There are so many elements that need to be considered:
Is there any wonder we hear that infamous phrase: ‘I don’t know what to write!’?
To help us understand this, American literary expert, Berninger illustrated the process with ‘The Simple View of Writing’. Here, he highlights three overarching processes that are essential to writing:
The model places working memory in the centre, emphasising how it plays a role in enabling each of these skills to operate. As we all know, when our brains are full, it becomes difficult to remember everything. To cope, our brains bring to the fore the information we need and other things are lost. As one course member said recently, ‘It is like a shelf! To prevent information ‘falling off the shelf’, we have to use it regularly!’
This is why our pupils forget the skills they used so well in previous classes. That transition between year 2 and year 3, or from one teacher to another can have a huge impact, and we need to remind them of those skills they learnt previously.
Prewriting activities to support oracy
Identifying audience and purpose for writing
Ensure pupils know exactly who they are writing for and how their audience will use the information. Give examples of who might – and who might not – be interested. Make the audience and purpose as real as possible by sending letters to real people, asking for permission to display writing beyond your school and sharing their writing with the wider school community. This helps them to understand that they are not just writing to make their teacher happy!
Modelling the five stages of writing
Within the EEF report, there is clear guidance on modelling the five stages of writing:
Try to establish a gradual release of responsibility so that pupils see you modelling the process of writing. Then become a scribe for their ideas, showing how to select from a pool of options. From here, encourage pupils to ‘have a go’ at constructing a sentence themselves. Once this process is complete, pupils should feel more confident at continuing to write independently.
Develop effective transcription skills
Literacy expert, Pie Corbett suggests a ‘ten-minute daily session of whole-class spelling games can be more effective than relying on a once-a-week spelling bash.’
So, what does a balanced spelling programme look like?
The 5 main areas that should be part of the spelling curriculum include:
A good spelling programme gradually builds pupils’ spelling vocabulary by introducing patterns or conventions and continually practising those already introduced. Short, lively, focused sessions are more enjoyable and effective than an occasional skills session.
Practising sentence construction
Practising sentence construction helps pupils to orally and physically rehearse sentences and evaluate and improve sentences before writing.
By putting these small steps in place and making them part of your daily and weekly writing routine, pupils will sharpen their skills. This should help these processes become more automatic so that writing is less challenging and ideas flow more easily.