At Tyabb Primary School we teach our students to write imaginative, informative and persuasive texts using VCOP to explicitly teach writing skills. VCOP stands for Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation. VCOP teaching is centred around the premise that, ‘if they can’t say it, they can’t write it’. Speaking and listening along with games and explicit instruction are used to build the four elements of VCOP, which students then get to practise and utilise in their Big Write sessions.
Big Write sessions differ from other writing sessions through the week, in that the children are able to prepare the night before by completing their talk homework. Talk homework is given the day before a Big Write and consists of a writing stimulus (often a picture) with some key questions to think about and a reminder of the current writing focus. Children are able to chat to family, friends, pets or toys about the stimulus and develop ideas for their writing. The classroom mood is set for a Big Write session with low lighting, candles and classical music. Teachers use this time to conference with individuals or small groups to ensure all students achieve their writing goals.
Following a Big Write session, students have the opportunity to share their writing and then go through a process of self-assessment and goal setting. Teachers will identify areas for whole class, small group and individual attention.
At certain points through the year, students will complete a ‘Cold Write’. This is undertaken in similar conditions to a Big Write but students are given their writing stimulus immediately before writing rather than the day before. This allows students to show what they know without external help and enables teachers to assess and moderate writing and establish individual writing goals for each student.