4. Independent Application & Invention - Hot Task
4. Independent application and invention – the ‘hot’ task
Eventually, students move on to the third phase, which is when they apply independently what has been taught and practised. Before this happens, the teacher may decide to give further input and rehearsal. Students are guided through planning, drafting and revising their work independently. It is essential to provide a rich starting point that taps into what students know and what matters so that their writing is purposeful. Writing may be staged over a number of days and there may be time for several independent pieces to be written. With non-fiction, students should apply what they have been taught across the curriculum. The final piece is used as the ‘hot’ task, which clearly shows progress across the unit.
It is important that at the innovation and independent application stages, the writing becomes increasingly independent of the original model rather than a pale copy. Whilst four-year-olds may only make a few simple changes, older students should be adding, embellishing, altering and manipulating the original structure. From Key Stage 2 onwards, almost all children will be using the text structure and writing tools to write, drawing on the model, their wider reading and experience so that they are writing independently at a high level. This has to be modelled in shared writing.
The aim of Talk for Writing is to develop imaginative, creative and effective writers. In the same way, the aim of Talk for Reading is to grow confident, critical and appreciative readers. No student can be said to really be a reader until they make their own choices about what to read and begin to develop a taste. In the same vein, children are not really writers until they decide what they want to write and have opportunities to create their own writing tasks and write about their interests and lives creating stories, poems and informative writing for themselves.
For this reason, schools plan ‘invention’ units which often sit between taught units. These ‘invention’ units are when students have time for their own writing. Teachers may provide a stimulus such as a film clip, interesting object, drama, wordless picture book, work of art, music, visitor or visit as a starting point but the students decide what and how to write. This is truly independent writing. In the early years, children should be playing at making up stories daily, acting stories out and at least once a week be led by the teacher through making up class stories for future sharing.