We embraced Talk for Writing fully in 2012 and we are now in our tenth year of being immersed in the process. We are also a Storytelling School and this approach, together with that of Talk for Writing, enables our children to build vocabulary, sentence patterns and an understanding of how language works. The process of learning a text or story followed by innovation through shared writing has revolutionised our teaching and has transformed writing throughout the school.
A Pie Corbett Talk for Writing conference in Summer 2012 became a ‘lightbulb’ moment when the realisation dawned that we needed to develop a whole school approach which would cover all aspects of writing.
During the academic year 2012-13 we dedicated the majority of Inset Days and Staff Meetings to its development and involved all staff due to the importance of ensuring a consistency of approach as well as a shared understanding of the process.
We decided early on to have generic policies in places for aspects such as:
• kinaesthetic punctuation
• signs for conjunctions
• specific colours for word types
This has enabled ease of transition between classes, and planning for progression using differentiated model texts has ensured appropriate differentiation.
We also decided to have a generic story and non-fiction text type per term (six per year). This approach was adopted initially due to the challenges which mixed aged classes bring. However, by the end of our first cycle we realised that there were many advantages to be had. Continuity and progression is clear to identify, children have a common understanding of the story/text type enabling writing to be shared across the school and staff can share ideas and plan effectively for the needs of their children. Reception children follow a similar approach using different stories.
We also plan opportunities to practise text types in other curriculum areas and recently Class 1 created a text map of instructions for creating a fruit salad – a link with Science.
We have six stories per year, one per term.
We work with an artist on a termly basis who, with the children's input, creates images linked to the story which the children can then focus on as a stimulus for their writing.