We’ve written this post because there has been a lot of discussion about the Writing Framework recently and this has caused some to romanticise the days of writing tests.
How the DfE/STA decides to assess writing tells you a lot about its philosophy and epistemology towards the craft of writing and its feelings towards apprentice writers. It also has profound effects on the ontology, methodology and writing pedagogy of the teaching profession. It influences the way things are taught. Therefore, what is deemed important in a test will inevitably lead the way teachers teach. So, you have to ask yourself, is it likely that a high-stakes test will test what should be taught? I ask this question because we as teachers know full well we will be asked to do what needs to be done in terms of writing instruction and activity to produce good scores. I have no problem with this in principle, and indeed it can be the strength of any assessment system, but will a writing test encourage good writing instruction and activity? I have my doubts and I explain why below.
Continue reading “Writing Tests Are Not The Answer You Are Looking For.”
This website is now archived. We have moved to our shiny new website at: http://www.writing4pleasure.com Please come and join us there.
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?
Continue reading “Meeting Children Where They Are: Using Pupil Conferencing.”