Eight tips for developing great proof-readers

Expectations for children to produce transcriptionally accurate pieces of writing have never been higher (DfE 2022). Yet, school-leaders and teachers tell us this is something they regularly struggle with.

Teachers can certainly lack confidence in how to explicitly teach proof-reading. For far too long, too many of us have simply announced towards the end of a writing session: ‘don’t forget to check for capital letters and fullstops!’. This kind of approach isn’t doing anyone any favours.

Eight tips for developing great proof-readers

One real problem teachers face when trying to develop great proof-readers is the lack of thought and support around how children develop as proof-readers throughout their time at school.

Perhaps an even bigger issue is that pupils need to believe that they’ve crafted something worth proof-reading in the first place. Children report that they will proof-read with motivation and precision when they know they are preparing their writing for an audience beyond just their teacher’s evaluation (Young & Ferguson 2020). 

We can help our pupils by finally taking editing seriously – explicitly teaching them the kind of proof-reading techniques and procedures other authors and editors use. A quick example is when a writer will circle their ‘unsure’ spellings as they draft – ready to look up at a later date.

Here are eight top tips schools can use as a starting point for supporting teachers and improving children’s writing:

  1. Ensure children are writing things they believe are worth proof-reading.
  2. Ensure children are proof-reading their compositions in preparation for genuine publication or performance and for audiences beyond their teacher’s evaluation.
  3. Deliver regular and explicit instruction in conventions and model how to proof-read for those conventions.
  4. Pupil-conference with children during proof-reading sessions. 
  5. Give equal focus to what children can do as well as what they can’t do – yet.
  6. Involve children in determining what gets added to a class’ editing checklist.
  7. Have a clear vision of how they expect children’s proof-reading to develop year on year. 
  8. Have appropriate expectations of what individual pupils can do based on their writing experience and any special educational needs they might have.

If you are interested in reading about how to develop a whole-school approach to developing proof-readers, buy our latest eBook:

In No More: My Pupils Can’t Edit, Felicity Ferguson & Ross Young invite schools and teachers to make proof-reading a rigorous and meaningful part of their class writing projects. Despite the fact that expectations for transcriptional accuracy have never been higher, schools and teachers often find it difficult to teach children to proof-read with precision and enthusiasm. This book looks to change that.

This practical guide offers an overview of The Writing For Pleasure Centre’s approach, and provides a progression for proof-reading from the EYFS-KS2. It also contains over 50 exemplar lessons taken from their affiliate schools. These lessons cover the EYFS Framework and National Curriculum objectives efficiently and effectively.

What’s special about this book is the way in which each lesson teaches children the whys of proof-reading procedures and illustrates how, as editors, they can use them for themselves. Children learn to make their writing ‘reader-friendly’ and ‘reader-ready’ prior to publication for real audiences.

*NEW eBook* No More: ‘My Pupils Can’t Edit!’ A Whole-School Approach To Developing Proof-Readers

In No More: My Pupils Can’t Edit, Felicity Ferguson & Ross Young invite schools and teachers to make proof-reading a rigorous and meaningful part of their class writing projects. Despite the fact that expectations for transcriptional accuracy have never been higher, schools and teachers often find it difficult to teach children to proof-read with precision and enthusiasm. This book looks to change that.

This practical guide offers an overview of The Writing For Pleasure Centre’s approach, and provides a progression for proof-reading from the EYFS-KS2. It also contains over 50 exemplar lessons taken from their affiliate schools. These lessons cover the EYFS Framework and National Curriculum objectives efficiently and effectively.

What’s special about this book is the way in which each lesson teaches children the whys of proof-reading procedures and illustrates how, as editors, they can use them for themselves. Children learn to make their writing ‘reader-friendly’ and ‘reader-ready’ prior to publication for real audiences.

£5.95 – Individual license

£29.75 – School/Institution license

or FREE for members

What is a Writing For Pleasure pedagogy?

Some years ago, we were teaching at our local primary school and we came to the conclusion that we were probably the worst teachers of writing in the whole entire world. We hated doing it, we hated teaching it, and our students got terrible results. Our students also hated writing and they hated us teaching it too! 

Research has since confirmed why this was, and it appears that we are far from alone. Many of you might feel like this too. The fact is that many of us didn’t receive the writerly education we should have had while we were at school. We know this because research shows that a great number of teachers feel deep shame about their own writing abilities. On top of this, many teachers have grown up to dislike writing. A friend of ours, Paul Gardner, conducted some research and found that less than 2% of teachers wrote with or for pleasure – half reported that they had never felt any pleasure from writing in their lives (Gardner 2014). The cherry on the cake is the research surrounding ITE. The majority of teachers around the world leave their teacher training feeling ill-prepared to teach writing (Young & Ferguson 2022).

This is a serious problem, because how we were taught writing at school has a strong influence on how we feel about the subject, how we think it should be taught and what we know about the subject – our writerly knowledge. Unfortunately, it appears from the research that, as teachers, we regularly copy the same failed writing teaching that we once received (Young & Ferguson 2021, 2022a). We should point out that there is of course a significant minority of teachers to whom this doesn’t apply – but it certainly applied to us.

We tried all the popular approaches in the UK at the time and none of them worked. We were frustrated. We wanted to do something about it. We decided that we would build a writing pedagogy from scratch and base it on what the science and research evidence said was the most effective and affecting practice (Young & Ferguson 2021, 2022a, 2022b). We were no longer going to leave things to chance. 

We conducted 23 literature reviews in total, spanning over 50 years of scientific research. First, we started with the meta-analyses. For those who might not be familiar with the term, a meta-analysis is where a researcher will group many scientific studies on a particular subject, for example writing teaching, in order to identify recurring patterns of effectiveness. We then read what case studies tell us about what the best performing writing teachers do in their classrooms which makes the difference.

We discovered that there are 14 enduring principles which represent the most effective teaching practice. These principles all have a track record of raising standards and accelerating progress in writing. The principles are:

  1. Build a community of writers
  2. Treat every child as a writer
  3. Read, share, think and talk about writing
  4. Pursue purposeful and authentic class writing projects
  5. Teach the writing processes
  6. Set writing goals
  7. Be reassuringly consistent
  8. Pursue personal writing projects
  9. Balance composition & transcription
  10. Teach daily mini-lessons
  11. Be a writer-teacher
  12. Pupil-conference: meet children where they are
  13. Connect reading & writing
  14. Interconnect the principles

Interestingly, we noted that there were also six affective needs (what can be called emotional needs) that teachers need to attend to so that they can help children write happily and successfully. These needs are:

Young & Ferguson’s (2021) hierarchy of emotional writing needs

Once these principles and affective needs were identified, each was given its own research review to help us better understand what we could be doing in our classroom that would actually make the difference. In the end, we decided to call our approach the Writing For Pleasure approach. And now, for us, Writing For Pleasure is nothing more than a synonym for pursuing world-class writing teaching.

We began using our approach and it was having a transformative impact on our students. We moved to another school to see if it would work in another context, and it did. We then started to write about the pedagogy online and other teachers started reporting that they were getting the same great results that we were. 

Fast forward to 2019, and we were lucky enough to be given a research grant in conjunction with the Goldsmiths’ Company and University Of Sussex. We went to see what it was these other ‘Writing For Pleasure’ teachers were doing. What was special about this study was that, to participate, the teachers had to show that they had a track record for accelerating children’s progress, and their students had to report that they loved to write and that they felt their affective writerly needs were being met.

What we found out from all this work has since been published as a book called Writing For Pleasure: Theory, Research & Practice (Young & Ferguson 2021) and the establishment of The Writing For Pleasure Centre.

The Writing For Pleasure Centre is now informed by over 600 pieces of literature, case study work, action research by teachers in our affiliate schools, and empirical research on the subject of teaching writing (Young & Ferguson 2022a).

The Writing For Pleasure approach involves children and teachers writing together every single day. They write for many different purposes, and for a variety of audiences. They are moved to write about what they are most knowledgeable and passionate about. They also write to deepen their responses and understandings of what they read. They write to transform their own (and others’) thinking about what they learn in the wider curriculum subjects. They write to entertain, to paint with words, to persuade and share their opinions, to teach others, to make a record of things they don’t want to forget, and to reflect on their own thoughts and personal experiences. They write about themselves and their cultures. They also write to reflect and sustain the cultures of people they might not have met. They share their writing and discuss their development with their peers, teachers and caregivers. They learn how to live the writer’s life.

Pupils explore new genres of writing through whole class writing projects. Together, they discuss the purpose of the writing project, explore its basic features, and study mentor texts together. Whilst doing this, they consider who they would like to write their pieces for and what they would like to write about most. Students are taught how to use the same features and expert techniques they identified from the mentor texts in their own compositions. They learn how to attend to their spellings, handwriting, grammar, and sentence construction. This helps them write happily and fluently. Pupils learn a whole host of craft knowledge – what we call craft moves. This includes writerly strategies and techniques for negotiating the writing processes. We want children to know how they can take a germ of an idea and see it through to publication independently and successfully. Students are supported by providing them with clear processes and ambitious writing goals. They are given ample time and instruction in how to plan and how to improve on what they have already written through specific revision and proof-reading sessions.

Pupils receive daily in-the-moment verbal feedback and responsive assessment-based individualised instruction through teacher-pupil conferencing. These conversations are designed to push the writer and move their writing forward. Pupils are given many opportunities to discuss their compositions with their teachers and their peers. At least one hour a day is devoted to the explicit teaching of writing, and children write meaningfully for a sustained period every single day. We believe this is the only way they can learn about the discipline of writing and of being a writer. Across a school day, children also have opportunities to write about their reading and in response to their learning in other subjects. Importantly, pupils have access to personal writing journals which travel freely between home and school. We want children to live the writer’s life and to be in a constant state of composition.

Genuine writing communities are created in classrooms. Children write in positive and enthusiastic writing environments which are headed up by passionate writer-teachers. Classrooms feel like a mixture of creative writing workshops and professional publishing houses. They are rigorous, highly-organised and reassuringly consistent. Pupils are encouraged to take risks and to be innovative, but also to write with focus and serious intent. Teaching is responsive – depending on what individual children need instruction in most. Whether they are in Nursery or Year Six and regardless of where they are in their language development or writerly experience, all children are treated as writers and are helped not only to write pieces which are successful in terms of the objectives of the curriculum but also meaningful to them as young authors.

Why not become a member of the Writing For Pleasure community? You can access our complete programme of study for EYFS-KS2 here.

*NEW COURSE* Developing independent greater-depth writers in Y2 & Y6

We are delighted to announce this new in-person CPD course in conjunction with Wandsworth council.

How do you make the greater-depth standard the standard? The focus of this course will be on how schools can develop independent greater-depth writers in their classrooms. This course will cover how to:

  • Build a culture of independence in your writing classroom.
  • Use teaching practices which naturally support the greater-depth statements.
  • Ensure your class produces 30+ unique pieces of writing within the parameters of your writing units.
  • Harness the power of self-regulation strategy instruction to ensure children’s writing is truly independent.
  • Use verbal feedback in a way which always promotes independence.
  • Encourage children to use what they learn from their reading in their writing.
  • Put a system in place for effective proof-reading.
  • Support pupils with EAL to be independent writers from day one.
  • Set up personal writing projects which children can craft at school and at home.

The first session will share how teachers can build a culture of independence in their writing classrooms before sharing how they can utilise teaching practices which naturally support the greater-depth statements. Subsequent sessions will build on these approaches, taking attendees’ responses and needs into account as the course develops. You will be encouraged to bring your pupils’ writing and your experiences to each of the sessions.

Session 1 (26/09/22 – 13.30 to 16.30)
●The principles for developing independent greater-depth writers.

Session 2 (21/11/22 – 13.30 to 16.30)
●Let’s have an Ideas Party! How to ensure you receive 30 unique pieces of
writing.
●From a germ of an idea to publication: How to guide children through the
writing processes.
●Reader-friendly and reader-ready: Let’s get proof-reading right.

Session 3 (16/01/23 – 13.30 to 16.30)
●Self-regulation strategy instruction: One of the most powerful teaching
practices a teacher of writing can use.
●Verbal feedback as responsive individualised instruction.

Session 4 (06/03/23 – 13.30 to 16.30)
●Setting ambitious writing goals.
●How children use their reading in their writing.

Session 5 (date tbc – 13.30 to 16.30)
●Supporting children with EAL to be independent writers.
●A constant state of composition: introducing personal writing projects.

Delegates will also receive a copy of the following The Writing for Pleasure Centre eBooks worth over £35:

  • No more: ‘I don’t know what to write…’ Lessons that help children generate great writing ideas for 3-11 year olds
  • No more: ‘My pupils can’t edit!’: A whole school approach to developing proof-readers
  • A guide to pupil-conferencing with 3-11 year olds: Powerful feedback & responsive teaching that changes writers
  • Getting success criteria right for writing: Helping 3-11 year olds write their best texts
  • A teacher’s guide to writing with multilingual children
  • A guide to personal writing projects & writing clubs for 3-11 year olds

Cost: £200 for 5 sessions:

DIY CPD for Writing For Pleasure 2.   Getting to know the children

This is the second of a series of blogs, written by a teacher for teachers, aimed at helping you prepare yourself as a Writing For Pleasure practitioner.  This particular blog asks you to think about all of the children in your class and their own interests and experiences so that you can better understand them as individuals and their writerly identities.

In Donald Graves’ book Writing: Teachers and Children at Work, he says ‘I think I know students […] until I challenge myself to write their names from memory’.  When he would ask teachers to do the same, ‘most had some blanks’.  He would do a memory activity (see the task below) with teachers as a way to get them thinking about their pupils – in particular about the ‘missing children’ who were not remembered – and write down the particular interests and knowledge funds of every child in the class.  

After you have met your new class for the first time – and hopefully this has happened before the end of the Summer term – try out a memory activity, like that suggested by Graves. Without knowing the children well enough in the first place, our teaching will not be as good as it could be. Make this a priority – try this now and keep doing this memory task once you’re with the class from September – at least once a half-term but preferably more often.

Task 1Test yourself to remember all of the children’s names in your class & list their experiences and interests.  10 mins each time.

See the appendix for a blank version that can be copied.

 When you do this, it is so important to check afterwards and draw a line to show the bottom of your list and then write down the names of all the children you did not remember below this line. 
You will find out lots about what the children enjoy, know and spend time thinking about from informal conversations, in items they bring to school or during sharing times (as well as from the next task).
Put an X in the ‘confirmed’ column when their experiences and interests that you think they have are confirmed during such opportunities from September onwards.

Each time you do this, compare how your understanding of the children’s experiences and interests changes and keep reflecting upon which children you still don’t remember (and why that might be).  Those children should (must) become your priority.

Those children for whom it is most difficult to come up with a territory or information are those who need it most.  They are often the children who find it difficult to choose topics, to locate a territory of their own. They perceive themselves as non-knowers, persons without turf, with no place to stand. Such an exercise works on a child’s voice, and begins the oral process of authenticating experience. 

From Writing: Teachers & Children at Work (Graves 1983 p.22)

When the new academic year begins, you can also ask the children directly about their interests and experiences (see the suggested proforma in the appendix) and use what the children tell you in order to create a document such as a ‘Things You Need to Know About [insert class name]’ book, which you could laminate and put into the class library for the children to read. 

Task 2: Survey the children about themselves and their interests.  With their permission, use this to create a ‘Things You Need to Know About…. ‘ book for the class library.  10 mins for survey; between 45-60 mins to create class book.

See the appendix for the blank survey. This can also be adapted for younger children, such as for those in KS1.

Along with your own writing river and reflections upon yourself as a writer and teaching of writing (see the previous blog in this series, DIY CPD for Writing for Pleasure 1. Being a Writer-Teacher), you will know yourself and your pupils better and therefore be an even better teacher.  

By Ellen Counter. Ellen has been a primary teacher for the past 15 years, working in three different London boroughs.  She has enjoyed teaching every age group during that time – from Nursery to Year 6. She completed her MA in Children’s Literature in 2013. Ellen is currently the Strategic English Lead in a seven-form primary school in East London.

With huge thanks to the late Donald Graves and his lasting inspiration.

Appendix

The components of an effective writing lesson

Experimental and random control trials, systematic reviews, meta-analyses and case studies together with research into what the most effective schools do (Young & Ferguson 2021a, 2022) all point to the efficacy of a Writing For Pleasure approach for conducting daily writing lessons. 

The components of an effective writing lesson typically involve a reassuringly consistent (though adaptable) routine of: mini-lesson, writing time, and class sharing. What is innovative here is that, after a mini-lesson, children are invited to apply what’s just been taught in a way that is relevant to their own writing (you can read more about this here).

The table below explains why this consistent approach is so useful and effective.

An excellent foundation and a good rule of thumb when you’re first setting up a routine for writing lessons is to follow this kind of order and timings:

Depending on the circumstances of your new class, you may find you need to build up to these kinds of timings at the beginning of the year. For example, your class may not have the emotional maturity or be developmentally ready to deal with a 10 minute mini-lesson. Similarly, they may not yet have the stamina to engage in writing for 40 minutes.

Once you and your students are comfortable with this kind of routine, you can begin to play around with it. Routine doesn’t mean rigidity –a good routine always has a component of flexible response. The routine’s importance is found in knowing what a good writing lesson typically involves and having a shared language you can use with your class. Your students will soon get used to language like: workshop time, mini-lesson, writing time, silent writing, social writing, conferencing time, class sharing and Author’s Chair (Harris 2021).  

Once comfortable, there are endless ways in which you can play around with these key combinations. Doug Kaufman (2022) suggests thinking about your daily schedule in a graphic form of boxes that help you to clarify the time you want to spend on different events and envision the multiple possibilities for structuring the daily routine to respond to pupils’ needs and personal agendas. Here are just a few examples:

It’s vital that we think carefully about the process goals we set for writing time too (Young & Ferguson 2021a, 2022). A process goal is something we would like children to achieve or get done by the end of a writing session. It’s important to say that by writing time we don’t necessarily mean drafting. Writing time simply means time engaged in the processes of writing. For example, writing time might mean: making front covers; working on plans; drafting a picturebook page; producing a single paragraph of writing; reading; conducting research; discussing and revising some already crafted writing; proof-reading for spellings; or publishing.

Here are some examples of the sorts of ways that you can set process goals for writing time:

The reason these components are so brilliant is because they offer the potential for explicit instruction, meaningful practice and formative assessment every single day. These are the absolute bedrocks of all teaching and learning.

By Doug Kaufman & Ross Young

References 

  • Ferguson, F., Young, R. (2021) A Guide To Pupil-conferencing With 3-11 Year Olds: Powerful Feedback & Responsive Teaching That Changes Writers Brighton: The Writing For Pleasure Centre
  • Harris, B. (2021) Author’s Chair [Online: writing4pleasure.com/authors-chair ]
  • Kaufman, D. (2022) Teacher, Inventor: How to Take Your Teaching Back from the Pre-Packaged Writing Program. Manuscript accepted for publication.
  • Whittick, L. (2020) Write a little – share a little [Online: writing4pleasure.com/write-a-little-share-a-little ]
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F. (2021) Writing For Pleasure: Theory, Research & Practice London: Routledge
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F. (2021b) Guide To Personal Writing Projects & Writing Clubs For 3-11 Year Olds Brighton: The Writing For Pleasure Centre
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F. (2022) Handbook Of Research On Teaching Young Writers Brighton: The Writing For Pleasure Centre
  • Young, R., Hayden, T. (2022) Getting Success Criteria Right For Writing Brighton: The Writing For Pleasure Centre

A whole generation of children have been put on ‘writers’ welfare’

The Standards & Testing Agency, rightly, wants schools to develop independent writers (STA 2018a, 2018b). However, it’s clear that many writing pedagogies aren’t fit for this purpose. They aren’t orientated towards teaching children to be motivated and independent writers (Young & Ferguson 2021a, 2022). In these pedagogies, children have become dependent on their teachers – what Donald Graves called being on ‘writers’ welfare’.

Please sir, can I have another writing prompt?

Graves warned us that this would happen over forty years ago (Graves 1976, 1983). He told us that children will be content to sit patiently and wait until they are told what they must write. Children will learn that to write is to write for an audience of one – their teacher. They will be dependent and controlled within an inch of their writing lives. They won’t be required to make any kind of writerly decisions. It will all be planned and done on their behalf. They will also learn that to write well is to write about the things your teacher likes (Young et al. 2022). We now have a generation of children who have received a writing apprenticeship which has left them listless and indifferent. They are consumers rather than producers, reciters not writers, responders not composers (Young & Ferguson 2020). They believe writing is an artificial act which they are disconnected from.

I often visualise a child sitting outside their primary school on the last day of Year Six. They have in their hand a suitcase labelled ‘writing and being a writer’. The suitcase should be full of everything they will need to go on and write successfully and happily (Young & Ferguson 2022). At the moment, I wonder what it is we put in their suitcase that is helpful to them. I wonder whether children will be able to write well when there is no teacher to do it for them.

A question worth asking is this: what would happen if you gave the children in your class a series of open-ended writing sessions every day across a few weeks? What do you predict your class would do? A school which teaches their children how to be independent writers would be pretty confident (Young & Ferguson 2021b). Others, I suspect, would be terrified. Their students would be like fish out of water. They’ve never been asked to write anything independently. They’ve not been taught the metacognitive or self-regulation strategies they would need to be successful and productive (Young et al. 2021).

‘We need to break the teaching cycle that places young people on writer’s welfare. Children won’t learn if we think for them… We want independent learners and thinkers. We want independent writers.’ – Donald Graves

Graves’ messages have often been misunderstood – that somehow he was telling us that teachers shouldn’t teach. Yet he called for: 

  • Explicit instruction to be coupled with self-regulation.
  • Children to have a daily, sustained and meaningful opportunity to practise writing.
  • Children to receive verbal feedback and additional individualised instruction while they are writing.

These all remain bedrocks of what we know about world-class writing teaching today (Graves 1983, 1994; Wyse 2019; Young & Ferguson 2022b).

‘Children want to write. They want to write the first day they attend school… The child’s marks say, “I am”.  “No you aren’t,” say most school approaches to the teaching of writing… We take the control away from children and place unnecessary road blocks in the way… Then we say,  “They don’t want to write. How can we motivate them?”’ – Donald Graves 

It’s important to point out that Graves predicted that teachers too would lose their sense of ownership and professionalism in the writing classroom. They too will be put on ‘writers’ welfare’. He talks of how there will be an increasing mistrust of accountability measures and that these measures will spread paranoia and suspicion around the profession. This has certainly come to pass. As we have said, the Standards & Testing Agency wants schools to develop independent writers. However, because of the high-stakes nature of the DfE’s use of schools’ results, some feel that they must put their children on writers’ welfare to get the results they need. However, this ‘writers’ welfare’ pedagogy has not led to a rise in standards.

  • In 2021, around one in three children left primary school without meeting the basic ‘met’ standard for writing.
  • In 2020, children’s writing enjoyment was at its lowest since records began.
  • In 2019, a quarter of children failed to achieve the early learning goal for writing at the end of the early years foundation stage (EYFS).
  • In 2019, around 30% of children failed to achieve the ‘met’ standard at KS1. Only 16% of children at KS1 were able to demonstrate that they could write above the basic ‘met’ standard.
  • In 2019, prior to the pandemic, only one in five KS2 children in England were able to write above the ‘met’ standard. Approximately, one in four children left primary school without meeting the standard for writing.

This was predicted by academic George Hillocks when he concluded that a ‘writers’ welfare’ model for teaching writing is the least effective of all the orientations a school could adopt (Hillocks 1986; Young & Ferguson 2021a, 2022). But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are schools who are doing fantastic work and teaching their children how to live the writer’s life (LINK).

I’ll finish with Graves and his gentle reminder to us all: the only way we can get children off writers’ welfare is to put writing back where it belongs – in the hands of the child.

References

  • Graves, D. (1976) Let’s Get Rid of the Welfare Mess in the Teaching of Writing, Language Arts, 53(6) pp.645-651
  • Graves, D. (1983) Break the welfare cycle: let writers choose their topics, The English Composition Board, 3(2) pp.75-78
  • Graves, D. (1983) Writing: Teachers & Children At Work Portsmouth: Heinemann
  • Graves, D. (1994) A Fresh Look At Writing Portsmouth: Heinemann
  • Hillocks, G. (1986) Research on Written Composition: New Directions for Teaching, Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English
  • Wyse, D., (2019) Choice, Voice and Process – Teaching Writing in the 21st Century: Revisiting the Influence of Donald Graves and the Process Approach to Writing, English in Australia, 53 (3) pp.82-91
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F. (2020) Real-World Writers: A Handbook For Teaching Writing With 7-11 Year Olds London: Routledge
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F. (2021a) Writing For Pleasure: Theory, Research & Practice London: Routledge
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F. (2021b) Guide To Personal Writing Projects & Writing CLubs For 3-11 Year Olds Brighton: The Writing For Pleasure Centre
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F. Hayden, T., Vasques, M. (2021) The Writing For Pleasure Centre’s Big Book Of Mini-Lessons: Lessons That Teach Powerful Craft Knowledge For 3-11 Year Olds Brighton: The Writing For Pleasure Centre
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F. (2022) The Science Of Teaching Primary Writing Brighton: The Writing For Pleasure Centre
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F. (2022b) Handbook Of Research On Teaching Young Writers Brighton: The Writing For Pleasure Centre
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F., Kaufman, D., Govender, N. (2022) Writing Realities Brighton: The Writing For Pleasure Centre

Grammar Minilessons For 3-11 Year Olds – 2nd Edition – is *OUT NOW*

Grammar lessons are about children seeing how grammar is authentically used by writers and being invited to try it for themselves. Grammar lessons like this are essential for showing children the hows of writing. Punctuation and grammar use is a skill to be developed, not simply content to be taught. – Young & Ferguson 2020

The Writing For Pleasure Centre’s Grammar Minilessons For 3-11 Year Olds has everything a teacher needs to teach grammar in the writing classroom. Each lesson explains the subject knowledge teachers require before sharing real examples from our own teaching and the teaching that takes place in our affiliate schools.

Children (and teachers) will learn how grammar concepts allow them to elaborate and add detail to their writing. They will know how to focus their attention on the ‘readability’ of their pieces by using a variety of cohesive devices. Their use of grammar will enhance their ability to write with the right voice, including with differing degrees of authority. They will consider the rhythm and intonation they want their writing to be read with. They will also carefully consider their word choices. Finally, they will be writers who adhere to the conventions that their readers come to expect. Rest assured all the grammar related expectations included in the EYFS Framework and the National Curriculum are covered.

What’s special about this book is how each lesson teaches children the whys of grammar concepts and illustrates how writers use them effectively. Children are then invited to independently apply what’s just been taught in a way that is relevant to their writing that day.

Each chapter covers a different grammar category including: Cohesion, Word Choices, Elaboration, Voice, Rhythm & Intonation, and finally Conventions.

New addition to this second edition:

  • Lessons now cover 3-5 year olds and the grammar expectations of the EYFS Framework and Development Matters.
  • Every National Curriculum objective has an associated lesson. It’s now a lot easier for teachers to find the grammar lessons they need most.
  • A table showing how each STA assessment statement has an associated lesson.
  • Each lesson comes with an example poster taken from lessons taught by us and other teachers in our affiliate schools.
  • Guidance on how teachers can make their own grammar posters.
  • Ten new lessons have been added.

Contents

Introduction

  • Navigating the book by function
  • Navigating the book by curriculum objective and year group

Cohesion

  • Simple and multi-clause sentences
  • Proper nouns
  • Tense choice
  • Tense play
  • Headings and subheadings
  • Paragraphs
  • Determiners
  • Fronted adverbials
  • Noun and pronouns choice
  • Cohesive devices
  • Bullet points
  • Hyphens

Word Choices

  • Nouns
  • Verbs
  • Irregular verbs
  • Adjectives
  • Adverbs
  • Synonyms

Elaboration

  • Expanded noun phrases
  • Coordinating conjunctions
  • Subordinating conjunctions
  • Prepositional phrases
  • Modifying sentences
  • Relative clauses
  • Parenthesis (brackets, dashes and commas)

Voice

  • Modal verbs
  • The passive
  • The subjunctive

Rhythm & Intonation

  • Full stops
  • Full stops #2
  • Question marks
  • Exclamation marks
  • End punctuation
  • Commas
  • Stop or pause: full stop or comma
  • Punctuation clues
  • Speaker tags
  • Moving speaker-tags
  • Complex sentences
  • Dashes
  • Ellipsis
  • Semi-colons
  • Colons

Conventions

  • Capital letters
  • Capitalising I
  • Capitalisation
  • Apostrophes to show possession
  • Apostrophes to show contraction
  • Inverted commas (speech marks)
  • New speaker? New line
  • Speech punctuation
  • Articles
  • What are the conventions? Use a book

Appendix

  • STA assessment framework table

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The direct and indirect effects model of writing

The Direct And Indirect Effects Model Of Writing (DIEW) is one of the latest models to try and expand our thinking around writing development (Kim & Schatschneider 2017; Kim & Park 2019; Kim 2020; Kim & Graham 2022). DIEW is largely the work of educational psychologist Young-Suk Grace Kim. Kim wanted to better understand the development and processes of six-year-old writers. Unlike The Simple View Of Writing, the DIEW model provides greater focus on how young children develop the compositional elements of their writing and, importantly, their writing ideas. 

(Taken from The Science Of Teaching Primary Writing and adapted from Kim & Schatschneider 2017; Kim & Park 2019; Kim 2020; Kim & Graham 2022)

Kim’s model can be organised as a house. According to Kim, the foundations of writing are built on control mechanisms. In layman’s terms, this means children having the maturity to plan, manage and review their writing. Next comes one of the most interesting aspects of Kim’s model – her focus on idea generation skills. Kim shows us how children draw on skills like inference, perspective taking and theory of mind in order to generate great ideas for writing (Young & Ferguson 2022a). 

After laying down their foundations, Kim believes children build their ‘writing house’ using four pillars: foundational language skills, knowledge of the writing processes, children’s affective needs and discourse-level talk. 

  1. Foundational language skills includes using their transcriptional skills such as encoding, spelling, handwriting, typing but also their knowledge of vocabulary, grammar and their ability to read. 
  2. Children need to be knowledgeable of the processes writing goes through including: planning, drafting, revising, editing, publishing/performing. 
  3. Children’s affective needs must be developed and attended to. This includes attending and developing their sense of: self-efficacy, self-regulation, agency, volition, motivation, writer-identity  (Young & Ferguson 2021a, 2022b; Young et al. 2022). This also includes attending to, and regulating, their emotions (Young & Ferguson 2022c). 
  4. Finally, we have discourse-level talk. This is essentially Kim’s phrase for content and genre knowledge. 

All of these pillars are required and they all need to be strong if children’s ‘writing houses’ are to stay up. If the house is stable, children can produce writing fluently, accurately, happily and of quality.

Why is Kim’s model useful to us? Well, it highlights the importance of certain cognitive resources which all too often can be overlooked and underdeveloped in schools. Hence, the name direct and indirect effects model of writing. Kim’s calls our attention to:

  • Explicitly teaching children how to manage themselves as writers and their writing process (Young et al. 2021, Young & Ferguson 2022b).
  • Explicitly teaching children how to generate quality writing ideas (Young & Ferguson 2022a).
  • The fact children write better texts when they can draw on content that they are knowledgeable of and passionate to write about (Young & Ferguson 2022c)
  • The impact children’s reading has on their abilities to write (Young & Ferguson 2020, 2021a, 2022b).
  • Teachers must attend to children’s emotional and affective needs (Young & Ferguson 2021a, 2022b, 2022c).
  • Children draw on their genre knowledge to help them write. This includes making decisions at sentence and grammatical levels (The Writing For Pleasure Centre 2022, Young & Ferguson 2021b, Young & Ferguson 2022d).

Our hope is that by sharing this model for writing, we can help turn the tide on the pernicious underachievement of writing in schools (Ofsted 2009, 2012; DfE 2012, 2017, 2019, 2021). Indeed, the problem teachers and schools often face is knowing how to develop all these cognitive resources efficiently and effectively in their classrooms (Young & Ferguson 2021a, 2022b, 2022c).

References

  • DfE. (2012). What is the Research Evidence on Writing? Education Standards Research Team. London: Department for Education.
  • DfE. (2017). National Curriculum Assessments at Key Stage 2 in England, 2017 (revised). London: Department for Education
  • DfE. (2019). National Curriculum Assessments at Key Stage 2 in England, 2019 (revised). London: Department for Education.
  • DfE. (2021). The reading framework: teaching the foundations of literacy London: Department for Education.
  • Kim, Y.-S.G. (2020) Structural relations of language and cognitive skills, and topic knowledge to written composition: A test of the direct and indirect effects model of writing, Br J Educ Psychol, 90: 910-932
  • Kim, Y.-S. G., & Schatschneider, C. (2017) Expanding the developmental models of writing: A direct and indirect effects model of developmental writing (DIEW), Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(1), 35–50
  • Kim, YS.G., Park, SH. (2019) Unpacking pathways using the direct and indirect effects model of writing (DIEW) and the contributions of higher order cognitive skills to writing, Read Writ, 32, 1319–1343
  • Kim, Y.-S. G., Yang, D., Reyes, M., Connor, C. (2021) Writing instruction improves students’ writing skills differentially depending on focal instruction and children: A meta-analysis for primary grade students, Educational Research Review, 34, 100408
  • Kim, Y.-S.G. (2022) Co-Occurrence of Reading and Writing Difficulties: The Application of the Interactive Dynamic Literacy Model, Journal of learning disabilities, doi:10.1177/00222194211060868
  • Kim, Y.-S. G., & Graham, S. (2022) Expanding the Direct and Indirect Effects Model of Writing (DIEW): Reading–writing relations, and dynamic relations as a function of measurement/dimensions of written composition, Journal of Educational Psychology, 114(2), 215–238
  • Ofsted. (2009). English at the Crossroads. London: Ofsted
  • Ofsted. (2012). Moving English Forward. London: Ofsted
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F. (2020) Real-World Writers: A Handbook For Teaching Writing With 7-11 Year Olds London: Routledge
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F. (2021a) Writing For Pleasure: Theory, Research & Practice London: Routledge
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F. (2021b) The Writing For Pleasure Centre’s Grammar Mini-Lessons For 5-11 Year Olds Brighton: The Writing For Pleasure Centre
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F. Hayden, T., Vasques, M. (2021) The Writing For Pleasure Centre’s Big Book Of Mini-Lessons: Lessons That Teach Powerful Craft Knowledge For 3-11 Year Olds Brighton: The Writing For Pleasure Centre
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F. (2022a) No More: I Don’t Know What To Write About. Lessons That Help Children Generate Great Ideas Brighton: The Writing For Pleasure Centre
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F. (2022b) Handbook of Research On Developing Young Writers Brighton: The Writing For Pleasure Centre
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F. (2022c) The Science Of Teaching Primary Writing Brighton: The Writing For Pleasure Centre
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F. (2022d) The Writing For Pleasure Centre’s Sentence-Level Instruction: Lessons That Help Children Find Their Style And Voice Brighton: The Writing For Pleasure Centre
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F., Kaufman, D., Govender, N. (2022) Writing Realities Brighton: The Writing For Pleasure Centre