Seeking out a stimulating purpose At the heart of all good writing is having something you want to write about. The children in this classroom are being helped to get 'inside' the characters they are going to write about. By pretending to be the characters and having to describe themselves and listen to other children's descriptions they stand a better chance of building a picture in their own minds that they can write about. It is also fun and involves use of speaking and listening skills. The sort of preparation described below, where there is both drama and teacher modelling, gives the children a stimulus to write and shows them how. The collaborative nature of the work means that the children are supported and can learn about writing from each other: trying things out, being reassured their ideas work and borrowing ideas from each other to extend their own skills. The children will write letters with a character sketch in them and these will be made into a simple book and display board for the library - they will be read by other children in the school.

Plotting the path through planning The teachers enjoyed some success last year teaching characterisation. They decide that role-play will provide a rich source of material for children to draw from. It is also an excellent opportunity for further developing their speaking and listening skills. The teachers spend part of one staff meeting analysing children's stories and setting writing targets. They find that their children describe the 'outside' of characters (what they look like, what they wear) but rarely describe personality and feelings. Adjectives were used reasonably well but descriptions of the way they move or say things are hardly ever made. They also want to get the children to think about using what the character says. It is very ambitious and they draw up a list of what they can expect from each group of children.