2 January 2022

Whole School CPD Focus:

Purposeful Writing

Walkthru Cluster:

Explaining and Modelling





As we enter into a new year, we also shift our focus – as a school – towards improving the writing of our students.  This does not mean that we have removed our focus from the master skill of reading.  As Tom Needham suggests, there is a ‘reciprocal relationship’ between reading and writing (his useful blog on this subject is here).  Most of the students who struggle with reading, will also struggle with writing; the same can be said to be true of those with stronger master skills. 


To write effectively and purposefully is a complex process, relying on a whole-range of metacognitive skills.  Whilst writing, a student is part of an internal dialogue of choices relating to manual mark-making upon the page, correct spelling, punctuation, appropriate register and effective vocabulary choices – and all of this have its own subject-nuances.  Throughout this term, as we place writing skills in the limelight, let us take the opportunity to the key principles (or Writing Basics) relating to writing from within our very own Teaching and Learning Policy:


  • Step 1: Look at similar texts and annotate key features. This becomes your success criteria.
  • Step 2: I do – watch me write
  • Step 3: We do – let’s write a section together (use the visualiser here)
  • Step 4: You do – now it’s your turn
  • Step 5: Let’s share our writing and evaluate the success criteria and what went well (the visualiser is useful for this stage, too)


As part of this writing approach, we also have a vocabulary and spelling strand which incorporates the Frayer Model as a structure for providing focused vocabulary instruction. In focusing on spelling, Needham suggests that students can ‘improve reading fluency and enhance word reading’, which further highlights the reciprocal nature between reading and writing.


In his Walkthrus, Sherrington provides a useful approach to deliberately developing vocabulary.  We know that the process of learning new and complex vocabulary needs to be considered deliberately and explicitly.  His five step process is as follows:


Stage One: Specify and Define the Words.  Compile a list of glossary words that you know that students will need to know.  Strengthen this by then highlighting these words within the texts that you will use to implement your curriculum.  Definitions of these words should allow students to explain these words in terms that they know. 


Stage Two: Say the Words. Students must have the opportunity to say the words aloud if they are to remember and understand them. Sherrington proposes three approaches:

Choral – All students repeat the words in a call and response style.  The teacher can model pronunciation here.

In Pairs – the teacher can engineer paired exchanges so that that the new vocabulary has to be used. At this point, the teacher would circulate and listen for accuracy.

Rapid Fire – the teacher would use cold-calling to check that individual students can use the new words.


Stage Three: Read the Words in Context. Pre-planning is vital here to ensure that students experience the new vocabulary within the texts used in class.  This allows the words to have a context which supports understanding and recall.  In can also be important and useful here to interrupt reading when a new word arises to ensure that the meaning and context is explored (although balance is needed as over-interruption can fragment a student’s understanding of the text).


Stage Four: Practise Using the Words Verbally and in Writing.  This stage is crucial and one that is often missed out.  Students need time to be able to practice using the new words.  This will allow the new words to become part of their normal repertoire of vocabulary. The teacher will need to plan regular exchanges whereby students can practice using these words, verbally as well as in writingThe expectation should also be established that the new terminology should be used whenever relevant, rather than reverting to basic terms.


Stage Five: Engage in Word-Based Retrieval Practice. Glossaries and knowledge organisers can help here. Students must be required to recall the words from memory. This may be incorporated as part of your retrieval starters (i.e. Super Six in Science or basic skills in Maths) and students must be required to recall the words from memory – not looking them up.  Intense initial practice will be needed, followed by some lighter touch weekly and monthly reviews. Students must be tested on meaning, reading and identifying the word, spelling the word and then using the word in their own writing.



CPD Cascade

Please complete one of the two CPD modules by the end of January (JHA)

Sexual Harassment and Gender Stereotyping

Free online training to tackle sexual harassment, language and gender stereotyping.



Understanding the New DfE Report on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Between Children in Schools and Colleges 2021


National College

Remember that there are subject-specific watchlists available in National College.


Posted by Rachel Long

Category: Teaching and Learning Digests

Leave a Reply