Evidence of Dragons


Sightings of Dragons by Pie Corbett Below is a free downloadable PDF based on a unit of work that Pie has created and used with a Year 4 class. The unit includes diary entries, persuasive writing, shared writing, boxing up a recount and features four model texts. Download the PDF of the document below. Download Evidence of Dragons PDF here

Article: Creating a playful poem


Playing with words and ideas by Pie Corbett Download a PDF of this text here . Several years ago, we ran this little unit of creative work. Here is what happened. The poem ‘The Cave of Curiosity’ is based on the simple idea of creating a place (cave) and linking it to an abstract idea (curiosity). To begin, we played an abstract noun game. Divide the children into pairs and sort them into ‘A’s and ‘B’s. On their mini whiteboards, ‘A’s write a list of common nouns that are places, such as park, pavement, castle, cave, etc. ‘B’s write a list of abstract nouns. It can be helpful for the children if you explain that these are things you cannot touch and with some classes brainstorm a list, e.g. happiness, jealousy, greed, kindness, etc. Some children came up with what we called ‘magical’ nouns such as stars, clouds, moon and we added those to the list of abstract nouns. Collect as many of their ideas as you can on the flipchart and show the children how they can combine their ‘A’s and ‘B’s in a variety of ways. Help the children put their ideas together. They might have a mountain summit of majesty or a tower of air or they might prefer a mountain of imagination or a tower of taste. Encourage them to say their ideas out loud and listen to the effect. We wanted them to surprise the reader with new and startling combinations and amazing juxtapositions, avoiding cliches. Having done this, we read ‘The Cave of Curiosity’ and ‘In the City of Silences’. We read the first poem several times, with the children joining in on the second [...]

Activity: Using picture books – Voices in the Park


Digging deeper into picture books - Voices in the Park Anthony Browne is a former Children's Laureate and one of the foremost makers of picture books. He is known for his surreal and playful illustrations. The books are part of a game he plays with the readers. In his illustrations he draws on famous works of art but he also hides surprising images so that a tree takes on the shape of a hat or footprints become leaves. However, Voices in the Park is more than surreal entertainment. It is rich in many layers of meaning, and I have known children avidly discuss the story for over an hour. Activity one: In the beginning The children’s first meeting with the book… Begin by showing the cover and reading the title. What do the children think the book is going to be about? Many children suggest that it is to do with friendship because the dogs and the two children are together in pairs. Draw their attention to the title. What does it suggest to them? Make a list of ideas. These can be revisited after reading the book. Activity two: What do they think? Discuss pupils’ initial thoughts… Gather the children close on the carpet so that they can see the illustrations, or use multiple copies. Show each page and read the book straight through without stopping. I would then take children’s first reactions. In his wonderful book Tell Me (Thimble Press), Aidan Chambers suggests that a useful starting point for ‘Book Talk’ is to ask the children to list and discuss what they have liked, did not like as well as sharing any particular puzzles or patterns. These starting points will lead into fruitful [...]

Document: Describing Gollum


"My precious..."  Describing Gollum Talk for Writing trainer, Dean Thompson, has created a free downloadable PowerPoint for descriptive writing based on Gollum. As Dean explains, "The Describing Gollum resource was designed for a Year 6 class focusing on using quality texts to develop children's writing tools. The aim was to try and capture some of the style and tools of Tolkien to develop children's description of character. First, we used film and images of Gollum to bank ideas and vocabulary. The teacher and the children then had a go at describing Gollum using the vocabulary generated and the writing tools they had already internalised in previous teaching. The passage from the Hobbit was then used for shared reading. The class discussed the vocabulary and comprehension before the text was closely analysed line-by-line, pulling out the tools that Tolkien used to create his character. The children then returned to their writing and edited and redrafted, using some of the toolkit that the teacher and children had co-constructed. The PowerPoint presentation is meant as a teacher resource with some notes to support the analysis of the text and tools. There are examples of children's writing before and after the close reading to see the impact. The comprehension and toolkit should however be co-constructed with the class rather than just shared.' Download a PDF of the PowerPoint document below. Download PDF here

Document: Suspense Toolkit


Document: Suspense Toolkit This free two-page PDF, written by Pie Corbett and Julia Strong, shows how the tools to create suspense in writing progress from the Early Years through Y1&2, 3&4 and 5&6. It also includes useful ideas for teachers to support the teaching of these features. Download the PDF document here . A full set of progression toolkits for the six key features underpinning narrative writing (settings, suspense, characterisation, dialogue, description and openings& endings) will be available later this year in our new publication Talk for Writing: creating effective fiction writers.

Blog: Independent Writers


Independent writing The aim of Talk for Writing is to grow independent writers. Here are some suggestions for how this can be achieved first in relation to narrative and then non-fiction. I then look at how such independence can be prepared for through the innovation stage of the imitation, innovation, independent application process. Independent narrative writing  As the children build up experience of writing stories, there should also be opportunities to write freely, drawing on everything that they have been taught. At the end of units, many schools have developed short ‘really independent’ units where the teacher provides a motivating starting point and the children write whatever they wish. Children never become independent readers until they choose what to read, developing their own taste for different authors and styles; in the same way, children are not writers until they make their own choices about what to write. Here are a few examples of KS2 units that provide time for children to write entirely independently drawing on the taught units. Start from a great stimulus and then list the possibilities with the class. They can then choose what to write. Provide a number of days for them to plan, draft, edit and publish their own writing: Example 1: ‘Stranded’ The children have been shipwrecked on a desert island. The children could: • draw maps of the island; write diary entries and stories about the storm, logging the first few days of survival and even the rescue; • find images of desert islands and write an advert for an island holiday; • Invent their own island – draw the map and write a leaflet about its flora and fauna; • Write a monologue revealing the stranded sailor’s [...]

Document: Never-heard-the-word grammar grid


If you're teaching grammar, as with any teaching, it's important to establish what the children already know and what needs to be taught. Use the never-heard-the-word grid with your class in order to establish which of the key grammar terms need teaching, or which the children have understood from previous grammar lessons. Download a PDF version of the resource here.

Short Story Competition – Winners’ Stories


Short Story Competition - Winners' Stories In the summer 2016 newsletter we ran a competition looking for stories of no more than 400 words that could be used as model texts for Talk for Writing. We received a number of entries, four of which stood out as prize winners. Each of these stories are downloadable below for you to use in class. Congratulations to Chris Farnen, Richard Johnson, Jackie Livermore and Heidi Simpson on their winning entries! Morgan and his Magical Maths Underpants by Chris Farnen. Suitable for a Year 2 class. Morgan and his Magical Maths Underpants PDF   The Legend of Bowerman’s Nose by Richard Johnson. Suitable for a Year 2 class. The Legend of Bowerman’s Nose PDF   The Unusual House by Jackie Livermore. Suitable for a Year 4 class. The Unusual House PDF   Through the Forest by Heidi Simpson. Suitable for a Year 2 class. Through the Forest PDF

Document: Noughts and Crosses


Noughts and crosses – subordinating conjunction style This is a great game to play once the children understand subordinating conjunctions and it will really build their confidence while being an entertaining challenge. It’s also a good game to play at a staff meeting to help build staff confidence with the rather obscure need in the 2016 grammar test in England for children to be able to spot the difference between a word like before when it functions as a subordinating conjunction, as opposed to when it functions as a preposition. Find an entertaining picture. Just Google “Mouse in a helmet” and grand images of a mouse in a crash hat approaching a mouse trap loaded with cheese appear. Provide the class with a noughts-and-crosses grid of subordinating conjunctions. If you want to provide more help, you could highlight the words that could also function as prepositions, as illustrated below: The ultimate challenge is to see if they can use all three words as subordinating conjunctions in one coherent sentence. Warm up with the easy version of the game. The children should work in pairs. Each child in turn selects a conjunction and creates a complex sentence using that subordinating conjunction to describe the picture in some way. (The child who starts the game, if wise, will pick as for their starter word.) The first child to achieve a diagonal, horizontal or vertical row of correctly structured sentences wins. Now the real game begins. Challenge the whole class to see if they can come up with one multi-clause sentence that contains all the three words in any of the rows. Their sentence has to make complete sense and describe the picture in some way. They have [...]