What Can Cause Poor Writing Outcomes? The ‘Writing Is Primary’ Research Findings

I had thought writing was just something that we all had to do in school and a few special people loved doing. How amazing to learn that everyone seems to harbour the wish [to write]. Of course most people have had bad experiences writing. – Peter Elbow (1998)

This article is based on, and written in relation to, the findings of the Writing Is Primary  (2009) action research project. The tenor of this article is to allow the reader to reflect on children’s writing and is in no way a criticism of any school(s) policy or teachers’ practice.

  • Teachers not being clear about what they want from their students.
  • Teachers not demonstrating what they want by writing with or for their pupils.
  • Failure to convince pupils that the writing they are undertaking will be authentic and serve a legitimate purpose.
  • Failure to bring genres of schooling closer to the genres of the wider social world.
  • There is a stronger need for teachers to do their own writing.
  • Too many genres being taught.
  • Not enough time spent on each genre.
  • Not enough time spent on extended writing.
  • Not enough ‘writing study’ lessons. Lessons that ‘put things together’.
  • Children not seeing their teachers enacting in the same activities as them.
  • Pupil’s work will improve when their teachers regard themselves as writers.
  • Modelling is too often through a pre-prepared text.

Schools that focused on developing teacher’s own writing skills identified increased numbers of children who:

  1. Perceived themselves as ‘being good at writing’ (up by over 10%)
  2. Have parents claiming their children ‘write for pleasure outside school’ (up by 24%)
  3. Say that they enjoy writing (up by 22%) – especially when they are given choice in what they write and/or which genre they can write in.

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**Please note that the views expressed on this blog are informed by educational research and writings but may not represent our employer.**

 

 

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5 thoughts on “What Can Cause Poor Writing Outcomes? The ‘Writing Is Primary’ Research Findings”

  1. Thank you for the continuing inspirational posts. When one of your emails lands in my inbox I love it. the Genre Booklets I purchased have been so useful.

    I have a question….

    When you write yourself in front of the children, as advised in many of the research articles you quote, how do you avoid the children wanting to copy yours rather than create their own? In my class of course I get the more able who naturally want to create their own writing, but some of the less able, less confident children continue to write what I have done on the board.

    I have grade 3 so these children are turning 9.

    Thanks again.

    Alison

    On Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 5:55 PM, Literacy For Pleasure wrote:

    > literacyforpleasure posted: “This article is based on, and written in > relation to, the findings of the Writing Is Primary (2009) action research > project. The tenor of this article is to allow the reader to reflect on > children’s writing and is in no way a criticism of any school(s) p” >

    Like

    1. Hi Alison,

      Firstly, thank you so much for your kind words about our work and I’m glad the Genre-Booklets are proving useful to you!

      As writers, we all copy. We are more likely to copy when we are not confident which is what you are saying the children are doing. I usually have no problem with ‘copying’ aspects of a piece I’ve written because they are learning a great deal in writing it down for themselves and seeing how I’ve worked it. What I would say is that I’d like to see them put their own mark on it somewhere – can they see something that I’ve missed? Some thing they think they could do better than me? Something maybe they don’t like and feel needs changing…

      Have you considered asking the children why they think they might be copying from your writing? These kind of conversation are usually really illuminating.

      I would love to hear back on what they had to say!

      All the best,

      LiteracyForPleasure

      Like

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