Talk for Writing

Talk for Writing has been developed by Pie Corbett and is becoming increasingly popular within primary classrooms around the country.

‘Talk for Writing is powerful because it enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally before reading and analysing it and then writing their own version.’

 It is based around 3 stages, imitation, innovation and imitation.

The imitation stage is the first stage – an exemplar text is used and children internalise the text with the help of a text map and physical movements. The children therefore hear the text, say it for themselves and enjoy it before seeing it in written form. Once the chidren have internalised the text the learning moves onto thinking about the ‘key ingredients’ which make it work.

The next stage is the innovation stage. This is where the children innovate the original story/ text to make it more their own. Shared writing is a very significant part of this stage and it is vital for the class teacher to model the process of planning the text (through ‘boxing it up’) and then turning the plan into writing. Younger children as well as less confident writers are supported through the main class idea, which they can magpie, yet more confident writers can move away from ‘hugging the text’.

The final stage – the invention/independent application stage. This stage is designed for the children to focus on their next steps. More examples of text are shown to the children and more shared write opportunities are given. At this stage writers are encouraged to move away from the original/ modelled texts to make it more of their own work. By this stage the original structure has been internalised, as well as the ‘toolkit’ for what makes a successful piece.

Effects in schools:

“Many schools have found that daily storytelling can have a dramatic influence on progress in composition. For instance, the initial teacher research into this approach focused on 4-and 5-year-olds in Reception classes. At the start of the year, only 2% of the sample was able to retell a whole story. By the end of the year, 76% retold a whole tale in fluent standard English.”


Talk for writing in year 1:

Next half term we are starting with a ‘hook’ for our text, ‘We’re going on a lion hunt’. Laura Collin will be sporting a lion costume prowling around the school, with 90 5 and 6 year olds on her tail.

During the imitation stage the children will orally rehearse and internalise a shorter ‘model’ version of the ‘We’re going on a lion hunt’ text. During this stage the children will explore the text further by using actions, pictures and drama activities.

Next we will move onto the innovation stage where the children will innovate the story map with their own pictures. We will be changing the setting and the character of the lion to one of their choosing.

Hopefully, with the structure of the original text internalised and the toolkit needed for story writing, the children will be able to be successful in their writing. We will not be completing the ‘invent’ part at this early stage as the children are young and still new to the process.

Please see below an example story map (1st page) from our non-fiction recount of our school trip to Haven Green:

About Talk for Writing