The WfP Helpline: How do I find time for modelling & independent writing?

Welcome to another post in our WfP Helpline series. This is where we try to answer your most pressing questions and help solve those most difficult teaching problems.

If you’ve got a question or problem you’d like help with, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post or drop us an email.

Today we are answering the question: How do I find time for modelling and independent writing?

1. Start class writing projects off with a ‘genre week’.

When you introduce a new class writing project, spend the first week discussing the project and look at plenty of exemplars. Take time to share a piece of writing you have written or one that you’re working on. Let children read your piece and discuss it together. You should sit in the author’s chair and take questions from your class about how you went about crafting your piece. Have your writer’s notebook with you so you can show the processes you went through – children will ask because they want to see, copy and learn from you!

This need not take a whole lesson by the way and it’s important that children get daily time in which to write themselves. Therefore, during genre-weeks, we suggest that if children have personal writing project books, they continue working in those when your discussions are over for the day.

2. Get into a daily routine of mini-lesson, writing time and class sharing.

The most effective teachers of writing have reassuringly consistent routines. They make sure they give high-quality instruction each day and that children have daily time in which to write. We therefore suggest a daily routine of:

  • Mini-Lesson (10-15 minutes) of instruction.
  • Writing Time (30-40 minutes)
  • Class Sharing (15-20 minutes) of peer review and author’s chair.

3. Share your craft during mini-lessons.

Modelling is high-quality instruction. During daily mini-lessons, share your craft knowledge with your class. This can happen either through writing study or functional grammar lessons. For example, writing-study is about how you or other writers generate ideas, plan, draft, revise, proof-read, publish and perform your texts. Functional grammar lessons are an opportunity to showcase how you use literary, linguistic and grammatical features in your writing before inviting children to give it a try during that day’s writing time.

4. Take part in the class writing project yourself.

At the beginning of daily writing time, spend the first 5 minutes writing yourself. This is good role-modelling. It not only shows children how they should conduct themselves during writing time but it also shows them that you value writing yourself. After five minutes, you can begin doing your rounds and conduct your pupil-conferences.

As a writer-teacher, take the opportunity to craft your own piece of writing as part of the class writing project. You might have to do some of this writing outside of lesson time but it’s worth it! You can then publish or perform at the end of the class project alongside with the rest of your class. Your class will appreciate it!

4. Make sure your texts are in the class library.

By being a writer-teacher, you can ensure you’re modelling the writer’s life by placing your own published texts into the class library for children to read and learn from. You can be their very own mentor author who creates mentor texts they can learn from.

If you have any ideas of your own, please add them to the comment box below.

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