Article: Rome wasn’t built in a day by Maria Richards


Making the most of Talk for Writing training Download a PDF version of document here Rome wasn’t built in a day... Talk for Writing Primary Adviser Maria Richards explains why you must invest time and have a plan if you want to reap the potential benefits of Talk for Writing for your school. According to Wikipedia, "Rome wasn't built in a day" is an adage attesting to the need for time to create great things. This is particularly true when thinking about developing Talk for Writing in your school. As with any new initiative that schools take on, sustainable change cannot happen after just one training day. Real transformation comes from a long-term plan for development, built on by continually evaluating the impact on teaching and learning and then planning future CPD and development as a result of that. Working in this way allows the initial and subsequent training to be sustained. If this doesn't happen, the clear danger is that the initial input and enthusiasm for the change will peter out. Why do some initiatives peter out? defines ‘to peter out’ as 1. to diminish gradually and stop; dwindle to nothing. This is something that can happen quite regularly after CPD training days if that initial training is then not built upon. Think about how many initiatives your schools have taken on over the years. How many have been sustained and how many have petered out? For those that have fallen by the way-side, why was that? I can wager that one reason would be due to a lack of investment in time and focus on that change. The Teacher Development Trust cites that: CPD is most effective in [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Article: iLanguages


Not a linguist? Not a problem! Get off to a flying start with languages in September 2014 Compulsory languages at KS2 is just around the corner and it’s presenting a new challenge for primary schools. What cannot be ignored is the fact that Ofsted will be inspecting foreign language provision across the whole of KS2 from September 2014.  It is vital that you have plans in place to ensure all children make at least good progress across KS2. As a new programme of study for KS2 for languages has now been published, primary schools cannot simply rely on previous schemes in the hope that learners will make the progress required.  The new programme of study is far more demanding and provision needs to ensure that learners need to be ‘independent and effective communicators’. iLanguages has taken up the baton to meet the challenge of the forthcoming compulsory primary language curriculum by providing teachers with a highly innovative and engaging scheme which has been designed to ensure that teachers with little knowledge or confidence of French and Spanish are able to effectively deliver language lessons.  And it seems to be working extremely well, based on the results from five primary schools across the country, which have trialled the scheme. Authors of the scheme, Juliet Park and Wendy Adeniji emphasise the importance of primary and secondary schools joining up their thinking if transition between schools is going to be smooth and progressive. The iLanguages scheme includes a detailed KS2 overview which shows progression across the four years as well as editable lesson plans which can be used on a daily basis and which will stand up to Ofsted’s scrutiny.  Schools using the scheme can start with the Y3 [...]

Article: Leading Talk for Writing in your school


Alison Cooper Talk4Writing consultant Alison Cooper provides a few useful suggestions on how to lead an effective Talk for Writing project: So, the day’s over and everyone is buzzing about Talk for Writing and eager to get started but, if Talk for Writing is going to have a real impact on children’s writing outcomes then it needs strong and committed leadership and the following suggestions may help you to plan for this. Getting ready: before the training day You may have attended one of Pie’s Conferences and like everyone else, you’ve left inspired and keen to share the approach with your staff and pupils so you have arranged an INSET day with a TfW Consultant.  Before the INSET, have you got all the staff (teachers and TAs) together and given them an overview of TfW? If you’ve been using the approach with your class, share the outcomes. If staff can see the value of a new approach before the event, they’ll be raring to find out more! Are all the SLT on board?  Will everyone on the staff be attending the training day – Headteacher, Senior Leaders, teachers, TAs and maybe your Governor with responsibility for Literacy? It’s crucial that everyone understands the Talk for Writing process and has shared responsibility for implementing TfW and raising standards in writing. Have you written an action plan for achieving your vision? How will you get there? What are the intended outcomes? What does achieving your vision actually look like? You may decide to revise this after the training day but it’s a good idea to know where you want to be heading right from the start. If you’re a big school, who’s going to work [...]