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English - Talk4Writing

At Wadhurst we follow the Talk4writing scheme.  The process is taught through three stages: Imitation, Innovation and Independent Application.
Each of these are explained below:

The Imitation Stage

The teaching begins with a creative ‘hook’ which engages the pupils which aims to inspire curiosity and a sense of enjoyment, audience and purpose. The model text demonstrates 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 used to deepen understanding of the text.

Once students can ‘talk the text' and have been exposed to other examples, they then read for vocabulary and comprehension before the text is analysed for the basic structure (boxing up) and language patterns as well as writing techniques or toolkits. These stages are known as 'reading as a reader' and 'reading as a writer' respectively. All of this first phase is underpinned by rehearsing key spellings and grammatical patterns. Short-burst writing is used daily to embed targeted grammar e.g. use of similes, metaphors and personification in a setting description. 

The Innovation Stage

Once students are familiar with the model text, they will adapt one aspect and will rewrite the text using the strategies they have learnt. With younger pupils, this is based on changing the text map and retelling their adapted version. Older students use boxing up grids to adapt the text and they then 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 in stages, concentrating on bringing all the elements together, writing effectively and accurately. Feedback is given during the lesson as well as daily so that students can be taught how to improve their writing and make it more accurate until they can increasingly edit in pairs or on their own. 

Independent Application

Eventually, students move on to the third phase, which is when they apply independently what has been taught and practised. Before this happens, the teacher may decide to give further input and rehearsal. Students are guided through planning, drafting and revising their work independently. 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.

It is important that at the innovation and independent application stage, the writing becomes increasingly independent of the original model rather than a copy. Whilst children in younger year groups may only make a few changes, older students should be adding, embellishing, altering and manipulating the original structure. 

Floppy's Phonics

This term, in EYFS and Year 1 we are introducing the scheme 'Floppy's Phonics'. This will then continue to be developed in Years 2 and 3 from 2021. The Floppy’s Phonics programme teaches the letter/s-sound correspondences of the English alphabetic code explicitly and comprehensively for reading, spelling and handwriting:

  • Systematic and structured with inbuilt rigorous revision to ensure the success of every child
  • Includes the characters of Floppy the dog, Biff, Chip and Kipper and their family and friends, with hundreds of colour pictures to engage children fully for the phonics teaching & learning, vocabulary enrichment and language comprehension
  • Rigorous teaching sequence ensuring the phonics teaching & learning is straightforward, effective and allows for differentiation in simple, but effective, ways
  • Builds up knowledge of spelling word banks over time where words are spelt with the same letter/s-sound correspondences
  • Designed to inform parents/carers routinely and to work in partnership with them wherever possible
  • The order of introducing the 44 sounds of the English language matches the order in ‘Letters and Sounds’ (DfES, 2007)

The children continue to use their phonetic knowledge to support their spelling in every year.  In addition to this, the children are also taught High Frequency Words, which do not completely follow the phonic rules.  The scheme also encompasses letter formation; starting with correct pencil grip, forming of lowercase letters and finally developing into cursive writing.

Reading

Reading widely and regularly has the greatest impact on writing. The best way to support reading at home is to read with your child as often as possible. Age appropriate reading lists for each year group can be found above. These can provide inspiration and ideas but will also support your child’s vocabulary development at an age-appropriate level which significantly benefits writing progress.

If your child is unable to decode words, or is a reluctant reader, you can still support reading comprehension through the use of picture books. These can be a great way to practice asking and answering inference and deduction questions around an image or text. ‘The Mysteries of Harris Burdick’ is a good example for KS2 children. Other suggested picture books can be found on the class reading lists.

There are five key elements to reading questions and these should be practised regularly. You can support your child by asking questions that encourage them to:

  • Make predictions (e.g. ‘Based on the title, what do you think will happen in this text?’)
  • Ask questions and find the answers (e.g. ‘How are the characters different/the same?’)
  • Clarify (e.g. ‘Can you use a dictionary to find the meaning of a word you don’t understand?’)
  • Visualise (e.g. ‘When you read this paragraph, what do you see? Can you describe it?’)
  • Summarise (Who, what, when, where, why and how – e.g. ‘Can you tell me what happened in this paragraph?)

A bookmark template, which helps remind children of these, can also be found above.

Please encourage children to find evidence in the text to support their answers but also to use their inference skills to identify themes, feelings and hidden meaning in the texts they read.

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