How we Teach Writing at The Avenue
Writing in the Early Years:
Throughout the Early Years we recognise that communication and language is the prerequisite to future successful writing. The children regularly have writing modelled to them through an approach to storytelling, known as Helicopter Stories. They develop an understanding that print carries meaning and writing has a purpose. The children are taught the author’s intentions as we read stories and begin to notice things of interest in illustrations and in the print. There are plenty of everyday opportunities to teach and consolidate the key principles of writing in order to lay a solid foundation for developing their skills as they move into KS1. Most importantly, we want children to have the passion and motivation to become creative writers. Child initiated writing is valued from the start with each child having their own mark making book that is unique to them.
In Nursery, we encourage and develop a love of writing through a combination of oral storytelling, nursery rhymes, and high quality texts. Children are introduced to Helicopter Stories where they orally tell their story to an adult who then scribes their story word for word in front of the child, modelling the writing process. Adults also tell their own stories giving children an understanding of the structure of a story. Children are encouraged to write their own stories in premade books, telling their stories through their drawings. As part of the provision, a range of tools are provided to support children with developing both their gross and fine motor skills in preparation for writing. The malleable area is particularly important for developing dexterity in children’s hands and fingers to allow them to successfully manipulate tools such as pencils and scissors. The children are exposed to a print rich environment where they are able to engage with familiar signs and words, such as their names and familiar greetings in their home languages. Children are able to see print in all areas of the classroom, such as phone books in the home corner and ‘Work in Progress’ signs in the construction area. Opportunities for mark making are also provided, with children making tickets to watch shows and writing shopping lists. When children are ready, they learn to form the letters in their name.
In Reception, we continue to build a love of writing through Helicopter Stories, poetry, and high-quality texts. When reading stories, time is given to exploring the author’s intentions in the written print. Children are encouraged to notice the size of the words and to question how the author intends us to read it. We further develop children’s storytelling language through our Talk for Writing units that give opportunities to introduce specific language such as time connectives. Children also learn to internalise the structure of a story, understanding there is a clear beginning, middle, and end. As children become more confident with applying their phonic knowledge, they learn to be creative with their writing, showing a greater awareness of their audience. They engage in many purposeful writing opportunities through play, such as taking written orders in their restaurant, writing their own ‘do not touch’ signs for their models, and writing short books of different genres, often using a combination of words and drawings.
Writing in Key Stage 1 & 2:
As the children move into Key Stage 1 and 2, we continue to teach writing through high-quality texts, cross-curricular topic work and immersive real-life experiences, such as school trips. These opportunities give our children a real sense of purpose when writing - a fundamental part of being a successful writer. Throughout KS1 and KS2, the children build on the foundations learned in Early Years to become confident, talented writers.
During their time at our school, the children will write a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts or genres, which are mapped out in our Writing Overview. A writing unit usually takes place over a 2/3-week period and focuses on one genre at a time. We use drama, role-play and discussion to engage the imagination, before moving on to vocabulary exploration, sentence craft and creative writing. These lessons will also include: text analysis, discussion of features, planning, drafting and editing. At the end of a writing block, the children have the opportunity to make any final improvements and present their work to the highest possible standard. This also gives a chance to the teacher to assess the child's writing. Built within these sessions are opportunities to teach related spelling, punctuation and grammar skills. Spelling, punctuation and grammar is also taught discretely through our basic skills sessions.
Writing in Resource Base:
In our Resource Base, the children start their writing journey in Fiji Class by developing an interest and love for writing with oral storytelling, the use of high quality texts to engage the children and hands on, immersive real life experiences. This is implemented through small group work, 1:1 teaching and through the children’s exploration in continuous provision. We encourage children to use multi-sensory approaches to mark making and putting meaning to what they create. We explore vocabulary using real life objects, pictures, books and experiences and encourage the children to use pictures, PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) and spoken language to express themselves and their ideas. We may scribe for children initially, or record their ideas using video. However, as the children become more confident at applying their phonic knowledge, they engage in many purposeful writing opportunities through play, such as writing shopping lists, writing their own signs for their models, and writing short books of different genres. Our writing units usually take place over a one week period and are linked to a text or cross curricular experiences such as labelling or writing a fact file about themselves.
As the children transition to France Class and finally Germany Class, they continue to write in many genres for a purpose. The children are exposed to a variety of high quality texts and experiences in order to practice their writing skills and build on their confidence. During their time within the Resource Base, the children will write a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts. This is mapped out in our overviews. We use games, drama, discussion and mixed ability grouping so the children are able to scaffold each other in their learning experiences. A writing unit usually takes place over a 2/3 week period. We immerse the children in the genre we wish for them to write, we analyse and learn about the different features of that genre and then the children plan, draft and edit their writing. Built into these lessons the children are taught related spellings, encouraged to use phoneme mats, punctuation and grammar. We also teach these skills discretely in basic skills lessons. When we get to the end of a unit, the children are given opportunities to present their writing to the highest standard they can, this may be through writing or typing. We then celebrate these pieces of work by sharing them with our peers, other classes and staff, this gives the children a real sense of pride in their writing.
Monitoring progress in writing:
We carefully monitor children’s writing progress regularly so we can ensure they are supported and challenged in the right way. This information is used to help teachers plan learning that will meet the needs of all children, helping them make the best possible progress. If children need additional support in writing, this support is provided through individualised intervention and tracked by our SENDCo.
By the time our children leave The Avenue, we want them to:
- write fluently and with interesting detail on a number of topics throughout the curriculum
- have a vivid imagination which makes readers engage with and enjoy their writing
- use a highly developed vocabulary and an excellent knowledge of writing techniques to extend details or description
- produce well-organised and structured writing, which includes a variety of sentence structures
- use excellent transcription skills that ensure their writing is well presented and punctuated, spelt correctly and neat
- demonstrate a love of writing in all its forms!