Treat every child as a writer

We defined ourselves as a class of writers. I relished our classroom culture and told anyone who would listen. -Leung & Hicks

Description of the principle

In the writing workshop, 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 and ensure all children remain part of the writing community. 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 model and promote the social aspects of writing and peer support in their classrooms.

What Writing For Pleasure teachers do

  • These teachers hold high achievement expectations for all their writers.
  • All children feel like independent writers who are achieving their writing goals with regularity. They are praised for the goals they achieve.
  • They ensure that all their writers remain part of the writing community.

Reviewing your practice: questions to consider

  • Do you articulate that every child can write authentically, that all children belong in the community, all children can achieve and that all members have something worthwhile to say?
  • Are you unlikely to confine less experienced writers to decontextualized writing exercises or tasks but rather support these writers through group teaching or by allowing them to work collaboratively with a peer?
  • Do you have high expectation for both class and personal writing projects?
  • Do you have high expectations for student attainment during their lesson(s)?
  • Do you have a good understanding of the learning needs of all children?
  • Do you support children’s efforts and writing through your manner, comments and actions?

Examples from the classroom

I’m A Writer Too!

Supporting documents

Be reassuringly consistent

This chapter looks at the importance of all children being apprenticed in the craft of writing. Discussion is had about how enduring research-informed writing practices are good practice, irrespective of individual or additional specific educational needs, including children who may have English as an additional language. The authors then explore how an inclusive environment can invite all children into the community of writers, where they can access full literacy and authentic and purposeful writing projects alongside their peers. The instructional power of responsive mini-lessons, setting writing goals, co-regulation, and pupil conferencing are highlighted as effective ways in which to build the self-efficacy, motivation, and self-regulation of pupil-writers who may feel excluded from the writing classroom. The importance of a writer-teacher’s relationship with their pupils and their educational expectations of them are also considered. Finally, examples of effective practice from the classrooms of high-performing teachers are presented.

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How Real-World Writers works

This chapter explains how Real-World Writers is an inclusive approach and can support inexperienced writers, children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and children with English as an additional language (EAL). It discusses how drawing, playing and telling stories to and with an adult are good sources of idea generation for early writers. Early writers can struggle with the demands of the writing process, and so this chapter gives teachers practical advice on how they can encourage young, inexperienced writers to use drawing as a form of planning, focus on composition and transcription separately and use invented spellings whilst they draft.

The chapter then discusses how to give advanced writers specific support and instruction by, for example, encouraging them to actively subvert and manipulate class writing projects, think about the psychological and philosophical background to their narrative writing and experiment with chronology and different perspectives. Finally, the place of personal voice in non-fiction writing is considered.

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Supporting resources

  • Our Children As Writers survey [LINK]
  • Our Writing Development Scales And Assessment Toolkit [LINK]
  • Our BIG BOOK Of Writing Mini-Lessons: Lessons That Teach Powerful Craft Knowledge For 3-11 Year Olds [LINK]
  • Our Guide To Pupil-Conferencing With 3-11 Year Olds: Powerful Feedback & Responsive Teaching That Changes Writers [LINK]

Suggested further reading

  • Young, R., Ferguson, F., (2020) They won’t have anything to write about: the dangers of believing pupils are ‘culturally deprived’ [LINK]
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F., (2019) 10 ways to make every child a writer Teach Primary article [LINK]
  • Islam, S., (2020) That’s the way I work: One child’s experience of a Writing For Pleasure pedagogy [LINK]

  • Cornelius-White, J., (2007) Learner-Centered Teacher-Student Relationships Are Effective: A Meta-Analysis In Review of Educational Research, Vol. 77, No. 1, pp. 113–143
  • Good, T. L., & Brophy, J. (1997). Looking in classrooms. New York, NY: Longman.
  • Harris, M. J., & Rosenthal, R. (1985). Mediation of interpersonal expectancy effects: 31 meta-analyses In Psychological Bulletin, 97, 363–386
  • Laman, T. (2013) From ideas to words: Writing strategies for English Language Learners Portsmouth NH: Heinemann
  • Leung, C., Hicks, J., (2014) Writer Identity and Writing Workshop A Future Teacher and Teacher Educator Critically Reflect In Writing & Pedagogy 1756–5839
  • Parr, J., Limbrick, L., (2010) Contextualising practice: Hallmarks of effective teachers of writing In Teaching and Teacher Education (26) 583–590
  • Reutzel, D. R. (2007). Organizing effective literacy instruction: Differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all children. In L. B. Gambrell, L. M. Morrow, & M. Pressley (Eds.), Best practices in literacy instruction (pp. 313–434). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
  • Rubie-Davies, C. M. (2010). Teacher expectations and perceptions of student attributes: Is there a relationship? British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(1), 121–135.
  • Satchwell, C., (2019) Collaborative writing with young people with disabilities: raising new questions of authorship and agency In Literacy Vol.53(2) pp.77-85
  • Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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