How do we teach Writing at Abbeyfield?

Intent

Our approach to writing is based on ‘Talk 4 Writing’ which supports children to explore the creative thinking processes involved in being a writer through talk and guided practice. 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 4 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.

By the end of Key Stage 2 we aim for a child to be able to:

  • Write with confidence, fluency and understanding, orchestrating a range of independent strategies to self-monitor and correct.
  • Have an interest in words and their meanings, developing a growing vocabulary in spoken and written forms.
  • Understand a range of text types and genres and to be able to write in a variety of styles and forms appropriate to the situation.
  • Develop the powers of imagination, inventiveness and critical awareness.
  • Children must write for an hour a day – this could be in English or topic work and could be split.

Writing lessons across school will start from the standpoint of a spoken WAGOLL (example text). Learning the example text by rote and subsequently mapping them as pictures helps children to internalise the language structures of the genre. Usually, this is learned as a whole class and practised with actions to aid memory. These actions may also be linked with Makaton actions where possible.

During writing tasks at this stage, children are encouraged to first compose a sentence orally. Once this has been established, children can try writing down their sentence if they have sufficient knowledge of phonics and letter-sound correspondence. Reciting an example text, usually a well-known story, can also lend a focus and purpose to the provision of children at the mark-making stage of writing. 

Implementation

Foundation Stage

In the Early Years, children are encouraged to attempt their own emergent writing and their efforts are valued and praised. Baseline assessments are carried out and used to identify a child’s level of understanding. Ongoing assessment provides a basis and focus for lesson inputs. As their phonic knowledge increases, this will be reflected in their writing. At the same time, their knowledge of key words is supported through reading and writing activities, including shared reading and writing. ‘Talk 4 Writing’ imitation strategies, such as text-mapping, drama and ‘talk like the text’ are used to encourage enthusiasm for writing, as well as aiding children to recall the model text.

A variety of resources are used to encourage the development of fine motor control which is essential for good handwriting and writing stamina. These include manipulating play dough, cutting, threading and tracing. Fine motor skills are also a focus in motor skills intervention groups targeted at specific children. Gross motor skills are developed through these groups (as well as in PE), as upper body strength is recognised as being vital to good fine motor skills. This will help develop the foundations for handwriting which is fast, accurate and efficient.

Key Stage One and Two

We follow the Pie Corbett ‘Talk 4 Writing’ model to teach a text type whilst also meeting national curriculum objectives. We believe that if children can’t say it, they can’t write it. All writing lessons should be about teaching a genre and a yearly programme includes at least two narrative units and a poetry unit at the beginning of each term. On average, the teaching of a text type should last 3 – 4 weeks. All writing lessons must be taught within the context of the text type being studied. Discussion/discursive writing is only taught in Y5 and Y6.

Children will also be taught letter formation following the ISHA scheme developed by Martin Harvey and Debbie Watson. Therefore, correct letter formation will be checked during writing lessons with teacher-modelling corrections if needed. This is also supported by the teaching of contextualised grammar at the start of a writing session.

Writing Overview

We use Alan Peat sentence types to support our teaching of writing. We also ensure that we are covering all the SPaG objectives for each year group from the National Curriculum by ensuring these are taught in contextualised grammar sessions that fit with the genre of writing being taught. These are mapped out below: