"Unlocking the writer in every child!" - Susan Elkin
Here are some views from pupils about Writing at St Columba's.
At St Columba’s, we understand how a strong grounding in English will impact the future learning and development of a pupil in all aspects of their life. We want to prepare children with the essential writing skills they will need for later life by providing an enriched and engaging English curriculum, where they write with a clear purpose across all subjects.
- To create confident writers who develop stamina for writing throughout school and are able to write at length.
- For all of our children to be independent writers, building on a range of skills as they work through each journey of writing.
- That all of our children are exposed to high quality texts that model excellent writing practices across a broad range of genres.
- For our children to have a secure understanding of the purpose of a text type, the purpose and intended impact of writing skills/tools and the ability to carefully select vocabulary with focus on the desired effect on the readers’ thoughts and feelings so that the impact of their writing is positive.
- Ensure that all pupils know how to plan, practice, evaluate their work as well as carry out an effective edit and improvement process using feedback from the teacher.
- That our children are challenged and encouraged to take risks and view mistakes as a positive part of the learning process.
- To celebrate writing at each stage through the learning process to encourage children to take pride in their work.
- To provide a balanced and broad curriculum, which encompasses writing practice and equips children with the skills and knowledge of writing processes including handwriting, spelling, grammar, widening vocabulary and writing for different styles.
- To be inclusive of all children, including SEND by providing the appropriate scaffolding, support and writing tools those children need in their writing process to experience success.
- BCWCAT workshops for the more able.
- That our children have high expectations of themselves where they take pride in all aspects of learning and in everything they produce.
Cursive handwriting teaches pupils to join letters in words as a series of continuous flowing movements or patterns and children are taught cursive handwriting from Reception onwards. Words can be written without taking the pencil off the page. Continuous style provides a directional left, right movement. This flowing, rhythmical movement aids speed and fluency particularly when practised from Foundation level with the final product being neat and fast. This cursive style also lessens the chance of reversing letters by eliminating the need to lift the pencil between letters. The spaces between words become distinct and distinction between upper and lower case is clearer. Pupils with specific learning disabilities find continuous cursive useful because the pencil stays on the page throughout every word, thus simplifying the movement. Children with motor problems learn a series of easy, rhythmical movements, which help to improve fine motor co-ordination.
At St Columba’s we believe that spelling has a direct effect upon progress in all other areas of the curriculum and is crucial to developing a child’s confidence, motivation and self-esteem. We provide children with a range of spelling strategies throughout school which cater for different learning style. Early spelling is taught through phonic work in Early Years, Foundation and Key Stage 1 using Little Wandle. As children move from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2, the emphasis shifts from the teaching of phonics to more focussed teaching of spelling strategies, conventions and rules to build upon the children’s established phonic knowledge. However, phonic support and intervention is still provided in Key Stage 2 to those children who need it. School is also signed up to Spelling Shed which is an interactive platform for the teaching and learning of spelling rules. The work set on here correlates to what has been taught in the classroom and children enjoy learning this way.
Each unit of writing will consist of learning done through a 2 week learning journey and will be done through 1 hour lessons each day from Monday to Friday. This is in order to ensure that the build-up of knowledge and skills is progressive and clear. Although the pedagogical process is detailed for each lesson, teachers have the professional scope to make adjustments where they think they are needed. For example, if more than one lesson is needed to embed a skill then this can be done or if an extra lesson is needed for drama/speaking and listening then teachers have the freedom to do so. Each stage of the learning process is evident through books, learning environment, planning and pupil voice discussions. Learning journeys are usually based on high quality texts but we also use videos, real life events, images or lyrics from a song (anything that might get the children excited about writing)
|Prediction/Comprehension– The purpose of this is to introduce the children to the genre of the text you want to teach them. These lessons may involve looking at a WAGOLL and WABOLL and children comparing between the two giving reasons for their comparisons. It might be a comprehension lesson on the genre being taught where children are encouraged to identify features and purpose.
New vocabulary of the learning journey – Children are to be introduced to the words of the learning journey here. These are explained to the children with examples given and the use of these words are modelled so that pupils have a secure understanding of how to use vocabulary appropriately and in context. These key words are written on the working walls for children to use throughout the learning journey.
|Text Structure and Organisation – Looking at features within the genre including which writing tools are best suited and why with focus on purpose – this shows the children the expectation of what they themselves are aiming for by the end of their unit of work. This should include:
|Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling – Here, the children focus on the skills they will be applying in this unit of work which are related to the National Curriculum. It is vital (in this part of the process) that children understand the purpose of the tool they are using and its desired impact on the reader. E.g. I will use contrasting conjunctions as this will help add detail for the reader in relation to an opposite point.
This is an opportunity for the children to fully understand the writing tool/s they will be using. A guide is placed on the working walls for children to refer to throughout the unit of work.
Based on the skill taught, the children will complete sentence level work in the context of the stimulus they are using to form their own writing. E.g. For the video The Piano, if you were focussing on the skill of using relative clauses, the children would produce sentences that apply this skill…
Planning stage – Children plan their piece of writing based on the stimulus. Here, children are given a planning frame where they are guided into using the skills taught as part of the learning sequence. The planning process is modelled by the teacher to ensure that children are planning concise, cohesive writing. Please see examples:
|First draft preparation with focus on skills taught – Before a first draft is complete, the class teacher leads a modelled write with the children so that they will have an idea of where to lead their own writing. During this session, the teacher ‘thinks out loud’, purposefully referring to the skills/writing tools and spelling rules that they have been focusing on. Then the teacher performs a shared write, whereby the children and the teacher work together to draft a paragraph or piece of writing using the skills taught. When children move on to independently writing their first draft, they are reminded to refer to their plans and refer to the working wall to help them in their writing.
|Edit and Improve using purple pen – Children will independently and/or collaboratively read back through their own writing and they are taught use the marking key to identify the symbols used by their teacher. Whilst doing this, they will look for errors in punctuation, spelling and grammar and text mark this in purple pen. Once they have done this, they will then use their purple pen to correct sentences, paragraphs or the entire text if needed. This can be done by re writing on the next page or by the use of editing flaps over the corrected piece of work.
Children are taught to understand that during this process, they should think about all aspects of writing they can improve, not just skills within that learning journey.
|Final draft with continuous improvements – Must be completed at the end of each unit and must include all the edits and improvements that have been made during these sessions and children understand that this is not just an exercise in writing up the first draft with improvements in their best handwriting. The teacher models to the children how they should continue to improve their work as they write mentally. This is so that self-improving and on-going editing becomes second nature to children. When modelling how to make continuous improvements, it is important to think out loud so children can ‘see’ and understand why you are making these changes.
These are an extremely important part of the learning process as they provide children with a form of continuous provision they can keep referring to throughout the journey. These should detail the skills being taught, give explanations and model examples. These should be written clearly and placed where all children can see them. During the process, the working walls should be referred to regularly and often as a way of modelling their use. The children should see that you are using these as a form as of continuous provision and these should remain on the walls for as long as the children need.
Children take great pride in editing and then publishing their work and high quality writing is displayed around school to share the children's work.
Examples of the writing process from Nursery to Year 6 –