Talk for Writing was created by Pie Corbett and is based on the principles of how children learn. It enables children to imitate the key language they need for a particular topic orally before they try reading it and analysing it. Through fun activities to help them rehearse the tune of the language they need, followed by shared writing to show them how to craft their genre, children are helped to write in the same style. It works from the Early Years up all the way up to year 6.
Talk for Writing enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic
orally before they begin reading and analysing it and writing their own version.
It builds on three key stages:
Stage 1 – Imitation
Stage 2 – Innovation
Stage 3 - Independent Application
The Imitation Stage
The teaching begins with a creative ’hook’ which engages the children with a sense of enjoyment, audience and purpose. A Talk for Writing unit would begin with some engaging activities warming up the tune of the text to help children internalise the pattern of the language required. Children learn a model text, which is supported visually by a text map and physical movements. In this way the children hear the text, say it for themselves and enjoy it before seeing it written down. Children are then in a position to read the text and start to think about the ingredients that helps make it work. During this stage, short-burst writing is used to practise key focuses such as description, persuasion or explanations. Understanding the structure of the text is done by using the boxing it up technique which helps the children to
analyse the features that have helped to make the text work. In this way, the children start to co-construct a toolkit for this type of text so they can talk about the ingredients
themselves – a key stage in internalising the toolkit in their heads.
The Innovation Stage
Once the children have internalised the text, they are then ready to start innovating on the pattern of the text. The key activity in this stage is shared writing, helping the children to write their own by ‘doing one together’ first. This begins with a boxed up grid to show how to plan the text and turn the plan into writing. This allows the children to see how you can innovate on the model text and select words and phrases that really work. Throughout the shared writing, children are encouraged to discuss and edit their work in order to improve it.
The Invention/ Independent Application Stage
Children move on to the final phase, which is when they independently apply what has been taught and practised. Children are guided through planning, drafting and revising their work independently. The final piece is used as the ‘hot’ task, which is used to show progress across the unit.
What children at St Joseph’s say about Talk for Writing
‘We have learnt about the layout and structure of biographies which we have then been able to apply to other subjects’ Y6
‘Having a model text helps us to understand how to set our work out, it gives us an idea of vocabulary we can use in our own version’ Y5
‘It helps my writing become better. We get to change parts of the story and add our own ideas’ Y2
‘The story map helps us to read the story well’ Reception