This article is based on, and written in relation to, findings of educational research and writings. The tenor of this article and associated resource 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.
This document is produced with the intention of being used alongside our Real-World Literacy approach to teaching writing. To find out more about how to teach writing through this approach, go here.
Talking About Writing: Writing Study
Writing Study mini-lessons are a forum for demonstrating writing strategies that can last forever.
Research into the teaching of writing (Graham & Perin, 2007, DfE, 2012, Education Endowment Fund, 2017 & Gadd, 2014) consistently places writing-strategy instruction as the single most effective strategy for improving writing outcomes. It is therefore right to spend time helping children deepen their understanding of writing and what is in it for them.
Writing strategies are vital because ultimately, they save children time. They allow children to get down to the act of writing quickly and confidently. Children often know what they want to do but not how to do it. This is where Writing Study Lessons like the ones outlined in this document come in.
The sessions outlined are about teaching the ‘generalities’ of writing. That is why we call them Lessons That Last Forever. They encourage children to be self-regulating when writing – a strategy which research shows is of huge benefit to children’s writing outcomes and we have written about self-regulating writing techniques here.
Children developing their writing in such ways is a major intellectual achievement. It is an achievement which requires more than just a rich diet of relatively unrestricted writing experiences. Research suggests that the following are additional elements that must also be present for writing instruction to be successful:
- Children must be made aware of the full extent of the writing processes and this why we have attached the common writing process in our resource below.
- By having these processes explicitly taught to them and by having it on display in all classrooms, children can work towards independence in managing the whole process.
- The thinking that is involved in generating an idea, drafting, revising, editing and publishing need to be modelled by the teacher – ideally a writing-teacher, who can thereby show the problem-solving and planning processes that children are often unaware of as apprentice writers.
Please note that what we suggest in our document are only suggestions. When thinking of what your pupils need, teachers should ask questions like: what are my children trying to do in their drafts? What is their image of good writing? What can I tell them in a minilesson that might help and be long-lasting? We hope you find the following lessons useful not only for your pupils but maybe for your own writing too!
As part of this pack, we give many strategies for generating original writing ideas – just the sorts of strategies real authors use. As teachers, it’s important that we remind ourselves that mature writers are able to make writing tasks meaningful for themselves and that this is part of their competence. What we (as teachers) have to do is consider how do authors do it and how can we bring these sorts of practices into the classroom? A child making a writing task meaningful is a matter of creating a learning goal which can take account of external requirements which the teacher needs to see done but it also has a far more powerful goal of bringing personal significance to the writing too.
Finally, we would like to ask that if you have any lessons that you think would complement our pack please leave a comment below. Alternatively, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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To find out more about our approach to teaching writing, called Real-World Literacy, you can follow this link.
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