Baseline assessment and planning - the ‘cold’ task
At the beginning of a new unit the children complete a ‘cold’ task (an initial assessment) that provides a focus for our teaching. There can be a stimulus or starting point for this task but there is no teaching at this stage. The aim of this is to see what the children can do independently, drawing on their prior knowledge. Targets are set for each child at this stage, based on the work they have produced in their cold task.
The imitation phase
The teaching begins with some sort of creative ‘hook’ which engages the pupils, often with a sense of enjoyment, audience and purpose. At this stage a model text is introduced. This is pitched above the pupils’ level and has built into it the underlying, transferable structures and language patterns that students will need when they are writing.
This is learned using a ‘text map’ and actions to strengthen memory and help students internalise the text. Activities such as drama are key at this stage as they help to deepen the children’s understanding of the text.
An example of a text map:
Once students can ‘talk like the text’, the model (and other examples) are then read for vocabulary, comprehension, language patterns, as well as writing techniques.
This first phase is underpinned by rehearsing key spellings and grammatical patterns. Short-burst writing is used to practise key focuses such as description, persuasion or scientific explanation.
The innovation phase
Once students are familiar with the model text, then their teacher leads them into creating their own versions. A new subject is presented and the children are led through the planning process.
With younger pupils, in Key Stage 1, this is based on changing the basic map and retelling new versions. As the children progress through Key Stage 2 they use boxed-up planners. Their teacher demonstrates how to create simple plans and orally develop ideas prior to writing. Ideas may need to be generated and organised or information researched and added to a planner.
Shared and guided writing is then used to stage writing over a number of days so that students are writing texts bit by bit, concentrating on bringing all the elements together, writing effectively and accurately. Feedback is given during the lessons so that students can be taught how to improve their writing, making it more accurate, until they can increasingly edit in pairs or on their own.
Independent application and invention - ‘hot’ task
Eventually, children move on to the third phase, which is when they independently apply what has been taught and practised. However, before this happens, the teacher may decide to give further input and rehearsal.
Students are guided through planning, drafting and revising their work independently. It is essential that they are provided with a rich starting point that taps into what they know and what matters so that their writing is purposeful.
Writing may be staged over a number of days and there may be time for several independent pieces to be written. With non-fiction, students should apply what they have been taught across the curriculum. The final piece is used as the ‘hot’ task, which clearly shows progress across the unit.
Alongside Talk for Writing, children also produce extended, independent pieces of writing in their Independent Write book. From quarter 3 in Year 1, every quarter, children produce an Independent Write from an engaging stimulus. Individual targets are set after each piece.
We use the Letter-join handwriting scheme in school. This scheme ensures consistency across classes and year groups. Our subscription allows our pupils to access Letter-join at home. Here are the login details:
Writing Leader - Mrs Rachel Smith
Writing Link Governor - Mrs Katie Moore
Part of the Languages team.