What is Big Writing?
Big Writing is an approach to teaching writing and raising writing standards that focuses on:
- The importance of TALK and oral rehearsal
- Accurate basic skills – spelling, punctuation, grammar, handwriting
- Regular and meaningful assessment and target setting
- High expectations for all pupils
- Giving writing a purpose and making it fun!
The Writer’s Toolkit
In Big Writing, the full range of writing skills is called the Writer’s Toolkit and can be summarised as ‘The Two WHATS and the Two HOWS’:
WHAT 1: The text type or genre to be written
WHAT 2: The stimulus or purpose for writing
HOW 1: Basic Skills: GHaSP
HOW 2: ‘Writing Voice’
Big Writing provides schools with a framework for teaching the two HOWs through lively, fun, focused activities and a weekly opportunity for children to apply their skills in an extended writing task.
The four basic skills that children need to draw on with increasing automaticity and fluency in their writing are:
- Grammar – the use of correct grammar/ standard English at all times.
- Handwriting – accurate, fast and flowing, preferably using a cursive style. At a minimum, neat and legible.
- Spelling– accurate in all sight words and the majority of ambitious vocabulary, and demonstrating the full range of phonic strategies.
- Punctuation – accurate use of all sentence punctuation and creative but accurate use of a wide range of punctuation for ‘voice’ and effect. The Writer’s Voice defines both the language the writer uses and the style with which he or she structures sentences.In Big Writing it is taught through VCOP, which is:
- The range of vocabulary the child has and can use, including ambitious vocabulary (also known as Wow Words).
- The use of a wide range of connectives, including higher level connectives.
- The range of ways the child has for opening sentences, including the use of the three Power Openers (connectives, ‘ly’ words and ‘ing’ words).
- The range of punctuation the child uses, including punctuation for effect or Power Punctuation (? ! …)
Big Writing therefore consists of:
- Daily basic skills: 10 minutes every day covering phonics, spelling and handwriting
- Stocking fillers: short, 5 minute VCOP sessions to recycle skills from the previous week
- ‘Bells’ work: quick-fire ‘make me up …’ activities to embed new language and skills whilst waiting for playtime, lunch, etc
- The Big Write: extended VCOP session followed by an extended writing session.