Does anyone else get that sinking feeling when you know you’ve got to sit down to do your planning for the following week with a blank sheet in front of you? These are a few things I have found helpful to get me going when planning a unit of work or lesson…
-Start with a great text. There is so much amazing children’s literature around that can be perfect for inspiring writing, exploring genre, language etc.
-Start with the end!- think about what you want the learning outcomes to be for your children and the final piece of writing you’re aiming for each child to produce and then work back from that.
-Hook them in with a visual image, experience or art that gets them engaged from the outset and gives lots of opportunities for exploring language. The literacy shed is a great website with film clips for a variety of genres as a starting point for writing.
-scaffold the writing process through talk, drama (conscience alley / freeze frames / readers theatre / hot seating etc) leading into writing in role, drawing, mapping and stealing good ideas from example pieces of writing. Shared writing is also a brilliant way of modelling the writing process and ‘writerly thoughts’ around word choice / purpose. Support can also be given through writing frames, planners etc.
-Scaffold for only as long as is needed and then let the children get writing and have an extended time to do this on a regular basis.
-Think about choice and collaboration – children respond really well when they have an element of choice in what / how they write and present their written work. Writing with a clear and motivating purpose (and often audience too) is important.
-Choose how/ when / if to focus on the transcription elements of handwriting and spelling as part of the editing and evaluating process. The ‘publishing’ of the writing shouldn’t be a beautifully presented piece devoid of spelling mistakes every time- it could be the public reading of their writing with a focus on sharing and discussing of written drafts.