How do we teach writing at Cookley Sebright Primary School?
At Cookley we use The Write Stuff approach to teaching writing. This approach is an evidence and research-led approach that is structured and systematic, giving children at all attainment levels an excellent foundation and framework for accurate and effective writing. The document below outlines in detail the current research evidence that underpins the approach.
The Writing Rainbow
The Write Stuff approach is underpinned by the Writing Rainbow (as shown below). This consists of three tiers:
- The FANTASTICs which are the 9 ideas for writing.
- The GRAMMARISTICs which are all the technical grammar elements of writing in the curriculum.
- The BOOMTASTICs which are the techniques of writing and this tier includes those things that make our writing sparkle.
Rich and varied vocabulary is at the heart of our English curriculum. We prioritise the collection of new and exciting words and phrases to use in our writing and do this in many fun and engaging ways. This includes: reading exciting linked texts; using drama; watching film clips; listening to soundscapes/music; inviting visitors into school and working outside of the classroom, taking advantage of our school grounds and going on a variety of school trips. The use of the lenses on the Writing Rainbow help children to focus their collection and categorisation of words before writing and this vocabulary gathering is a shared endeavour between the whole class and the teacher. This crucial part of our English teaching allows for good discussions around vocabulary selection and models to the children that, when words don't give the effect or impact we want for our reader, it is also ok to reject vocabulary too!
Much of our improvement work over the past few years has been around broadening vocabulary. However, we recognise that words alone can be abstract and in our writing lessons, we have a huge emphasis on sentence level work to ensure that children are working in chunks of sense. Within a sequence of learning, the majority of lessons are known as 'Sentence Stacking' sessions where the teacher skilfully models how to place vocabulary within a sentence to gain maximum impact on the reader. This explicit teaching is then used as a springboard for the children to practise writing their own sentences through a variety of lenses from the Writing Rainbow.
Many of our writing sequences are formed from the unit plans from www.janeconsidine.com, which have been designed to give children a good breadth of curriculum objective coverage and a broad and balanced diet of text types and genres. Teachers have complete freedom and flexibility to adapt these unit plans to meet the needs of their children as they arise. We have also worked hard to curate our own set of teaching sequences based on high quality texts that link to our wider curriculum what we know our children will enjoy. Teachers use a well-written model and the Writing Rainbow to plan these sequences but the structure of each session and the sequence as a whole remains broadly the same. This ensures consistency across the school. Below is an example of a typical writing lesson plan.
Within our writing sequences, children will also have a number of 'Experience Days'. These sessions immerse the children into activities and opportunities which stimulate ideas and vocabulary. Many of our sequences have strong links to our wider curriculum and so some of these days and sessions may be delivered through other subjects. This helps the children to make links and often gives them the background knowledge they may need to enhance their writing.
At the end of each sequence, children have the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learnt by planning their own fiction, non-fiction or poetry pieces and using the lenses from the Writing Rainbow to help them structure their work. We want children to be excited, enthusiastic and engaged young writers and so we endeavour to provide them with independent writing opportunities that allow their creativity to run free. Some units will link more closely to other areas of the curriculum while others provide a much wider platform for children to demonstrate their own individual ideas.
Good phonics is one of they key components to children being able to read, and then comprehend, accurately and effectively. Children are taught phonics on a daily basis from Nursery through to Year 2 where the children then move on to learning spelling patterns to use within their writing.
To ensure a rigorous and robust approach, we follow Letters and Sounds and 'Revisit, Review, Teach, Practise, Apply' model which provides a rich and varied range of games and learning opportunities for the children to learn and practise their sounds. For more detail, please see our 'Reading Strategy'.
Below are some useful links to help parents understand how the scheme works and also videos explaining how to say the sounds correctly.