“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” Maya Angelou
At St Martin’s we provide an engaging and innovative English curriculum that promotes high standards of language and literacy by equipping children with the skills to speak and write fluently. We want children to see writing as a tool to persuade, inform and entertain as well a way of making sense of their thoughts, feelings and ideas. We aim to foster a culture where children take pride in their writing and are able to write clearly, accurately and coherently for a range of purposes and audiences. Opportunities to enhance vocabulary are captured in writing journals and during shared reading sessions, for example, developing an understanding of figurative language. Effective composition is taught through planned and structured opportunities to imitate, innovate and write independently.
Our curriculum for writing aims to ensure that all pupils progress as writers by;
Talk for Writing strategies are embedded from the Early Years Foundation Stage onwards and provide children with opportunities to visualise texts and orally rehearse sentence patterns in preparation for writing: If you can say it, you can write it.
Talk for Writing is an approach to teaching the art of writing, developed by the literacy specialist Pie Corbett. It uses high quality modelled texts to introduce the children to different story and text types. They learn these texts off by heart, scrutinise their content and adapt. Through this process, the children learn the underlying structures of certain texts, their vocabulary increases and the children learn about key tools that are used by authors to create texts with a purpose – including creating suspense of developing a character etc
There are three key stages to Talk for Writing for each unit of work that apply throughout school, regardless of the child’s age. Each stage is vital: working together to develop the knowledge, confidence and independence in writing.
Most writing units have a ‘Hook’. This is where we introduce the text type to the children in an interesting and imaginative way – ‘hooking’ the children in and engaging them straight away. A hook might range from the children making their own fairy dust, a trip to a site of interest, mock battles from Romeo and Juliet, to discovering parts of the Iron Man. During this first phase of imitation, the children are introduced to the key text using actions and text maps (pictures). While it can look like ‘just pictures’, this process is vital to all ages and helps the children to internalise the text type and embed sentence patterns, new vocabulary and text structures. The children look closely at the language used and the effect this has on the reader. We call this process ‘reading as a writer’.
Throughout this process, the children will take part in reading activities, role play and drama and comprehension tasks, gaining a deeper understanding of vocabulary and the impact it can have. They build a sense of the structure of a text type and develop their understanding of grammar terms.
The next stage in the process is innovation. This is where the children adapt the story/text that they have already looked at, using their own ideas. They might change characters, settings, events, points of view, all whilst sticking closely to the underlying structure previously learnt. During this process, the children will refer to ‘toolkits’ which are a range of writing tools that we may use to create a specific affect or text. These could be ‘similes’ for description, ‘imperative verbs’ for instruction, or ‘empty words’ to create tension. Each day, the children will complete a shared writing session where they are shown how to shape and construct a piece of writing as a class. During each session, the children then try to replicate this process independently. This is a very intensive stage as each part is marked meticulously and the children complete editing work based on the feedback given by teachers.
The final stage in this process is ‘Independent Write’. This is where the children are given the opportunity to plan and write their own stories/texts demonstrating all that they have learnt over the unit. We use this to assess the children’s progress within the unit of work and set future targets.
There are several different types of fiction and non-fiction writing. We aim for children to cover the range over their primary years and throughout the curriculum.
|Warning Tale||Newspaper/Journalistic Report|
|Beat the Monster Tale||Discussion/Balanced Argument|
|Lost and Found Tales||Biography|
|Rags to Riches Tale||Instructions|
|Tale of Fear||Explanation|
|Character Flaw Tale|
You might also want to look at Pie Corbett’s website for more info: Click here
Children explore poems through our poetry spine and are encouraged to write creatively across the curriculum.
Through a diverse range of reading opportunities, children develop an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage, read fluently and with good understanding, and develop a love of reading for both pleasure and information. They are encouraged to collect or ‘magpie’ learning from authors and texts and keep these in their own journal to use in their own writing. These skills enable children to become confident communicators and active citizens who make a positive contribution to society.
Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that children hear and speak is vital for developing vocabulary and grammar. Children develop the capacity to explain their understanding of books and other reading, as well as connect the knowledge and ideas gained across the wider curriculum through making presentations, acting in role and participating in debates across the curriculum.
Oracy is prioritised in our writing curriculum in order to build vocabulary for all learners and increase understanding of trickier texts used across our curriculum. Discussion, questioning and learning texts with actions all increase understanding and prepare our children with the tools they need in order to be successful in their writing. Our aim is for ALL learners to achieve their full potential in writing and we are committed to providing the scaffolds and challenge needed in order for our children to achieve this.
Words are powerful. Using the right words makes for better communication across a range of social fields. We want our children to be able to converse in a variety of situations with confidence. From the very beginning at St Martin’s, we commit to helping children build their knowledge and understanding of a wide range of vocabulary. The use of language is taught explicitly within the Talk for Writing process and is also unpicked in its daily use in the classroom. We plan the teaching of vocabulary carefully so that children are exposed to words they might not come across in everyday speech.
In addition to these words, we use ‘Never Heard the Word’ grids in individual subjects so that children are taught specific vocabulary linked to subject disciplines and the topics they are learning about.
In addition to Talk for Writing, grammar, spelling and punctuation is taught explicitly in short sessions throughout the week through the ‘No Nonsense Spelling’ and ‘No Nonsense Grammar’ programmes. These programmes are closely focused on the requirements of the National Curriculum and rooted in classroom practice. It combines the need to assess pupils’ learning of grammar and to monitor their progress with a host of practical activities, which give learners an opportunity to play with and explore language actively.
We send new words to learn and spell home weekly and these are tested in class each Friday.
The National Curriculum appendix for spelling provides examples of words for each pattern taught. The lists for each year group are a mixture of words children use frequently in their writing and those which they often misspell. Other words teachers feel appropriate, for example technical and subject specific vocabulary, may also be taught.
The rules and guidance shown in the appendix are intended to support the teaching of spelling. Phonic knowledge should continue to underpin spelling after key stage 1 but children also need to develop an understanding of the relationship between meaning and spelling where relevant.
Useful links and apps for Spelling:
The ability to use a pencil well begins in the development and coordination of core muscles in the body and eye as well as the building of sensory nerves in the hand. In nursery and from the very start of school, we provide activities that develop children’s fine and gross motor skills. This involves their whole body! Activities are provided to develop these as fully as possible before handling precision tools like the pencil. Very young child will go through a range of pencil grips as they develop their ability to use all of their fingers and muscles in the hand together before arriving at the preferred ‘tripod’ grip. At St Martin’s, we closely observe our children’s development in order to provide their next step along the way.
From Year one onwards, we have introduced the program Nelson Handwriting, a school program from reception class to year four designed to help all children develop a confident, legible and personal handwriting style and meet the higher curriculum expectations. The lessons include opportunities for pattern practice (and is therefore linked closely to spelling) and motor skills work as well as fun activities to bring handwriting to life.
Parents often ask what the can do to support their child’s learning at home, and this can sometimes appear difficult when the school does an approach like Talk for Writing. However, there are lots of things that you can do at home that will support your child in school.