teaching to encourage the correct use of these terms by children. In Key Stage 2 every child develops their own “Writer’s Toolbox” in order to support themselves as independent writers.
You can find out more about Talk for Writing below.
Phonics and Spelling
Spelling is taught as part of a planned programme, following the requirements of the National Curriculum. In EYFS and Key Stage 1, phonic work is taught systematically from Reception to Year 2 using ‘Letters and Sounds.’ Children will be taught:
- the grapheme-phoneme correspondence in a clearly defined sequence
- the skill of segmenting words into their constituent phonemes to spell
- that blending and segmenting are reversible processes. The children will also take home a matched phonics reading book to reinforce the phonics they are learning in class.
High Frequency Words
Throughout each phase the tricky high frequency words will be taught. Each teacher uses a variety of methods to ensure the correct spelling of the high frequency words appropriate to each phase plus specific tier 3 (subject specific) vocabulary. Teachers should recognise worthy attempts made by children to spell words but should also correct them selectively and sensitively.
In Key Stage 2 spellings will be explored in class lesson is given each week, followed by practise sessions so that children have the opportunity to embed new spellings. This will include the learning of the statutory word lists in the 2014 English curriculum, lists given each week. Where necessary, some pupils will consolidate their phonic knowledge and skills from Key Stage 1 through the structured intervention using ‘Word Aware’.
Pupils have daily opportunities to engage in shared, guided and independent reading both in English and other subjects across the curriculum. We aim for children to become independent, able readers, who understand and demonstrate a passion for reading and a love of books. Reading sessions will encourage children to respond to high quality texts in a number of ways through the use of reading journals and the VIPERS approach. Our school literature spine identifies high quality, age appropriate texts that we believe should be read by the time our children leave each year group. Some of these books have been specifically chosen to be used as whole class texts, some for guided reading and some for independent reading. Each book has been chosen specifically to expose our children to the best stories, poems and authors that exist and therefore the essential ingredients to support them as both readers and writers.
Fundamental reading skills
In order to master the reading curriculum teachers must develop the core comprehension skills. Using the reading VIPERS question stems, questions can be quickly generated. Teachers can ensure that all of the main comprehension skills are covered weekly, taken from VIPERS. Class teachers must ensure that they choose high quality and age appropriate texts to share with their class. In school we have several resources that provide a wide range of text types.
Children must have time to also free read to help develop the love of reading.
Children have a range of reading schemes to choose from including Oxford Reading Tree, Bug Club, Big Cats and a range of real books. In Reception and Key Stage 1 the children will take home a reading book from one of the above schemes and also a matched phonics reading books (this will be matched to the phonics they will be learning at that time in class).
All children are encouraged to read at home – not just their reading book, it could be a library book, the newspaper or comics!
Spellings are sent home each week and tested the following week.
We aim for all children to achieve a neat, legible style with correctly formed letters in a cursive font, eventually producing a fluent joined handwriting style. It is vital that children can write quickly, comfortably and legibly, as it is a skill needed in many curriculum areas. Children’s self-esteem is also heightened when they are able to take pride in their handwriting. All staff use cursive script as appropriate when modelling, marking or writing comments on children’s work. Shared and guided writing activities enable staff to model letter formation and handwriting and provide children with opportunities to practise skills. Handwriting is also taught in separate sessions on a to ensure it is given sufficient emphasis. We teach a continuous cursive style. This involves all letters beginning on the line and finishing with a flick. Children are then taught to join the letters.
Talk For Writing
We have introduced the ‘Talk for Writing’ approach to writing developed by educational writer, Pie Corbett. It is fun, creative yet also rigorous and has a proven record of accelerating children’s learning.
It starts with enjoying and sharing stories. Throughout the school, we place a strong emphasis on children reading stories and enjoying a range of literature. Through regular reading, we want children to build up an extensive and rich vocabulary for use in their own writing.
Talk for Writing is powerful because it enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally before reading and analysing it and then writing their own version. It is built on three stages of teaching:
1) Imitation – the children learn a text and the language they need
2) Innovation – the children adapt the model text with ideas of their own
3) Invention – the children create their own text using the language and skills that the model taught them.
During the initial ‘imitation‘ stage of Talk for Writing, a text (fiction and non-fiction) is introduced and read to the children. Together they learn to tell the story off by heart. To help them remember the text a multi-sensory approach is used. They retell a text with expression and actions and use a visual story map to support their retelling. As children learn the text word for word, they build up a bank of interesting vocabulary, phrases and types of plot which they can then use in their own writing. The principle is that if a child can tell a story, they will be able to write a story.
Once the story is learnt, children are encouraged to adapt it. At this ‘innovation‘ stage, children make the story their own. They could start with a simple change of character or for older children it may involve telling the story from a different view point. They will make changes to their story map and rehearse retelling their innovated story orally. They will then write out the innovated story in manageable sections and will receive feedback from the teacher. There is an opportunity to respond to this marking before they go on to write the next section. This very supportive and structured approach allows children to gain confidence and know what they need to do in order to get better.
The final stage is the ‘invention‘ stage where the children use all the skills they have learnt to write an independent piece. There is the freedom to draw upon their own ideas and experiences, or they can ‘hug closely’ to the shared text should they need to.