Why Audience and Purpose Should Direct our Writing

Posted on: 09/01/2022

The Literary Curriculum

When planning our sequences we try really hard to not 'bounce around the book'. For us, the journey through the book is integral to children (and teachers!) being able to fully immerse themselves into the text. This means that we have shorter writing opportunities at points when the genre may not need so much scaffolding, i.e. a quick diary entry, a list, an information piece or a postcard and we try to build towards pieces of longer writing where we can model over several days and support the children to write, edit and publish independently. But all these writing opportunities have one thing in common: we want to be clear why we are doing it and who it might be for. It's not enough to say it's a postcard. The children need to know it's a postcard home from one of the animals in The Journey Home to another animal in their region. It's not enough to say that it's an information piece - the children need to know it's a Wikipedia entry on a new poisonous plant found in Boy in the Tower. This 'dressing up' of writing is vital in helping children to understand the point of why they are writing and whilst they may be able to get better at writing a specific genre by repeating it over several days and changing the context, it may not help to pique their interest or aid their understanding on what  purpose that piece of writing actually serves. 

Once you move away from teaching whole blocks of a genre, you can allow the narrative to identify the right point to stop and write. A formal letter in Suffragette to the Prime Minister comes at the point where we need to make a plea, and then within that, we can identify the right grammar for the right piece of writing. It also serves to build engagement and excitement; we need this more than ever in education right now. Many children - even in Y6! - are happy to suspend their disbelief to create new chapters as requested from the publishers/authors or write Wanted posters for missing characters as this feels lighter in task and it can be fun to write in role or play a part that feels different from the life we lead. We often say in Inset that after a real experience, an imagined experience can be the next best thing, but in the case of books, it can offer so much more - a new world to describe, the opportunity to write or speak in a different way and the chance to walk in the shoes of someone new. And that's when we truly feel the need to write.

Some of our favourite writing opportunities where the audience and purpose are clear:

  • Wanted Posters (see in our Send for a Superhero sequence)
  • Obituary (see in our Beowulf sequence)
  • Persuasive letter (see in our Tar Beach sequence) 
  • Brochure for a new civilisation (see in our Weslandia sequence)
  • Wikipedia entry for plant species (see in our Boy in the Tower sequence)
  • Opinion piece in a newspaper (see in our Hidden Figures sequence)  


Posted in: Curriculum

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