The Common Misconceptions Of Writing For Pleasure Debunked

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Writing For Pleasure, as a pedagogy at least, is fairly new ground. It’s an exciting movement to be a part of. I love hearing from other practitioners who tell me about how they are taking it on and the really positive results they are seeing in their classrooms.

However, I also hear a lot of things said about the pedagogy which are simply untrue. With this is mind, I hope this article can attend to some of the most common misconceptions I hear about a Writing For Pleasure pedagogy…

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GUEST BLOG: When Teachers Are Writers … By Jonny Walker

Image result for jonny walker education‘Teaching writing is arguably an artistic event, involving creativity and artistry, but if few teachers see themselves as writers or write alongside their students then the teaching of writing may be constrained by a lack of awareness of the complexities of composition and the significance of writers’ identities.’ Teresa Cremin and Debra Myhill, 2012, ‘Writing Voice: Creating Communities of Writers’, p. 126

This piece is all about teachers as writers. Whilst there is now a solid and growing body of research that indicates the benefits of teachers developing and reflecting on themselves as writers, knowing about this and doing something about it are different things.

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Teaching Writing: What Actually Is Authentic & Meaningful Writing?

Authenticity increases student engagement and achievement, particularly in teaching writing (Behizadeh, 2018)

According to Wray et al (1988), children are put off writing because:

  1. They feel they have nothing to say.
  2. They feel they do not write well and become discouraged by their final product.
  3. They do not write regularly enough to view the task as a natural progression from talking.
  4. They get tired of doing the same old task over and over again.
  5. Everything of interest which happens in schools leads to ‘now we’re going to write about it’.
  6. After all their efforts, nobody takes any notice of what they have done anyway.

It is often stressed that authentic writing experiences can improve children’s pleasure and academic outcomes in writing. Indeed, calls for authenticity can be found throughout literature and research (Dyson, 2003, Leung & Hicks, 2014, Flint & Fisher, 2014, Flint & Laman, 2012, Gadd, 2014, Grainger (Cremin), Goouch & Lambirth, 2003, New London Group, 2000, Wegner, 1999). Perhaps the best example though is Hillocks (2011), concluding in his review of 100 years of writing research that:

We now know from a very wide variety of studies in English and out of it, that students who are authentically engaged with the tasks of their learning are likely to learn much more than those who are not. (p.189)

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The Things That Matter: Writing Memoir

A few Saturdays ago, we were lucky enough to attend the Oxford Writing Spree, a day conference organised by teacher Ed Finch (@MrEFinch) in his own primary school, Larkrise, on the outskirts of the town. We were in the company of some excellent speakers and a large group of teachers, all interested in thinking and talking about children writing at home and in school.

We were there to run a workshop in which we would ask teachers to write a short memoir of an experience from their own lives. We had found in our Year 5 class that personal memoir was a much enjoyed and successful writing project, and we had decided to give participants the same kind of teaching and resources we had used with our pupils.

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