by Darren Matthews
At CLPE, we have been writing detailed plans which support teachers to use high quality texts to develop literacy for over twenty years. Our successful Power of Reading programme has supported thousands of schools in raising engagement and attainment in reading and writing for all children. Our teaching plans build on the research behind CLPE’s The Reader in the Writer and our schools continue to demonstrate the indisputable impact immersing children in high quality texts has on the quality of writing.
There are a multitude of reasons why teachers choose to visit the CLPE website: to enhance their poetry teaching using poetry resources; to find expertly crafted booklists or to book onto one of our sell-out training programmes. However, one of the most common reasons why teachers will be logging in, is to select the perfect high quality text for their class and to download the associated teaching plan to support their English curriculum.
In this short blog, we’ll take a look at a teaching plan and consider how it has been developed by the teaching team at CLPE to support class teachers and practitioners from every phase of the primary curriculum.
Given the intended brevity of this blog, I’m not going to dwell on one of the most important aspects of creating a teaching plan – namely: choosing the right book! Although some of our thinking around this part of the process is summarised in this blog from 2018 or our blog about Choosing and Using Quality Texts for the Classroom.
Read and reread
So, given the perfect book, how do we go about starting to create the teaching plan?
Very simply, we read the book… and then reread, and reread, time and time again. We want to make sure we take our time so that we are able to get the very best from a book and the best outcomes for children and teachers.
On our first read, we will mainly be enjoying and appreciating the story; the characters, the dilemmas, the twists and the turns. We might make a mental note of some of the undisputable stopping points for discussion and the tense but perfect anticipation of finding out what happens next. We’ll be considering the story shape as a whole, the main themes and memorable moments, and always reflecting on what makes the reading of this book a unique and invaluable experience for the class.
Then we’ll read a second time – pens, tabs and Post-It notes at the ready - noting especially evocative or impactful language, patterns, repetitions and echoes of themes and actions, the hints and foreshadowing of what’s to come; noting the most delicious passages that children might read and reread, text mark, annotate and bring to life through rehearsed performance, giving them an increased appreciation and understanding of the writer’s craft.
Planning for meaningful writing activities:
We’ll then jot down ideas for some of the main writing opportunities, those that spring naturally from the text, the characters and the worlds which we inhabit. We’ll also be on the lookout for moments, people and places that might inspire children to develop their own personal writing, giving them space to place their own world and interests into written form, which might be shared with their chosen audience allowing them to become a community of writers as well as readers. There will always be a great number of writing opportunities that present themselves. The trick is to ensure that the extended pieces are carefully chosen and perfectly link to the text in question. Then, of course, we need to consider how to scaffold the writing journey through reader response, oracy and smaller writing tasks.
On the second, third and fourth reads, we’ll dwell longer on illustrations and passages, considering the emotional and intellectual impact of the craft of the creator and the potential for inspiring discussion, debate, independent and individual response and opportunities for rich language development in the classrooms in which the books might be shared. This is how we ensure grammar is taught in meaningful ways that help children understand authorial intent and then make controlled writing choices of their own.
Mapping it out
Now, we’ll pull all of these ideas together and start to sketch out a class’s journey through the text, asking:
How might we best prepare children for the world of the book, and allow children to see their own worlds, interests and curiosities reflected in its potential?
Where might opportunities for visualisation, drama and role play, talk and debate, research and additional reading be introduced to support children in stepping into the text, to begin to blur the lines between the reality of the classroom and the world of the story, to place themselves within the characters’ shoes?
How and where might incidental pieces of writing, supported by those creative teaching approaches, be placed throughout the unfolding of the book in order to prepare all children for later, more extended, complete writing outcomes, both fiction and non-fiction which children will be able to take all the way from ideation through to publication?
Once we’ve got the route through the book mapped out and considered all of the authentic opportunities for speaking, listening, reading and writing development that the text offers the class and their teacher, we’ll sit with our draft plan alongside the statutory curriculum requirements for that phase group, noting which elements are met during this journey. All of the statutory requirements met by the suggested sessions are listed at the start of each plan for the teacher’s reference.
As many teachers will attest, a crucial part of the writing process is the opportunity to reread, reflect and then refine the work so, at this stage, the CLPE Advisory Teacher who is developing the plan has the chance to sit with a response partner, a colleague from the teaching team, and share the plan as it stands. Together, we ensure that the plan provides a clear and authentic journey through the text, that each session builds on the one before and that every opportunity to improve the children’s journey as readers and writers have been sufficiently developed.
The finished plan will also suggest opportunities for learning across other areas of the curriculum that will deepen children’s experiences as readers, enhance their written voices and provide them with rich classroom experiences.
The Final Stage
Finally, once the last session is written, the plan can be proof-read and published on the website, ready for teachers to download and use in their classrooms.
It is important how this plan then gets used in school. We advise that all members of your teaching team read both the book and the plan all the way through so that you can appreciate the learning journey we have designed. This will allow you to plan which of the writing outcomes you need to further scaffold and model, and which your children have plenty of experience in already. Our plans are pitched carefully to suit the developmental stage of a reader and writer in your year group but only you know your own children.
Once you’ve chosen your next book and teaching plan, we’d love you to send us examples of how you have used the sessions in your school. Send through photos of your working walls, displays, children’s writing, drama and art work to email@example.com, tweet us @clpe1 or share with us on Instagram at clpe.org.uk.