The inquiry explores how the use of oracy activities (including actions and visual cues) can have an impact on learners' writing accuracy, specifically punctuation and grammatically correct sentences.
Research for this inquiry suggested that oracy is a key element that needs to be used when learning to write accurately and that pupils can use oracy as a means of lessening the cognitive pressures that the act of writing presents. Research also suggested that writing can be an isolating and daunting task, and that the collaborative environment we use when speaking should be applied when writing.
The intervention was carried out in a mixed Year three and four class. Two focus groups were chosen; one who had no major speaking difficulties but struggled to record ideas in writing, and a more able group who presented no major writing difficulties. The second group was chosen to note if the strategies used would extend their writing in any way. The introduction of a familiar story was used as the oracy activity; it was rehearsed as a class, and visual images and actions were provided as prompts in order to help learners remember parts of the story (this was aimed to ensure their sentences became more grammatically correct). The class created actions and sounds that should be used whenever they felt punctuation was needed in the story. The second week focused on using the previously learnt oracy activity as a tool to help learners write their story accurately.
Various data was collected throughout the inquiry, including pupil 'before and after' questionnaires, focus group interviews, observations (including textual analysis) and journal reflections.
The key findings from the data suggested that the oracy activities did have an impact on the lower ability learners' writing accuracy. The more able learners did not achieve improved writing as the oracy activity was not tailored enough to suit their individual needs. Several learners preferred the focus group setting for the written task; this environment may have resulted in them being more engaged and independent when writing.
As supported by previous research, the oracy activities demonstrated a need to discuss and fully understand writing before even recording any ideas on paper. It is crucial that these spoken activities are within a secure and safe environment in order to improve learners' writing accuracy. Furthermore, writing accurately needs to be modelled and clearly understood through oracy before learners can even begin to put pen to paper.
©Author January 2017