Writing For Pleasure & The New Ofsted Framework

Image result for Ofsted framework

With the new Ofsted framework coming out recently, we wanted to look at where Writing For Pleasure fits. If you’re new to the idea of a Writing For Pleasure pedagogy, you can read about it here. 

Below is our response to the different aspects of the framework including: intentions, implementation, impact, progression of skills, acquisition of knowledge, tackling social disadvantage, providing cultural capital, honouring the local community, children’s personal development, child engagement, supporting children with SEND, challenging advanced writers, teachers’ subject and pedagogical knowledge.

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GUEST BLOG: Creative writing is an essential skill for our children, not a nice-to-have by Ben Payne

At our launch event for the Ministry of Stories (MoS), held at No 10 Downing Street in November 2010, I overheard the PM, David Cameron, quizzing some of the children that we had brought with us from a Hackney primary school:

 “So, first you go to school and do your lessons; and then you go to Ministry of Stories and have fun. Is that right?”

I couldn’t blame him for asking because, at this point, we’d only been open for four days. When I left MoS, the writing and mentoring centre for children in east London that I founded with Lucy Macnab and the writer, Nick Hornby, a few months ago, I realised the thousands of children we’ve worked with since 2010 taught me a few things about writing and creativity.

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REVIEW: Welcome to Writing Workshop: Engaging today’s students with a model that works. Stacey Shubitz & Lynne R Dorfman

Welcome to Writing Workshop: Engaging today’s students with a model that works. Stacey Shubitz & Lynne R Dorfman

Image result for Welcome to Writing Workshop: Engaging today’s students with a model that works.It’s refreshing to see Stacey Shubitz and Lynne R. Dorfman come right out and say it: writing workshop is a model that works. Research has pointed towards this fact for many decades now and yet writing workshop remains on the periphery in the UK.

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Joining The Literacy Club: The #WritingRocks Summary

‘Joining the Literacy Club’ by Frank Smith (1998) #WritingRocks chat 17th April 2019: A Summary

This month’s #WritingRocks chat focused on contemporary psycholinguist Frank Smith’s ‘Joining the Literacy Club’.  HUGE thanks to everyone who contributed to the whirlwind of practical suggestions on how to join the literacy club, in the spirit of Frank Smith, including the ‘lurkers’ who we know learn so much from being a part of this online #writingforpleasure club.

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How To Have Children Writing Independent ‘Assessable’ Pieces Every Day.

The political hot-potato in terms of writing at the moment is independent writing. We have decided the tackle this subject head on by producing a mini-series of blog posts about how we have managed to create a writing community within our classroom which allows children to write independently every day.

We will cover all sorts of strategies we use to allow children to write high-quality assessed pieces independently. Some of them we have already discussed and you can find them here:

Writing

This particular post will talk about The Writing Process and how, according to research, the explicit teaching of it is the most effective way to improve children’s independent writing attainment (Graham & Perin, 2007).

It would be good to start off by stating that writing involves both composition and transcription.

Frank Smith, (1982) in his book Writing & The Writer, uses the analogy of a writer and her secretary. This helps visualise the different processes that have to take place when one is writing alone. Remember, this is also what children have to negotiate when writing too.

The writer (composition) has to attend to the following:

  • Generating ideas,
  • Turning thoughts, opinions, feelings into words/sentences.
  • Use of grammar for function,
  • Word and tone choice,
  • Keeping cohesion,
  • Thinking of the purpose of the text,
  • Keeping the reader in mind throughout.

The secretary (transcription) has to attend to the following:

  • Physical effort of writing,
  • Handwriting,
  • Spelling,
  • Capitalisation,
  • Punctuation,
  • Paragraphs,
  • How it will look (including multi-modality).

Frank Smith begins by talking about composing and transcription as if they were performed by two different people. This is simply to allow the reader to see the two broad aspects of writing separately. It is important to remember that we often place both of these burdens on children when we ask them to write. However, consider this for a moment: Teachers often place further cognitive workload upon children. Further burdens can include:

So when they are writing, children have to attend to all of the above and often at the same time. To help the children in our class, at the beginning of the year, we decided to separate the writing process for them and teach each stage explicitly. We call this our Real-World Literacy approach. We taught them how to attend to all the compositional aspects of writing – through what we call:

  • Generating Ideas,
  • Boxing Up,
  • Vomit Drafting and
  • The ‘Revision’ Stage.

We then taught them how to attend to the transcriptional aspects of writing:

  • Proofreading,
  • Editing,
  • Publishing.

I do a kind of pre-draft – what I call a ‘vomit-out’ – Calvin Trillin

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This is because when children are asked to attend to the aspects of composition and transcription at the same time, they both interfere with each other. What would be a collaboration between two people (the writer and the secretary) becomes an unnecessary yet profound conflict for children.

Let’s be clear:

When children are learning to write, composition and transcription can interfere with each other. The more attention you give to one, the more the other is likely to suffer. The problem is essentially a competition for attention.

If thoughts are coming too fast, then the quality of children’s handwriting, spelling or punctuation is likely to decline. If we concentrate on the transcription, the inserting of linguistic features or the appearance of what we write, then composition will be effected; children are likely to produce impeccable nonsense. To avoid either of these occurring, we separate the two processes for the children.

The rule in our class is simple: composition and transcription must be separated and transcription must come last. Revising and editing are as important in our class as writing.

Interestingly, as the year has progressed, we have noted that as the children have got better at composition, the less attention on transcription has been required by them at the end.

The children are now able to characterise themselves and their preferred writing process. We have the following types of writers in our class.

  1. The Vomiters

The most popular writing process. These children like to get their ideas down on paper and spend most of their time revising it and getting it ‘reader ready’ through proof reading and publishing.

2. The Paragraph Pilers

The second most popular process. These children like to vomit a paragraph, clean it up by revising it and editing it before they move on to the next part in their writing.

3. Sentence Stackers

The least popular process. These are children who vomit a sentence and attend to the transcription immediately afterwards.

Interestingly, there are also The Planners and the Discoverers. These are children who either plan the writing to the absolute detail before going on to draft or else I have the Discoverers who resist planning as much as possible and like to see where their writing will take them (with varying success).

Whatever process the children feel works best for them, at the end of the process, all the children will publish a piece of interesting, neat and grammatically correct writing.

Their edited drafts will show evidence that they have attended to spellings, provided evidence of certain linguistic features and punctuated fully. Their final published copy will also show they have attended to their handwriting in a focused way.

I think it is fair to say that the current state of writing-assessment is far from perfect. So how can we ensure that we at least assess children’s writing in a humane way? We currently undertake it in a low-stakes way where children are simply allowed to write through the writing process organically; at their own pace – producing a variety of pieces independently for pleasure.

The popular alternative currently employed in schools is the giving out of a writing stimulus and then given limited time and a high-stakes pressured environment in which to complete it. I know, as an adult, which environment I could do my best writing in.

Incidentally, we should make clear that we are not advocating that every piece is assessed formally but it is comforting to know as a teacher that I have a whole raft of varied and interesting writing from which I can find evidence of good independent writing being undertaken.

To find out more about our approach to teaching writing, which we are calling ‘Real-World Literacy’, you can follow this link.

If you would like to receive updates from our blog, you can click the follow button in the top right-hand-corner of the page. Alternatively, you can follow us on twitter at @lit4pleasure

Do approaches which teach reading and writing together improve children’s writing?

Do approaches which teach reading and writing together improve children’s writing?

It is often recommended that reading and writing should be taught together. And whilst studies have shown that reading instruction alone can raise writing attainment (Graham et al, 2017), and instruction in writing can consequently raise reading progress (Graham & Hebert, 2011), no real studies have been done on the benefits of teaching both at the same time.

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GUEST BLOG: There is little success where there is little laughter. Writing jokes by Bee Hendry

‘What do you call a boomerang that just won’t come back? A stick!’

I grinned around the room. I heard a low rumble of faint mirth from my bemused teaching assistants. Blank looks from everyone else in my Year 1/2 class.

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