This session looks at two clear ways in which texts can support writing: text-level models, and language-level models. Many schools use the model for writing outlined by the National Strategies, but this has some disadvantages because it can take a long time to execute - meaning a class can spend 3-4 weeks on one piece of writing. A better way to organise things, it’s suggested, is to develop lots of pieces of writing from a single example text, before moving on to study a new genre.
Using texts as models gives younger pupils a scaffold for their first attempts at writing and the same process can apply to older children, just with more complex devices. James also talks about how certain books can become models for particular kinds of writing (e.g Meerkat Mail for letter writing).
When it comes to language-level models - getting children to adopt the language and techniques of great authors - James has two suggestions that, used sparingly, can lead to better results. The first is overwriting - where a specific line is taken from a text and children are asked to substitute parts of the sentence to create a new and powerful piece of prose. The next is restricted writing, where the challenge is to write creatively while following some specific rules, e.g. can you use an adverbial of time to start your description and show cause and effect?
Whatever scaffolds are adopted, the important point is that a variety of techniques are used, and that there is always a plan to release children into independent writing.
Presentation Slides - Download
While working as a senior leader in an outstanding inner city primary school, James was instrumental in developing effective reading provision, and was also consulted on the 2014 National Curriculum. A former local authority lead teacher, he is now an English advisor supporting schools and LAs to improve the teaching of reading, writing and drama - and an author for Oxford Owl.
About the Course
In this set of films, education adviser James Clements explores how teachers can develop a text-based approach to the English curriculum. The films take a detailed look at selecting texts, structuring units of work and practical classroom ideas for using rich texts in the classroom.