Aims: To understand the value of writer talk in improving the teaching and learning of writing skills To exemplify writer talk To consider the use of writer talk within the teaching sequence with particular emphasis on shared writing
‘Writer Talk’ is… reading as a writer; wondering aloud, ‘How did the author do that?’; reading with a view to imitating, but not simply copying; unpicking the overall pattern of the writing; understanding how the writing has been crafted to create different effects.
Purpose and Audience Talk to the children about audience and purpose of every text you read and write. A good way to remember is: –PALS purpose, audience, language, structure OR –FLAP form/format, language, audience, purpose
Activity Compare the three writing samples. What does each child know about writing stories? What can the teacher do to help each child to improve?
Teaching ‘action’ writing Most children want to write exciting stories with plenty of action (particularly boys) but it is easy to fall into the trap of ‘cartoon style’ writing where the action does not excite the reader. This is also likely to happen when film clips are used and children write what they ‘see’ Direct teaching of ‘skills’ is also needed
An example of action writing from a Y3 pupil He heard them coming. He ran. He got away. This describes the events but does not bring them alive. To achieve this, the writer needs to use techniques to let the reader see and hear what is happening.
Activity Sid could just hear their footsteps, heavy on the road, thudding along behind him. He spurted forward, dodged into an alley and sprinted into the main road. He had lost them. The traffic roared past but no one had followed. Which techniques have been used?
‘Jumanji’ – book talk Peter hadn’t even noticed that it had stopped. New words began to appear in the crystal: It was too late. Peter let the dice fall and rolled two 1s. Brummm-tum-tum! Brummm-tum-tum! The drumming started again.
‘Jumanji’ – book talk Peter hadn’t even noticed that it had stopped. New words began to appear in the crystal: ‘This will not be an easy mission. Monkeys slow the expedition.’ It was too late. Peter let the dice fall and rolled two 1s. Brummm-tum-tum! Brummm-tum-tum! The drumming started again.
Activity Read the rest of the text and book talk with a partner Make connections with your own experiences and other texts, films etc. Use of tentative language, e.g. Maybe… Perhaps…I wonder if… Raise your own questions then look for evidence to confirm or alter.
Reading as a Writer Reading as a writer is most helpful when focused on the purpose and audience of a piece of writing; understanding what response the writer wishes to elicit in the reader and how he/she achieves this. It will often correctly consider choices made at word and sentence level, although these always need to be seen in their text-level context.
Read Learn Apply Note how text is structured? Note the effects What can we use? How was the effect created? Label the effect Collect examples Teacher models Children try out on whiteboards Children use in own writing Writer Talk
Writer talk Note the effects What can we use? What effect has the writer created? How has the effect been created?
Crash! Clang! Thwack! A cacophony of things breaking loudly started to come from downstairs. Judy jumped up and raced towards the attic stairs. Peter picked up the dice and followed her. As they ran down the stairs towards the kitchen, they could hear the sounds of the plates being smashed, accompanied by weird, screeching cries. Judy came to a halt behind the kitchen door, then she slowly pushed it open.
Gathering Content Watch the Jumanji stampede clip Watch and enjoy
Plan and clarify/think about… List powerful words and phrases to describe the action. Think about the events – story map/note key events. Note down the snippets of dialogue
Word Bank Sprinted Pounded Raced Bounded
Writing as a Reader Writing as a reader involves applying the same understanding when making choices about planning, creating and improving one's own writing; understanding what response you, as a writer, wish to elicit in the reader and how you can achieve this.
Bring it all together Shared writing: Demonstration writing Teacher scribing Supported composition Remember to use: Our checklist for action writing Our word bank Is your reader clear about: What the characters are doing. What the events are – story map Working Wall Shared writing ~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~
Writer-talk: Top tips from Pie Corbett Model writer-talk before the class tries. At all stages, verbalise and make explicit the reader’s/writer’s thinking. Key question – what effect has the writer created? Remember, it’s not just about ‘spotting’ grammar Identify the features that the children in your class could use. Key follow up – how has the writer created that effect?
Resources How to teach story writing at KS1 Pie Corbett ISBN How to teach fiction writing at KS2 Pie Corbett ISBN DCSF Publications Tel: Talk for Writing Booklet: BKT-EN DVD: DVD-EN Improving writing with a focus on guided writing Booklet: BKT-EN DVD: DVD-EN