Suspense: a Talk for Writing unit (Phase 3: Invention)

This post follows on from the first and second in this series which talk through a successful Talk for Writing unit on suspense writing.

After innovating twice, children were well immersed in the text type, they had fully internalised the Writers’ Toolkit and were ready to invent their own suspenseful story. After watching a film clip from Harry Potter, we discussed and boxed up the main events and discussed the key moments which contributed to the intended effect – making the audience think something bad was going to happen.

HP context

Just like during innovation, we then worked with the children to create save-boxes (banks of ideas) which could be used in their writing. We chose different elements of the Writers’ Toolkit on which to focus and again, we focused on the different sentence structures we had learned during this and previous units. The result was banks of sentences in both children’s books and on the working wall, ready to be transferred into planning:

teacher save it box invention Invention save it box chn

A key moment after this was the transferral of these ideas and construction of new ones into a plan for writing. We placed sentences from save it boxes into the relevant section of the boxed up plan and then deliberately crafted new sentences using the structures on which we had been focusing, always with the intended effect in mind. What children were left with were detailed plans, which prepared them very well for writing.

invention plan chn

We modelled writing, making explicit use of the plan and the toolkit to encourage the same kind of ‘writerly’ behaviour in the children. Support staff worked with small groups of children crafting one sentence at a time, making deliberate use of their plan throughout.

shared writing invention 1 invention writing

As with innovation lessons, each writing lesson during the invention phase would involve children either self or peer assessing their work. This might involve children choosing a successful part of their writing and a bit to improve which they would then independently or collaboratively edit. This develops their metacognitive skills. It could also involve children placing post-it notes onto their writing to identify which parts of the toolkit they have used, which provides the teacher with an assessment of a child’s understanding and internalisation of the toolkit:

invention with post it notes plenary

Final pieces of writing from children of all abilities were successful: children had made conscious, deliberate use of the Writers’ Toolkits in order to achieve an indended effect. With the effect in mind, children had learned how to craft effective and highly accurate sentences through their familiarisation with and practice of various sentence types and structures.


2 thoughts on “Suspense: a Talk for Writing unit (Phase 3: Invention)

  1. kim

    I’m really keen to put this into place with my year 5 class as we are covering Harry Potter. Are you able to send me any resources/plans/extra pictures as it certainly seems as though it was successful with your class and I would love to have the same results! I’ve also been chosen to trial the Talk 4 writing scheme, so anything really would help! thank you!

    1. Nick Hart

      Hi Kim
      The screen shots in the post form pretty much all the resources, while the post details the plan. There’s not really anything I could send.
      Let us know how the writing goes with your class.


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