At St Joseph's and St Teresa's, we use Talk 4 Writing to support our English curriculum.
Talk for Writing has been developed by Pie Corbett supported by Julia Strong, it is powerful because it is based on the principles of how children learn.
Talk for Writing is powerful because it enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally before reading and analysing it and then writing their own version.
There are three stages for Talk 4 Writing:
The First Stage is Imitation
Once the teacher has established a creative context and an engaging start, a typical Talk-for-Writing unit would begin with some engaging activities warming up the tune of the text, as well as the topic focused on, to help children internalise the pattern of the language required. This is often followed by talking an exemplar text, supported visually by a text map and physical movements to help the children recall the story or non-fiction piece. In this way the children hear the text, say it for themselves and enjoy it before seeing it written down. Once they have internalised the language of the text, they are in a position to read the text and start to think about the key ingredients that help to make it work. This stage could include a range of reading as-a-reader and as-a-writer activities. Understanding the structure of the text is easy if you use the boxing-up technique and then help the children to analyse the features that have helped to make the text work. In this way the class starts to co-construct a toolkit for this type of text so that they can talk about the ingredients themselves – a key stage in internalising the toolkit in their heads.
The Second stage is Innovation
Once the children have internalised the text, they are then ready to start innovating on the pattern of the text. This could begin with more advanced activities to warm up the key words and phrases of the type of text focused on so the children can magpie ideas. Younger children and less confident writers alter their text maps and orally rehearse what they want to say, creating their own version. The key activity in this stage is shared writing, helping the children to write their own by “doing one together” first. This could begin with using a boxed-up grid (innovating on the exemplar plan) to show how to plan the text and then turning the plan into writing. This allows the children to see how you can innovate on the exemplar text and select words and phrases that really work. Demonstrating how to regularly read your work aloud to see if it works is important here. This process enables the children to write their own versions through developing their ability to generate good words and phrases and also, hopefully, develops the inner judge when they start to decide why one word or phrase is best. If, during this process a teaching assistant (or in KS2 an able child) flip-charts up words and phrases suggested, these can be put on the washing line alongside the shared writing so when the children come to write they have models and words and phrases to support them. Throughout the shared writing, the children should be strengthening the toolkit so they start to understand the type of ingredients that may help. Once they have finished their own paragraph/s children should be encouraged to swap their work with a response partner. Then with the aid of a visualiser, the whole class can also discuss some of the more successful work. Time now needs to be found to enable the children to give their own work a polish in the light of these discussions and perhaps to begin the dialogue about what works by writing their own comment on their work for the teacher to comment on.
The Third stage is Independent Application
The teacher now has the opportunity to assess the children’s work and to adapt their planning in the light of what the children can actually do. This stage could begin with some activities focused on helping the children understand aspects that they were having difficulty with and should include time for the children to have a go at altering their work in the light of what they have just learnt so that they start to make progress. This stage will continue to focus on the next steps needed to support progress so the children can become independent speakers and writers of this type of text. Perhaps some more examples of the text are compared followed by more shared writing on a related topic and then the children can have a go themselves on a related topic of their own choosing. Typically, teachers work with the children to set ‘tickable targets’ which focus on aspects that they need to attend to. Again this section will end with response partner and whole class discussion about what features really worked, followed by an opportunity to polish your work. This process also helps the children internalise the toolkit for such writing so that it becomes a practical flexible toolkit in the head rather than a list to be looked at and blindly followed. At the end of the unit, the children’s work should be published or displayed. The teacher will now have a good picture of what features to focus on in the next unit to move the children forward. It is important to provide children with a purpose for their writing so classroom display or some sort of publishing is useful.
To support the children with their spellings, we use an online programme called 'Spelling Shed'.
For Maths we use 'White Rose' to support us with our planning and teaching.
We are developing an approach where we use concrete, pictorial and abstract resources to help the children develop their understanding of Maths.
We have also been developing the 'Mastery' aspect of Maths learning.
Helping students on their journey towards mastery is exactly what White Rose Maths exists to do. It isn’t always an easy journey, and it’s important to realise that there’s more than one way to get there.
How do you know when a student has mastered something?
We think mastery of anything – playing an instrument, speaking a new language, mathematics – takes a very long time. That’s why we talk about the “journey to mastery”, rather than “having mastered”. For example, children start learning to add in early years and keep developing their skills over many years – from single digit numbers, to multi-digit numbers, then decimals, then fractions, then negatives, addition in different units (such as time calculations “35 minutes after 12:45pm”) etc. It would take several years to master addition, arguably one of the most basic concepts in mathematics so what we do is break the journey down into small steps, spending time carefully considering each. Through intelligent practice and building up experience of different contexts, gradually we move towards mastery where students are fluent in the unfamiliar and can apply their skills in any new situation.
How do we get through all the curriculum if we’re meant to spend time studying each topic in depth?
We recognise that time is an issue and it’s not easy to cover the full content of the curriculum in the depth we would wish too. Our curricula is designed to give time to think about a topic and develop understanding and also to realise that mastery will not have been achieved by the end of the unit, whatever its length. Our small step approach is designed to ensure that students will come back to topics time and time again, both within the study of the same area of mathematics and in other areas so that they will continue to deepen their understanding through this revisiting and interleaving.
To support the children with their learning, we use an online programme called 'Mathletics'.
As we are a Catholic School, we follow the Diocesan Guidelines and work with Clifton Diocese to support their children with their RE Learning.
The children will cover the following topics whilst at St Joseph and St Teresa's:
Prayers, Feasts and Saints
We teach our learning of topic through whole school Topics.
The teachers plan together to ensure there is progression through the topics that is taught.
Please see curriculum overviews for 2018-2020