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How We Teach Writing at Barrow Hedges Primary School
At Barrow Hedges, we encourage children to become expert writers by becoming immersed in different text types and through the exploration of the thinking and creative processes involved in being a writer. Our teaching always ensures that writing is fun, engaging and motivating for children.
A new unit of work will always start with an exciting and engaging stimulus. This will often be through reading, sharing and enjoying a text together as a class. It could also come from personal experience, for example a trip to the Tower of London or an alien spaceship landing on our school playground. Other stimuli could include: a short film, photograph, picture book or research on a significant figure. We then immerse ourselves in this stimulus through oral rehearsal and often generate a ‘Talk Map’ to internalise an extract of a story or experience.
We continue to take children on a magical journey as we, alongside them, explore what it is to be a writer. At the start of our learning journey, children study the text type and the purpose for this text, for example to entertain, persuade or inform the reader. We become detectives by looking at an example of the text type and ask ourselves "What makes this good?" and "How has the author written this to fit the purpose?" We take these grammatical and structural features and plan how we could use them in our own versions. It has been found that children struggle to write well because they are juggling so many different elements of transcription and composition. By talking the text, they begin to internalise the common language patterns of narrative and non-fiction, freeing up more cognitive space for composition. We help the children to learn to talk, discuss and think like writers.
Children meet their full potential when they are given the opportunity to share and discuss ideas. We encourage discussion and "magpie-ing" during the planning stages of writing and ask children to reflect on the learning journey so far to make their writing most effective. During the planning and writing process we always encourage children to use our learning powers of being reflective and resourceful by using everything available to them within the classroom, such as thesauruses, descriptosaurses, word banks and the English 'working wall'.
Examples of English Working Walls in Year 1 and 4.
Teacher modelling is such a vital step in externalising the composition process: generating ideas, “magpie-ing” from the shared text(s), selecting 'best' ideas, organising and putting them on the page. During shared writing our teachers will scribe whilst the class contributes to the collection of ideas, words, phrases or how ideas go down onto paper. This is also the perfect opportunity for teachers to address whole class misconceptions in grammar and spelling. By modelling the process and 'thinking out loud' the teacher is giving the children the tools they need to work independently.
During the independent writing process, teachers may provide intervention for small groups of children based on their assessment of previous work. They will move around the room, guiding children to improve on individual targets, highlighted in previous writing, or give instant feedback from the current piece of writing. Finally, children are explicitly taught how to edit and improve their work using their green polishing pens.
English is usually taught every day in all classes. Teaching of English is not only delivered as a daily stand-alone lesson, but also embedded in other parts of the curriculum and real-life events to motivate, engage and inspire the children, giving a real sense of purpose to their reading, writing, speaking and listening. Children have the opportunity to practise and develop English skills linked to their topic for example: practising their letter writing skills as a World war II evacuee (History).
As part of our daily English teaching there will be a specifically planned focus on spelling, grammar and punctuation. These will be linked to the National Curriculum, texts the children are using and class/ individual needs. Children are given 'pitch stickers', checklists for writing that are generated from the year group expectations outlined in the national curriculum and the assessment framework, to support them in their self-assessment.
See below for 'Pitch Sticker Progression Document' to see the progression of expectation from Y1 to 6.
Please find useful documents attached below to support your child's writing.