Oracy AFL Essay Writing

#Tweak of the Week: A weekly post sharing one teaching resource, idea or strategy. No1 Oracy: Talking for Writing

Oracy: the ability to express oneself in and understand spoken language.


A simple concept, but one that can be adapted to meet more complex needs, structuring and formalizing classroom discussion and oracy as the first stage in producing extended writing.

This can be used as a starter activity, plenary or in this case to support structured discussion regarding a GCSE enquiry question in history.

Talking frame

The students are given an image or text, a simple talking frame and a range of key words. They are then asked to annotate the source or text to identify key figures, interpretations or meanings.

Working with a talk partner or in small groups of no more than three, students practice giving formal structured responses. During the whole class feedback activity students can only respond using the talking frame and are encouraged to use as many key words as possible in their response. Imprecise or incorrect language should be challenged by the teacher and the other students, supporting the development of peer and self-regulation. This can then lead into students producing a written answer to a short exam style question.


A more lengthy variation on this idea is a living essay. After being taught the key content, students are given a practice essay or exam question. The class need to be organized in small groups depending on the number of key factors relevant to the question.

Each group needs to produce one part of the essay, usually one factor which, depending on the subject or topic, will normally be one or two paragraphs. They are given key words and a possible writing frame and need to produce a model paragraph in response to the question.

One group should be given the responsibility for producing the introduction and conclusion, requiring them to negotiate with each group to ensure coherence with the main body of the essay.

Each paragraph should be written up on A3 or sugar paper, ideally these can be worn by students in the form of tabards. Students then need to organize themselves into a logical structure and nominate a minimum of one person from each group to read their paragraph. The essay then comes ‘alive’ as it where, as each group are filmed reading their paragraph in order.


This can be used to introduce extending writing, develop the rules and give opportunities to practice producing formal paragraphs at the same time as encouraging inter and interdependent learning.