We use the 'Talk for Writing' approach to writing developed by educational writer, Pie Corbett - you can find out more about him below. 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.
What can you do to help?
'Talk for Writing' begins and ends with enjoying stories and reading books. We encourage all parents to read with their children every day whatever their age or ability. Children who are read to regularly before coming to school are the most likely to succeed in education.
Children who read for pleasure are also more likely to succeed as writers because of the way in which reading develops language development.
Who is Pie Corbett?
Pie Corbett, an educational consultant, author and poet. He is well known for promoting creativity in the classroom and has experience as a teacher, head teacher and OFSTED inspector. He regularly lectures on education around the world and the UK government consult with him as an educational advisor.