At St Jude's we are using a writing model which has been researched experimentally and has been applied in Key Stages 1 and 2.
It is based on the understanding that reading and writing are very different skills and that the skills acquired in becoming a fluent reader are not sufficient to enable students to become competent writers. Teaching writing requires that children develop their transcription skills, vocabularies and knowledge of written English. The writing model has the following key elements:
Reading for Writing is a development of the final segment of the 15 minute reading session when teachers and children read together. Towards the end of Key Stage 1 this is extended into more detailed discussions of books with a view to making the links between reading and writing explicit. Reading for writing draws children’s attention to features of fiction and non-fiction which can be developed in their written work.
The 'Seven Step Framework for Teaching Writing' is a development of 'reading for writing.' It is based on the same psychological and instructional principles as those underpinning the teaching of reading and so begins by teaching children to analyse fiction and non-fiction through presenting 'good' and 'poor' examples of written English. The framework then teaches children to write through the familiar instructional sequence of 'my turn,' 'together' and 'your turn,' where teachers model how to write effectively and then write with children before asking children to write independently.
The writing model teaches writing through Key Themes or emotions which draw on children's personal experiences and firsthand knowledge of life. The assumption is that children can be taught to write more effectively when they are shown how to draw on their individual experiences. This represents a contrast to approaches to teaching writing that emphasise 'genres' or that teach individual components of writing (for example paragraph openers, use of adjectives, connectives, etc.).
Handwriting and Dictation
We aim to practise our handwriting through the use of dictation, with the added benefit of developing stamina. Too often the problem with discreet handwriting lessons is that children put effort into letter formation during the lesson, but do not carry through that application during other lessons. By introducing children to dictation we eliminate the need for children to come up with the content of what they are writing, although the more able pupils are encouraged to edit their texts as they go along. Initially children are given phoneme spotter texts to read over first so that they can visually see the words which they will then be required to listen to when the dictation commences; this reinforces the link between the spoken and the written word. After the dictation, children are encouraged to refer back to the text to self-mark their work or to make improvements.