Have your children recently come home from school telling you stories of exciting whole class activities? Have they been showing you actions that go along with a text that they have been learning while practising in front of a mirror? If so, then you are seeing the start of “Talk for Writing” at Swan Christian College Junior School.
All Junior School staff have recently completed an intensive two-day training program on Talk for Writing. This program is a Kindergarten-Year 6 approach and utilises a number of regular teaching phases to assess and then explicitly teach essential skills and techniques for high quality writing.
Talk for Writing has been enthusiastically embraced by the staff across the Junior School and has been worked into class themes and can be seen and heard by anyone passing by our rooms. Significant gains in writing standards have been reported in countries that have commenced this program and we look forward to comparing the achievement of our students as we get further down the track.
The program embraces five phases in a cycle that is typically repeated eight times a year for each class. These are the phases:
Phase 1: Baseline Assessment – “Cold Task”
This phase is used to determine the extent of current understanding with an independent student task. This assists to shape the plan for the class.
Phase 2: The Imitation Phase
In this phase enthusiasm is built for a text or model piece of writing that students will learn off by heart. This model text acts as a map of techniques and strategies, it contains high quality essential transferrable structures and language patterns that students can draw upon in the future when writing. Actions and drama are a part of the learning of the sample text as this builds memory and assists with students understanding. This phase also includes a series of vocabulary and comprehension activities where the class will box up the text, analysing essential skills and strategies in writing.
Phase 3: The Innovation Phase
Throughout this phase, students explore ways of developing their own version of the text, drawing up plans that bring together the essential elements of effective writing. They practice writing and are provided with regular feedback to build the quality of their work. As they become more competent with their writing they are increasingly working in pairs or on their own.
Phase 4: Independent application and invention – The “Hot Task”
This task is designed to assess the progress of students following the unit of study. It is particularly valuable when compared closely with the initial piece or “Cold Task.”
Phase 5: Final Assessment – building on progression
The program authors recognise that a consistent connected school approach builds a broad base and transferable tool kit that students can refine and internalise. We look forward to our students building their strategies in this way.
For more information please talk to your child and their teacher about how the program is being used in the class. Please also go to talk4writing.co.uk/about where you will find a huge resource of further information about this exciting program.
Head of Junior School