At Boston Pioneers Academy, we aim to inspire a children’s love of literacy by developing their skills to become thoughtful readers and creative writers. Our mission is to enable children to immerse themselves fully into a text, which in turn enables children to read and write independently for a variety of audiences and purposes within different subjects.
In September 2021, Boston Pioneers implemented a new approach to teaching literacy called Talk for Writing, this is used in every year group from EYFS to year 5. It is fundamentally based on the key principles of how children learn. The Talk for Writing programme was devised by the author and educationist Pie Corbett. The approach supports learners as they move from dependence towards independence, with our teachers using shared and guided teaching to develop within their learners the ability to write creatively and powerfully. Talk for Writing has three key phases, which work together to develop knowledge, confidence and independence in writing.
To view a synopsis of the Talk for Writing approach please click here.
What is taught when?
Working with our Talk for Writing consultant, we have created a yearly overview for the whole school which shows when and where different genres of writing are being taught.
Our Long-Term plan can be viewed here.
What does the teaching sequence look like?
The key phases of the Talk for Writing process outlined below, enable children to imitate orally the language they need for a particular form of writing, before reading and analysing it for its key features, and then writing their own version.
The Cold Task
All units of work start with a written formative assessment piece. This is known as a ‘cold’ task. An interesting and rich starting point provides our learners with a stimulus for this writing, but there is no teaching prior to the task. The aim of this is to see what learners can do independently at the start of a unit, drawing on their prior learning/knowledge. Assessment of this cold task helps the class teachers to establish exactly what needs to be taught and they then use this information to inform planning.
The Internalisation Stage
Once the cold task is complete, learners are introduced to the genre with a creative ‘hook’ which engages the learners. Learners are then introduced to a model text. The model text has built into it the underlying, transferable structures and language patterns that learners will need when they are writing. This is learned by heart using a ‘story map’ and actions to help students internalise the text.
To see a sample model text please click here,
To see a ‘story map’ based on the sample model text please click here.
Once the children can ‘talk like the text’, the model text (and often other examples of the genre) is then explored further. Initially, this is for understanding (reading as a reader), but then with a view to learners identifying genre-specific features such as the structure and language patterns that they would need to apply if writing in that specific genre (reading as a writer).
The Genres We Teach through Talk for Writing
A Cinderella story – A rags to riches narrative is often used to describe people who begin their lives in extreme poverty and end up comfortable and wealthy, often through hard work or exceptional talent.
Wishing Tale - A story involving someone who wishes for something but usually there is a barrier that has to be overcome. A variation is where a character is granted a wish but wastes it.
Losing Tale - A character finds or loses something of value and spends time searching for it.
Journey/ Quest Story - A journey or quest story tells the tale of a main character who goes on a journey or a quest and has to overcome a number of problems before the journey ends.
Defeating the Villain Story - A defeating the villain story tells the tale of the main character who is confronted by a monster who causes problems and who is hard to defeat. Eventually the main character is able to defeat the monster and all is well.
Warning Tale - The main character is warned not to do something or go somewhere – ignores the warning and gets into trouble.
Portal Story - The main character finds a magical portal and enters a new world, they explore the new world and encounter a problem. They then have to escape back through the portal.
Flashback Story - A flashback story is where the reader is taken back in time to see what happened in the past that affected the character so deeply.
Fantasy Story - A fantasy story is where the main character enters a fantastical setting and finds something magical. Something then goes wrong and magic helps them overcome the problem. The main character then returns home and reflects on what has happened.
Suspense Story - The main character is happily doing something when they see/ hear or sense something or someone scary or ominous. Tension or suspense builds and the main character runs or hides before discovering what is happening.
Persuasion - writing to convince your reader that what you’re saying is true.
Discussion - writing different points of view on an issue, providing arguments for and against. It presents a balanced set of arguments without leaning one way or the other.
Recount - writing in chronological order about an event which has happened.
Information - writing information about a particular topic.
Instruction - writing a set of instructions explaining how something should be carried out or completed.
Explanation - writing a explanation so that the reader can understand how or why something is done.
The Innovation Stage
Once learners are familiar with the model text, the teacher leads them into creating their own versions. A new subject is presented and the teacher guides the learners through planning their own version of that text type based on the new subject. With younger learners, this may be by simply changing 1 or 2 elements of the basic map and retelling new versions. Older learners use more advanced ‘maps’ in the form of ‘boxed-up’ planners to do this and are expected to change more elements of their text; whilst still ensuring the structure and language patterns of that genre are maintained. No matter how old the learner, the focus is always on the oral development of ideas prior to writing.
Shared and guided writing is then used to stage writing over a number of days so that pupils are writing texts bit by bit, concentrating on bringing all of the elements they have been taught together, writing effectively and accurately.
The Invention Stage – The Hot Task
Eventually, learners move on to the third phase, known as the ‘Hot Task’. This is when learners independently apply what has been taught and practised to create a final piece. Learners are guided through planning, drafting and revising their work independently. With older learners, this may be done over a number of days. This final piece (Known as the ‘hot’ task) is used by teachers to assess the progress made by learners over the unit.
Writing across the Curriculum
Following this approach, we hope to develop writing as a transferrable skill across all subjects taught in the curriculum. We therefore immerse our learners in a termly History/Geography themed topic and encourage cross-curricular links. Our aim is to provide engaging writing hooks that are linked to each termly topic to give learners an audience and purpose for writing. Learners are expected to transfer their key topic knowledge and vocabulary into their writing and vice versa to transfer their spelling, grammar and punctuation knowledge into their topic work. We expect the high standards for writing in Literacy lessons to be evident within the work in all books
By in-depth marking extended pieces of writing, we ensure that learners are aware of their strengths and areas for development in writing so that they can increasingly take ownership of their progress. Teachers leave next steps in books when marking to ensure that learners know exactly what they need to do next to make progress in their writing and they are encouraged to respond to this in purple pen. We ensure that ALL learners are given next steps, which might be provided verbally for our younger learners.