At Crossley Hall we endeavour to embed a life-long love of writing. Children develop many writing skills through the Talk for Writing approach and the use of engaging, relevant and high quality texts and models that inspire and excite young writers across the curriculum.
As this is a whole-school approach, as children move through school, they internalise a bank of language structures and techniques supporting them in being powerful and creative writers.
At the start of each unit, children are immersed and hooked into a new model text. The model is pitched above the pupils’ level and has the underlying, transferable structures and language patterns they will need when they are writing. Teachers select texts that allow for opportunities to make links and connections with other areas of the curriculum and design tasks with a clear audience and purpose. Activities such as drama, debates, discussion and role play are then used to add depth to their understanding of the text and create an opportunity for the learners to hear and use language in a meaningful context.
For each text, we follow a sequence of imitating, innovating and inventing, as explained below:
The Imitation Stage
|The class begin by ‘warming up’ to the tune of the text with creative and interactive activities that will help children internalise the pattern of the language required. This is then followed by learning and acting out the model text, supported visually by a text map and physical movements to help the children recall the story or non-fiction piece. In this way the children hear the text, say it for themselves and enjoy it before seeing it written down.
Once they have internalised the language of the text, they are in a position to read the text and start to think about the key ingredients that help to make it work. This stage often includes a range of reading as-a-reader and as-a-writer activities.
A range of techniques are then used to help children to analyse the features that have helped to make the text work. In this way the class starts to construct a ‘toolkit’ together for this type of text so that they can talk about the ingredients themselves – a key stage in internalising the toolkit in their heads.
The Innovation Stage
|Once the children have internalised the text, they are then ready to start playing around with the pattern of the text. Pupils complete warm-up activities focused around key words and phrases of the text type. Activities such as these support children with the development of their own ideas. Younger children and less confident writers alter their text maps and orally rehearse what they want to say, creating their own version.
The key activity in this stage is shared writing, helping the children to write their own by “doing one together” first. This allows the children to see how you can innovate on the exemplar text and select words and phrases that really work. This process enables the children to write their own versions through developing their ability to generate good words and phrases.
Once they have finished their own paragraph/s children should be encouraged to check their work and polish it in light of feedback given and class discussions.
The Invention Stage
|Now the children are then given the opportunity to draw upon the skills internalised through imitation and the techniques practised through innovation to invent their own text.
A significant amount of time is devoted to editing and improving writing –
writer’s checklists are consistently used across school and, because the children co-create the writer’s checklist with the teacher in the imitation phase and practise implementing techniques in the innovation phase, they are confident when using it to support their writing process.
Each term, children are given the opportunity to present a piece of writing of their choice. This is added to their very own ‘Polished Write’ book, which moves up with them through school.
Writing across all year groups is assessed twice half-termly; each Phase Three write is independent and therefore each unit has an assessable piece, one fiction and one non-fiction. These assessments are used to inform planning to ensure that gaps are plugged. Half-termly moderation supports consistency across year groups and provides confidence in teacher judgements.