Using the national curriculum for guidance on the skills to be taught in each year group, we plan and teach vibrant, purposeful and wide ranging lessons involving writing skills. We follow an approach called ‘Talk for Writing’ which is grounded in a love of reading. We spend some time immersing the children in a carefully chosen, well-written text which is rich in ideas and language. We learn sections of it and spend time exploring the vocabulary and content in a very creative way in order to inspire and inform them. We then move onto working closely with the children on writing a similar story together as a class. At this point many writing skills are being carefully planned for and specifically taught. The final stage is when the children choose to write their own piece of writing based on everything they have learned in the unit.
The grammar, punctuation and spelling elements of the writing curriculum are taught in two ways. Firstly as daily or weekly dedicated lessons but also within the creative writing process, explicitly in the second stage of the Talk for Writing process and also in the final stage when the children apply all their writing skills in an independent piece of writing.
Reading goes hand in hand with writing and we make sure that the children are reading complimentary texts during Guided Reading sessions in order to enrich their literary experience and inform their writing.
To illustrate this, here is a Year 6 sequence of work.
We read a short story called ’ Into the Great Unknown. The travel journal of Walter Baxter: explorer and collector. ‘ This was about a journey to find sea monsters and bring them back to England. Unfortunately, this brought the crew bad luck.
Stage 1 lessons: Learn sections of the story off by heart and perform with lots of expression.
Look up all the unfamiliar vocabulary and write responses exploring the meaning of the text.
Write and illustrate a poem based on picture of a Kraken (sea monster) attacking an ancient ship.
Stage 2 lessons: As a whole class, plan and write a story closely imitating the content and style of the original short story. Polar Bears planned a story about a journey into the Amazon Rainforest in search of lost treasure.
Stage 3 lessons: children plan and write their own exploration/adventure story using everything they have learned in the unit of work. The work is carefully edited and published to a high standard.
To compliment this, in Guided Reading we read a text called The Atlas of Monsters by Stuart Hill and Sandra Lawrence. We solved clues to work out the coded messages; wrote our own questions for each other to answer and finally designed two new monsters, with explanations, to create a new Atlas of Monsters.