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‘Talk for Writing’ at Rivers International School

‘Talk for Writing’ is a powerful way of teaching literacy that is being used across a number of year groups at Rivers International School Arnhem.  Devised by Pie Corbett, an experienced teacher, head teacher and Ofsted inspector, this approach is based on the principles of how people learn. Its aim is to develop imaginative, creative and effective writers.

By Rachel Robertus, year 6 teacher at Rivers International School Arnhem

As the name suggests, Talk for Writing includes a lot of oral work (discussion and repetition) which allows students to internalise the language structures needed to write well. Texts or portions of texts are rehearsed, memorised, discussed and analysed so that the vocabulary, grammar and punctuation can be imitated by the child in their own writing.  

From imitation to innovation

After imitation, comes innovation, where students take what has been modelled and create their own version, supported by shared writing activities in which the teacher models good practise. The end goal of this process is independent application where students apply all their new skills and techniques in a new situation.

To communicate clearly and effectively

Talk for Writing fits well with ‘The Rivers Way’.  It focuses on developing an ability to communicate clearly and effectively for a variety of audiences and purposes. In addition, ‘Talk for Writing’ embodies many of the key skills that we are seeking to develop across all areas of the curriculum.  Children are aware of what they need to do to succeed and are involved in identifying these criteria.  They evaluate their own work and that of others, identifying both progress and areas to focus on. They uplevel their work based on that evaluation and feedback, and set targets for the future. 

‘Children’s engagement is key’

Finally, and not least importantly, Talk for Writing lessons are often fun, active and lively lessons, in which the children’s engagement is key.  Every student has the opportunity to learn effectively as a wide range of learning styles are included.  Visual, auditory  and kinaesthetic elements are often incorporated alongside the more traditional reading and writing. Pictograms, re-telling with actions, story maps, drama, verbal games, short burst writing, shared writing, planning, creating ‘toolkits’  and playing  ‘word tennis’ are just some of the techniques employed. 

Both students learning English and experienced native speakers from Reception to Secondary School can all benefit from this integrated, inclusive and inspiring approach to learning literacy!

(with reference to Talk4Writing)

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