At St Mary’s C of E we teach writing using Talk 4 Writing, developed by Pie Corbett. Talk for Writing is a fun, active and engaging process that enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally, before reading and analysing it and then writing their own version. Talk 4 Writing has three stages: Imitation, Innovation and Invention, with the aim of the whole process being to create independent, enthusiastic authors.
A typical Talk 4 Writing unit would be begin with a creative context, linked to their topic, as we know our children learn best when they are active, challenged and engaged. Through practical activities, children learn a model text, supported visually by a text map and physical movements. Children hear the text and say it for themselves before they see it written down.
Once the children know the text well they 'read it as a reader'. This involves in depth discussions around the text, focussing heavily on vocabulary and oral comprehension. Reading comprehension strategies such as: summarising, imaging, predicting and making connections are taught explicitly.
The next stage is 'read as a writer' which involves identifying the underlying patterns of both the overall organisation, as well as how the writer creates different effects. The text is ‘boxed up’ (broken down into key sections) so that the structure becomes obvious, and can be used as a basic planning tool.
Once the children have internalised the text they are ready to start innovating. Younger children and less confident writers alter their text maps and orally rehearse what they want to say. More confident writers use the boxing up planning tool, then turn their plan into writing. This process enables children to write their own versions of the original text and develop their ability to generate good words and phrases.
Washing lines are used to collect and display models, words and phrases to support independent writing. Writing toolkits are provided to support the children through each writing genre, whilst encouraging the children to reflect on their own writing.
Children can innovate the model text in a variety of ways including: substituting characters and settings, writing prequels and sequels, introducing flashbacks and writing from a different characters perspective.
Finally, children move into invention where they write the text type independently and apply what they have learnt across the curriculum to create an individual piece.
Throughout the process, children work on daily spelling, vocabulary building and sentence work in relation to the initial assessments of their writing, as well as the demands of the text type.