Writing

At Saint John Fisher Catholic Primary School we believe that being able to write with clarity not only enables pupils to communicate effectively preparing them for a successful future, but also allows pupils to experience the joy of crafting their own texts. We aim to develop confident pupils with a love for writing across the curriculum.

It is important that pupils learn to write independently from an early stage and this is encouraged though emergent writing within the EYFS.

The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 are following the National Curriculum 2014 in Years 1, 3, 4 and 5. This consists of:

  • transcription (spelling and handwriting)
  • composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).

It is essential that teaching develops pupils’ competence in these two dimensions. In addition, pupils should be taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing. These aspects of teaching the process and sequence of writing have been incorporated into every unit of study used as a vehicle for composition. These units are detailed in our long term planning overviews for each year group from Year One to Year 6.

FLUENT & EFFECTIVE TRANSCRIPTION

Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words. Effective composition involves forming, articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting.

During Key Stage 1 the teaching of phonics though the successful “Read, Write, Inc” programme, spelling and handwriting, complements this process and is used systematically to support writing and to build up accuracy and speed.

At Key Stage 2 staff aim to master these writing skills across a range of genres.  We work closely together to ensure Saint John Fisher pupils experience quality teaching of these skills throughout the school.

TEACHING STRATEGIES

We have a shared understanding of shared and guided writing which we explain below in the drop-down boxes.

SHARED WRITING

At Saint John Fisher Primary School Shared Writing is a term used to encompass three main approaches to writing: teacher demonstration, teacher scribing and supported composition. In teacher demonstration the teacher demonstrates how to write, commenting explicitly on what she/he is doing and why.

We use teacher scribing to mean: pupils contributing ideas and suggestions, while the teacher scribes to produce a shared text. Key to this approach is the way that the teacher makes convention and procedures explicit through discussion with the children. Supported composition is the term we use to describe how children use dry-wipe boards to write individually or collaboratively. In this approach we are looking for a limited amount of text from the children which focuses on a very specific learning objective.

GUIDED WRITING

Guided writing is a key step between whole class teaching and independent writing. It is during the guided writing session that children are supported to improve their writing and to work with increasing independence. During guided writing, teachers work with carefully selected groups of children according to their current targets or specific needs as informed by assessment for learning.

At Saint John Fisher Catholic Primary School, there is a flexible and personalised approach to guided writing. Groups should be selected according to current needs, so they should be very fluid. As learning is not linear, children with similar abilities or levels of attainment do not necessarily have the same needs at a particular time. When planning a guided session, the teacher should be thinking about the specific needs of the children today and whether there is a group with similar needs. If so, these can be addressed through a guided writing session.

ASSESSMENT AND THE IDENTIFICATION OF THE LEARNING NEEDS

Following assessment and the identification of the learning needs of the class, the teacher groups children with similar needs. The number of children in any group will also vary, more than six to eight children would not usually form a manageable group. The groups should be flexible to enable each child to achieve success. This may mean that a child attends two different guided writing sessions to consolidate a particular area of learning or to extend the child’s learning. Guided writing sessions will vary in length according to the purpose and the activity. For example, a drama activity to stimulate ideas before writing may be very short. At other times, the full session between whole class teaching and the final plenary may be needed.

There is no set pattern for the number of guided writing sessions to be taught. This will depend on the needs of the children. It is important to remember that guided writing is one of the key teaching strategies to support children in achieving their targets, so it should take place reasonably frequently.

During many guided writing sessions, other children will be engaged in part of the independent writing process. They will always be engaged in meaningful learning activities. This should refer back to and build on the previous shared writing session. Activities might include:

  • supporting children as they formulate their ideas – this may incorporate drama or role-play;
  • reviewing objectives for writing and/or the children’s targets;
  • the teacher modelling the process of planning and drafting (this may include rerunning part of the shared session for targeted groups of children);
  • developing sentence construction and punctuation;
  • retelling a known story in the correct sequence and as a writer: in complete sentences (look at speaking and listening objectives);
  • planning a piece of explanatory writing drawn from a model discussed in the shared session;
  • oral rehearsal

SUPPORT AT THE POINT OF WRITING

Support can be provided to groups as they begin to write or when they have already started to write independently (in order to support the revising process). Children can be supported to:

  • write the first or next paragraph of an explanation text and be invited to read it aloud to the group;
  • reread for clarity and purpose;
  • use alternative vocabulary;
  • use greater precision – choice of phrases, use of complex sentences;
  • use greater cohesion – use of connectives, consistency of tense, time, person and so on;
  • remember objectives for writing and be supported in checking their work against the success criteria. After writing – feedback sessions.

After children have worked independently on their writing there should be opportunities for them to assess their writing. After writing, we often:

  • support children to check their work against success criteria, edit, proofread and reflect on the impact on the reader;
  • review progress and targets;
  • discuss next steps in writing and set new targets where appropriate.
  • Children perform their writing to their peers.

For example there are termly poetry performance assemblies showcasing the children’s writing.

Guided writing can take place throughout the planning phases of the writing process. You would expect a greater emphasis on guided writing during the final writing phase as guided writing often follows on from shared writing and addresses the specific development needs of the group, which may be general e.g. variety of sentence structure or genre specific e.g. use of emotive language when writing a persuasive argument. The session may simplify the shared session for less-confident writers or extend the shared session to challenge more-able writers.

Guided writing is underpinned by effective Asessment for Learning. Guided writing sessions provide opportunities for ongoing assessment. Teachers identify the learning needs of children based on their assessments; they set precise writing targets that will address the needs of each group. The teacher explains the targets to the group and regularly reviews them with the children. Feedback is provided at every stage; this may take the form of self-assessment, peer-assessment or teacher-assessment.

HANDWRITING

Handwriting and the presentation of work within our school is important in all areas of the curriculum. Pupils are taught handwriting from Reception onwards using the Nelson handwriting resource. In reception children are taught individual letters in the order that they learn each letter sound in phonics. In Reception and Year 1 pupils begin learning letter formation and where to start each letter in preparation for later joining. As the pupils become more confident in recording letters (from Y2 onwards) they are taught to join their handwriting in the school style. As they progress through the school they are supported in generating an individual style which is both efficient and neat. Handwriting is taught at least once a week and during the publishing stage of the writing process. When children have developed a consistent, correctly formed and joined handwriting style across the curriculum they will be awarded with a pen to write with.