Writing For Pleasure Practice: Creating Class Publishing Houses

Having read Back & Forth: Using An Editor’s Mindset To Improve Student Writing by Lee Heffernan, I was inspired to create a class publishing house in my own classroom. This is a recount of how I went about it.

We are now about half way through the academic year and the children are settling into the idea that they can of publish personal writing projects into the class library. Writing is being undertaken at home and is also making its way into the class library. Children are increasingly talking about writing and are writing collaboratively too. Confidence has been built and a sense of writer-identity has been established. The children are beginning to believe they are writers and that they have many things to say and share with each other.  

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

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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’.

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Meeting Children Where They Are: Using Pupil Conferencing.


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Why Written Feedback Might Not Be As Effective As Verbal Conferencing

Traditionally, the teaching of writing has been a thankless task. For the writing teacher, it has meant long, long hours of marking and commenting on student compositions, with little reason for confidence that this effort would have any positive effect.” – Bereiter & Scardmalia

As Frank Smith (1982, p.203) states: writing is not learned in steps. There is no ladder of separate and incremental skills that if written down for a child they will automatically apply and so ascend. Writing develops as an individual develops, in many directions, continually, usually inconspicuously, but occasionally in dramatic and unforeseeable spurts. And like individual human development, writing requires nourishment and encouragement rather than a rushed scribbled jointing on a pupil’s writing piece.

Research (Fisher et al, 2010, Jean, Tree, & Clark, 2013, Oxford University – Education Endowment Fund, 2016 ) seems to indicate that swathes of ‘after-the-event’ written feedback is neither efficient nor effective. As Dylan Wiliam says, feedback like this is often the equivalent of telling an unsuccessful comedian that they need to be funnier. So how are teachers meant to provide meaningful and accountable feedback to their pupils despite the pressures of ‘after-the-event’ written feedback?

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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?
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