English - Writing

At St John’s Primary School, writing is a crucial part of our curriculum. We intend for pupils to be able to write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. We want children to develop their fine and gross motors skills in order to plan, revise and evaluate their writing.
We also intend for pupils to leave school being able to use fluent and legible handwriting. Pupils will leave St John’s with a good knowledge of the spelling rules, the relationship between words, etymology and the ability to use figurative language. Thus ensuring they acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language.
Our children will be competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate. They will use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas.
English is planned for using the EYFS Framework and KS1 and KS2 school curriculum based on the National Curriculum. All children from EYFS to Year 6 are provided with many and varied opportunities to develop and apply their writing skills across the curriculum. To be able to do this effectively, pupils will read widely and often and have access to a range of writing in differing genres and styles. They will also develop an awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar.
English writing is planned for following, ‘The Write Stuff’ written by Jane Considine and by also using high-quality texts. Teachers edit, adapt and write, their own short-term planning, ensuring year-group specific skills and knowledge, grammar and spelling are enriching and weaved within the final written piece.
Speaking and Listening
The development of speech and language is identified as one of the most important parts of our EYFS curriculum. Staff work closely with parents/carers and previous nurseries to ensure they are extending and building on the language acquisition necessary. The promotion, and use of, an accurate and rich cross-curricular vocabulary throughout school is planned in all subjects. This is evident in all learning areas and is a key part of our Knowledge Organisers. Where the gaps are need to be closed vocabulary that will be used within units of work that may not have been used before are pre taught. A wide range of opportunities to use and develop their speaking and listening skills is planned for. These then feed into the writing process.
All children write daily, in an English session, and across the curriculum. At St John’s we use The Write Stuff (TWS) to teach all writing, this approach brings clarity to the mechanics of the teaching of writing. It follows a method called ‘sentence stacking’. Sentence stacking refers to the fact that sentences are grouped together chronologically or organizationally to engage children with short, intensive moments of learning that they can apply immediately to their writing. An individual lesson is based on a sentence model, broken into three separate ‘chunks’ of learning. TWS approach revolves around the ‘writing rainbow,’ this is split in to 3 tiers and each ‘chunk’ of learning will focus on at least one of the lenses from the rainbow.
The three tiers of the rainbow are spilt in to FANTASTICS GRAMMARISITICS BOOMTASTICS The FANTASTICS are the 5 senses plus feeling, imagining, action and asking. Most writing in books can be attributed to one of these lenses. The GRAMMARISTIC tier is the current National Curriculum. Finally, the BOOMTASTIC tier revolves around the techniques that writers use to engage the reader, this is the most challenging tier, however some lenses are suitable for children in year 1, although it is not expected that children in KS1 cover all aspects of the lowest tier. Experience Days Each unit begins with an ‘experience day.’ Children need experiences to enable them to write. We therefore need to immerse them in what we want them to write about. This could be: trips, visitors, video clips, sound clips, artefacts, objects, drama etc. From this experience, teachers need to wring out (generate words and phrases) all the ways children can think about that experience, using the FANTASTICs. It is essential that the experience day enables children to develop their understanding of what they are going to write about; it must have meaning and link purposely to writing. TWS Lesson Content TWS is used for narrative writing only. Each unit lasts between 3-4 weeks and the school follows the unit plans form janeconsidene.com. These plans have been selected by our teachers and are mapped out on our LTP for English writing. The plans from Jane Considine enable teachers to focus on gathering the stimulus/resources needed to ensure that children are exposed to language and writing techniques that they can develop through the support of the modelled session.
Within the ‘Initiate’ stage, teachers provide a stimulus for vocabulary gathering, often children generate words and phrases through CHOT (chat and jot). The teacher will then use KCO (kind calling out) to gather a range of ideas from the children, here the teacher acts as a scribe to jot down the children’s best ideas, creating a mind map of the children’s work. Using this, the teacher then models a sentence that incorporates the lenses that are the focus for this chunk of learning. This sentence is written on to sentence strips so that the ‘shared write’ is created in ‘real time’, using the children’s ideas.
When gathering language, children can come up with their own words, work in pairs, use ‘thesaurus thinking time,’ yet then the teacher also provides them with further high-quality words; constantly exposing them to better vocabulary. At St John’s, we believe that children need more words, not less.
This is also a chance for the teacher to model links e.g. adverbs/adverbial phrases for ‘sudden’ – here the teachers asks the children to CHOT then the teacher gives them more examples e.g. At that moment, Without warning, Quickly, etc.
Other examples: how to create a mood change. Again, the children will be asked to CHOT/ use thesaurus thinking – the teacher provides even more rich examples, e.g. murky, clouded over, dimmed, blackened, overshadowed, something sinister – CHOT. Again, the teacher provides further ideas - raven, cave, dungeon, spider, pool. E.g. ravenous raven, cavernous cave, murky pool, sinister spider.
It’s the teacher’s responsibility to give the children a rich bank of vocabulary choices. Teachers need to demonstrate to children the huge range of options for language.
Example: Suddenly, the sky blackened. Little Red Riding Hood noticed that Grandma’s eyes were dangerous and dark like a hungry ravenous raven.
Children then use their own ideas, to create their sentence. As the teacher has provided so many rich examples from the initiate (model) phase, it is unlikely that the children will copy the shared example; they are well equipped to construct their own sentence following a similar structure to the one modelled. This cycle is then repeated twice, so that by the end of the writing session, children have created a short paragraph comprising of 3 sentences = 1 short paragraph. In order for teachers to deliver all 3 chunks in one lesson, each chunk should last around 15 minutes.
Each classroom has a ‘Shade-o-meter’ where the teacher scribes the children’s ideas, discussing the level of intensity of the word, these help the children to create synonym webs of words that span both positive/negative intent. The Shade-o-meter board is then wiped clean (though the children have the notes in their book), and used again in the next chunk.
The sentence stacked wall becomes a model of good practice that the children can refer to throughout the unit. It is beneficial to read this at the start of each lesson so that the children are immersed and ready for the new plot point.
Grammar and spelling is planned for and built into weekly and daily plans. These are then linked across the curriculum.
Plot Points
When using TWS children do not read the book that they are using as a stimulus for writing. If it is a longer book, then teachers read the book up to where they want the children to write from. Plot points are predetermined in the planning from Jane Considine. Plot points – it is important to never reveal all! Always reveal one at a time. Teachers should hold the whole class on each plot point. For those children that are more able, they ‘deepen the moment,’ they should never plot push.
1 plot point = 1 lesson
1 lesson = 1 paragraph
Teachers’ model the plot points for a story, through sentence writing and vocabulary building. A plot point graph should be used, with an axis on the side showing positive and negative intent ranging from +10 to -10. The plot points go across the page. Only reveal one plot point at a time.
Shape of the text
Children apply their writing skills across the curriculum. Writing is assessed after each writing unit. A team moderates this across the Academy.
School follows the ‘letter-join’ handwriting scheme. The progression of writing is clearly mapped beginning at the Pre-Phonemic Stag Good presentation is expected and weekly handwriting session take place as well as reminders during all writing tasks.
Children are educated with the weekly spelling rule in a taught session. Children are provided with additional support when necessary. Teachers will show pupils how to understand the relationships between words, how to understand nuances in meaning, and how to develop their understanding of, and ability to use, figurative language. They will also teach pupils how to work out and clarify the meanings of unknown words and words with more than one meaning. Pupils will be taught to control their speaking and writing consciously and to use Standard English.
Children will make at least good progress in Reading, Writing and Speaking and Listening from their last point of statutory assessment or from their data in Reception.
Children will use their English knowledge and skills, in all curriculum areas, to enable them to know more, remember more and understand more.
Children will have a love of Writing and make at least good progress in Writing from their last point of statutory assessment or from their data in Reception.
Children will use their Writing skills as a key tool in helping them to learn, and as a result, know more, remember more and understand more.