What Teachers Do To Make Every Child Feel Like A Writer

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?

Continue reading “What Teachers Do To Make Every Child Feel Like A Writer”

A Cautionary Blog Post About Using Structure Strips

Please note that this blog-post is not anti structure-strip. As this post and the research that informs it will explain, they can be a highly-effective self-regulatory resource that children can certainly learn and build from!

When reading about writing, you are often faced with one of two extremes. At one end of a continuum is the belief that ‘language,’ including writing, cannot be effectively taught unless it is solely acquired through experiences and by being presented with a situation which causes an authentic reason to write.

At the other end is the idea that language is best learned through tutelage, rote-learning and explicit instruction in its structures, forms and conventions.

As is often the case with extremes, academic research and sensible practitioners suggest a moderate middle ground is required. Language is best learned through a combination of authentic experiences and explicit instruction.

Continue reading “A Cautionary Blog Post About Using Structure Strips”

What The EEF’s ‘Improving Literacy in Key Stage Two’ Report Tells Us About Teaching Writing Effectively.

Here is a brief outline of the key messages from the Education Endowment Fund’s summary on effective writing at Key Stage Two. The summary produced by the EEF uses a number of meta-analysis based research papers to draw its conclusions. It says:

Continue reading “What The EEF’s ‘Improving Literacy in Key Stage Two’ Report Tells Us About Teaching Writing Effectively.”

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’.”

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 2020, 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 and other stimuli for writing could be inhibiting children’s desire to write and adversely affecting the quality of the writing they produce. Children are failing to realise that they can do more with writing than simply imitate it or produce ‘writing to order’.

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

In Teaching Writing – How Important Is It That Teachers Be Writers Too?


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.

When planning for this blog, I wrote down the following bullet points:

  • Do teachers write and share an exemplar text of the very thing they expect children to go on and write?
  • Do teachers take part in the writing processes when they write? If so, do they share their process with their class? For example, do they show them pages from their notebook? Their plans, drafts, revisions, proof-reading and their final publications?
  • Do teachers share hints and tips from their own writing process with their pupils?
Continue reading “In Teaching Writing – How Important Is It That Teachers Be Writers Too?”