We believe that all children should be able to communicate effectively and accurately, both when writing and when speaking. At St John’s, we teach the craft of writing through quality texts: class ‘core books’ (often CLPE Power of Reading books) and through the 'Talk for Writing' (Pie Corbett) approach.
Core Books: children in all year groups write from a given stimulus and for a range of purposes; these writing opportunities allow children to enter into the world of a character or respond to a moral or ethical problem that the book has introduced. Please see the class pages for more information about the core books used in each year group.
'Talk for Writing': at St John’s, we believe that children need to learn the language of stories. Talk for Writing provides our children with the opportunity to learn a story by heart, internalising the language patterns, before ‘imitating’ it and then ‘innovating’ in order to write their own story within the same style. 'Talk for Writing' enables children to learn the craft of writing – children explore characters, settings and vocabulary before working towards writing their own version.
Vocabulary: ‘Word Power’
Language is power. We believe that developing children’s vocabulary is hugely important and therefore, we teach vocabulary instruction through our ‘Word Power’ project, (based on the book, ‘Bringing Words to Life’). Each class learns 8-10 words a week, which are taken from a class text that they are reading. They learn these in each class in order to build their vocabulary for speaking and writing.
Spelling is taught in ‘Spelling Gym’ lessons. Within these lessons, the children learn spelling patterns, rules, etymology, word families and memory tricks in order to learn to spell different words. The focus is on learning to spell rather than on simply 'testing' spelling. The children then receive weekly spellings to learn, which are based on the words learnt in class that week.
Punctuation and Grammar
At St John’s, we believe that punctuation and grammar should be learnt within the English lessons as it provides the structure for reading, writing and speaking. These elements are vital for literacy in life and they are taught, as much as possible, in context so that the children can see the relevance and the desired effect they have on the reader.
We teach St John’s cursive handwriting throughout the school. In Reception class, the children learn the cursive ‘flicks’ (pre-cursive), learning to join in KS1, and by Year 5, the children are working towards getting their ‘pen licence’, which is a highly sought-after achievement!