The storytelling session which we had definitely made the biggest impact on me. As a Year 1 teacher and Literacy leader in my school, I could really see how storytelling could impact on and transform the writing in my school. Chris Smith who led our training has worked closely with Pie Corbett and I investigated the Storytelling and Talk for Writing approaches. This led me to book a whole school training day in January. This training day has transformed the way in which we teach writing in my school. A parent workshop to involve parents and introduce them to the new approach has taken place successfully.
Soon after the training, as a school we adapted our medium term planning and short term planning to follow the teaching sequence suggested by Chris Smith at Storytelling schools.
At the start of each Literacy lesson we have introduced warm up activities. These are usually linked to the unit being covered but also lend themselves to grammar activities in context. These warm ups are creative and also focus on speaking and listening skills. Warming up to the tune of the text has helped the children to internalise the pattern of the language in the text type.
We have then followed this up by taking an exemplar text, supported visually by a text map and physical movements to help the children recall the story or non-fiction piece.
In this way the children hear the text, say it for themselves and enjoy it before seeing it written down. The children have taken part in many drama and speaking and listening activities when learning the text map in pairs and small groups.
Once they have internalised the language of the text, they have then been in a position to read the text and start to think about the key ingredients that help to make it work. Children have made writing toolkits to identify the patterns of language used in a text type.
Once the children have internalised the text, they have then started innovating on the pattern of the text. As a class, we altered the original text map and orally rehearsed what they want to say, creating their own version.
Once children have made their own text maps, we then moved onto shared writing. This has been very powerful. Each part of the story or text has been modelled by the teacher and crafted as a class. It has provided excellent opportunities to demonstrate how to read own work aloud and edit as you are writing. Successful writing has then been shared as a class under the visualiser.
When children have written their innovated piece of writing, they then invent their own piece of writing. This has proved to be quite a difficult skill in Year 1. However, as the year has progressed and the children have become more confident with the storytelling sequence, this has improved. Children have been able to plan their own stories or texts in a variety of ways. They are given many opportunities for discussions and time to polish their work.
An example of a child’s independent, invented work.
Storytelling has made a huge impact in my class and across my school. Their story language has improved vastly. Nursery teachers have commented on the progress made particularly with EAL children. They are now able to retell a simple story which is phenomenal progress from the beginning of the year. Teachers across the school have all praised the Storytelling approach and commented on the progress the children have made in their classes. When asking children how they feel about writing now, there have been comments around the theme, “it is a lot easier as we know what to write” and “I love putting actions to the stories to help us learn them.” Many children have also been choosing to draw their own text maps and invent their own stories during child initiated play.
“It was fantastic to see how this can be used across the whole school from Reception to Year 6”. (Chair of Governors)
“Many parents commented on how impressive the quality of writing was around the school and the impact it is has made on their children.”
This clearly shows the impact the storytelling approach has had on our writers in Reception, particularly the most able.
In Year 1 this year 68% of children have met the expected level or above and 33% of children have achieved a level above national average. This is a 17% increase in the number of children in the current cohort achieving the expected level or above and a 19% increase in the number of children achieving a level above national average.