“Once you learn to read you will be forever free”
At St Mark’s Primary School we use an approach called Talk4Writing. This approach is separated into 3 main stages: Imitation, Innovation and Invention.
During the imitation phase of learning, the children learn a text by heart. In order to help the children to internalise the text we teach them how to sign it, using Makaton sign language, then the children draw pictures to help them to retell it without the word, finally we practise using various games to ensure the children have learnt the text by heart.
In addition to learning the text, we also play games and have short writing and spelling activities around the text in order to practise the main ideas/ sentence structures that they will need in order to write their own version of the text.
Once the text has been completely internalised and the children can say the text off by heart, the children unpick the structure of the text and use this to plan their own text. We try to provide an exciting stimulus for the children to write about. During this phase we write a new text together, which is called shared writing, the children then write their own. Each day, after writing, the children will proof read their work and try to edit and improve it.
Finally we move into the invention stage. Again we try to provide an exciting stimulus for writing and the children have a go at writing their own version of the text type they have learnt about. The children write an independent piece of writing at the end of each topic to see how much they have learnt.
Within Talk4writing the children are taught to use different sentence types, these get progressively harder as the children move up the school. Each teacher is aware of the previous sentence types and build on these so that the learning of these sentence types becomes cumulative.
Alongside Talk4writing we also teach selling and handwriting. Children are taught the spellings for their year group; this involves learning some common exception words and the rules for their year group. We try and provide a range of activities to make spelling fun and interactive.
Handwriting is explicitly taught in EYFS and KS1. Then in KS2 (the juniors) children will practise the skills taught and there will be catch up groups for children who are still struggling with cursive writing. These groups will continue until the children are able to form the letters correctly.
At St Mark’s we strive to foster a love of reading. We want our children to naturally pick up books for enjoyment and to learn.
Not only do we teach children to read at St Mark’s we develop their passion for becoming lifelong readers whether it be novels, newspapers, magazines, comics or short stories.
In EYFS children are exposed to high quality texts on a daily basis. Children are taught the mechanics of reading through Phonics using the Jolly Phonics Scheme. This allows children to recognise the sounds in words (using fun actions) in order to blend them back together to read them.
In EYFS (Reception) and Key Stage 1 children are taught to read through ‘guided reading.’ Children are chosen a text that they are 80% comfortable with and with 20% of challenge. Over the course of a week the children pre-read the text first, then read it with an adult (where decoding skills and comprehension skills are taught), then follow up task is then set to allow the children to apply the skills they have been taught. The children are also exposed to further decoding and comprehension activities.
In Key Stage 2 children are taught reading skills through a mixture of whole class reading and guided reading. This is dependent on the reading levels within the classes and can change across a school year. Whole class reading focuses heavily on one high quality text at a time. Children’s vocabulary is expanded and deepened through the texts they read. This is done through explicit teaching of vocabulary before reading the text and re-reading sections looking closely at the elements which require further understanding. Key questions are then used to check the children’s understanding.
At St Mark’s we expose our children to range of text types, authors and publishers rather than limiting children to one particular style.