Last year we started to introduce Talk4Writing into the classes… and I have to say on the whole I love it! Initially it was brought in as part of one of our deputy’s leadership projects to help improve boys attainment, but it helps everyone! I’m going to be very specific in this blog post about how I used it in a recent 2 day cover period in Year 2, but there will be a future post about Talk4Writing in the not so distant future!
A quick insight into Talk4Writing… “Talk for Writing enables children to imitate the key language they need for a particular topic orally before they try reading and analysing it. Through fun activities that help them rehearse the tune of the language they need, followed by shared writing to show them how to craft their writing, children are helped to write in the same style. Schools that have adopted the approach have not only increased their children’s progress but have found that children and teachers alike love it. It not only works throughout primary schools from the early years to Year 6 but also in secondary schools where it is key to making literacy across the curriculum really work” (taken from the Talk4Writing website.)
Last week the Year 2 class teacher was poorly so I was asked to cover Tuesday all day and Wednesday morning (not Weds afternoon as during this time I am in Year 4 covering PPA). The Year 2 class had been looking at instruction writing for the past week or so… so I knew where they were up to in that and where to take it.
On Tuesday we decided together that we could write instructions describing how they come in at the end of break time. We discussed the steps a few times, I wrote them on the board in order, then I asked the children to draw a “story map” of their instructions in order, so they could see it visually. Once they had all finished I had written the bossy verbs on separate pieces of paper and “accidentally” muddled them up… so they had to help me to put them back in order.
When Wednesday came around I was told that there were going to be writing observations and that yes, even though I was covering, I would be observed… just to check what I was up to. (I hate being observed, I’ll have to get used to it I know, but I hate it. It’s a lot of pressure and I was dreading it!) We started the lesson by going over the features of instruction writing (title, a ‘you will need’ section with bullet points, a ‘what to do’ section with numbers), with me writing the different sections on big pieces of paper and putting them on the window. In entered the head and the writing coordinator (EEK) while we were trying to come up with ideas for a title for the instructions. (There was only 1 title it could’ve had, but the ideas the children came up with that we wrong we discussed together and with their talk partners why they wouldn’t work). Then we moved on to thinking of things for the ‘you will need’ section and me making them stress to me that I need BULLET POINTS (they loved shouting this at me) in this section. Again they came up with the ideas with their talk partners. Once we’d written the list (a coat, an adult, a whistle, somewhere to line up), I explained that they were going to use their story map to write the instructions on their piece of paper – to which they all shouted “MISS WE NEED TO REMEMBER NUMBERS!” YES, well said in this observation! I had 3 different models, 3 different scaffolds for the different abilities. Then I sent the children off to their seats to say, write and check their sentences with their partner. The observers stayed for a few minutes while the children started their writing and then informed me that they’d be back at the end “to see the finished product” (TALK ABOUT PRESSURE). The rest of the lesson went over a blur.
I got some absolutely incredible feedback from the observers about my lesson. The children were totally engaged, there were high expectations of all children, I had differentiated well, Talk4Writing strategies were well used, good use of the space and adults, excellent routines put in place, children knew what was expected of them. I was so very chuffed…
When I marked the work it seemed 28/30 had met the LG.
I’m not too shoddy at this teaching thing it seems. Maybe.
I know not all observations will go this well, but I think it’s important to celebrate your successes!