In September 2017, we began training and implementing Talk 4 Writing.
Talk for Writing, developed by Pie Corbett, supported by Julia Strong, is powerful because it is based on the principles of how children learn. It 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 builds on 3 key stages:
The imitation stage
Once the teacher has established a creative context and an engaging start, a typical Talk-for-Writing unit would begin with some engaging activities warming up the tune of the text, as well as the topic focused on, to help children internalise the pattern of the language required. This is often followed by talking an exemplar 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.
The innovation stage
Once the children have internalised the text, they are then ready to start innovating on the pattern of the text. This could begin with more advanced activities to warm up the key words and phrases of the type of text focused on so the children can magpie 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.
The invention/independent application stage
The teacher now has the opportunity to assess the children’s work and to adapt their planning in the light of what the children can actually do. This stage could begin with some activities focused on helping the children understand aspects that they were having difficulty with and should include time for the children to have a go at altering their work in the light of what they have just learnt so that they start to make progress. Typically, teachers work with the children to set ‘tickable targets’ which focus on aspects that they need to attend to. Again this section will end with response partner and whole class discussion about what features really worked, followed by an opportunity to polish your work.
At Castle Hill, we have daily Guided Reading sessions across Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. These daily sessions give children opportunities to talk, share and really understand the meaning and language of the texts they are reading. The children also learn to use inference skills; this is where they use clues from the text to consider characters’ thoughts and feelings by their actions.
We also know that our children love to read for pleasure. Therefore, in the afternoons, every class has a story time activity. This might be sharing a story, reading with a partner or listening to some storytelling. We use the Pie Corbett Reading Spine to ensure that throughout their time at Castle Hill, the children will have read or listened to a broad and balanced selection of stories.
Grammar, Punctuation, Handwriting and Spelling
We understand the need for our children to not only produce creative pieces of writing but to also know and be able to apply all of the key writing skills. Each class across KS1 and KS2 has daily Fine Motor Skill (handwriting) practice opportunities, and those that need more support in this area will have extra, smaller group sessions with a Teaching Assistant. Daily phonics sessions continue from EYFS through to Year 3, again with opportunities for those children who need extra practice. Once phonics skills are mastered, the children move onto a daily spelling practice. We link the grammar and punctuation skills the children need into our English lessons so the children have purpose to using these vital skills.