All writing at St Joseph’s is for a purpose and is at the core of each of our cross-curricular topics. We find this not only motivates pupils, but also gives them a recognisable audience which leads to higher standards of work. Our writing model is taught through a specific writing journey, beginning with sharing a high-quality model text with the children. This text could be an extract from a book or one written by the teacher. We look at what makes the text effective, pull out key features and examine the language. This is then followed by giving the children an opportunity to plan their writing. To begin with, children are provided with planning templates to choose from. Explicit teaching of skills is then incorporated into the next few lessons in which the children will produce the specific genre. A slow writing technique is employed to help give children a structure but also to produce high quality work on a daily basis. Within this sequence, the teacher models writing similar texts. By the end of the teaching sequence the children will have written their version of the text which shows evidence that they have applied all of their newly acquired skills. Editing and redrafting time is later given so that their piece of writing is ready to be shared with the audience
Writing in the Early Years
It all begins by making our mark! We encourage the children to make marks in all kinds of different environments: mud, sand, paint and on chalk boards. We then focus on applying our phonics knowledge, thinking about the correct way to form letters. When we are ready to write, we start by hearing and writing the initial sound in words, then move on to writing CVC words and ending the year with the target of writing simple sentences. When writing sentences, it is important that we remember to start with a capital letter, separate our words with finger spaces, put our letters on the line and remember a full stop at the end. When supporting the children to write, we encourage them to write all of the sounds that they can hear and use a sound mat if they can’t remember what the sound looks like when it is written. We also teach ‘tricky words’ which are words that cannot be sounded out.
What Writing Looks Like in the Early Years
When writing, there are different levels that children achieve:
|Making marks, this is where your child will do lines and circles to describe what they have drawn and will tell you what they have written. Please write what they have said "That says I want to ride my bike."|
|Identifying the initial sound in the words, this is where your child will hear a "b" in bike and write that sound.|
|Identifying more sounds in words e.g. "b-i-k" in bike and writing these sounds.|
|Beginning to write sentences using the sounds they hear in words. E.g. "I wont to rid my bik." This sentence is written as if a child has heard and identified the dominant sounds.|
At this stage, please do not worry about spelling. We want your children to write the sounds they can hear.
The ability to write clearly and with accurate spelling is a particularly important skill that children need to acquire and, as such, it is important to help and encourage children to develop as confident, competent spellers. At St Joseph’s it is our aim to promote the development of confident writers who can use their spelling skills competently in all areas of the curriculum.
- Children in Year 1 and beyond will be given spellings to learn and practice at home.
- A weekly spelling test will be carried out by the class teacher.
- Spelling lessons and activities are incorporated into the weekly timetable.
- Handwriting sessions should always reinforce spelling and phonic teaching.
- Mnemonics to be taught for trickier spellings.
The Learning Environment
- Dependent on the key stage, dictionaries, phonics mats and word mats will always be made available.
- English working walls will be purposeful for the children to utilise in their lessons.
- Alan Peat sentence types and Kung Fu punctuation posters are available for the children on the English working wall.
- Reading books are accessible for all children.
At St Joseph’s we recognise that handwriting is an important skill and children’s ability to write fluently for the rest of their lives depends on a good foundation of taught handwriting in the early years of their education. We believe that handwriting is a developmental process with its own distinctive stages of progression from readiness for handwriting, through to letter joins, practicing speed and fluency and higher presentation skills. A flexible, fluent and legible handwriting style empowers children to write with confidence and creativity. This is an entitlement that needs skilful teaching if each individual is to reach their full potential at our school. However, it is essential that handwriting is an intrinsic part of every phonics/spelling/writing/maths/curriculum subject lesson.