Developing Storytelling in Key Stages 1 & 2
Princes Risborough Primary School
"I love writing. I have been writing all through the holidays and I have just got better and better at writing. Doing all the actions help remind us what to say."
"There has been a really noticeable effect on the vocabulary they are using in their speech and writing."
Focus Group and the reason for choice
The school have adopted a story telling method, focusing on speaking and listening before writing and only moving to writing when the children are able to confidently verbalise their ideas. This has been a brave undertaking for the school as it means that initially there are fewer written outcomes; however we have found that the final outcomes are of a far higher quality with increased quantity.
Grammar has been an important part of the process. Through learning to speak a text as a class children throughout the school have internalised the grammatical structures and higher level vocabulary from the text which has enabled them to use these features independently.
Here is an example of how a story telling approach was used to teach a non-fiction text in year five/six:
The unit was persuasion and the topic for the term was America. It is really important to give the children a context for writing to make it purposeful. Therefore the main written outcome for this unit of work was a text persuading someone to visit a state in America where the children became travel agents.
To aid assessment of written work in the school children write a ‘cold’ piece of writing at the very start of a unit, in this case the children were asked to persuade someone to visit the town where they live. This piece of writing has been very useful for AFL as plans were adapted at this stage to focus on the children’s next steps. The final piece of independent writing for the unit is their ‘hot’ piece of writing. Teachers can then assess children’s progress by comparing the two and again this informs the planning for the following unit.
To introduce this genre we followed four main steps: hear, map, step and speak.
Hear: The teacher shared a text (see appendix 1 Terrific Thame) orally with the class- texts can be fiction or non-fiction. It was important for the teacher to know the text off by heart in order to directly engage with the children and draw them in.
Map: Mapping the text involved drawing simple images of the key events in the text. It was helpful to model the first few images. This process took no more than 30 minutes and as the children have become more familiar with the process they have become much quicker. (See appendix 2 for example of a fiction and non-fiction map)
Step: Using the map as a guide the children developed their own way of stepping the story working out a sequence of freeze frame gestures, words and sounds that summarised the main sequence of events in the text. This was a very important part of the process because it used all of the child’s senses (visual, auditory and kinaesthetic) which embedded the structure and organisation of the text. We used big areas where the children were able to physically step out the text imagining that they were crossing a river on stepping stones.
Speak: The memories of listening, mapping and stepping formed the basis of this stage. The children were now ready to retell the text in their own words. This was done in many different ways including; whole class retelling, group retelling, paired retelling and independently.
The second part of the process allowed the text to grow in the imagination of the children; through drama, games, sentence and word work.
Here are a few examples of some activities:
N.B throughout this process try to collect all the words and phrases that the children discover and display them in the classroom. Thus creating a rich language environment that the children can ‘magpie’ from when writing independently.
Hear: The teacher shared a text about California orally with the class
Map: The children mapped the text.
Step: The children stepped the text using simple actions
Speak: The children spoke the text using their mapping and stepping as support.
Various drama, games, sentence and word work activities were carried out to support their understanding of another persuasive text.
Shared writing: First as a class, then in small groups and finally independently the children wrote the California text. The outcome from this written work informed planning for the final stage, independent application.
Children had been researching an American state of their choice in topic lessons so they had a good background knowledge of their subject.
The map, step, speak process was repeated here. But with children using their research and working independently.
Independent writing: The children were motivated and enthusiastic during the writing process because all the previous input meant they were confident in their ability and never ran out of things to write.