At Blessed Sacrament School, we implement Big Writing as a way of developing children’s writing so that they become confident, and skilled independent writers.
What is BIG Writing? It is a philosophy about writing which was originally devised by Ros Wilson. (A former teacher and Ofsted Inspector.) It is based on the premise that to write well children need to be able to talk. They need to ‘have a go’. It is a way to assess children’s writing and provide targets for ‘next steps’. The same assessment criteria is used across the school and the staff hold moderation sessions where they look at samples of work and affirm the assessments made.
Children will be encouraged to…
Talk about what they will write.
Find exciting ‘wow’ words and use these in their writing.
‘Borrow’ exciting words and phrases from other writers.
Have a go at using interesting punctuation.
Re-read their own writing and find way to make it better or ‘up level’.
Understand what they need to do next to improve.
What are the key elements of Big Writing?
Every week the children concentrate on the four elements of Big Writing: V C O P
V – Vocabulary
Selecting exciting, challenging, different words and phrases to be used in their writing.
The sky was dark. The dog ran through the park.
(See Ambitious Vocabulary Pyramid)
C – Connectives
Children are taught to use a range of words and phrases which connect and extend ideas.
I have a cat and…
I don’t have a fish when…
I want a monkey because…
I can’t have a pig therefore…
(See Connectives Pyramid)
O - Openers
Story and sentence openers which are interesting and excite the reader.
He walked in to the room.
There are different ways to open a sentence one is ‘ly’ starters.
Cautiously, he crept into the room not wanting to frighten the sleeping kitten.
Anxiously … Hurriedly … Viciously ...
Another opener could be an ‘ing’ word
Tiptoeing across the room, he tried to reach the sleeping kitten without startling it.
Screeching … Snoring … Smiling ...
Connectives can be used to open sentences too.
Although he wanted to cuddle the sleeping kitten, he had to be careful not to frighten her.
After a while… Finally … Unlike …
Describing ~ A lean, grey cat arched its back ..
Questions ~ Have you ever wished that life was different?
Alliterations ~ The sneaky slimy snake … ‘ed’ words ~ Exhausted, Chris went to bed.
Speech ~ “Stop!” He shouted at the fighting boys.
(See Openers Pyramid)
P – Punctuation
We encourage children to regularly check their writing for correct punctuation use, to try to use a range of different punctuation, and to use different kinds of punctuation which add to the story and help the story evolve. For example dash (-), ellipses (...)
(See Punctuation Pyramid)
The Big Write
Big writing happens once a week with children being encouraged to write at length using all the skills they have learnt. In this way they will be building their writing stamina and experimenting with a variety of genre from reports, persuasive text and instructions, to character descriptions, creative writing, poetry and story writing.
How does it work?
The sessions are split in to 2 parts.
PART 1 – The children play games, talk for writing and verbalise a plan for
what they will write. They discuss success criteria (steps/criteria needed to make a good piece of work). This session is fast paced, active and fun!
The children have a ten minute break where they can stretch their legs, cool off and prepare themselves for session 2.
PART 2 - The children sit in a calm atmosphere and write. The classroom has soft background music, low level lighting and a lit candle. The children have ‘brain breaks’ where they can look at the candle or have a stretch and make sure they have included punctuation etc. The teacher gives reminders at various intervals.
How long do we write for each week?
Foundation Stage children have talk time where sentences are scribed and punctuation, clever words etc are added. Much of this is ‘incidental’ and will happen through the day rather than at a dedicated time.
Year 1 have a ‘Big Talk’ session, where ideas are generated and built with the teacher’s support. By the end of year one the children will talk and then write for 30 minutes.
Year 2 talk and plan for 30 minutes and write for30 minutes. This will build towards 45 minutes by the end of year two.
KS2 talk and plan for 45 minutes (35 minutes VCOP, 10 minutes planning). Throughout KS2, children will continue to write independently for 45 minutes.
How does it help?
Teachers are able to assess using the same criteria.
From the assessments, teachers can extract targets and next steps for the children to work towards.
Assessment will help the teacher to plan for future lessons.
Children can improve their stamina for writing.
Children are aware of their successes and where they can improve.
Children’s self-esteem and ‘have a go’ attitude is nurtured.
How can you as parents help?
Encourage your children to READ.
Encourage your children to TALK.
Encourage your children to spot WOW words and perhaps write them down in a book at home or on a piece of paper.
Encourage your children to borrow words or phrases which they like from books, magazines, television programmes.
Encourage your children to WRITE.
Children will be given Talk Homework the night before Big Writing. Please click on the link below to best support your child with this.
Pyramid - to help children with use of ambitious vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation