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Talk for writing - help with literacy, modelling stories, children remember text easily and really fun to do.

Updated on October 5, 2013

Children will love it

A lot of children don't read as much as I would like them to as a teacher. There are far too many children who rarely read at home and would rather play their Xbox, which is a sad fact of modern day life. With this being the case how are they going to progress with their writing skills without reading good examples first?

Of course they will have you to help them with this. Your modelled writing, your reading to them, them reading in class, them reading to the class and homework to read their reading books. This sounds like a lot of reading but I have found out year in year out that the best writers are those who read for fun at home. They regularly read at bedtimes and love to talk about what they have read. A library at home is also great to hear about and also the children who talk about the books their parents are reading or have read. They really have a lot more input to help them with their writing so it stands to reason that they are going to push on a lot more. The sort of words and phrases or even ideas they steal/magpie for their writing is great to see and I would encourage this totally within every single class I have taught.

A lesson plan I produced for a talk for writing lesson:

NOTE: Some students may be reluctant to do this lesson and feel silly but in my experience I have always seen parts of my writing turn up in theirs when I have done this so that can only up level their work. Others will REALLY enjoy it – the girls from 7LJ love it because they can incorporate dance moves to the text and they remember the text REALLY well

Intro: Teacher or students to read out the modelled text. (1. Talk for writing modelled text)

Can you remember what was written?

What are you going to steal for your writing for the rest of the week?

  • Explain the task ahead of them – talk for writing so they can remember the text and steal (magpie) lots of the work.

Development : Talk for writing on a modelled short story.

  • This is best to do as a class to begin with and the teacher to scribe but get ideas from the students because it is them who needs to remember it.
  • Talk for writing = For each word/phrase you should draw a picture so you can remember it (for the visual learner)
  • You also have to come up with an action that goes alongside the picture (kinaesthetic learner)
  • You will have to draw the pictures for a sentence at a time and then go back and practice reading it without the text, putting the actions in with it. (Auditory learner)
  • Some words are impossible to draw a picture for so they can then just write this word out – please model this.
  • Punctuation should be included in the drawings too – because this is vital in their written work and paragraphs.
  • I use A3 paper to draw on so it can be stuck somewhere in the room just to remind them of the text at a later date.
  • With this being the first time you have done it with your class it would be better just to stay as a whole class activity.
  • Once they become more confident with what they are doing and why then they can then complete this activity totally independently (or with a partner).
  • Please come and see me if you are unsure what I mean by this – when they do this for themselves it will just be a load of pictures in their books which won’t mean anything to you but it is personal to them.
  • The idea behind this lesson is that these kids don’t read and struggle with remembering things. Doing it this way they should have a bank of sentences or good vocab they can use for the rest of the week in their stories. (Please tell them that you expect them to steal as much as they can remember from this lesson for their own stories.)

Mini Plenaries: This is when you go back to the start and see if they remember it all so far. Do this regularly so they do remember the text. Don’t worry if they don’t get too far. I do not expect them to complete the text in this lesson. (Later on when working in pairs they could tackle a paragraph each and then the whole class would perform the whole story in the plenary)

Plenary: This is one last performance for reading out the text without the text in front of them and only using the pictures and actions for a guide.

Can you guess what this story is about?

It doesn't matter if you don't!

This work isn't for you so it doesn't matter if you understand it or not. All that matters is that the child understands the work. It is them who draw the pictures, and they will have reasons why they do these pictures, so they are more likely to remember them.

If they remember them, then it is job well done because they then have something to steal in the story they are going to write for you soon.

A great man who every teacher should get to know his work

This is the second day of doing talk for writing because the text was a story and so was rather big - a lesson plan

Starter: Without any help from the teacher students should get up and perform the text from yesterday as far as they can remember – I bet they surprise you in how much they can remember!

NOTE: I have included this over two days because the text is over two pages and they will not be able to remember a lot from just one lesson on it.

Intro: Remind students what they did yesterday and why this will benefit their work. Tell them that you are going to do it again today because of how big the text is so we couldn’t remember it all after one lesson.

Development 1: You have a few choices for this lesson:

  • Either carry on in exactly the same way as yesterday as a class (This could be because they found it hard and/or lack imagination)
  • Or you could carry on like yesterday with a group who found it really difficult but get the ones who really did well to try it with a partner/group and writing/drawing it in their books.
  • Or you can split the class off into groups/partners who will do carry on in exactly the same way. Rewards should be given for the group who remembers the most if this is the option you pick.

Remind students that they can write words in that they find really hard to think of a picture (but make sure they do not use loads)

Also remind them that they need to include punctuation in their work. They should also start a new paragraph with their pictures when it is a new paragraph in the text.

Students need to draw pictures in their books and these pictures do not need to be very big for them to remember it – tell them not to waste paper.

Mini Plenaries: This should only be used if you are working with the class/group and this is just a reminder that they need to keep going back and practicing what they have learnt because they won’t remember if they don’t practice.

If the class are working in pairs/groups then this is something you will have to keep reminding them to do as you go around to each group to make sure they do remember what they have done so far.

Plenary: Get individual groups to perform what they have learnt today. Vivos for the group who have remembered the most and/or who remembers it most accurately.

Another video which shows you more of how it is put into practice:


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