At Polehampton, we use ‘The Write Stuff’ to teach the skills of writing from Year 1 right the way through to Year 6.
The Write Stuff is based on demonstration writing and utilises live ‘in the moment’ modelling of writing. It is a strong, dynamic, whole-class approach to teaching.
The approach is underpinned by ‘The Writing Rainbow’ and the lenses that it is made from, a resource that both gives the children small, focused success criteria for each sentence they write but also supports children by giving them a starting point. Gone are the days when a child will say “I don’t know what to write.” This has never actually been the case; the truth is they don’t know how to start or how to structure their sentence. The Writing Rainbow alleviates this pressure for the children at the point of writing.
A writing lesson (or sentence stacking lesson) is now split into smaller chunks of learning, making each and every second of a lesson productive and meaningful for the children. A lesson is split into three learning chunks. Within each learning chunk the class go through an ‘Initiate Stage’ where the children, in learning partners and as a whole class, become ‘Word Collectors’ gathering a rich bank of vocabulary. Sometimes in Year 1, Grandma Fantastic may visit with aspirational vocabulary in her basket for the children to choose from. This vocabulary is recorded on ‘The Thinking Side’ of the children’s books or in class collections. Once the vocabulary has been collected, the children put down their pens and pencils and watch and listen to the teacher’s model, the ‘Model Stage’ of the lesson. Here the teacher shows the children what goes on inside a writer’s brain and discusses and shares how a sentence is constructed, using the vocabulary that has just been collected. At this point, the teacher will use one of the lenses from The Writing Rainbow to structure the sentence. Once the modelled sentence has been completed, the children are expected to write their own sentence(s) in the style of the model. This is known as the ‘Enable Stage’ and the children complete this stage on ‘The Writing Side’ of their books. This process happens for each learning chunk over the course of the lesson.
Over the course of writing lessons, the children will build upon their previous work and once a unit has been completed, they will have an entire piece of writing to show for it.
In celebration of the children’s incredible writing each day, the sentences that have been written will be added to ‘The Sentence Stacking Wall’ for the entire class to see.
At the end of the Sentence Stacking lessons, the children will then be expected to complete an independent write. This will still be written using the same structure that the children have been learning about within the sentence stacking lessons but will involve a different context e.g. if the independent write is a narrative then it may be written from a different character’s perspective but of the same story, or the children may be asked to write a similar story with different characters and in a different setting, etc.
Throughout these lessons, and in explicit phonics/spellings sessions, we teach phonics to help children encode (spell). Children are also taught about the common rules (and exceptions) for spelling, and word families, in discrete spelling sessions.
We use Letter-Join, a handwriting scheme, to support children's handwriting.