Talk for Write                                                                            

The Talk for Writing approach enables children to read and write independently for a variety of audiences and purposes within different subjects. A key feature is that children internalise the language structures needed to write through ‘talking the text’, as well as close reading. The approach moves from dependence towards independence, with the teacher using shared and guided teaching to develop the ability in children to write creatively and powerfully.

At Northam Primary School we have established a core reading spine of quality fiction, poetry and non-fiction that all children experience and draw upon. Imaginative units of work are developed to create a whole-school plan that is refined over the years, is well-resourced and documented to release teachers from planning and preparation so that they can focus on adapting their teaching for children’s learning.

The key phases of the Talk for Writing process, as outlined below, enable children to imitate orally the language they need for a particular topic, before reading and analysing it, and then writing their own version.

More About Talk For Writing


Spelling program Years 3 to 6

Spelling is a tool for writing, and when we spell words, we draw on the different forms of spelling knowledge, these being:

  • Phonology - how words sound
  • Morphology - parts within words that signify meaning, grammar
  • Etymology - the historical, cultural origin of words.

English is said to be a morphophonemic language because it represents information at both the phonological and morphological level. Applying phonological information is essential for early reading and writing acquisition. We start by teaching spelling through drawing on students’ growing phonological knowledge, and as they progress through the grades, students increasingly draw on other forms spelling knowledge. Phonology is but one part of the spelling story. In addition to phonology, students draw on their morphology and etymology in order the build their orthographic skills.

Students require explicit instruction in a range of spelling knowledge in order to understand how words work. They need to know how to spell them correctly, as orthographic knowledge (correct spelling) is a highly valued skill in society (Crystal, 2012; Daffern, 2016a; Adoniou, 2016). As they move into primary, students’ alphabetic knowledge no longer suffices to satisfy their growing hunger for words. It is estimated that by about Year 3, around 75% of words that students encounter in texts are not phonetically regular, so students need to draw on all four forms of spelling knowledge to read and write words (Carlisle, 2010).





Within Northam Primary school we explicitly teach Heggerty Phonemic Awarness which is a systematic 35 week program of daily lesson plans that provide a high level of explicit modelling and student engagement across eight phonemic awareness skills, along with two additional activities to develop letter and sound recognition, and language awareness. It supports student’s learning alongside existing structured synthetic phonics programs and is a great way to build up the phonological skills of our early readers. https://heggerty.org/

The Heggerty Curriculum includes explicit instruction in the following phonological and phonemic awareness skills:

  • Rhyming
  • Onset Fluency
  • Blending
  • Isolating final and medial phonemes (sounds)
  • Segmenting
  • Adding Phonemes
  • Deleting Phonemes
  • Substituting Phonemes

Lit Pro


Scholastic Literacy Pro is an online reading program that we use in our school as a home reading program for children in years 2 – 6 who are independent readers. It is an independent reading program. Literacy Pro measures each student’s reading ability using a fast, adaptive online test. Children initially complete an online test at school which is assessed by the computer-based Lexile analyzer. Students are able to choose and read from a range of books which match their Lexile level. Students should be challenged but not frustrated during the reading process. After each book is read, students complete a quiz which consists of 10 questions about the book they have just read. Students need to score at least 7/10 questions correct in order to pass the book and earn designated points for that book. A quiz can be completed at home or school.

At Northam Primary School we encourage and support children to read for enjoyment and develop a love for reading. The program enables students to develop many skills; reading comprehension, vocabulary, spelling, problem solving, time management, goal setting and self-evaluation skills. https://www.scholasticlearningzone.com/



Learning to read is essentially learning a code. The letters we use are simply symbols or written code for the speech sounds of English. Learning about the relationship between the letters of the alphabet and the speech sounds they represent allows us to “crack the code” and learn to both read (decode) and spell (encode). Synthetic Phonics is a way of teaching children to read. It has been identified both here and overseas as the most successful approach to the teaching of reading and spelling. The ‘synthetic’ component reflects the practice of ‘synthesising’, or blending together. The ‘phonic’ part reflects the process of linking individual speech sounds (phonemes) to written symbols (graphemes). Essentially, when a child learns to read using Synthetic Phonics they learn to link letters to speech sounds and then blend these sounds together to read words. They also learn to separate (segment) words into their constituent sounds and link these sounds to letters in order to spell them. The term ‘Synthetic Phonics’ began to be widely used after the publication of a study carried out in Clackmannanshire, in Scotland. Researchers from St Andrew’s University found that one method of learning to read produced much better results than the other methods they looked at. This method was called Synthetic Phonics. This success has since been replicated in numerous studies world-wide.

In a programme using a synthetic phonics approach, children start by learning about the sounds within spoken words. They need to be able to: hear that sentences are made up of words; that some words rhyme; that some words start (or finish) with the same sound; and, that words are made of speech sounds that are blended (synthesised) together. As part of learning about the different sounds we use to make words, children should be taught about the letter (or letters) we use to write the sound down. For example, if children are learning about the /s/ sound through matching games, rhyming, alliteration (the slimy, slithery snake slid slowly somewhere special) and other oral language activities, it is important to explicitly link the sound with the letter we use to write the sound down.

English is an alphabetic code and therefore Synthetic Phonics, with its emphasis on teaching students sound-letter correspondences, is vital for literacy instruction, however “phonics is a means to an end not an end unto itself”.

  • The ultimate goal of any literacy program is for students to become “skilled and motivated readers who read thoughtfully and purposefully for an array of purposes”.
  • The research consistently supports Synthetic Phonics, with its strong code emphasis, as the most effective method of literacy instruction.
  • As a result of synthetic phonics emphasis on the sounds all through the word and the skills of blending and segmenting, students experience less confusion between letters and sounds and have advantages in reading recognition, reading accuracy, reading fluency, spelling, reading irregular words and sight words, reading comprehension and phonological awareness skills.

In addition the research has found these gains are maintained and in fact increase over time. The synthetic phonics approach is as effective for students at risk of literacy failure as it is for their peers and some research has suggested boys have a slight advantage over girls in spelling and reading comprehension when taught with a synthetic phonics approach.


As a result of the systematic and direct teaching of sound-letter correspondences and blending skills, a synthetic phonics approach leads to superior word reading (including irregular words) and a lower incidence of reading failure.


Early instruction in synthetic phonics provides students with the necessary skills to become fluent and competent readers and spellers at an earlier age than other approaches to teaching literacy.

As a result students can “more quickly go about the job of reading to learn” which is the ultimate goal of any literacy program.





PAT testing [ACER] Reading


Teaching staff need accurate knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of all our students. The school undertakes PAT testing which we feel gives us more accurate information than the stressful, non-normed NAPLAN tests. We use the PAT tests twice a year and that allows us to determine the students’ growth (Effect Size statistic). Professor John Hattie (Melbourne University) is an acknowledged expert on teaching and learning, and his meta-analyses have blown away many of the myths that have prevented students from learning effectively. Readers are directed to: http://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement .

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