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Greenways Primary School



At Greenways, we use Talk for Writing (TfW) to support the children in their writing skills from Early Years to Year 6. TfW gives children the opportunity to imitate key vocabulary and sentence structures orally before they read and analyse it, then write their own versions independently. TfW was originally created by Pie Corbett, who gives a brief explanation below of the basic principles. 

TfW is based on three key stages:

  1. Imitation
  2. Innovation
  3. Invention (Independent Application)


Once the teacher has established a creative context and an engaging start (the hook), a typical TfW unit would begin with some engaging activities to help children internalise the pattern of the language required. This is often followed by talking through an exemplar text, supported visually by a text map and physical movements to help the children recall the story or non-fiction writing. In this way, the children hear the text, say it for themselves and enjoy it before seeing it written down. Once they have internalised the language of the text, they are in a position to read the text and start to think about the ingredients that help make it work. Understanding the structure of the text is carried out through ‘boxing up’. The class start to create a toolkit for this type of text so they can talk about the ingredients themselves- a key stage in internalising the toolkit in their heads. 


Once the children have internalised the text, they are then ready to start innovating on the pattern of the text. This could begin with more advanced activities to rehearse the key words and phrases of the text so the children can ‘magpie’ ideas. Younger children and less confident writers may create their own text maps and orally rehearse what they want to say. The key activity at this stage is shared writing, helping the children to write their own by ‘doing one together’ first. This could begin with using a boxed up planning grid to show how to plan the text and turn the plan into writing. This allows the children to see how you can innovate on the exemplar text and select words and phrases that really work. This process enables the children to write their own versions through developing their inner judge when they start to decide why one word or phrase is best. These are then displayed in the classroom so the children have models and words and phrases to support them when they come to write. Throughout the shared writing, the children should be strengthening the toolkit so they start to understand the type of ingredients that may help. 

Invention (Independent Application)

This stage will continue to focus on the next steps needed to support progress so the children can become independent speakers and writers of their text type. More examples of the text may then be compared, followed by more shared writing. The children then have a go themselves on a related topic of their own choosing.