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Talking for Writing

Writing can be difficult for a number of reasons.

For example:

  • You find it difficult to structure ideas
  • Your vocabulary is limited
  • You don’t enjoy it
  • You don’t fully understand spelling, punctuation and grammar conventions
  • You haven’t prepared to do your writing
  • You are unclear about what successful writing looks like
  • You lack confidence
  • You are intimidated by more successful peers.

Following the three stages of talk for writing will help you to structure your writing.

The three stages of talk for writing

  1. Talk to improve confidence
  2. Identify the qualities of good writing
  3. Write independently


Stage One: Talk to improve confidence

There are lots of activities you can use to talk more. This will help you to remember the key terms for a topic, make you feel more confident about using the terms, help you to construct sentences that can be used in your writing and help you to spell the words correctly, because you will look at the words many times. For example….

Reading Race

You produce a list of key terms for a topic and simply time how long it takes you to read them all aloud. Your times should decrease as you practise more.

You could also turn this into a race with another person.

For example this is a reading race with key terms about The Titanic.

Reading Race

Key Word Chains

Think of the shortest word possible within a defined topic area (2 or 3 letters maximum) and then think of a second word which is one letter longer, then a third and so on.  You cannot skip a number in the sequence.

You can either play this on your own or against another person.

This will encourage you to think of keywords for a topic, which you could use in your writing.


Building Vocabulary

Think of words that you may want to place into your writing. Write them in the top boxes of each column. Try to think of other words with a similar meaning (synonyms). You can write them down, or just say them. 

For example:

Building Vocabulary Grid


Nuts and Bolts

  1. Work with two other people to form a group of 3.
  2. One person holds a word sheet with key facts and wow words for a topic. The other people in the group can’t see it. They discuss the topic in question trying to use words that they think might be on the sheet.
  3. Any words successfully used are ticked. Any good words not on the sheet are added to the list.
  4. After a 1-minute pass the sheet to a different member of the group. Continue guessing.

N.B. It doesn’t matter that in passing the sheet people see the words. The main point of this activity is to increase your familiarity and confidence with the key words and phrases.

Building vocabulary grid

Titanic nuts and bolts


Stage Two: Identify the qualities of good writing

This involves reading other well written pieces of work to see the features of a good piece of writing. You can then analyse the text, to enable you to see how you could structure your writing in the same way.


Box it up

This involves looking for specific things in the text and summarising them in separate boxes.

For example, the link below is a good piece of writing about the Hindenburg disaster. The box it up sheet allows you to see the good qualities in this piece of writing, that you could apply to your writing. You could easily change the headings of the boxes and apply the box it up sheet to the piece of writing you are looking at.

Hindenburg text

Hindenburg boxes


Colour Coding

This involves reading a piece of writing and highlighting different good qualities in different colours. You can then use these ideas in your writing.

For example:

  • Explaining connectives
  • Other connectives
  • Key terms/words
  • Examples of war and conflict


Explain why many people find war unacceptable.

For many people war is unacceptable because of the money that is spent on it. Massive amounts of money are spent on weapons and soldiers. For example, each cruise missile costs £700,000 and overall the world spends £2 million per minute on military items. Consequently, this means less money is available for developing health and education facilities and dealing with poverty – the cost of 23 Patriot missiles could keep 2 million people from Mozambique in seeds, clothes and pots for the year! Another money issue is the damage done to people and property because this all has to be paid for. Towns like Hiroshima had to be completely rebuilt and medical treatment for the wounded like Simon Weston costs thousands of pounds. Clearly then a powerful argument against war is the huge amount of resources that are spent on weapons and the damage done by war which could be better spent on improving life for everyone.



Read a good piece of text and annotate the features that make it so good.

For example:

Annotations example



Stage Three: Write Independently

Time to go solo! Use all the skills you have gained in stages 1 and 2 to write independently.

This will take practise. You may find that you need to revisit stages 1 and 2 a few times to perfect your piece of writing.

Good luck!