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TRAWL (Teaching Reading and Writing Links): Improving children's writing in an imaginative way

Case Study
  • Authored by: Jo Farmer
  • Status: Approved

Introduction

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

TRAWL (Teaching Reading And Writing Links) was initially created by Professor Roy Corden of Nottingham Trent University as a way to engage children in their writing through explicitly linking it to the reading process and pushing for a physical outcome that the children could keep, and be proud of.

As more and more schools within the Nottinghamshire area began to implement the TRAWL model, my school also saw its benefits from the other side of the fence: at the time, my headteacher’s daughter attended a Junior School where TRAWL was being used to improve children’s writing and give them a passion for the written form. As a parent, he saw this impact on his daughter’s writing and attitude and was extremely impressed by the story book she created within school TRAWL sessions. Our school, therefore, began to research the TRAWL process and work closely with other schools to begin to implement it across our own practice in order to create the same enthusiasm for writing within children; elevated reading and writing levels for the children and the school, and advanced Literacy skills within all teachers.

When I joined the school five years ago, having attended Nottingham Trent under the post graduate tutorage of Professor Roy Corden, I was extremely excited to take on board the TRAWL model and begin to develop it further; supporting the school’s Literacy Coordinator who was also very passionate about the process. Now, with Professor Roy Corden having retired from the leadership of TRAWL, a group of ten schools within Nottinghamshire, including my own, continue to meet and share best TRAWL practice in order to continue the valuable work that has been started.

As a group of schools, we recently held a TRAWL INSET to continue to inspire the teaching of TRAWL within our area, and to discuss the future of TRAWL: taking on board new ideas, themes and multimodal approaches to such a valuable Literacy initiative.

This case study gives my own, and my school’s perspective of TRAWL and how it has been implemented and has affected our results, teaching and, most importantly, learning within the school.

Who might find this case study useful?

  • Assistant headteacher
  • Carer
  • Deputy headteacher
  • Early years foundation stage practitioner
  • Governor
  • Head of school improvement
  • Head of year
  • Headteacher
  • Leading teacher
  • Middle leader
  • National Strategies consultant
  • Parent
  • Phase leader
  • Pupil
  • School leader
  • Senior leader
  • Senior leadership team (SLT)
  • SIP (School Improvement Partner)
  • Subject leader
  • Teacher
  • Teaching assistant
  • Year group leader

Key points

Point 1

Identifying and using writers' tools and techniques to improve writing

Point 2

Children feel empowered through understanding the tools of a writer, and using them to create their own book

What

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

  • Assessment and target setting
  • Creativity
  • Self evaluation and review
  • Transfer and transition
  • English - reading
  • English - speaking and listening
  • English - writing
  • Drama

How did you intend to impact on pupil learning?

We hoped to:

  • Raise levels within reading and writing by explicitly linking the two.
  • Improve the teaching of sentence level and text level Literacy across the school – giving teachers a wider understanding of the tools, techniques and skills involved in writing so that they could be explicitly taught to the children.
  • Gather and consolidate a range of rich and powerful texts to use with the children.
  • Give the children more ownership of their writing and the drive and skills to improve it.
  • Capture and further children’s enjoyment of exciting, meaningful and resonant texts.

What were your success criteria?

  • Above School average progress made shown through reading levels and, in particular, writing levels.
  • Children showing true engagement and enjoyment within writing.
  • Writers’ tools being evident within children’s independent writing – showing an awareness of reader and understanding of the impact on the reader.

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?

  • Data comparison of cohorts
  • Logs or interviews
  • Observation outcomes
  • Periodic teacher assessment
  • Pupil consultation data
  • Pupils' work
  • Test results

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

  • Assessment for Learning (AfL)
  • Collaborative group work
  • Independent learning
  • Peer coaching
  • Self assessment and peer assessment
  • Use of pupil talk for whole-class teaching

Describe the teaching approaches you used

Our school worked closely with another school who were already involved in TRAWL in order to learn the process and begin it within our own school. Within our school, TRAWL began in Years 3, 4 and 5, focusing on all of the children within these year groups. Initially it was felt that, with the pressures of Year 6, the school would not carry out TRAWL in this year group. However, this year, myself and my colleague in Year 6 have been working on a multimodal TRAWL outcome (Photostory including recorded voice, music and pictures based on the true story of ‘The Man Who Walked Between the Towers’), which I will discuss in greater detail later in the case study.

The plan was to inspire ALL children, regardless of ability, gender or age range, to write, to enjoy writing and to succeed in their writing due to a structured process. The structure of TRAWL starts with the choosing of rich and powerful texts on which the children will base their own story. This is a key decision within the process as, without texts including the range of writers’ tools and techniques on which TRAWL is based, the children are not able to produce high quality texts of their own. Once these texts had been chosen for each year group, the process was as follows:

Radcliffe on Trent Junior School – TRAWL Process.
* All children to write a short piece of narrative before the TRAWL process begins (to measure progress at the end of TRAWL).

   1. Reading the Class Text
      Read class text –
      Y3: The Boy Who Cried Wolf (Funky Fables)
      Y4: The Iron Man (Ted Hughes)
      Y5: Theseus (Geraldine McCaughrean)
      Children make brief notes on each chapter/section – information about characters, interesting events, settings, words/phrases they like, etc.
   2. Unpicking and Structuring the Class Text
      Mindmap the story, linking themes, events, characters and settings – just get the children to remember anything they can from the story and collect as a mindmap.
   3. As a class, break the story into sections, thinking of key events. Create a timeline to show the simple structure of the story (try not to create too many sections as these will be the sections the children will write their own stories in – about 10 sections maximum).
   4. Introducing Response Partners.
      Response partner activities – get children into response partners (try to match similar ability and think carefully about who will work well together as these become important relationships throughout the TRAWL process).
      Play response partner games and model the process of using, and relying on, each other.
   5. Discussing and Using Writer’s Tools and Techniques
      Discuss, re-cap and teach different writer’s tools through the following activities:
         1. Settings activities (any setting, not specifically linked to class text):
         2. Look at a setting description from class text as a class – identifying and annotating tools and techniques used.
         3. Show a picture of a setting (e.g. mountains overlooking a lake). Zoom in on a particular section (e.g. the lake) and ask children to write a simile to describe that object. Do the same with different parts of the picture/setting, choosing different tools to focus on (see Writer’s toolkit – settings). Outcome – each tool used to describe the full setting.
         4. Give each child a picture of a setting and ask them to write a description of it – give them a checklist of tools to use and ask them, and then their response partner, to tick off each tool used.

Character activities
(any character, not specifically linked to class text):
As settings activities, but using character descriptions and pictures.

6. Planning the Story
Children create their story plan – each child maps their own story against the map of the class text (using the same sections/chapters and themes but changing character’s, settings and the specific details of events).
7. The Drafting Process.
For each section:
a) Introduce section and read a short extract from class text.
b) Children read through their brief plan for that section.
c) Modelling and shared writing of section (discussing tools, techniques, writer’s thoughts, etc.)
d) Children write 1st draft of that section, writing on ever other line (children mustn’t overlap into the next section).
e) Response partner reading, discussion, comments and feedback.
f) Modelling and shared writing of the re-drafting process (green edit pen).
g) Children edit the section.
h) Response partner reading, discussion, comments and feedback.
i) Children write final draft of section.

8. Publishing the Book.
Children write up their stories in neat and draw illustrations. Children write a blurb, notes about the author and draw a front cover to their book. * Staff laminate and bind books.
9. Celebrating and Sharing.
Hold a launch day to allow the children to share their books with their parents/carers and with their peers.
NB:

  • It is extremely useful to write your own teacher version of the story either as the children write theirs, or before the process begins. This is an effective way to model how to base a story around the chosen text
  • Using the ‘two hats’ technique is also a way to show the how you would approach the writing within a lesson – as you create your story on the board, your writer hat shows the actual writing that is taking place and your reader hat (VERY important) shows you reading what you are writing and all of your internal thoughts and dialogue (speak this out loud so that the children can hear, e.g. “Um... He walked into the beast’s cave, can I make that better with an adverb and adjectives? He walked silently into the menacing beast’s sinister cave.” The children need to be aware that the continual reading of their own writing and this internal dialogue is what makes their writing more full of tools and techniques and, therefore, have a greater response from the reader.

Depending on the year group, text and dynamics of the children, our school has adapted this process and has trialled the organisation of it in a few different ways: a block of daily literacy lessons lasting between 4 and 9 weeks; focus lessons once a week throughout the year, and, this year with the Year 6 children’s multimodal text, we have carried it out over two weeks using all of the lessons outside of our literacy and numeracy key skills sessions and our PE sessions.

We have also taught TRAWL sessions both with our whole mixed ability class, and with ability set groups where the SEN children worked with a higher level teaching assistant on a fully differentiated version of the text that I created for this purpose (see attached document). Although there has been much flexibility in the structure of the process, determined by our school/year group/class setting at the time, the key elements of TRAWL always underpinned our practice:

  • rich, powerful, quality texts as a starting point;
  • the writers’ toolkit being used and embedded within all writing across the curriculum;
  • an end goal/outcome always in mind – a physical resource created by the children to keep and to share with others.

From the outset, the children have responded well to TRAWL – many children enjoy the emphasis that is put on them as writers, or authors, of a book and they seem to take real pride in the work they produce. Many also respond well to having something solid and engaging to model their own writing on – there is nothing worse than the fear of the blank page, and so carefully unpicking the class text in order to use or, as the children say, ‘Burglar Bill’ the themes, sentence structure, words, phrases and tools that they like, makes the page in front of them seem less daunting.

Feedback from the younger year groups has been that the younger children can find the response partner work a bit tricky and can also get rather swamped if the story writing process is too long. At this stage, however, it really is about making a decision based on your own class and the children in it. The response partner ‘training’ is what is important early on to allow the children to really utilise each other as a resource as they move up the school. In the same respects, the process of modelling a story on an existing text is the key element, therefore the length of the text is not particularly important, and so a very short text which still uses some rich and varied language and tools is ideal for the younger year groups.

Within our school we found that the process of TRAWL was merely the starting point for the learning and the progress that the children made. The outcome of the beautifully written and produced children’s books were an amazing end product and were something to be very proud of. However, the very structured and ‘Burglar Bill’ model of TRAWL meant that the writing could certainly not be seen as ‘independent’; it was more a way of practising and consolidating learnt tools and techniques. It was within later independent written work carried out by the children where teachers across our school were forever heard saying, “you can see the effect of TRAWL in that piece of writing!” and “look at all of the ‘tools’ he/she has used!”.

Over the last six years of TRAWL at our school, as our curriculum has become more ‘context’ led and centred around current affairs, our texts and outcome have also evolved. For example, as mentioned earlier, the Year 6 children have created Photo stories based around Mordicai Gerstein’s ‘The Man Who Walked Between the Towers’, which is based on a true story about Phillipe Petit, a man who, in 1974, stretched a tightrope between the twin towers in New York and walked between them illegally for an hour without a harness. Our context at the time was ‘Adrenaline’, and so the theme of the text fit in very well with this. The children then created their own stories of ‘The man/woman who…’, finding and researching real people who had done something amazing that would make their adrenaline rise.

After many lessons focused on the structure of the text, the characterisation, the language used, the structure of the sentences and the poetic tools used by the author, the children modelled their own story on this text. Using the Photo Story program (downloadable from the internet) the children found photographs linked to their story and added music (found on audio.lgfl.org.uk) that created an ambience and rose tension where appropriate. They then recorded their voice reading the story onto the Photo story itself.

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What teaching resources did you use?

  • Grammar for Writing: http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/153924
  • A set of class texts 
  • Interactive whiteboard to support lesson activities – see example flipchart attached
  • Writers’ toolkits – see example attached
  • 'Theseus' Retold by GERALDINE McCAUGHREAN, Oxford University Press

For multimodal texts:    

  • ICT programs such as:
    ‘Comic Life’
    ‘Photo Story’
    ‘Windows Media Player’
    audio.lgfl.org.uk
  • ICT resources such as:
    Digital cameras
    Children’s microphones
    Video camera

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

  • Classroom enquiry
  • Coaching
  • Collaborative enquiry
  • Demonstration
  • Learning conversation
  • Lesson observation
  • Lesson study
  • Mentoring
  • Modelling
  • Partnership teaching
  • Training
  • Work scrutiny

Describe the CPD approaches you used

After my school’s initial trials of TRAWL in 2004/2005, having learnt about it through my headteacher’s daughter’s school, in 2007 we made the decision to further our true understanding of TRAWL by joining the programme offered by Professor Roy Corden and at this point we were linked with Wadsworth Fields School in order to support our practice. Over the course of one year within this link:

  1. First we had an initial meeting with myself and our Literacy Coordinator and the link school’s two lead TRAWL teachers where we discussed our aims for our link and planned in a working time frame: observations, meetings, sharing ideas and attending a TRAWL celebration day.
  2. Quite soon after our initial meeting we then visited our link school to observe two TRAWL sessions taking place. Very importantly, after this we had planned in time to sit with the TRAWL teachers to discuss what we had seen, how it was planned and managed, and what had taken place before, and would take place after, the session we saw. Watching these lessons both consolidated our own understanding of effective 'Quality first' teaching using TRAWL principles and allowed us time to think about our own future plans for TRAWL within our school.
  3. From this we then arranged a meeting where these teachers visited our school so that we could sit down and create a plan for TRAWL within our school. This was done through a sharing of ideas, resources, timescales and good practice in order to create an action plan. It was at this point that we began to decide on placing certain texts within certain year groups; the way we would manage TRAWL teaching (a block of lessons or once a week sessions) and whether we would ability set for the teaching of TRAWL. As I have mentioned earlier, these early decisions have continued to be reviewed and adapted depending on: the cohort of children, the class context/topic, ICT developments and our own findings as to the impact of TRAWL on our children.
  4. Finally, we attended our link school’s TRAWL celebration day to gather ideas of how we could celebrate TRAWL within our own school. They held an ‘Oscar Party’ where the children dressed up, had a red carpet entrance, invited parents and were presented their books and awards for categories such as, ‘Most Imaginative Ideas’ and ‘Best Front Cover’.

The support of our headteacher regarding TRAWL has also been key in working towards a whole school vision and managing the process and performance of it within our school. This has been demonstrated by his eagerness to:

  • offer staff meetings for TRAWL (led by myself and/or our Literacy coordinator) in order to train staff on TRAWL practices;   
  • focus our Performance management 2008/2009 on the development of TRAWL – ‘to undertake training in TRAWL and guided writing with the aim of improving children’s attainment in writing’;  
  • provide time for paired planning to allow teachers to work together and share ideas;
  • arrange lesson observations for those who wished to share good practice through being observed, or those who asked for some support/ideas by observing others;
  • giving two whole school INSETs over to TRAWL within the last 4 years (INSET 1 was led by Professor Roy Corden and focused on the values of TRAWL, the writers’ toolkit and some activity ideas; INSET 2 was led by our group of TRAWL schools and offered ideas into a multimodal approach to writing – which can particularly inspire boys – and myself and my colleagues from the other 10 schools facilitating learning conversations by bringing key TRAWL resources for particular year groups and discussing these and other useful ideas/resources with interested teachers, teaching assistants and student teachers.

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

  • Support from other schools taking part in the TRAWL process – West Bridgford Junior School, Wadsworth Fields School.
  • A background to TRAWL: http://www.nationalliteracytrust.net/Pubs/corden.html
  • Roy Corden texts:
    - CORDEN, R.,  2000. Literacy and learning through talk .   Buckingham : Open University Press.
    - CORDEN, R.,  2002. Developing narrative writing 7-13 .   Blackwell / United kingdom Literacy Association.
    - CORDEN, R., 2002. Developing Narrative Writing 7-13. UKRA (United Kingdom Reading Association) Minibook Series No 14.
  • Grammar for writing: http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/153924

Other relevant NS materials:

Who provided you with support?

  • External agency
  • Leading teacher
  • SEN staff
  • Senior management
  • Subject leader
  • Teacher

How were you supported?

As I have already mentioned, in our third year of TRAWL we decided that, by working with a school that had been trained in sharing TRAWL with other schools, we could take an opportunity to really assess the work we had been doing within our own school and hone our practice. Therefore, we were partnered with Wadsworth Fields School, with whom our school’s Literacy coordinator and I worked closely with. This support and sharing of ideas was a wonderful way to consolidate our TRAWL model and know exactly where we wanted to take TRAWL in the future. For example, we attended their ‘Oscar Party’ where children celebrated and shared their books – an idea we really liked and are planning on trialling within our own school as a culmination of our Year 6 Photo Story TRAWL work.

It was also extremely important to have the support of other staff at my school, including the headteacher (see above for the specifics of this support).

Impact

What has been the overall impact on pupil learning?

  • As TRAWL has become implemented and embedded across the year groups, a noted rise in writing and reading levels has occurred, particularly demonstrated within teacher assessment of creative/fiction/descriptive writing and NC tests levels within writing tasks within the creative writing genre.
  • Children across the school are able to identify a range of writer’s tools and techniques within the books they read at home and within the class, and these tools are then seen appearing in their own independent writing, both in and outside of targeted TRAWL sessions.
  • Children are much more aware of their own learning and the tools, techniques and skills they (and we as teachers) are looking for in their own writing. This has also been created by a focus on response partner work within the TRAWL process – where children are asked to mark/evaluate their peers’ writing: looking for writers’ tools and giving feedback on the effect of their writing on them as a reader.
  • Great pride is taken by the children in the writing of, and production of, their story and their final book. The enjoyment, enthusiasm and writing confidence is clear within the children, particularly when sharing work with their peers and parents/carers.
  • A perhaps unanticipated outcome of the TRAWL process has been the children’s view of texts, stories and reading. For example, even outside of the TRAWL or Literacy focus sessions, children are more frequently aware of the writers’ tools within class story books, poetry, TV and film, etc. They have become much better ‘judges’ of rich and powerful texts and in many cases are able to truly justify their opinion of a text without being prompted.

Quotes you think are relevant to overall impact on learning

Children:

  • “I love having my own book. I am so proud of it!”
  • “If I am describing something, I just think of all the nouns in the picture and then choose which tools I want to use to describe them. It makes it easier.”

Teachers:

  • “Giving children tools and steps to improve their writing really makes a difference.”
  • “Them (the children) watching you, as the teacher, writing your own story in front of their eyes, shows them how it’s done.”
  • “It’s great to have a finished product! The kids, parents and teachers can share in enjoying the books together.”

Headteacher:

  • “We would all agree that children learn better when they enjoy what they are doing. You only need to attend our TRAWL open day to see so many enthusiastic, excited children sharing their published books with their parents to know that TRAWL is having a positive impact on their writing.”

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

See documents below showing:

  • Progress made over one year of good TRAWL teaching (progress made between Y4 and Y5 Optional tests).
  • Data tracking a cohort of children over their 4 year Junior Education. This was the first year group to have done TRAWL each year from joining us in year 3.

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What has been the impact on teaching?

Through staff meetings, INSET training and observations across the school, our teachers are now much more confident within the teaching of sentence level literacy, grammar, shared writing and guided writing. This obviously has an impact of aspects of Literacy outside of TRAWL and has led to more quality extended writing happening in many areas of the curriculum, e.g. history and science.

Each class teacher (currently 8) is now confident in the TRAWL process, and as new staff have joined our team, (two NQTs joined us last year, for example) we have utilised our experienced staff to support these teachers in carrying out the TRAWL model. Lesson observations carried out by myself and our Literacy coordinator have monitored the correct and quality teaching of TRAWL in these circumstances.

Many of our teaching assistants have also become very adept in the TRAWL process, supporting teachers and children within lessons and getting involved in the creation of the end product (the book). One of our HLTAs has also been used as a teacher of TRAWL within a Year 5 SEN/Less able group of ten children over two years. Through attending directed staff meetings, working closely with me at the point of planning the TRAWL unit, and using the planning, resources and flipchart I provided, she has had fantastic success with these children, inspiring a passion for writing, using the writers’ tools and applying this within their independent writing outside of the TRAWL sessions.

Quotes you think are relevant to the impact on teaching

Teachers:

  • “I feel more confident about teaching the tools and techniques of writing due to the TRAWL staff meetings and training I have undertaken in order to teach it effectively.”
  • “I often find myself attempting to use the tools in my own writing. I can’t help but notice writers’ tools and techniques when I am reading too.”

Headteacher:

  • “In terms of improved teaching, the TRAWL toolkit has enabled teachers to be more focused on the next steps in improving writing and, when trained well, the children find the toolkits easy to use.”

Evidence of impact on teaching

  • Evidence from observation and monitoring
  • Evidence from planning

Describe the evidence of impact on teaching

* Observations (carried out by the Literacy Coordinator and myself) have shown that teachers' subject knowledge, particularly within sentence level foci, is more evident and has developed as a result of TRAWL.

* Teachers are also more aware of rich and powerful texts, both classic and contemporary, which they use not only for the TRAWL process, but also as class reading books, for guided reading and for other writing projects. This awareness of texts is evident when discussing books at staff meetings.

What has been the impact on school organisation and leadership?

  • We now have a TRAWL coordinator (providing a professional development opportunity for the school and a member of staff). Our Literacy Coordinator has been heavily involved with TRAWL and has seen TRAWL as another way of enthusing children about writing, and of embedding Literacy skills within our teaching. She has worked hard to promote and organise TRAWL to suit our school and has since worked with other schools to help support them within their writing (often using many of the TRAWL tools, techniques and processes at the heart of the support she offers).  Through working with other schools on the TRAWL initiative, we have also opened doors to collaborative work with schools we may not have normally have had the chance to work with.
  • When new staff come in we recognise that TRAWL teaching and practice needs revisiting and, therefore, we arrange staff meetings, INSETs and observations (both of and for the new teacher).

Evidence of impact on school organisation and leadership

  • As TRAWL coordinator and a lead TRAWL teacher, I am viewed as an asset to the school and am now doing a Leading from the Middle course and am working towards AST status particularly due to my passion for and understanding of Literacy which has been boosted through my TRAWL training and work.
  • TRAWL along with APP has guided our knowledge of levelling within the school – getting to know the writers’ tools and having a strong focus on improving writing has helped us as a staff to embed our knowledge of the levels and skills that each child is covering and achieving.
  • Our school is in the process of creating our own key skills curriculum. Our curriculum coordinator and I (as a Year 6 team) have used the writers’ toolkits and our knowledge of the sentence level skills (consolidated and embedded partly by TRAWL) to create child friendly skills for each level within writing (see attached writing key skills).

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Summary

What is the crucial thing that made the difference?

  • In terms of the staff and the management of TRAWL, the whole school worked collaboratively and enthusiastically to adopt a new approach to help raise standards, passion and self-evaluation within writing.
  • Where the children’s writing has crucially changed/improved: Children now are fully aware of the reader when they are writing. As the process starts with them as the reader of a text with rich and powerful language, style and content, they can truly realise the impact that these forms have on them at this point. Through then unpicking how the writer has created the effects that he/she has (the writer’s tools) the children are enthused to affect the reader of their writing in the same way. No longer are children writing a lazy stream of consciousness (and then… and then… and then…) around a mundane theme; instead they begin to carefully select their language, tools, techniques and creative ideas to fully interest and affect the reader.

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

  • Rich texts appropriate to specific year group/ability.
  • A list of the writer’s tools (which can be made into booklets or physical resources for the children).
  • Resources to make the children’s ‘book’ at the end of the process – laminator, binder, paper cutter.
  • For multimodal approaches to TRAWL – ICT programs such as: ‘Comic Life’, ‘PhotoStory’, ‘Windows Media Player’. ICT resources such as: digital cameras, children’s microphones, video cameras.

What CPD session and resources were particularly useful?

Courses:

  •  ‘Multimodal approaches’ delivered by Cath Wilkes.
  • ‘Using ICT within a multimodal approach to writing’ delivered by Pete Wilkes.

Texts:

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

  • Some schools have found that beginning this process in one year group before rolling it out to the whole school is beneficial in that it allows for a handful of teachers to trial the process and find out what works well for your school, therefore becoming the ‘expert’ teacher/s in this area who can then guide the rest of the school to success. However, I would recommend that for a single form entry school, two year groups begin the process together so that there is not only one teacher working on the project in the initial stages. The process can take a while to organise, plan and manage depending on your school setting and the range of Literacy initiatives you already employ and, therefore, two teachers working together seem to have had more success in the initial stages than a one teacher taking the project on board without colleague support/advice.
  • Again, depending on your school’s current awareness of and use of Literacy initiatives (Talk for Writing; Guided Writing; EcaW, etc.) you may feel that you are ready to implement TRAWL across your whole school from the offset. This can allow you to explore the different approaches that may need to be taken in each year group, (e.g. what texts are appropriate? Which tools will you introduce? How will you structure your sessions – a block of sessions, or one a week? Will you ability group the children for the TRAWL sessions?). Different schools working on the TRAWL project have found that different things work for them and it may take some time of trial and error before you feel you have found the best fit for your school.
  • Beginning the process by having appropriate texts and appealing writers’ toolkits is essential to the ethos and success of the TRAWL process.
  • At the time of creating the children’s books (their end product after having: read an existing rich text; modelled their story on this text; drafted and edited their story using the writer’s tools, and written their story in neat including illustrations, front cover, blurb and possibly some notes about the author), support staff, parents and other teachers are extremely useful when cutting, laminating and binding the books.
  • When each child has completed their book and it has been bound, a way to share these books with other children in the school and parents/carers is a lovely way to promote the learning and hard work that has occurred. Schools undertaking the TRAWL project have gone about this in many different ways. For example:
    - Holding a ‘Book Launch Day’ where parents/carers are invited to join their children in reading their books. This has been achieved by setting up the hall as a library of every child’s book, arranging sofas, chairs and benches for people to relax and share in wonderful stories with adults and other children. A PowerPoint presentation playing alongside this event is a great way to show the parents/carers the process TRAWL has taken, and some photographs of the children working and celebrating in their successes.
    - Having an ‘Oscar Ceremony and Party’ to award each child with a certificate and/or prize for particular successes. This has been achieved by: inviting parents and children to ‘dress up’ smartly and attend the ceremony, modelled on an ‘Oscar’ event; having a local author to award the certificates; allowing children to read sections of their books over a microphone, and, very importantly (at least the children seem to think so) having a red carpet laid out for awaiting authors (as the children now think of themselves).

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

In the past TRAWL has always been seen as a fiction/creative writing process, developing children’s imaginative and descriptive abilities. This is certainly an area where it has been proved to work very well and support children’s learning, enjoyment and understanding of stories. However, the extended scope of TRAWL becomes clear as the writers’ tools; the focus on drama and speaking and listening, and the rich and powerful text at the heart of the process become embedded across the school’s literacy work. This is where TRAWL can also be taken into non-fiction writing: perhaps an area where children can seem to struggle more to engage the reader. The same TRAWL process and ethos can be applied in order to support the production of rich and powerful non-fiction writing. At this point, many schools are beginning to look at the creative writing TRAWL model in order to create a similar set of appropriate writers’ toolkits for non-fiction writing. The key features of each text type (taken, for example, from the Sue Palmer model) are of course very relevant in this instance as are many of the sentence level skills seen within the National Strategy and APP guidelines.

Date edited by author

Sun, 13/02/2011 - 19:20

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