As a school we have adopted “The Write Stuff” by Jane Constantine to bring clarity to the mechanics of writing. ‘The Write Stuff’ follows a method called ‘Sentence Stacking’ which refers to the fact that sentences are stacked together and organised to engage children with short, intensive moments of learning that they can then immediately apply to their own writing.
Writing is taught through a number of different strategies. We believe that children need lots of rich speaking and drama activities to give them the imagination and the experiences that will equip them to become good writers.
The Write Stuff is based on two guiding principles; teaching sequences that slide between experience days and sentence stacking lessons. With modelling at the heart of them, the sentence stacking lessons are broken into bite-sized chunks and taught under the structural framework of The Writing Rainbow. Teachers prepare children for writing by modelling the ideas, grammar or techniques of writing.
An individual lesson is based on a sentence model, broken in to three chunks:
● Initiate section – a stimulus to capture the children’s imagination and set up a sentence.
● Model section – the teacher close models a sentence that outlines clear writing features and techniques.
● Enable section – the children write their sentence, following the model.
The Write Stuff also reinforces grammar through the use of:
● The FANTASTICs which are an acronym that summarise the ideas of writing
● The GRAMMARISTIC is a classroom tool that enables the teacher to drive key grammar messages.
● The BOMBASTICs which helps children capture 10 ways of adding drama and poetic devices to writing in a vivid visual.
This approach makes sure that all of our children are exposed to high quality texts that stimulate quality responses to reading, high quality writing and purposeful speaking and listening opportunities. At Suffolks, we try to link our core texts to other curriculum areas. This enables our children to utilise the vocabulary learnt from foundation subjects and apply them in their writing. Diversity within Literacy is our priority as we are continuously striving to expose children to texts with characters from ethnic minority backgrounds in a variety of social positions. We discuss 'unconscious bias' when studying a character or story plot and ensure that children are able to view and appreciate their social situation within society at a given time.
Within EYFS, we provide experiences for children to build hand strength so they can hold implements confidently. As this improves we introduce the Nelson handwriting font, which is used throughout the school. We expect the children to form letters correctly and efficiently. Pen licences are given to children in Year 3 and 4 if they show the appropriate skills at joining correctly and neatly. Writing in pen from Year 5 onwards is our expectation.
At Suffolks we see ourselves as a community of writers. By this we mean that all stakeholders: children, staff, families, the local community and others from national and international platforms, have a vested interest in our children doing the very best they can in writing so they are highly capable writers now and for the future. In our strive to develop a love of writing, we have introduced 'Whizzy Writing'. These 'Whizzy Writing' sessions are 'spontaneous' writing sessions that are based on a picture stimulus. By having a 'no pressure' approach, these sessions are aimed to develop positive attitudes towards writing as well as writing stamina.