What is extended writing?

Extended writing
At school your child will be expected to produce pieces of extended writing, which is a writing task completed independently. Find out how teachers will help your child develop this skill and how you can support their learning at home.

What is extended writing?

Extended writing is when children are given a set amount of time to produce a piece of writing without any help from an adult

Usually, the extended writing session will mark the end of a unit of literacy teaching.

For example: teachers may spend three or four weeks working with the children on play scripts. They may start by reading and performing play scripts, then will practise writing speech out using play-script conventions, then start to draft their own scenes and perform them. At the end of the unit, they will be expected to produce their own play-script in the extended writing session, showing what they have learnt over the past few weeks.

Extended writing in the classroom

Extended writing is sometimes referred to as 'The Big Write'. Some schools still practise The Big Write, which consists of a session prior to writing when teachers carry out activities to encourage children to use VCOP (Vocabulary, Connectives, Openings and Punctuation):

Vocabulary Encouraging children to use good descriptive vocabulary (adjectives in Key Stage 1, moving onto powerful verbs and adverbs in Key Stage 2).
Connectives Children will practise putting connectives into their writing.  In Key Stage 1 these will include: but, so, and, then, because.  In Key Stage 2 these will include: therefore, meanwhile, furthermore, consequently, whenever.
Openings Children will be encouraged to open their sentences in a variety of different ways, for example: using a connective such as 'Eventually', an adverb such as 'Warily' or a -ing word, such as 'Whistling'.
Punctuation In Key Stage 1, children will need to remember full stops and capitals.In lower Key Stage 2, children will need to start using exclamation marks and question marks. In upper Key Stage 2, children need to use correct speech punctuation plus apostrophes and commas.

Children are then given about 10 minutes to plan their piece of writing. In Key Stage 1 they will be given about 30 minutes to complete their writing task and in Key Stage 2 they are given about 45 minutes

Writing should be done independently and without the children talking. Some teachers play music quietly in the background. The idea is that children are given the space and time to really concentrate on their writing and apply all the skills they have been learning.

Writing assessments: how teachers mark extended writing tasks

Pieces of writing produced in extended writing sessions are very important for teachers to use when assessing the children's writing skills. They will look to see if children are including the elements taught and also where they could improve.

Some schools have a system for giving feedback.

One of these is 'a star and a wish'; for example:

∗ Well done for using great description! You have used plenty of adverbs here.
➢ Have a look at where I have underlined your speech punctuation. Can you see what you need to add?

Some schools may have a system where they highlight positive elements in a child's writing in one colour (for example: Pink = think) and then bits that need improving in another colour (for example: Green = Go!).

Children will then be given back their marked piece of work and asked to improve it. They will either do this individually, or they may swap books with a partner and help each other edit their work.