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:
Teachers must help children to perceive themselves as writers before they are able to write for themselves. – Frank Smith
The world is not divided into the people who know how to write and those who don’t. – Philip Gross
As part of our ongoing work on building a Writing For Pleasure pedagogy, we have been reflecting on the second principle of our Writing For Pleasure manifesto:
High Expectations: Seeing Every Child As A Writer (2)
Effective writing teachers hold high achievement expectations for all writers. They see all children as writers and, from the first, teach strategies that lead to greater independence. They make the purposes and audiences for writing clear to children for both their class and personal writing projects. They teach what writing can do. They also promote the social aspects of writing and peer support in their classrooms.
What do you need to consider as a teacher to ensure you are creating an inclusive environment where all apprentice writers can flourish?
There has been a lot of talk around assessing children’s writing for a long time now.
Anxiety has been caused as a result of what constitutes independent writing. People are talking about the merits and disadvantages of comparative judgement but I think we are missing the point here. My instinct is that, in all likelihood, we shouldn’t be marking individual writing at all. We should be assessing the development of the writer over time. I trialled this in my class last year.
To ensure children could produce writing topics independently, over the course of the year, I taught the children the following self-regulatory strategies:
How to generate ideas for writing independently,
How to plan independently,
Once they had written a draft, how to revise their pieces independently (including looking for opportunities to insert certain linguistic features required by the writing framework – if they saw an appropriate opportunity to do so).
How to proof-read and edit their work.
How to publish their work, focusing on their handwriting.
By teaching these things, when children had finished working on their class-writing project for the day, they were given opportunity to undertake personal projects. This was writing undertaken largely independently (apart from pupil-conferences) using the self-regulating strategies taught above.
What the The Standards & Testing Agency do say is that you can tell a child, through marking, that there are spelling errors in certain paragraphs that they’ve written. I actually think this is quite sensible if we wish to develop children as independent spellers.