They Won’t Have Anything To Write About: The Dangers Of Believing Pupils Are ‘Culturally Deprived’.

We can’t give children rich lives, but we can give them the lens to appreciate the richness that is already there – Lucy Calkins (1991)

As teachers, our job is to help children claim more control over their own lives. One of the ways people most lack control over their own lives is through lacking control over words. Especially written words. – Peter Elbow (1998)

Within a vast educational literature there is a substantial number of treatises that deal with the failure of the primary school to make connections with the lives of working-class children. –Carolyn Steedman (1982)

Think about it. Is there any lower expectation than thinking children will have nothing to write about?

Continue reading “They Won’t Have Anything To Write About: The Dangers Of Believing Pupils Are ‘Culturally Deprived’.”

The Sea Of Writing Ideas: 10 Ways We Got Children Choosing Their Own Topics.

Writing ideas.

When you write, ideas crazily spill from your head, tumble down your arm, into your pen and out along the crisp, white page. To us, the only way to see ideas is scribbling them down – but ideas are more than just words on a page.They are colourful, squirming, squiggly things that slide and slip through the nooks and crannies of your brain. Some of them crash against the walls of your head in roaring waves. Others come more slowly – each droplet of water a letter. 

Once you gain control of the sea – the droplets make out your idea.

– Year 5 Child.

Modeling topic selection is the best way to help children develop independent thinking and decision-making skills for composing – Heller (1999, p.86).

Research clearly shows that if children get to choose their topics, this strongly influences their enjoyment of writing and therefore the progress they make. Children may need initially to generate a whole raft of topics and ideas that they feel they could write about.

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Genre-Booklets: Helping Both Children & Teachers To Write

What Are Genre Booklets?

Genre-based approaches to teaching writing…achieve spectacular improvements in student outcomes, from twice to more than four times expected rates of learning’ (Martin & Rose, 2007, p.1)

Our booklets teach children the meaning and purposes behind certain text-types. They make this information explicitly available to teachers but are also really child friendly.

The booklets share with children the characteristics of the different text-types. They cover the most popular genres across the curriculum and also children’s favourite genres. They explain the social goals of the text type without telling children exactly what to do! Instead, they help children enjoy and develop their own ideas and make their writing academically successful.

I’ve used these genre booklets and think they are utter genius. Brilliant, so thank you!

These booklets are brilliant. They are a ‘show rather than tell’ of how to write.

They are definitely worth every penny, so much work has gone into them! 

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Why The Over Use Of Writing Stimuli & Book Planning Could Be Damaging Children’s Writing Potential.

We have moved! This blog is now archived. You can visit our new website at http://www.writing4pleasure.com

This post was originally written in 2016.

I should start out by stating quite clearly that this is not an article advocating for the removal of stimuli or book inspired writing projects from classrooms. Instead, this article will reflect on what contemporary writing research is telling us about how these dominant writing practices may need to be adjusted to be at their most successful and meaningful (Young & Ferguson in press).

We begin with some wise words from Donald Graves, writer, teacher, researcher and thinker: ‘children want to write’ (1983 p.1). However, the provision of cross-curricular topics or stimuli for writing in schools could be inhibiting children’s desire to write and the quality of the writing they produce. Children are failing to realise that they can do more with writing than simply imitate or produce ‘writing to order’.

Continue reading “Why The Over Use Of Writing Stimuli & Book Planning Could Be Damaging Children’s Writing Potential.”