At Catton Grove, we want to inspire children’s love of writing. We aim to develop their skills in order to become imaginative, creative and effective writers who are able to independently write for a range of purposes, whilst developing their own individual flair.
We believe that EVERY child has the potential to be a creative writer. Our mission is to enable children to immerse themselves fully into a text through the use of drama and storytelling so that they embrace literature in its many forms.
At Catton Grove, we teach writing through the ‘Talk for Writing’ approach, developed by the author Pie Corbett. This is used from Nursery through to Year 6 and is fundamentally based on the key principles of how children learn. Talk for Writing enables children to imitate the key language they need orally before reading and analysing it, and then writing their own version. Through its fun and interactive teaching it enables children of all ages and abilities to learn to write a wide range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
Talk for Writing has three stages known as the 3 I’s:
Imitation, Innovation and Invention.
These stages which work together to develop knowledge, confidence and independence in writing:
Each unit starts with a ‘cold write’ where we assess the children’s understanding of specific text types without any initial teaching. The aim of this is to see what the children can do independently at the start of a unit, drawing on their prior learning. Following this assessment, each child receives individual targets to work on and the planning will be adapted to meet the needs of the class and individual pupils. Each unit ends with a ‘hot write'; where they apply all of the skills they have learnt and are assessed against the toolkit for that text type as well as their individual target.
During the first stage, the children create actions to accompany the oral retelling of a model text. The model text is pitched above the pupil’s level and has built into it rich and varied language and transferable structures and language patterns that children will need when they are writing. The model text is learned using a ‘text map’ (made up of pictures and symbols) alongside actions. The key to success for the children is that they internalise the text type through repetition and rehearsal. Activities such as drama are used to deepen understanding.
Reading as a reader: Alongside the oral retelling, the children also begin to look closely at the language and writing tools that have been used within the model text. New vocabulary is added to the class magpie nets and the underlying structure of the text type is identified through ‘boxing up’.
During this stage the children begin to change aspects of the model text using their own ideas. They explore the text using different characters, settings or events and new ideas for descriptive language whilst sticking closely to the underlying structure.
Reading as a writer: During the innovation stage the children will take part in a variety of short burst writing activities which are aimed at embedding skills from the chosen focus for the unit. These writing activities are taught through ‘shared writing’ where the teacher models the use of the focus skills. Class toolkits for how to be successful with their piece of writing are also created.
This is the final stage of Talk for Writing. It is where all of the learning from a unit of work comes together. During this stage, the children invent, plan and create their own original piece of writing based on the text type they have been learning. They are encouraged to be independently creative, experiment with the ideas and explore their own style of writing whilst following the underlying structure of the model text they have been learning.
Celebrating and Promoting Writing:
We are continually developing a strong writing culture within the school and regularly celebrate writing throughout the year. Events such as National Poetry Day, Remembrance Day, World Storytelling Day and Whole School Writing competitions, are given prominence in assemblies and in class.
Throughout the school, there are numerous displays which celebrate pupils’ writing and provide a writing platform, including our ‘writing wall’. These, we have found, really empower the children with their writing and help to provide them with a real audience and purpose.
In addition, children’s writing is regularly shared and celebrated on our school DOJO pages. This allows parents and carers to be more closely involved with their child’s writing whilst also providing children with the opportunity to become a published author.
Professional authors visit the school each year to further inspire our pupils, including virtual visits during the pandemic. During 2020/21, our pupils had fantastic discussions about writing with celebrated authors S.F.Said, Paul Cookson, Kwame Alexander and Catherine Bruton.
Our teaching of handwriting consists of 3 stages.
Stage 1: Letter Formation. This stage begins with introducing the correct letter formation for lower case and uppercase letters, ensuring that they are formed in the correct directions, starting and finishing in the right places and formed using the correct size.
Stage 2: Horizontal joins. Once letter formation is secure, children learn how to make basic horizontal bottom and top joins.
Stage 3: Horizontal joints and looping: Stage 3 is the most detailed stage in which the children are introduced to the diagonal joins. Throughout this stage, children build confidence by using joins to join longer words and develop a consistent joining style.
As a response to the pandemic and the gaps in spelling knowledge that this presented, we have invested in the ‘SPELLING SHED’ initiative in KS2. Our pupils have responded enthusiastically and there is certainly a 'buzz' around spelling that hasn't been around before...we already have some 'STAR' spellers in each Year Group in KS2 that we are celebrating!