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Say what you see: Write what you say!

Case Study
  • Authored by: Michelle Kelly
  • Status: Approved


What were your reasons for doing this type of development work?

  • To address Local Authority priorities - L3 writing at KS1, moving L3 to L4 writing (Y5 & 6).
  • To support Primary Framework continuing professional development (CPD).
  • Consultant CPD.
  • To raise the profile of the Leading Literacy Teachers and improve local capacity.

Who might find this case study useful?

  • National Strategies consultant
  • Senior leadership team (SLT)
  • Teacher

Key points

Point 1

How to enhance composition and effect in writing through inspiring and motivating every child to write

Point 2

Teacher modelling and structured talk equals improved writing


What specific curriculum area, subject or aspect did you intend to have impact on?

  • English - writing

How did you intend to impact on pupil learning?

  • To raise the quality of written outcomes.
  • To engage and enthral the reader through the writer drawing on the visual stimuli.
  • To enjoy writing, viewing it as an opportunity to 'record' talk rather than seeing it as a chore.

What were your success criteria?

  • Increased use of modelled/structured talk used to support writing process.
  • Improvement in structure and composition of written outcomes.
  • Impact upon overall standards i.e. rise in the percentage of children teacher assessed as L3 at the end of KS1 and closing the gap between reading and writing achievement in KS2.

PLEASE NOTE this page has three tabs - click 'Next tab' below or use tabs above to see Teaching approaches and CPD approaches

What information or data did you use to measure progress towards your success criteria?

  • Logs or interviews
  • Periodic teacher assessment
  • Pupils' work

What did you do? What teaching approaches (pedagogy) did you use to achieve the intended impact?

  • Cross-curricular work
  • Teaching sequences
  • Use of pupil talk for whole-class teaching

Describe the teaching approaches you used

  • Inclusive whole class teaching approaches.
  • Identifying a clear visual stimulus as a focal point for literacy planning and using Talk for Writing (TfW) principles to support the writing journey.
  • Clarity over purpose of talk within sequence of learning - talking the text type. (See Y2 Narrative Unit 3, Different stories by the same author and Y6 Poetry Unit 2 Finding a Voice planning examples attached.)
  • Increased use of planned/structured talk, to give a clear focus to partner talk. (Y2 and Y6 plans both show opportunities for talk throughout whole teaching sequence.)
  • Challenging children not to accept the first thought. “Keep digging, tell me more”, “What do the rest of you think?”, “Can you expand on that?”, “Keep it going”, “Anything else?” were useful teacher phrases employed.
  • Teacher and teaching assistant modelling. (Y2 plan attached phase 2 capturing ideas during story making activities).
  • Working from real experiences, for example, Y2 children explored objects from the sea-side, Y6 children re-enacted a VE Day party.


What did you do? What approaches to CPD and learning for adults were used?

  • Modelling
  • Training

Describe the CPD approaches you used

  • Changed planning approaches to think about visual stimuli.
  • Used TfW practices throughout the writing journey.
  • In-house training for additional adults to develop the school as a collaborative learning community.

What CPD materials, research or expertise have you drawn on?

Relevant National Strategies resources:

Who provided you with support?

  • Local authority staff

How were you supported?

  • literacy Consultants
  • team members at school to support new initiative.
  • LLT partnership
  • LA funding and release time
  • 4-Day TfW CPD package.


What has been the overall impact on pupil learning?

Pupils have learnt to focus their energy on other areas of writing such as sentences structure, punctuation, text structure etc, because they have been freed from the composition and effect elements. They now approach writing with ideas, imagination, creativity and flair.


  • positive/confident approach to writing – thirst for writing
  • quality of talk improved – wider vocabulary
  • listening has improved
  • magpie moments – transferring of skills.

Quotes you think are relevant to overall impact on learning

It's easy to write a story when I’ve acted it out, because it helps me to remember all the bits.

Year 2 pupil

I love writing now, the story map helps me organise my work.

Year 2 pupil

I thought the pictures were great, it felt easy to come up with powerful phrases.

Year 6 pupil

Having our VE Day party helped me to imagine what people really felt, and then I could add the emotions in my work.

Year 6 pupil

Quantitative evidence of impact on pupil learning

  • Periodic teacher assessment
  • Test results

Qualitative evidence of impact on pupil learning

  • Logs or interviews
  • Observation outcomes
  • Pupils' work

Describe the evidence of impact on pupil learning

Pupils are now much more engaged and confident with writing.

See attached examples of children’s work which shows impact, for example:
Y6 Finding a Voice poems focusing on war (PowerPoint) and examples of powerful phrases generated from visual stimuli.

Progress and KS2 test data illustrates impact on the learning of target pupils.


What has been the impact on teaching?

Teaching techniques have changed so that a variety of new approaches are used including:

  • Modelled speaking and writing throughout the sequence of work.
  • Planning for the children to have lots of time to rehearse and internalise language pattern.
  • Never dodge a good word just because it can’t be spelt.
  • Writers are thieves.
  • Talk aloud the whole writing process as you compose ideas in front of the class.
  • Use all your senses to collect ideas.
  • Use visual images to stimulate creativity.
  • Keep a quick pace but stop, pause and reflect on what’s been written.
  • Challenge and extend poor ideas, but value them all.
  • Use a flip chart instead of interactive white board so you don’t have your back to the class and you can keep images on the IWB.
  • Write from real, concrete experiences.
  • Go through a sequence of imitation, innovation then invention.

Quotes you think are relevant to the impact on teaching

I can't believe I’ve never modelled story making in my teaching career before now, it seems so obvious!

Year 2 teacher

I've never known my class to be so enthused and confident with any writing activity – they even bribe me to stay in at break time to carry on.

Year 2 teacher

I was overwhelmed by the quality and intensity of the emotions in their poetry – the boys really responded to a visual stimuli.

Year 6 teacher

Evidence of impact on teaching

  • Evidence from planning

Describe the evidence of impact on teaching

Initial thoughts – challenging children that the first thought is not the best, use of focused as opposed to incidental talk, increased modelling opportunities, time to practise and refine.

Attached planning (on What page) identifies opportunities for planned talk and modelling.

What has been the impact on school organisation and leadership?

The Subject leaders involved:

  • have shared theory and practice with immediate colleagues and mentored them to trial new teaching approaches in their own classrooms
  • have led collaborative planning in own year groups
  • will implement TfW as part of SDP and create whole school CPD to include teachers and TAs in 2008–09.

Quotes you think are relevant to overall impact on school organisation and leadership

We now feel confident what we want the modelled writing to show, so we can prepare for it, and share with the children what is going on in my head – my writing thought process is now spoken out loud.

Year 3 teacher

My staff can see the benefit of the children talking about their writing, and I can see the difference it's made to their writing.


The quality and quantity of the writing outcomes has been dramatically improved, I can't stop them writing!!

Subject leader

Evidence of impact on school organisation and leadership

Dissemination of TfW strategies through whole school CPD package from Sept 2008–09.

Improved planning, improved written outcomes, confident and motivated writers.


What is the crucial thing that made the difference?

Teaching and learning now focuses on real, concrete experiences that children can relate to, and work is supported by visual stimuli which enables pupils to interact with the writing process and produce a higher quality written outcome.

Further examples:

  • raising profile of ‘shared’ work
  • teacher as model
  • no accepting first responses
  • reading as a writer, writing as a reader
  • booktalk

What key resources would people who want to learn from your experience need access to?

  • Exemplified units of planning on the Standards website and Sparkles medium term planning sheet (see attached resources).
  • High quality images related to the theme or genre (photos- personal or from internet).
  • Music that creates mood for capturing ideas.
  • Extracts of film (see BFI website http://www.bfi.org.uk/education/teaching/primary.html ).
  • Espresso ICT package for images, film and news bites (http://www.espresso.co.uk/ ).
  • Good selection of poetry resources both written and told.
  • Jumpstart by Pie Corbett (http://www.routledge.com/9781843121022 ).
  • The Bumper book of Storytelling into writing Key Stage 1 & Key Stage 2 by Pie Corbett.

What CPD session and resources were particularly useful?

  • TfW 4 day course
  • Guided writing literacy leader CPD 1 day course in LA Feb 2008
  • Resources as mentioned above

If another individual or school was attempting to replicate this work, where would they start and what would the essential elements be?

  1. Where would they start?
    At the planning stage - looking for ways to use range of stimuli as starting points.
  2. What would be the essential elements to include?
    Essential elements should be stimuli that the children can relate to and feel inspired and motivated by.

What further developments are you planning to do (or would you like to see others do)?

  • Raising awareness of TfW through Primary Framework training.
  • Focus for project schools (KS1 L3 & Y5/6 securing L4 at end of KS2) in second year.
  • Leading Literacy Teachers CPD, demonstration lessons and Good Practice Workshops.
  • Producing guidance materials to support Subject Leaders to deliver schools-based CPD.


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