It was fantastic to see so many parents at the Talk for Writing and Reading workshop on Thursday morning. The aim was to explain the Talk for Writing strategy and how it is implemented across the Early Years and Infant Campus.
We started the session by playing a silly game to get the creativity flowing across the room; the parents had to describe how they would catch a monster using a random object. The ideas that arose were interesting and helped the parents to understand that no idea was too silly, in fact, the sillier the better! These kinds of activities are what the children will experience in the classrooms to help get as many ideas generated as possible, so when they are in the planning stages of a story they have a huge bank of ideas to draw upon.
Talk for Writing is based around the fact that story-telling is a fundamental way of communicating and comprehending the world. Man has made up stories since the beginning of time, these stories became our basic myths. Traditional tales were passed on from generation to generation, teaching children about the rights and wrongs of our cultures. They teach kindness, diligence and other basic morals. Every society has these tales that lie in the heart of their culture.
Little children tell stories as they play, they tell the tale of their play as it is happening. They thread aspects of their own experiences and mingle them together with stories they have heard.
We harness this natural ability in the first stage of the process, the imitation phase. This is where children learn a text off by heart using actions and story maps to help them remember it. The key to success for this is that they internalise the text type through repetition and rehearsal. We help the children to pick out key vocabulary that we would like to use in our own stories – we call these ‘magpie words’.
Once the story is known well, we move onto the innovation stage. During this phase, the teacher and the children begin to change aspects of the model text using their own ideas. They explore the text using different characters, settings or events and new ideas for descriptive language whilst hugging closely to the underlying structure. Usually, a new ‘story map’ is created with the children’s input at this point.
The final part of the process is the invention stage. During the invention week, the children plan and write their own story based on the text type they have been learning. They experiment with the ideas and begin to explore their own style of writing using sentence types from the model text.
The final part of the workshop explained to parents why reading is such an important aspect of their children’s development. We discussed that if you're not confident in English, it is much better to discuss a book in your home language rather than reinforcing incorrect grammar.
One final thought - If you read just 1 book a day to your child, they will have heard 1825 books by their 5th birthday!
Ms Gemma Gotting, Year 2 Teacher and English Leader