Talk for Writing and Film Texts

This case study submitted by Simon Poole of Crossley Hall Primary school.

Context – Talk for writing is an embedded practice at Crossley Hall so the imitation and internalisation of texts, including films, has been at the forefront of our teaching for two years.

We have a used a number of films as the text including:

What we did 

    1. We used For the Birds as a stimulus together with the Anthony Browne books: Zoo, Gorilla, Hansel and Gretl and The Tunnel.
    2. Using ‘For the Birds’ we explored the issues around differences in people and how bullying can manifest itself in everyday situations
    3. We looked at the issues of caged animals and the relationships between the main characters
    4. In the Tunnel, we explored the feelings and emotions of the characters and Rose’s dilemma when faced with a tough decision – most of the class decided to re-write their own versions of the tunnel using different characters and situations in some cases.
    5. They made a good first draft of a film using a tunnel in the school grounds, most of the camera work was crude and there was a novelty factor being out of the class room AND using the flip cams. Nevertheless, some successful films were produced but the children decided that much better quality was required and we are currently working towards this with script writing exercises and plenty of examination using scripts.


  • The main impact has been that children no longer associate literacy with just written texts. The fact that we imitate sections of the text/film as part of Talk for Writing (TFW) has helped children to internalise the style and language of the relevant texts throughout the year.
  • Some of the SEN children have made good progress in writing as they can remember some of the phrases used. The more able children have been able to adapt the styles and be creative. The target group, slightly below the average in the class have made equally good progress throughout the year with the immersion in the language.
  • As far as film making has gone, this particular cohort need significant support when working collaboratively, thus not as productive an outcome was achieved for the final film making project and the children have decided they want to make a better job and we are working with small groups to achieve this currently.
  • The standard of writing in the class has improved as follows:

September 2010

71% below or well below average

29% average

0% above average

June 2011

45 % below or well below average

45% average

10% above average

Successful because

  • The novelty factor of using flip cams and seeing their creations on the screen
  • Analysing each other’s work to evaluate how well the camera and screen shots work
  • Watching and analysing a wide variety of film and trailers
  • The wide use of film to interest the reluctant writers – not just boys!
  • The standard of writing in the class has improved
  • Interesting to teach using film and visual literacy in the classroom and a training/development need has been identified.

Next Steps

  • Introduce films and be more analytical but do this earlier in the year
  • Allow more time for children to film and practise filming techniques
  • I need some more help on how to transfer the skills learned in the classroom in a literacy and text based context to help the children to produce more quality films as a finished outcome to a unit to complement the writing
  • Introduce script writing as a separate unit BEFORE embarking on the film project so that pupils acquire a better understanding of character and stage directions and how to transfer a story into play script form
  • Raise the profile of visual literacy throughout the school and deliver staff training
  • Run a media and film making club; some funding available through the LAP to help facilitate this initiative


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