Talk 4 Writing
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
At Banks Road Primary School, all children learn to write through Talk for Writing programme. Talk for Writing was developed by the author Pie Corbett. It is a fun, creative yet also rigorous approach to develop writers that is centred around 3 stages. These are ‘imitate’, ‘innovate’ and ‘invent’.
Talk for Writing encompasses reading for enjoyment, identifying different story genres and developing a passion for reading and writing. Our aim at Banks Road is to help the children become better speakers, listeners, readers, writers and thinkers. Through regular reading, we want our children to build up an extensive and rich vocabulary for use in their own writing. By creating storytellers and being familiar with different stories, this will develop more confident writers and gives children a real confidence and passion for writing.
The Three Stages
Stage 1: Imitation
During the initial ‘imitation’ stage of Talk for Writing, children are required to start with a ‘cold task’, a piece of written work in the chosen genre or text type. This offers children to opportunity to show their prior knowledge and something to reflect upon at the end of the unit.
Children then learn to tell a story off by heart. They retell a text with expression and actions and make use of a story map to support their retelling.
During this stage there is a focus on vocabulary – children will ‘magpie’ words or phrases that are good examples as part of this process. They will also focus on the style in which it is written, grammar games, comprehension, short burst writing and opportunities to deepen understanding such as drama. The children will then analyse key features, box up the text and co-construct a toolkit to use in their own writing.
Stage 2: Innovation
At the ‘innovation’ stage, children make the story their own. The class will create a new plan and complete shared writing, innovating on the model for example, by changing the character or setting. Pupils will then write their own version using the toolkit to assist them. This allows the children to be as creative as they wish but also gives the less confident writers a structure to assist them.
Stage 3: Invention
Finally, at the ‘invention stage, children write their own text independently using all of the skills they have learnt embedded within their own story. The process is completed with a ‘hot task.’ This is where the children can put everything that they have learnt into a final piece of writing in this genre or text type. They can then review and edit their own work, reflecting upon how to improve it and personalise it.
Early Years Writing at Banks Road Primary School
From around the age of 2 years or even earlier, most children will show the necessary skills to hold a large pencil or crayon and make marks on paper (lots of other places too if you don’t watch out!). Children usually try and draw pictures first and might talk about these though often they won’t be recognisable! As your child develops, their drawings become more recognisable and they may start to imitate writing. Your child will also begin to talk about what they have drawn and what the writing says. Give them praise when they do this to encourage them to talk more and to keep trying to write.
It is important when your child begins to try and communicate with early writing that you take the time to read it with them. You will have to ask them what it says of course, but developing this link between written words and reading is important. As your child begins to understand that the squiggles they make on paper are like the print in books the two activities of reading and writing begin to connect.
You can help your child to begin to make recognisable letters by writing their name on any pictures or early writing they produce. Always begin with a capital letter, but write the rest in lower case letters and only write their first name to start with.
A good way to start your child writing is to get them to draw a picture of a trip or exciting day they have recently had. Get your child to tell you something about the drawing and then write a simple sentence or phrase underneath. Your child will enjoy reading this back to you time and time again.
As writing requires fine motor control to hold a pen or crayon, you can improve your child’s skills by giving them other activities which require similar skills e.g. Lacing cards and threading beads, construction sets, jig-saws, Playdough, big tweezers and opportunities to do up buttons.
Once the children have gained confidence in mark making, they are also regularly introduced to more activities which help them develop their writing skills. These include; cutting, drawing and writing using whiteboards, tracing, writing names and letter formation using sand, foam and paint etc.
In school, during their time in the Foundation Stage, children are taught how to form letters correctly by practising their formation using tracing, drawing over lines etc.
In the Foundation Stage, it is our policy to teach lower case letters with a small curl to get them ready for writing in a cursive style later in their school years.
Letters and Sounds
Alongside practising their letter formation and handwriting children are also taught phonics through the Letters and Sounds programme so they develop the link between reading and writing still further. The children are taught the sounds each letter of the alphabet can make and shown how these are blended together to form words. They will gradually begin to blend letter sounds and segment them to help them read and write.
Over time the children will gradually begin to move from recognising and writing basic consonant – vowel – consonant words (CVC) to constructing longer words and eventually simple phrases and then sentences. Children will also begin to develop a sight vocabulary of high frequency words such as; the, and, who, went etc. which they will recognise without having to sound them out.
The names of letters provide important clues for your child’s understanding of the sounds they make, but the letters and sounds in the English language invariably don’t correspond! As children try to figure out the relationship between letters and sounds in their writing they will begin to invent their own way of spelling often using a letter naming strategy. This means that a child will write the letters they hear—such as l-f-n-t for elephant. They will often miss out vowels or hard to sound out consonants. When your child is trying to sound out words like this encourage them and help them to sound out the word slowly. This will help the child to segment words into phonemes or sounds. Hearing separate sounds in words and connecting them to letters is a vital beginning stage in your child’s ability to use phonics to decipher words.
It is very important that you show you value and appreciate your child’s early attempts at writing by giving them lots of praise.
Over time through regular exposure to words through reading and seeing them around them, they will begin to build an understanding of how words should look. At this stage children’s minds will be combining and making sense of both what they hear and what they see. They will begin to realise that writing ‘hws’ for ‘house’ doesn’t look right even though they won’t yet understand all the rules for vowels and consonants.